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.
"Sometimes the longest journey we make is the sixteen inches from our heads to our hearts."
On Thursday I woke up to an earthquake. My first thoughts were, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This on top of everything else? What is up with this year?!”
I looked at my phone and my kids had texted asking, “Mommy, are you awake? Did you feel that? What’s our plan?” Thankfully, we were all OK, but I thought the same thing. What is our plan?
Plans and 2020 just don’t seem to be on the same page, do they? Earlier this week, I posted a quote on social media that addressed people’s sadness and gave them permission not to feel pressured to have a "good day," but to simply "have a day"... free of plans, to do's, and expectations. I said it’s OK not to expect to have a "good day." It’s also OK not to be great, or even OK. After all, we are living in unprecedented times, right?
The overwhelming response to the quote took me aback. It made me realize yet again that so many of us need a break and some relief, even if it’s simply being told you don’t have to have a great day and that you are allowed to simply “have a day.”
The more we are able to return to peace on demand, the more we are able to boost our immunity and the more we are able to respond to what’s happening instead of getting lost and stuck in cycles of reactivity, fear, panic and overwhelm.
Under the current conditions, it’s more important than ever to remember that it’s OK to be happy. It’s OK to smile. Smiling takes no energy or effort, yet when you smile, you recalibrate your entire physiology. You wash away the proclivity to remember pain with a flood of joy.
Is it worth it?
Make good bargains.
Life is full of tradeoffs between benefits and costs.
Sometimes, the benefits are worth the costs. For example, the rewards of going for a run – getting out in fresh air, improving health, etc. – are, for me at least, worth the costs of losing half an hour of work time while gaining a pair of achy legs. Similarly, it could well be that: getting a raise is worth the awkwardness of asking for one; teaching a child good lessons is worth the stress of correcting her; and deepening intimacy is worth the vulnerability of saying “I love you.”
But other times, the benefits are not worth the costs. For example, it might feel good to yell at someone who makes you mad – but at a big price, including making you look bad and triggering others to act even worse. There are indeed rewards in that third beer or third cookie – but also significant costs, including how you’ll feel about yourself the next day.
We make a thousand choices a day, each one a bargain in which the brain weighs expected benefits against expected costs. Therefore, it’s important to make good bargains, good choices, in which the real benefits are greater than the real costs.
Unfortunately, your brain lies to you all day long. (And to me and to everyone else.)
In my sixty-eighth year, I saw a dancer, middle-aged, outside a café. I was at a conference in California and she was hired to dance at lunch time in the open. I sipped my coffee and watched her for a while. Most of us were busy going to what was next. Something in how she leapt and landed softened me. For she was so thoroughly herself that there was nowhere to go. And I realized that all of us were there to find what she had found.
It’s been a week since I flew home. And I’m up early, having dreamt of the dancer being herself. And before the sun comes up, I realize Mom, now that you’re gone, that this was all you ever wanted—to find a spot in the sun where you could leap out from under the turmoil of your life and be thoroughly yourself.
People are often confused when I suggest that they let go of attachment to goals. “Shouldn’t I have goals? Isn’t having goals important?” they ask.
“This knowledge commands us to stay in the present moment, which brings awareness to all that we do… It teaches us to stay focused on the process and use our goals as stars to guide our course. When we make staying focused on the process our real goal, we experience a sense of success in every moment.” ~”The Practicing Mind” by Thomas M. Sterner
Yes! It’s vital to have goals! How will you know where you want to go if you don’t have goals? However, there is a huge difference between having your worth and happiness attached to the goal, and using your goal to guide your actions.
"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love."
Something interesting happened to me the other day. Just after I had spent the better part of an hour talking about all the things I missed due to the pandemic, I stumbled upon an article talking about all the good things that people felt had happened to them during this time. It reminded me that perspective is everything.
The key is being able to hold the yin and yang. If I were writing a handbook for life (and I’m not), it would include a lot that no one told me about. It would talk about how life demands that you be good—really good—at juggling and balancing the paradoxes of life. You must if you want to be a survivor or a happy warrior.
Just when you think, “OK, I’ve got things figured out,” life throws you on the ground. Just when the country reopens and you think, “OK, maybe things are going to get better," the cases surge and the nation experiences its highest numbers to date. Just when you pick yourself up and dust yourself off from one of life’s curveballs, bam! You find yourself on your knees again, learning yet another life lesson.
Human beings are a unique creation in the cosmic scheme of things. Unlike the untold billions of other life forms teaming on the Earth -- whose nature is an open and shut case -- human nature is not fixed. What does this mean to you? Only everything!
The tiger, the horse, and the bird must express their nature. They have no real choice. And even though they may be free to choose which part of the jungle, or open range, in which they want to feed and roam, these animals have no choice as to the kind of world in which they must dwell.
The tiger can't choose to live above the jungle floor any more than a shark can decide to soar through blue skies. The tiger, horse, bird, and shark must live where they do because of what they are. Try to see this deeply.
The tiger's nature determines its life. And that life is a part of the jungle floor. They are inseparable. The tiger's nature and its life level are one thing. The tiger's life level determines the world it must inhabit. Its nature and life level are as fixed as its stripes.
Several times when hiking very early, I have heard drumming at sunrise. The powerful sounds shifted over the desert floor in a beautiful and mystical way. The rhythm always found my heart. I could feel traditions and rituals that respect the earth and all that is. These moments became sacred to me. I would pause my stride to honor the energy that was being shared.
Over the next couple of months, I attempted to find out where the sounds of the drum were originating from. I also wanted to know who was gifting us such an amazing start to the day. Last week, I asked the right person. He suggested I climb Piestewa Peak. There was still a mystery as to who did the drumming. The opportunity of seeing the ceremony stayed in my thoughts. While making my plans, I learned a comet might be visible about an hour before sunrise… So my goals included hiking the peak, seeing the comet, experiencing the drum ceremony, and seeing the sunrise. I hadn’t felt this excited and uplifted about an adventure for a while.
Who are you… really? What is the ego? And can you really let go of it? In this episode, I dive deep into the subject of the ego, it’s function, what it really is, and how we go through life allowing our ego to run the show. We live our lives unconscious of the conditioning that has happened early on in our childhood without realizing that this might not really be you, it’s more the conditioned you. This powerful episode will help you observe yourself and your own conditioning in order to recognize and begin to shift and release those parts of yourself that are attached to your ego, this conditioned identity. It’s time to free yourself and find the real you!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead, 1901-1978, Anthropologist, Writer and Speaker
Do you have any idea how much your caring and kindness change the world each and every moment? Do you understand that your joy, as well as your misery, goes into the energy field that we live in and has an effect on the entire planet?
Energy is not local. Many of us have had the experience of picking up the energy of someone we are very close to, even if they were thousands of miles away. You might have had a sense of the moment when someone you loved died. You might have picked up the phone and called a loved one just as they were thinking about you. We live in a universe of energy, and our thoughts, feelings and actions are a part of this energy.
Every life is a miracle and a tragedy, and these undeniable forces will, at times, overwhelm us. So, our first epic struggle is not to drown in the depths of tragedy and not to leave life through the transcendent pull of miracle. Our second noble struggle, which never ends, is to let the lightness of miracle and the groundedness of tragedy braid in our heart, so we can be thoroughly alive and live here now.
There is a huge difference between instinct and intuition, and it’s important to differentiate between them, especially right now with so much uncertainly on our planet.
Instinct comes partly from the amygdala, which is a small gland at the base of the left-brain. Part of the job of the amygdala is as a survival mechanism responsible for initiating the stress response of fight, flight or freeze. The amygdala is the seat of the wounded self – it stores emotional memories that can get triggered in stressful situations. When instinct kicks in, we are not operating from thought, but from survival needs. For example, a newborn infant, as well as all mammals, will instinctively suckle as part of its survival. Instinct is essential for the survival of any species.
Why do we accept so much unhappiness in our lives today? If you think this supposition is untrue, ask yourself why people spend so much time seeking ways to distract themselves with empty pleasures? Or why so many people push themselves along one spiritual path after another, blindly hoping that something will happen to mitigate their sense of emptiness?
The self that is moved to do this kind of imagining does not understand that some unseen force of sorrow or distress fuels its dream engine. Consequently, the more it works to imagine some hoped-for happiness, the more identified it becomes with the opposite of what is driving this dream of brighter times to come.
Our lives are meant to be bright, noble, and ever ascending. This promise of our true potential is made good in us by fulfilling our possibilities and not through the interminable struggle of trying to prove what is impossible. Most of our sorrows are the stressful offspring of trying to be something we have no real need to be; they are born for attempting to do what cannot—and need not—be done.
The following Ten Causes of Needless Heart aches reveal how we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering.
Most of us are familiar with the term evil; but have you ever wondered what evil really is? Does evil have a mind of its own? Can it take over a person’s world? Is evil the opposite of God? Is an evil part of an unavoidable karmic experience? Is each of us capable of committing evil?
So many questions swirl around a word that has the potential to stop you in your tracks. Often, the word evil is used when someone is experiencing fear or wanting others to experience fear. How convenient it is to learn an evil force will rise if you fail to obey. You might have been cautioned to avoid something or someone because they are evil. This word is used both lightheartedly and in very serious tones. Interestingly, evil is similar to love; they both cover a huge territory of implication while evoking powerful feelings.
Allow me to demystify evil.
Are you full to the rim?
Empty the cup.
Once upon a time, a scholar came to visit a saint. After the scholar had been orating and propounding for a while, the saint proposed some tea. She slowly filled the scholar’s cup: gradually the tea rose to the very brim and began spilling over onto the table, yet she kept pouring and pouring. The scholar burst out: “Stop! You can’t add anything to something that’s already full!” The saint set down the teapot and replied, “Exactly.”
Whether it’s the blankness of a canvas to an artist, the silence between the notes in music, bare dirt for a new garden, the not-knowing openness of a scientist exploring new hypotheses, an unused shelf in a closet or cupboard, or some open time in your schedule, you need space to act effectively, dance with your partners, and have room around your emotional reactions.
Yet most of us, me included, tend to stuff as much as possible into whatever room is available – room in closets, schedules, budgets, relationships, and even the mind itself.
Personally, my own mind is often filled with themes of work: details of tasks to do, problems to avert, opportunities to capture keep swelling up again into awareness to capture my attention. For a friend of mine, the wallpaper of her own mind, as she puts it, is rumination about her health problems.
Remember the cup: its value is in the space, the emptiness, it holds.
The comedian George Carlin once said, “The caterpillar does all the work and the butterfly gets all the publicity.” I am fan of caterpillars, those who are dissolving their own skins to become who they are meant to be. We who continue to grow, perpetually enter the goop of change, or butterfly soup. It’s incomplete. It wouldn’t look good on a photo shoot.
As you move along your path, you may feel angry, held back, sad, unseen, or empty. It takes so much courage to be developing or undoing or daring. Yet please don’t let the in-between space convince you that you lack anything. Being in transition doesn’t mean you’re broken. It means you’re breaking away from the old, an identity, maybe a set of assumptions or an understanding or a world that no longer fits you.
It’s easy to sit on the sidelines in the lounge chair of life and be a spectator, or a critic of those who are facing their lives head-on. But I’m a sucker for those of us who are daring to make something of this time on earth. Real life is always taking place in the middle of things, not just in the polished perfection of an illusion of the end goal. How you live in the middle really is the quality of your life.
I have always thought it is fun to take part in a game of chance. I purchase raffle tickets and enter other contests. I feel pretty lucky in life, so why not. During the early weeks of pandemic life, like many other people, I purchased a weekly lottery ticket. At that time my only outing was driving to a pool for our son to swim. On our way home, we would look at the lottery numbers on a huge sign. It was updated weekly, sharing how much money was still available. We always noticed when there had been a big payout. My son and I would entertain ourselves, talking about winning the lottery. What would we do with a big cash prize?
In truth, our everyday life probably wouldn’t change much. I would buy new windows, doors, and a snake fence for our aging home. I would invest some money in my business. Mostly, it is fun to think about what animal sanctuaries, environmental and humanitarian groups I would donate to. It feels good to run all the possibilities of contributing through my mind. The thrill of making a sizable difference is very fun to explore.
A winning lottery ticket is symbolic of living a life of freedom, no restrictions. It is a creative way to think about what you want most in your life. Buying the ticket and daydreaming of a win, helps you visualize unlimited finances, and removes restrictions. Imagining what you will do with your winnings, brings true abundance one step closer to your reality. This process can land you a winning lottery ticket; more importantly, it can help you discover your ability to manifest your greatest desires.
Join Panache Desai every morning and for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
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