Are we really so separate?
Love the world.
To simplify and summarize, our brain has three primary motivational systems – Avoiding harms, Approaching rewards, and Attaching to “us” – that draw on many neural networks to accomplish their goals.
Lately, I’ve started to realize that a fourth fundamental human motivational system could be emerging as well.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors depended upon their habitats for food and shelter. Today, over 7 billion of us are pressing hard up against the limits of Lifeboat Earth. To survive and to flourish, cultural and perhaps biological evolution are calling us to love the world.
The world is near to hand in the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the weather and climate in which you spend your days. And then in widening circles, the world extends out to include complex webs of life and the physical characteristics of the land, the sea, and the sky.
Have you ever had a gut feeling, decided not to listen to it, and then later regretted that decision?
This has been the case for so many people. In the last 30 years of my work, talking with tens of thousands of individuals, nearly all have said they regretted ignoring their gut feelings. In fact, never in all those years have I heard someone say, “I had this gut feeling, this inner voice, and I went with it, and boy do I regret it.”
It’s time to do the math. When we regret ignoring that small, inner voice 100% of the time, we should learn that trusting it is the obvious way to go.
We know we should listen to that gut feeling, and yet we override that small voice all the time because we doubt it; we think we’re not enough; we think we couldn’t possibly know more than the authorities or those who have come before us and so on. What we must understand is that we are built of creativity and are destined to come up with new answers and solutions – to bring new ideas that work and to be innovative – and oftentimes those ideas start with that small, inner feeling in our gut.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” – Deepak Chopra
How are you? I hope that you were able to take some time away this summer to rest, reflect, and recharge.
My August break abruptly began with a death in my family. It was sudden and heartbreaking, and it stopped everyone and everything in its tracks.
Before my August break, people asked me, “Maria, aren’t you worried about losing your momentum on social media, with your Sunday Paper, and with NBC?”
“Yes and no,” I replied. “I’m sure I’ll lose some momentum, but I’m certain that what I’ll gain in return will be more meaningful and more profound.”
Maybe you lose your job or your romantic partner leaves you…
Or you injure yourself, a family member falls ill, someone breaks into your car or your new boss turns out to be a total jerk.
And when you turn on the TV to escape from it all, the news is full of horrible and disturbing stories about a world in seemingly never-ending crisis!
But it’s important to remember that you have the power to change your experience at any moment. And that’s because it’s your thoughts that create your own reality.
And I mean that very literally…
The things you choose to focus on determines how you perceive the world – AND the experiences you have as a result.
If you focus only on the negative things in your world, the world can seem like a terrible place.
But when you focus on the positive things in your world, you see that the world is actually full of love and kindness and beauty and inspiring people doing incredible things.
Here are 5 powerful tips on how to retrain your brain for positivity, so you can maintain an optimistic, inspired, motivated outlook – no matter what is happening in your life or the world around you.
Sitting on the couch, I felt it coming. It was late at night and the world was fast asleep. It was slowly making its way to me and I started to feel terrified. “What do I do now?” I asked, addressing no one in particular. And then, it begins: “I can’t do this. I don’t have what it takes!” I was starting to feel overwhelmed and if I didn’t get hold of it, it would lead me down a deep hole the way Alice did when she followed the rabbit.
This is just one version of a very real, very human process of going downhill emotionally. I’ve been through many different types of it countless of times before and I doubt it will ever stop happening. The difference is, this time around, I got it under control. I got myself out of it fast—through gratitude.
It’s in the genes! But…
Our minds have an annoying habit of continually warning us to watch out, be careful, stand back, or say no to any new situation. Perhaps left over from prehistoric times when humans often encountered oversized predatory beasts outside the safety of their caves. Not so helpful today though. Certainly there are things to be concerned or cautious about, but not every choice we make is fraught with danger. Over-cautiousness keeps us frozen in fear and inertia.
A high frequency is necessary to feel love and joy, and to manifest your dreams. Learn two secrets to keeping your frequency high.
I have discovered that there are two choices I can make that, together, invariably put me into a high frequency and bring me inner peace and joy. While either of these choices are always beneficial, together they are incredibly powerful!
We all know how important gratitude is, but the problem is that often we express our gratitude in a fairly rote manner. The kind of gratitude I’m referring to is moment-by-moment gratitude for every big and little thing, and the overriding gratitude that we are never alone – that spirit is always here for us.
There are simply endless opportunities that we have daily to help others. It feels good to us to help, and it feels great to the recipient, too! Scientific studies have shown that giving of our time, energy, or money greatly helps boost all of those feel-good chemicals our brains just love.
Here are seven real benefits – backed by science – of how contributing to the lives of other people can help us find peace.
The overarching theme coming this week, and the energy in the weekly reading, revolves around the art of changing perspective while being compassionate with ourselves and allowing for the space we need to look at our limiting beliefs. In a time of transformation – global and personal it’s so important not to fall prey to the “omg there is so much more healing to do!” voice, and take account of how far you have actually come. If you’ve been even slightly awake and on track with your quest for a more practical spiritual life, you will have learned a lot along the way. Now is not the time to get stuck in the mire of more work to do. It’s not about effort anyway.
It’s about perception and perspective.
I am always incredibly grateful that my mission is being a small part of the Big Shift and offering people a way to gain inspired insight so that we can all learn to see ourselves in a new light.
Some days can be tough. During the times that are most trying, it’s difficult to let go of worry, anxiety, frustration and sadness. To a certain extent, we train ourselves to keep our feelings of upset flowing. We replay endless loops of negative thoughts that keep us anchored to our problems. I know how difficult it is to look on the bright side, especially if you’re in debt or have other financial fears.
But that’s exactly when you need to keep yourself open yourself to humor and gratitude. Allowing in more positive feelings can shift your outlook and help you to make decisions in alignment with where you want to go, instead of staying stuck where you are.
When you meditate do you know that if you focus on gratitude everything in your life changes for the better? Today, my brain was on the fried and crunchy side. I was feeling a lot of resistance to a situation that is turning out to be different than I wanted and so was feeling frustrated. To top it off I left my blog to the last minute. I’m not always “on” when it’s time to write a blog and so I needed help and fast. I know this works 1000% so I meditated, tuned into Spirit, held my heart for 10 minutes, and allowed gratitude to permeate my whole body, breathing deeply. Then I knew I should choose an Oracle Card from my Oracle Card deck “Wisdom of the Oracle” for a message. I would write about it if it felt right.
Every time you approach an Oracle for wisdom and guidance you automatically tune into synchronicity and the flow of what’s most needed to be in coherence with Spirit, and in alignment with the highest good. So I prayed for what I needed to write in this blog and asked for a subject to focus on for “the highest good” for everyone who reads this, then I shuffled and chose a card.
You know, even though I was called to bring this Oracle Card deck to life even I forget sometimes how uncanny it is when you ask the question, “What overarching message do we need to know to live our best lives now?” And then get a powerful answer.
There was a major shift that occurred in the 60’s, the shift from what you call absolute reality; thinking that what you saw and what your thinking mind thought it understood was only one kind of reality. And there was another experience of reality. William James, of course, had said that many years before, if you remember his quote,
It’s interesting that William James said that when he was a professor at Harvard. I was thrown out of William James Hall for doing what he said.
Up until the 60’s, the primary spiritual containers were the organized religions of this culture. They were primarily the holders of the ethical constraints of the culture. They motivated people to behave ethically through fear and through internalized superego. The primary mediator between you and God was the priest, so there was a priest class. What the 60’s did through psychedelics, initially, was blow that whole system apart. Because it made the relationship to God a direct experience, once again of the individual. Of course the Quakers have had that, and had a long history of it as did other traditions. But in terms of mainstream, this was a new concept coming into the culture, which was spiritual and not formally religious.
What does “home” mean to you? A place? A group of people? A memory? Or is it a feeling deep inside that touches your heart and soul? All of these perhaps. Our own life experiences define what home means to each of us. I grew up in Illinois, later lived in California, and then settled in Massachusetts for more than 30 years. Massachusetts is where I met my life partner, Anne, and where we were married. I’ve always loved both coasts, but I didn’t realize how much the Northeast had become home for me until I moved away and then returned for a visit.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” — Maya Angelou
My friend Clay wrote me the other day to tell me about a book he’s reading. It’s called Seven Ages of Paris, and in it, the French writer Colette is quoted as having said the following just before she died in 1954:
“What a beautiful life I’ve had. It’s a pity I didn’t notice it sooner.”
That quote landed on me like a thud. I hope you’ll stop and absorb it, too. Make a silent vow to not be Colette, like I did.
Now, to be honest, I’ve been in Colette’s heels before. When I was younger, I was constantly running through life as I juggled work, my children, my parents and all the other obligations coming my way. My to-do list was pages’ long, and it was all of my own making. I wasn’t noticing anything along the way because I was just trying to get everything done and start all over again.
Thank God I came to my senses.
My family is in the ﬁnal stages of relocating to Arizona from Alaska. We will be in sunny Arizona 10 months of the year, and enjoying Alaska’s cool summers two months of the year. We frequently use air travel into and out of Alaska . This time I wanted to experience a longer journey out, maybe even savor the experience of leaving Alaska. Entering or exiting the 49th state has two unique options during the summer months. We can drive the Alaska highway system into Canada and then into the lower 48 states, or use the ferry system. Both are about 4 or 5 days of continues travel.
A friend graciously accompanied me on the ferry. We drove my car, that was packed full of photographs and other treasures, onto the ferry just before midnight on Monday. Both of us had sleeping bags, food and Dramamine. Our sleeping arrangements included chaise lounges, minus the cushions and sleeping bags. We felt lucky to score two of the lounges. It took us a short amount of time to ﬁnd where we wanted to camp for 4 and a half days.
What doesn’t rust?
So many things change. Leaves fall, friends move away, children leave home. My dad died a year ago, and my mom about ten years before that. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting older (darn, there is no fooling the mirror).
The world changes, too. Evolving technologies alter jobs and lives. Elections happen and different people take charge. New restaurants open while others close.
Experience itself is always changing, right at the front edge of now. So are the neural substrates of this moment’s experience, fleeting coalitions of millions of synapses coming into being even as they disperse, while the molecular structures of individual synapses themselves are dynamically constructing and deconstructing in the blink of an eye.
One of the key wisdoms I’ve come to know in my life is to always appreciate what is here, rather than search for (and lament) what is not. If you hold the latter focus, you will always find something missing. If you hold the former, the world will open up around you in miraculous ways. Some people call this a gratitude practice, and that’s a good name for it. Life on Earth is so rich with experiential treasures, so much to be grateful for.
In every moment, there is a surplus of wonder in your life. The air you breathe, the sky above you, your friends and family, all of them precious beyond words. Yet, not every person, event, experience, or detail in life is always within your perceptual field. You can have one particular experience today and an entirely different one tomorrow, each of them seemingly separate. If you expand your awareness, however, both experiences are connected.
We live on a planet of polarities, and we are learning to navigate it, to find balance and harmony within that world. The middle path is one that is inclusive of everything within each moment. You don’t get lost in opposites, which can lend itself to only experiencing loss. Instead, you see everything around you as part of a greater network of meaning and connection in the universe. There is no absence, only presence.
I love writing blogs based on the weekly Oracle reading. Even though there are typically four cards in a reading sometimes only one jumps out to talk about. This week the glorious Greek goddess Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt, really stood out for me. I am an empath and boy can I get distracted by other people’s “stuff”, by too much on my plate, and by social media and news. I have to go on a media diet (kinda like a mental energy cleanse) and stay off the usual suspects especially when I have a creative project in front of me. So when I need to focus, I imagine calling up this goddess energy from within and pretending I am Artemis with my bow and arrow holding it taut, focused on my target. Would Artemis let herself get distracted by other people’s noise? No way she is the queen of the forest, not interested in gossip, in the noise of complaints or the fears accompanying the din of the world. Nope, she picks her target, gets super quiet and waits until the perfect moment. Then, because she is laser sharp in her focus and fully trusts the relationship between what she wants and what becomes possible, she always makes her mark. Rarely does the goddess of the hunt miss.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” — Maya Angelou
It was early evening when it happened.
I was walking back to my car after a boxing session (yup, I box!), when I turned the corner and encountered a homeless man lying face-up on the sidewalk. He was motionless. Quiet. Had little sign of life. I wasn’t sure what to do or how to help him. So instead, I just kept walking with my head down.
A moment later, a thought flashed through my mind. “Did I really just walk past a man lying on the ground and keep going?”
I got into my car and felt a deep sense of shame.
This morning I woke up and meditated, hand on heart, waiting for that click that I know will turn on my miracle mindset. Sometimes that’s not the case and I don’t wake up loving my life. When that happens it’s a call to action! I need to make a change-clean house, start again. And, once I get back in the zone of wonder, to keep the “love engine” oiled and running I need to redo those steps again and again.
So how do you get to that miracle mindset? Where do you start, how do you get there and what do you change when you’re not really sure?
Sometimes the change is internal, about perspective and perception, sometimes it’s environmental, about the state of your surroundings and its effect on you, and other times it’s about the act of dropping resistance and surrendering to what is to be liberated from judgment so your heart can open wide. I know when I’m in love with my life I’m automatically aligned with a miracle mindset and then anything becomes possible.
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