It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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5 Ways to Vibrant Love

This week I am very excited to introduce you to my friend Shayne Traviss, who is an author, student of life, producer and founder of VividLife.me (And Oprah follows him on Twitter!) I’ve asked him to guest blog and share some of his wisdom about love with you. This for both singles and couples. Enjoy!

Are you on an endless search for ‘the love of your life’? Signed up to dating sites, apps… but every night you end up alone, walking the stairs with a cup of tea, snuggling in bed watching other people’s love stories on Netflix, wondering, ‘When will my prince(ess) arrive?’ You’ve been waiting for this fairy tale to come to true your entire life thanks to the conditioning of story books and Disney movies. When the whole time the love of your life, the prince(cess) has been right under your nose. You’ve just been looking outside for what’s already within.

Within each of us is both the inherent truth that we are what we’ve been looking for, and the wisdom to attract what we desire. We have to only stop the outward search long enough to listen to our inner guidance.

The secret to finding love, is to be love, like attracts like, love attracts love. So if you’re not vibrating love; still healing from a relationship, low self worth, holding onto anger, unforgiveness,… you need to start right there. With what the great Sufi poet Rumi so eloquently described in this quote:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

You won’t find love (true love), until you’re vibrating love and to KEEP LOVE, you also must vibrate love.

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Soulmates passing by: Why do we meet people who are not meant to stay in our life?

Parents don’t always stay. Neither do friends. Certainly not romantic partners. Then there’s fleeting acquaintances and passing strangers that, for brief but meaningful moments, make an impact on us. Some relationships—in all forms, on this planet in any given lifetime—are not meant to last. While this could be taken as negative and, sometimes, even painful, if we look at it differently, we will see the gifts these people came to bring.

When my parents split up when I was very young, my father made nothing but brief cameo appearances in my life. My mother had to move somewhere far to get a job to provide for me so I was left under the care of my grandmother. I didn’t live with her until I was 13 years old. My estranged brother didn’t come into our life until I was around 20.

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Be Friendly

Friend or Foe?

The Practice:
Be friendly.

Why?

Friendliness is a down-to-earth approach to others that is welcoming and positive.

Think about a time when someone was friendly to you – maybe drawing you into a gathering, saying hello on the sidewalk, or smiling from across the room. How did that make you feel? Probably more included, comfortable, and at ease; safer; more open and warm-hearted.

When you are friendly to others, you offer them these same benefits. Plus you get rewarded yourself. Being friendly feels confident and happy, with a positive take on other people, moving toward the world instead of backing away from it. And it encourages others to be less guarded or reactive with you, since you’re answering the ancient question from millions of years of evolution – friend or foe? – with an open hand and heart.

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See the Person Behind the Eyes

Who is behind the mask?

The Practice:
See the person behind the eyes.

Why?

Most of us wear a kind of mask, a persona that hides our deepest thoughts and feelings, and presents a polished, controlled face to the world.

To be sure, a persona is a good thing to have. For example, meetings at work, holidays with the in-laws, or a first date are usually not the best time to spill your guts. Just because you’re selective about what you reveal to the world does not mean you’re insincere; phoniness is only when we lie about what’s really going on inside.

Much of the time, we interact mask-to-mask with other people. There’s a place for that. But remember times when someone saw through your mask to the real you, the person back behind your eyes. If you’re like me, those times were both unnerving and wonderful.

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What Makes You Feel Most Connected With Others?

What makes you feel connected with or disconnected from the important people in your life?


Connection with the people who are important to us is a vital need for everyone. Our brains are hard-wired to share love and connection with others. Many of us know that infants and children need a loving connection with their parents to thrive, and that many emotional problems result when this connection is not available.

Through practicing Inner Bonding, we learn how important it is to connect with ourselves and with our spiritual guidance. We learn that it is difficult to connect with another on an emotional level when we are not connected with our own feelings, and it is difficult to be open and vulnerable when we are not connected with the strength and love of our guidance.

Each of us experience connection differently, and for a relationship to thrive, we need to understand what connection means to each of us.

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Choose To Love

What does your heart say?

The Practice:
Choose to Love

Why?

Many years ago, I was in a significant relationship in which the other person started doing things that surprised and hurt me. I’ll preserve the privacy here so I won’t be concrete, but it was pretty intense. After going through the first wave of reactions – What?! How could you? Are you kidding me?! – I settled down a bit. I had a choice.

This relationship was important to me, and I could see that a lot of what was going through the mind over there was really about the other person and not about me. I began to realize that the freest, strongest, and most self-respecting thing that I could do was both to tell the person that we were on very thin ice . . . and to choose to love meanwhile.

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How To Identify and End A Toxic Relationship and Be Free

…… It’s sometimes hard to see you are in a toxic relationship when you are in it.

We get so invested and often can’t see clearly as we are clouded by our conditioning.

Some signs of a toxic relationship are more obvious, like mental, emotional, verbal or financial abuse, but some are much more subtle.

So here are a few signs of a toxic relationship:

  • You are constantly bringing out the worst parts of each other.
  • There is a lot of passive aggressive behavior rather than real communication.
  • Excessive jealousy, control and possessiveness.
  • Constantly criticizing the other.
  • You don’t feel you can be your real self out of fear of the other’s reactions.
  • Disrespecting your partner, their opinions, requests, worth.
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Mark Nepos' Weekly Reflection: I Affirm (for Joel Elkes)

Already someone is asking

who you were. And I well up.

I reach for your long life and all

you did. But it’s all you touched

that can’t be put into words. Twenty

years ago, when I was troubled and

confused, you took my hand firmly

and said, “You steward a force of

nature within you. Honor it and

trust it.” Later, you led me to the

plateau between all that is good

in us and all the harm we do. You

stood there between the eternal light

and the eternal dark and said, “Come,

look with me into the heart of things.”

But you always returned to walk the

earth, lending your strong hands to

all who came your way. I want so

much to speak about the force of

nature you were. The kind stranger

is waiting. And I can only point to

who you were, like a child pointing

to the moon. I stutter and simply

say, “He was such a good man.”



A Question to Walk With: Describe someone who can look into the heart of things with. What qualities does this friend inhabit that makes such depth between you possible?

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Where Do You Belong?

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” — Saint Teresa of Calcutta

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the phrase “go back to where you came from.”

Those were the words our president uttered last week, and after he said them, I found myself feeling the rejection, the pain and the hurt behind them. While his words were aimed at four female elected officials, I know that many of us have also heard words like that in our personal lives.

“Get out! Go away! You are not welcome here anymore. You don’t deserve to be here. Leave!”

Sit with those words. How do they make you feel in your body, your heart and your mind? I know they make me feel pain. Why? Well, underneath those words is the implication that one doesn’t belong, and not belonging cuts to the core of what we desire and need to survive as human beings.

Belonging. I remember a quote from Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta) where she said the biggest threat to us and our world was that people don’t feel as though they belong. “If we have no peace,” she said, “it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

When someone senses that they don’t belong, they don’t feel the ground underneath their feet. They don’t feel like they have a seat at the table. They don’t trust that they belong.

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Choosing the Company You Keep

Those with whom we assemble, we soon resemble!

This simple old saying hides a deep Truth that can enlighten and empower every aspect of our lives.

Who we are — our very essence — is continually being transformed by the company we keep.

Stated differently, when we keep the company of what is light and bright, our lives get lighter and brighter. And when we keep the company of what is dark and discouraging, our lives can’t help but be dragged downward.

This idea might sound a little simplistic at first, but its power soon becomes evident when we put it to use in the quest to realize our highest aspirations. The key lies in understanding that this principle is active on multiple levels at once. For instance, when referring to "the company we keep," we of course mean the people we spend time with every day — family, friends, co-workers, etc. However, on a deeper and more important level, “company” can also refer to the thoughts and feelings moving within us in any given moment.

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Trust In Love

Do you believe in love?

The Practice:
Trust in love.

Why?

Take a breath right now, and notice how abundant the air is, full of life-giving oxygen offered freely by trees and other green growing things. You can’t see air, but it’s always available for you.

Love is a lot like the air. It may be hard to see – but it’s in you and all around you.

In the press of life – dealing with hassles in personal relationships and bombarded with news of war and other conflicts – it’s easy to lose sight of love, and feel you can’t place your faith in it. But in fact, to summarize a comment from Gandhi, daily life is saturated with moments of cooperation and generosity – between complete strangers! Let alone with one’s friends and family.

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We Can’t Control Others, But Here’s How To Influence Them

Rather than trying to control others, which never works in the long run, learn how you can influence others.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Inner Bonding teaches that we have no control over others’ intent, choices, and how they feel about us. However, while we have no control, we can influence others. Our own loving or unloving behavior can have a huge influence on others.

Think back in your life to the people who most influenced you.

  • Who influenced you regarding your controlling and addictive behavior?
  • Who influenced you regarding your loving, personally powerful behavior?

The problem for many of us is that we have far too many role models of unloving behavior toward ourselves and others, and far too few role models of loving behavior. This is why it is so important to be able to turn to your guidance for what’s loving to you and to others.

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Love Your Neighbor

In the neighborhood?

The Practice:
Love your neighbor.

Why?

This practice might sound extreme or pushy, and I want to tell you what I mean by it.

Everyone has lots of neighbors, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Obviously the people living across the street are neighbors, but in some sense so are the people you live with. Friends, relatives, co-workers, all the people you know are neighbors. So are the people at the market or walking past on the street. Other living things are neighbors as well, such as cats and dogs, birds and bees, ants on the kitchen counter, and plants and trees.

There’s also a neighborhood inside each of us. The human body contains about 100 trillion cells – and at least as many microorganisms that are neighbors, too. Plus consider your mind. My own mind is like a village with many characters at different stages of biological and psychological evolution, chatting or arguing with each other. All the parts of your mind – the pushy internal critic, the playful child, the longing for lasting happiness, the calm voice that talks you off the ledge – are neighbors of a sort.

In the largest sense, the neighbors of your neighbors are your neighbors, which means that every living thing is your neighbor – and mine. Wow. Walt Whitman got it right when he wrote: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

What should we do with our neighbors? Ignore or hate them? Or recognize and love them?

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Proactively Choosing To Love

What does it REALLY mean to make choices from healthy parts of your personality? It’s not only when you observe that a fearful part of your personality is active (for example, one that is impatient), and you decide to act from a loving part of your personality instead (for example, one that is patient). This is the core dynamic of creating authentic power.

It also means proactively and consciously choosing to act from a loving part of your personality moment by moment – for example, a part that is grateful, or appreciative, or caring, or content, or in awe of the Universe as well as patient. When you do this, you will notice that you are naturally more giving, creative, and curious. You will feel your heart opening, and the joy of opening to others will fill your awareness.

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Over Many Months

After ten years of swimming, I stopped when Eleanor died. She was one of several dear ones who had left the Earth. There was too much to tend, and part of my heart had stopped, unsure how to continue. Everyone called it grief, but below the name, I felt that the fire in my center was beginning to smoke. I kept my appointments and did the endless tasks, but some part of me felt hollow.

Slowly, over many months, I began to feel the presence of those I lost in simple things: in the sudden sweep of tall grasses, as if Eleanor were whispering something I couldn’t quite hear; in the light on a pigeon in Washington Square Park while someone played a saxophone, as if my father were smiling on a bench just out of view; and in the closed eyes of our new dog Zuzu while asleep, as if our dead, beloved dog Mira were slipping inside her to tell us she was near.

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The Joy of Connection

“When the world is complicated, the simple gift of friendship is in all our hands.”  — Maria

I’m so happy May is upon us because it’s a month that feels like spring. It feels light. It feels joyful. It feels full of possibility. Everywhere you look, you can see nature unfolding, blooming and becoming.

I’m feeling joyful myself this week because I feel centered and grounded in my life. My work brings me meaning and I have a mission that feels larger than myself. My children are healthy, kind, thoughtful and hard-working. (A day doesn’t go by when I don’t thank God for them.) I’m also feeling blessed that I get to meet so many inspiring and amazing people along the way. This week was no exception.

At the beginning of this week, my travels took me to a summit in Las Vegas to talk about women’s health and Alzheimer’s (I was the first woman to ever speak there!). Then, I traveled to San Francisco for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards ceremony, which honored 21 incredible female entrepreneurs who are driving change through their development of impact-driven businesses around the world.

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See Intense Wants

When deeper wants are recognized one feels seen and less likely to be reactive.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what are the deepest wants of all?

The Practice:
See intense wants.

Why?

I did my Ph.D. dissertation by videotaping 20 mother-toddler pairs and analyzing what happened when the mom offered an alternative to a problematic want ("not the chainsaw, sweetie, how about this red truck"). Hundreds of bleary-eyed hours later, I found that offering alternatives reduced child negative emotion and increased cooperation with the parent.

Pretty interesting (at least to me, both as a new parent and as someone desperate to finish grad school). And there's an even deeper lesson. Kids—and adults, too—obviously want to get what they want from others. But more fundamentally, we want to know that others understand our wants—and even more fundamentally, that they want to.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: All This has Yet to Happen

When my twentieth book was published, we had a party in our backyard. It was such a milestone. My wife, Susan, surprised me that day by having the incomparable folk singer, May Erlewine, play with her quartet. I was dumbfounded to see her in our driveway. As May played, her voice threaded through our histories and I could feel the weave of stories that have brought us all together. After her first set, I offered a reading, one piece from each of my books. I have read all over the world and, honestly, I’m never nervous, but reading in our backyard to our dearest friends, I was. As I took in all those loving faces, my heart swelled and I realized that what so touches me about May and her music, beneath all her gifts, is that when I first saw her play, she reminded me that I am alive and that the moment we are in has yet to happen. And standing before my friends, I said as much, adding, “I feel this with each of you. Every time we’re together, no matter the distance or time in between, I am reminded that I am alive and that all this has yet to happen. In this way, each of you holds up my heart. In this way, each of you opens my heart. In truth, anyone or anything that reminds us that we are alive and that this has yet to happen is a friend.” I could feel all these beautiful beings with their gifts and burdens, mirrored and softened by each other’s company. Insight often appears in the loving presence of others. It had happened again. Standing with friends on this raft of an afternoon after years of rowing downstream together, I could see that friendship is my religion, the constant practice of love in the world.

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Forget The Shoulda's

When healthy inclinations become "shouldas," then there is a big problem.

Is it really true?

The Practice: Forget the "shoulda's."

Why?

One time I watched a three-year-old at her birthday party. Her friends were there from preschool, and she received lots of presents. The cake came out, she admired the pink frosting rose at its center, and everyone sang. One of the moms cut pieces and without thinking sliced right through the rose - a disaster for this little girl. "I shoulda had the rose!" she yelled. "I shoulda shoulda SHOULDA had the rose!" Nothing could calm her down, not even pushing the two pieces of cake together to look like a whole rose. Nothing else mattered, not the friends, not the presents, not the day as a whole: she was insistent, something MUST happen. She had, just HAD to get the whole rose.

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Improve Your Relationships! 3 Steps for Better Communication

Does the idea of communicating with your loved one involve idle chit chat while gazing at the T.V. or glossing over your mobile device? Are you struggling with conflict and disagreements internally that show up as passive-aggressive behavior in yourself or others? What about with colleagues at work or even with whom you interact with on social media?

You’d think they are all different- that close relationship should count more, but why is that? Truly, anyone you communicate with deserves respect, kindness, and authentic dialog. No one needs to accept anything less.

Good communication is essential to having a loving, harmonious relationship. But, most of us were never really taught the art of relationship dialogue. Sure, we read magazine articles about finding the right moment to express our needs and how we need to learn how to compromise, etc. We try to keep trying to get them to hear our point of view and then get frustrated when our partner, colleague or friend doesn’t seem interested.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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