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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When a wave of negative reactions comes along, something in us that believes itself to be apart from the wave, steps in and tries to mitigate or resolve it.  It never works!  As long as we run into the wave, try to fight with it, change its direction, or evaporate the ocean, there's only one possibility. What's the possibility? The continuity of conflict. That's the only possibility there is. The reaction actually drives the situation deeper and strengthens the idea that: “I really don't want to be an unhappy person. I really don't want to worry, but I just have to!” That’s a lie.

If we really understood that, then what position would we take towards our painful reactions? What would be our conscious choice? I'm going to tell you what it would be. It would be to have no position at all. None. We would just be watchful instead of being tricked into being willful.

Have you ever watched a little cloud in the sky until it disappears? Where does it go? It changes form. It lives in a relationship with a host of forces acting upon it, and the very purpose of the relationship is to change the forms that those forces produce.

When the cloud disappears, nothing is lost; it has simply taken on a new role. The role that it takes on will change again and again, and eventually it will appear as a little cloud again. That's the nature of life.

What would happen if we understood that our true nature is to our negative reactions, as this broad body of forces is to the awareness of the cloud?

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Dear Maria . . .

the friction
inside your mind
will keep overflowing
into your relationships
 
until you process
your emotional history
and understand how it shapes
your ego, perception, and reactions

—yung pueblo


I've Been Thinking...


I got a letter the other day, and I was so excited when I saw my name on the envelope. I knew right away that it was a handwritten note.

I love getting handwritten notes in the mail (and I must say, I don’t get many these days). They really stand out amongst the stack of bills, mailers, and other junk that we all get. You just know a handwritten envelope when you see it. You know that it's something personal, and that it's probably from someone you care about, or who cares about you.

At first, I thought the envelope was from one of my brothers or cousins, as they do still write handwritten notes. (My kids do too, but they don't mail them.) But then I opened it and realized it was a note from me to me! Can you believe that?! Allow me to explain how it happened. 

When I went on retreat this past August, I was encouraged by the retreat leaders to write a note reminding myself of how proud I was of the deep work I did at the inner bootcamp. My note said, "Maria, I’m so proud of you for all the hard work you've done. I hope you remember how you felt at this retreat, standing in your light and feeling strong, powerful, tender, and whole."

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Is It Time to Press Your Pause Button?

Have you lost your spark or feel uninspired lately? Has the stress of your job or family drama taken all you have left? Are you becoming more pessimistic about the monotony of life, the people around you or even yourself?

This is when you need to press your Pause Button!

When you begin to lose sight of your purpose and direction, your soul will be there—nudging you with signs and signals to step back from the relentless pace of your routine and rediscover your true nature.  

I believe one of the purposes of my “Soul Inspirations” newsletter is to remind us that there will be times in our lives, even moments, when we forget that we’re a part of something greater than ourselves. We forget that we’re a Divine expression of God. This is when we need to make a conscious effort to remember who we really are at a soul level. How do we that? By hitting our Pause Button, taking a break from all the activities in our outer world and going within to connect with our souls.

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An Enlightening Minute

When you look at the traditions of higher consciousness East and West, they all seem to have one thing in common: Arriving at higher consciousness takes time, perhaps a lifetime.  Along with this notion comes other, closely related ones. Higher consciousness is exceptional. It requires intense inner work. Only a select few ever reach the goal.

The overall effect of these ideas is to discourage the average person from even considering that higher consciousness is within reach. For all practical purposes, society sets those apart who have become enlightened, saintly, or spiritually advanced — choose whatever term you want. In an age of faith such figures were revered; today they are more likely to be viewed as beyond normal life, to be admired, shrugged off, or forgotten.

Much of this is a holdover from the merger of religion, spirituality, and consciousness. For centuries there was no separating the three. Most traditional societies developed a priestly class to guard the sanctity—and privileged status—of reaching near to God. But these trappings are now outdated and even work against the truth, which is that higher consciousness is as natural and effortless as consciousness itself. If you are aware, you can become more aware. There is nothing more to higher consciousness than this logical conclusion.

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How To Be Happy No Matter What (3 Myths)

You can be the happiest person you know. In this video, I discuss 3 common myths that people believe about happiness.

Stop chasing happiness. The quest actually makes us less happy.

We go after things that we think will make us happy, but we are left feeling empty. We often put happiness out there in the future and we are in a constant state of seeking it so we end up never feeling happy now. The ego has no interest in being happy. The moment it actually finds it, its role is dissolved so it keeps you distant from happiness.

Happiness does not come from what you achieve or get, it is a state of being. You can be happy regardless of what is happening in your life, regardless of what you have or don't have. You must question your definition of success. You must question your definition of happiness.

Mark Nepo's Weekly reflection: For Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett is a legendary pianist and composer who is part of the pantheon who have led us into new realms of music. His legendary ability to improvise is astonishing as are his renditions of classical music including Bach, Handel, and Mozart. Like so many, I have been both softened and strengthened by his company my entire life.



On January 24, 1975, you arrived from a long wet drive from Zurich. You had not slept well due to back pain. You kept shifting the brace in the car, only to find they had the wrong piano. You were going to cancel when the young promoter pleaded in the rain. So, at 11:30 p.m. you walked on stage at the Koln Opera House to a sold-out crowd of 1400 who each paid $1.72 to get in. For the next hour and three minutes you were a nameless spirit rippling in a musical wind, your hands fluttering up and down the keyboard in a more than human way.

I discovered the recording a few years later and your devotion to playing only what you hear helped me be the poet I was born to be. I have played the Koln Concert everywhere: jogging, swimming, walking in the woods, and on airplanes peering through the clouds. Then, in 1985, you released “Hourglass,” a waterfall on piano that you plucked from the gods. Like so many, I have let it unravel my soul countless times, including while huddled in the nook of a boulder on the edge of the Continental Divide. The mountain jays were swooping to the rhythm of your hands. Your disciplined abandon has taught me much about immersion.

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The Optimist Creed — 10 Principles To Unleash Your Leadership Power

As transformational leaders, we’re constantly seeking ways to increase our leadership power. And optimism, for business leaders, is as close to a “magic wand” as you can get!

No matter our leadership type, our mindset shapes not only our own personal performance, but also the way we influence the people we lead. It impacts our ability to guide our teams and companies through challenges, as well as to create a space that allow others to blossom – in any business environment.

And when optimism seems the furthest from our reach – that’s when we really need it the most to become effective leaders and fortify our leadership power. 

An optimistic mindset is oriented toward creating solutions, collaborating with others, and uplifting, clear communication – the very things we need to navigate and succeed in difficult circumstances.  

As with any skill needed to develop leadership power, optimism can be developed and strengthened.

I was blessed to be introduced to The Optimist Creed decades ago, and it is one of my favorite leadership books. In one of my first true leadership experiences, I struggled. I didn’t understand how to lead a team effectively, and my results showed. Because I was leading a sales team, and we didn’t hit our numbers, I was removed from the position and invited to return to my role as a salesperson.

I threw myself into studying leadership, and that’s when my mentor introduced me to The Optimist Creed. And I was amazed at how shifting my mindset translated into improved leadership skills and results. I’m convinced that optimism for leaders is one of your most valuable “secret weapons.”

Let’s review the 10 core principles of The Optimist Creed. They are presented as promises that you make to yourself.

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It's Time

There’s something about deep wounding that can be a pathway to deep, deep love.
It’s a very beautiful thing when the wound becomes the doorway."
—Henry Shukman

I've Been Thinking...

Dear friend,

How are you? I’d truly love to know.

How was your August? Did it go by slowly or was it way too rushed? Did you travel or stay home? Did you gather with friends or spend time alone?

Have you immersed yourself in the news of Afghanistan? Have you read the stories of the brave soldiers who gave their lives? Do you live in an area ravaged by Hurricane Ida or the fires and need support? (See below for ways to help.) Did the Texas ruling make you angry? Has the Delta variant got you isolating again? Have the ongoing vaccine and mask wars left you discouraged? (I’m happily vaccinated, and I see wearing my mask as a public service.)

However you feel at this moment, try to pace yourself and breathe. There is a lot going on in our world at large, and that’s probably true in your personal life as well. My hope is to always meet you where you are. I hope my words each Sunday help you feel seen, supported, hopeful, and less alone on your journey to what I call The Open Field.

As for me, I find myself feeling a whole range of emotions about our country and about life right now. But I am in a good place overall. I’m in a place of self-compassion, self-love, and self-acceptance.

These days, I greet myself in the mirror with words of gratitude and appreciation, not with a self-critical voice like I used to do. I’m calm, at ease, and at peace, which is huge for me. This is all despite my deep concern about Texas, the California recall, and about our country’s deep division, which I have a real desire to help heal.

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Three Questions To Ask Yourself When Things Go Wrong

Challenges are part of everyone’s life, but there are dark moments when a challenge turns into a crisis. The outcome of our lives depends on the choices we make at those moments. Will they be breakthroughs or setbacks?  The trait we call wisdom is a crucial tool here. Without it, people usually make their most important decisions based on impulse or its opposite, habit.

It might seem impossible to think that any three questions can—and should—be asked any time that things go wrong, but the sad truth is that millions of us dwell on the three questions we shouldn’t ask, questions such as: 1. What’s wrong with me? 2. Who can I blame? 3. What’s the worst-case scenario?

We all feel the urge to condemn ourselves out of guilt, to blame others for our misfortunes, and to fantasize about total disaster. But these three questions will haunt you and do untold harm, unless you consciously stop them, push them aside, and replace them with the right questions, leading to the right actions. Here are 3 positive, self-affirming ways to approach your next tough situation:

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Embrace Inspiration

Have you ever found yourself wanting to do something, but not knowing where to begin? Maybe you have the skills, the passion, the drive and the chops to write a book, but you have absolutely no idea what you want to write about. Or maybe your current job no longer suits your personality or needs, but you have no idea what else you would do instead.

Believe it or not, this is a good problem to have though many people get too caught up in the “not knowing” to embrace the massive opportunity. But before I get into the advantages of this situation, I first want to dissect the psychology behind it.

Back in 2004, psychologist Barry Schwartz published a book called The Paradox of Choice where he argues that the more choices one has, the more difficult it is for one to make a choice. Schwartz even goes so far as to say that current abundance of choice we as Americans are experiencing may be leading to depression.

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Enjoy Four Kinds of Peace

What’s your sense of peace?

The Practice:
Enjoy four kinds of peace.

Why?

“Peace” can sound merely sentimental or clichéd (“visualize whirled peas”). But deep down, it’s what most of us long for. Consider the proverb: The highest happiness is peace.

Not a peace inside that ignores pain in oneself or others or is acquired by shutting down. This is a durable peace, a peace you can come home to even if it’s been covered over by fear, frustration, or heartache.

When you’re at peace – when you are engaged with life while also feeling relatively relaxed, calm, and safe – you are protected from stress, your immune system grows stronger, and you become more resilient. Your outlook brightens, and you see more opportunities. In relationships, feeling at peace prevents overreactions, increases the odds of being treated well by others, and supports you in being clear and direct when you need to be.

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101 Inspiring Law Of Attraction Quotes From The Secret by Rhonda Byrn

There’s one sure-proof way to manifest your dreams and create a life you love…  

Mastering the Spiritual Laws of the Universe!

These Laws govern every aspect of our reality. From our financial abundance to our health, every result we create can be traced back to our level of awareness of these Laws.

Just like gravity, these natural Laws are always at work – and once you learn how to harness their power, a whole world of possibility unfolds for you! 

The Law Of Attraction is one of the most well-known Spiritual Laws. In simple terms, the Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into your life whatever you focus on. 

Most likely, you’ve heard about it thanks to the best-selling self-help book The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne.

The Secret is a fascinating book, where Byrne unveils the secrets of life and how to accelerate your manifestations to create a life you love using the Law Of Attraction.

And today we’ll deep-dive into its profound wisdom to help you manifest your dreams faster and easier!

The Story Behind The Creation of “The Secret”

Before writing a spiritual best-selling book, Rhonda Byrne worked as a successful executive producer for television in Australia. But when her father passed away, she felt her life crumble beneath her feet.

She became profoundly depressed. 

Out of concern for her, her daughter Hayley recommended a powerful book she knew would help her. That’s how she read “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D. Wattles… and her life would never be the same.

This event opened the door to a world she had never known… she discovered the power of positive thinking, and the keys to success in the works of notable authors from the early 20th century, such as Napoleon Hill.

Her natural curiosity drove her to keep researching the power of the mind and the lives of remarkable people in history. She devoured everything she could get her hands on, including authors such as Jack Canfield, John Assaraf, Michael Beckwith, Bob Proctor, Joseph Vitale, Lisa Nichols, Marie Diamond, and many others.

That’s when she realized something unexpected: all successful people from the past knew how to apply a universal law that she had never heard of…

The Law Of Attraction! 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Inside of Jade

As ancient Buddhists drank tea
to prevent drowsiness during epic
mediations, we drink of each other’s
pain and joy to prevent our souls
from going back to sleep.

In the second chapter of Lu Yu’s
Cha Ching, the holy scripture of tea,
he remarks that the most potent leaves
have creases that have held the sun
which when softened release
an aroma from the Beginning.

This is what a life ushered into
acceptance looks like: crease,
soften, and in time we unfold
with an ease beyond our making.

The tea hut by design is too
small to enter standing, and too
narrow to bring anything with you.

Like the threshold to wisdom
after a lifetime of trouble.
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The Ultimate Guide to Manifesting Abundance!

When you look into your future and imagine the prosperous and abundant life of your dreams, what do you see? 

Perhaps it’s wealth and financial freedom, a beautiful home and time for travel, a healthy and loving family and community, and meaningful work that fulfills you. When we think about the life and the future we desire, there’s a tendency to focus on these types of external and material things. 

What many don’t realize is that what they truly want isn’t the thing itself, it’s the experience of having that thing they believe would give them. 

The meaning of abundance is as unique to each individual as our soul’s path because true abundance means living and experiencing the things our soul most desires, within the blueprint of the life we have been given. 

When you ask yourself, “What does abundance mean to me?” I want to invite you to look deeper than just the accomplishments, success, or material things that you think would make you feel abundant. 

Instead, can you ask yourself things like what you want to feel in your life, who you want to serve, and what experience you want to have… 

The answers to these questions will begin to lead you toward your unique definition of abundance. And only with this deeper clarity can you begin to manifest the full and meaningful life your heart craves. 

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12 Effective strategies to achieve financial wellbeing and avoid financial stress

Your monetary resources will definitely become limited when you first start your career. You will face several responsibilities you’ll need to manage throughout your professional life. As time goes on, you might become worried about your kid’s college expenses and planning for a safe retirement.

A positive outlook and confidence will take you a long way. Life is full of obstacles, and if we lose our faith, we may not achieve our desired goals. So, even in the midst of the COVID pandemic, we should remain enthusiastic about life and our financial wellbeing.

Many people remain unemployed or live on a reduced salary during this crisis. Some people are financially strapped. They receive threatening letters from creditors on top of their everyday problems, or they are getting banished from their social circle because they can’t pay bills. This tension can deplete energy, divert your focus from your job, and negatively influence your judgment.

However, we should strive to enhance our financial wellbeing during this time to cope with the financial stress that the pandemic has imposed. We can improve our financial condition and gain the confidence needed to achieve our goals by following a solid discipline.

A few strategies to avoid financial stress and enhance financial wellbeing are included below.

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Reconnect Yourself with Timeless Wisdom and End Useless, Painful Thoughts

We must recognize the almost endless cycle of pressure, anxiety, anger, and regret that always appears with the promise that if we follow some branch of negativity, it will lead us back to the source of understanding where we’ll be free at last. In fact, that branch we’re tempted to follow belongs to something that can never complete itself, and that requires our energy to sustain it.

Instead of trying to complete the moment through what anxiety, fear, or anger tell us to do, we must be completely present to those thoughts, completely present to that pain – a pain that promises freedom in a time to come, but is really the continuation of the consciousness that is pain itself because it lives apart from the true Vine and the true life. 

Instead of trying to untie all this experience that seems to be the product of unwanted conditions we try to control, our real task is to sever our relationship on the spot with anything in us that wants to continue trying to free itself in time.

This may sound impossible. We’re concerned about what will happen to us if we don’t serve that master.  We feel stress and anxiety, we wonder what will happen if we don’t do again what has never freed us in the past, but hope may work this time.

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Traveling Mindfully Connects Us to the Deeper Meaning of Life

Travel can be a sacred act. Many people on the planet are waking up to the idea that true  “pilgrimage” is a tangible possibility. Traveling mindfully is an intentional process, an active rather than passive way of traveling.

Intentional, sacred travel, even, is a process by which we can connect to the deeper meaning of life.

In his The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau writes, “The art of pilgrimage is the craft of taking time seriously, elegantly. What every traveler confronts sooner or later is that the way we spend each day of our travel . . . is the way we spend our lives.”

Phil isn’t only a well-read, adventurous author—he’s also one of our veteran tour leaders who’s been crafting expansive journeys with us for many years. 

It’s because of leaders like Phil that we’re reminded of the importance of how to best travel. . . and how to best spend our lives. 

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Commitment to Hope

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words
And never stops—at all”
—Emily Dickinson

A key component in any transformative life experience, personal or planetary, is hope. Not half-hearted or faint hope, but hope that is steadfast, sturdy, resilient, like that in Emily Dickinson’s poem. Hope within the human soul cannot be extinguished, no matter the hardship or loss. Despite the challenges of life, we humans endure because of that intangible something within us that holds us to life. Yet, there are times when hope seems shaky—as tenuous as a single candle flame wavering in a strong wind. Times such as now, when political discord, a deadly global pandemic, or personal crises erode our belief in a positive outcome. This is when hope is needed most.

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The Central Dogma: From Dogma to Doo-Doo

In 1958, Francis Crick, co-founder with James Watson of the DNA genetic code, defined the concept referred to as The Central Dogma. This dogma described how the organizing information in biology represented a one-way flow from DNA > RNA > Protein.

The Central Dogma provided the foundation for the principle of Genetic Determinism, the belief that genes “determine” the character and quality of our lives. While I taught this concept to medical students for over a decade, it was only after I left academia that I looked-up the definition of Dogma: A belief based on religious persuasion and not scientific fact. At that moment I realized I had been teaching religion in medical school.

When confronted with the real definition of dogma, Crick responded, “I used the word the way I myself thought about it, not as most of the world does, and simply applied it to a grand hypothesis that, however plausible, had little direct experimental support."

The main point is that The Central Dogma, a hypothesis that was never tested, has been repeated so consistently over the last 60 years that people have bought it to be a scientific fact. This dogma has always been an unverified “suggestion.”

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A Different Way Of Living

The most powerful person in the world is the person who doesn’t need anything from anyone anymore. That is power. Power isn’t control, rage and intimidation, that’s weakness not power. Power isn’t having everyone in your life being afraid of you. 

Power is not needing anything or anyone in your life. Why? Because you already are everything. There is nothing missing in you. And this is a very different way of living your life. No matter what your circumstance, and how you are living, when you realize you are powerful, because you have the capacity to be peaceful, you are free. In that peace, everything starts to align and work out for you. 

Your need to initiate something is a repetitive cycle or pattern. And, where you are initiating from  is a place of pain . . . you are initiating a relationship dynamic because you are avoiding feeling the pain of being alone. 

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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