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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If You Want to See Change in the World, Do This!

Around the world today, millions if not billions of individuals are being consumed by negativity. The world and our relationship to the cosmos always run through cycles of increased or decreased activity. Right now we are in a cycle of increased activity where many people are stirred up. In such stirring there exists the possibility of increased conflict, but also of increased consciousness – although it is conflict that seems more prevalent.  

Negativity is a consuming energy that seems to create life, but actually drains it. It promises to create something new to escape the pain of it, when all it does is create increasing conflict where the pain is enhanced. At some point an aspirant must realize, “I just can't be like that anymore, but I don't know how to stop! I look out at the world and all its problems and ask, ‘What am I supposed to do??’ ” 

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A Simple Formula for a Joyful Life

I remember the exact place I discovered my FORMULA FOR LIFE.

I was walking across a small wooded field near my house when I stopped and noticed how I felt peaceful and calm but not particularly happy. As I contemplated the feeling, I became grateful for the experience of being peaceful. This expanded into overflowing joy.

From that day, over twenty years ago, this simple formula has been a guiding principle in my life.

PEACE + GRATITUDE = JOY

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One Soul At A Time

I've Been Thinking...

Over the last week, I wrote this essay several different times in several different ways. None of them felt quite right.

One essay felt too angry. Another felt too pollyannaish. One felt simplistic at a time when the world feels anything but. I’ve felt so many different emotions lately that it’s been hard to know what to think. At times I’ve felt like I’m living on an upside-down emotional rollercoaster as I watch the news unfold.

Then along came my youngest son who asked me to step away from the news and watch the new Pixar movie Soul with him. He and I watch all the Pixar films together. I even used to take him out of school to go to the theater when one came out, so of course I said sure. 

In hindsight, it felt like it was exactly the film I needed to see this week as I watched Americans debate the heart and soul of our country, while also preparing to inaugurate a man who ran on a platform to repair the soul of our nation.

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Five Fantasies That Keep Us Apart

When a society is deeply divided, a paradox is in force. On the one hand, people cry out for unity, while on the other hand, they keep on doing the very things that incite division. We are seeing this paradox grow stronger year by year in politics, but at bottom what we’re facing is a broken relationship. Society is a huge bundle of relationships, nothing more.

To stop being trapped in a paradox, you need a little practical psychology. The first step when a relationship falters, if you consider the situation psychologically, is to stop doing more of what didn’t work in the first place. The same holds true in a divided society.

As long as both sides engage in futile behavior, ending the divide between them isn’t going to happen. At a certain point a futile tactic turns into a fantasy. Here I’d define fantasy as a belief that runs contrary to reality. If you confront the realities of a situation but continue to ignore them, you are indulging in a fantasy.

Here are five fantasies that surround us right now. I’ll couch them in terms of a broken relationship.

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Step Into The Cloud

Juggling bricks?

The Practice:
Step into the cloud.

Why?

I had a lightbulb moment recently: I was feeling stressed about all the stuff I had to do (you probably know the feeling). After this went on for a while, I stepped back and kind of watched my mind, and could see that I was thinking of these various tasks as things, like big rocks that were rolling down a hill toward me and which needed to be handled, lifted, moved, fended off, or broken into pebbles. As soon as I dealt with one thing-y boulder, another one was rolling toward me. Shades of Sisyphus.

Seen as brick-like entities, no wonder these tasks felt heavy, oppressive, burdensome. Yuch!

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The Benefits of Nurturing Your Soul For a Life of Impact

Often at this time of year, people spend some time reflecting and feeling into the direction they’d like their lives to go, and efforts they’d like to take to get there.

Some people set goals to accomplish things or experience something on their bucket list, while others set goals to change habits that aren’t serving them.

Often people focus their goals on things they think will make them happier or healthier, like losing the quarantine fifteen and eating healthy, or exercising to stay, or become, physically fit.  

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Wherever We Go

We live between the edge we look out from
and the edge beyond which we can’t see.

 
What we see as real may expand when
we relax or are illumined and shrink when
we are tense or in pain. But always, an edge
to what we know: out there, in here.

 
So the real art is: how to listen where we
are blind, how to sense and relate to all
that lives beyond our awareness.

 
Like a cell in the heart that doesn’t know
it is carried by a body, we float, work hard,
and drift in a sea of life on which we depend.

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Breathing Peace, Breathing Hope

A lot of people have felt they couldn’t breathe.”—Van Jones

Last November, when a new President and Vice President were elected in the U.S., many of us cried tears of relief. We felt we could breathe again, even if just for a moment. Not that the huge problems that face this country had been solved, but lighter, more compassionate voices were speaking at the national level. Possibility was appearing once again, where impossibility had ruled. Hope was arising within us, and the distant dream of a peaceful resolution of divisions seemed somehow closer. Now, in the wake of last week’s violent break-in at the Capitol building in Washington, it is even more important to hold onto that dream and to move forward in peace.

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Learning to Trust Yourself and Your Guidance

Were your parents or caregivers trustworthy? Mine weren’t. I could not trust their love. I could not trust that they had my highest good at heart because they didn’t. They betrayed me over and over in many ways.

When we didn’t grow up with trustworthy parents – parents whose love we could count on and who had our highest good at heart – it’s a challenge to trust God – whatever God is for you. We tend to project our early experiences onto our concept of God and to then believe that our higher power is not supporting our highest good.

In a Facebook post about God and love, someone said, “…love is love. ‘God’ is control.” This attitude is exactly what I’m talking about, and what makes me feel so sad. Obviously, the writer of that statement is projecting her experience of her controlling parents, or others who controlled her, onto her concept of God, and now she has no trust in God.

How do we learn to trust again, when our trust was betrayed over and over?

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Allow your stress to recede and happiness take over.

As we are galloping into the new year, with newer apprehensions this time, we are also motivated by newer desires and newer goals to achieve. 
 
This period of the Pandemic has been a very trying  and challenging time for most people. For the majority of us, it has been a time of deep introspection and coming to conclusions about life, goals, challenges, and achievements. It was as though time had stopped. That seemed this way because there was a forced sense of staying at home, spending more time with the family, and coming to terms with a lot of unreal realities. 

MENTAL HOUSE CLEANING
On these days of Staying at home, there was time for everyone to look within and be objective about their ownselves. Filtering the why's and wherefore's was quite a scenario.  
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Meet Me In The Open Field

"It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." —Sir Edmund Hillary 

I've Been Thinking...


My friends, this first week of the new year took my breath away. I’m sure it took your breath away as well.

I could not believe my eyes as I watched lawless rioters smash windows and fight police as they broke into the U.S. Capitol. I could not believe my eyes as I watched a rioter break into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and sit with his feet up on her desk. The images that came tumbling out of D.C. on Wednesday enraged me. They shocked me, disturbed me, and took me aback.

I was, however, heartened by President-Elect Biden’s comments that this is not who we are. I really believe in my heart that he’s right. What we witnessed on Wednesday is not who we are as a nation. I don’t even believe it represents most of the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump. That said, I do believe Trump is to blame for the outrageous behavior that unfolded. The responsibility sits squarely with him, as well as with those who have used their platforms to incite, to lie, and to cause disruption. Words matter—I can’t stress that enough. Lives were needlessly lost. This was a tragedy and a disgrace.

Thank God his time is almost up. I cannot wait. It cannot come soon enough.

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Growing Seeds of Infinite Potential

"Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, No one can count the apples in a seed."


Contemplating these words inspire me to not underestimate the potential of the coming year. We live in a world of infinite potential. Small actions with a sense of natural timing will grow fruitful results.

GOOD SEED
©1-18-13 Will Hale – Tadpole Parade

A new day dawns tomorrow
Once a seed is planted
It is up to God to make it grow

I have watered, fertilized
and trust the sun will rise

Planted but not forgotten
Left alone but not neglected
The process of life is out of my hands
Surrender is not giving up
It is letting go of control

Like the seed in the ground
It is my time to rest.
The tilling, planting, and praying
Is done
I can trust the spark of creation
To do what love does, Grow

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Coming to Peace with the World Is Coming to Peace with Yourself

No one fails to react when public violence is flagrantly incited, which happened at the Capitol this week. As a political philosophy, or a way of life, disorder doesn’t work. Violence might not be inevitable, but chaos is.

But in the face of chaos, some facts remain constant and stable:

  • Peace is a state of awareness.
  • To advance the cause of peace, you must be at peace.
  • External conflict reflects the inner conflicts of human nature.
  • No dispute is ever settled unless both sides achieve a level of mutual satisfaction.

When politics comes down to rigidly opposing views, all of these facts are being ignored. Nothing gets resolved so that all sides achieve mutual satisfaction, and therefore grudges simmer, awaiting sudden eruptions and the pot boils over.

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Financial Stress: Resetting Our Needs

Covid-19 has offered us the opportunity of a reset. 

Throughout this window of quarantine, self-isolation and lockdown, we have been able to very quickly discern every day what it is we need on a daily basis. Covid has forced us to become conscious around our level of consumption. It has also shown us that we really don’t need most of what we have been consuming at all. 

I would like you to continue the momentum of this reset as we continue to emerge beyond the pandemic, and return to our daily lives. Because the simpler you are, meaning the more you realize your survival is dependent on basic things, the more what you do with your time becomes a choice. It very quickly enables you to get out of a bad trade, which is trading your  time and energy in order to survive. 

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Find Your North Star

Where are you headed?

The Practice:
Find your North Star.

Why?

I did a meditation retreat (at Spirit Rock, wonderful place, including for workshops). One evening as we walked out of the hall after the last sit, I was feeling rattled and discombobulated. (One of the benefits of a retreat – though it can be uncomfortable – is that it stirs up of the sediments of your psyche, which can muddy your mental waters for a while.)

I looked up at the stars shining brightly in the cold clear night, and soon noticed the Big Dipper. My eyes followed its pointing to Polaris, the North Star, and a wave of easing came over me. The star felt steady and reassuring, something you could count on. It connected I think with a young part of me who loved the outdoors and learned to believe that as long as he could locate the North Star, he could find his way out of the tangled woods and back to safety.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Allegro 28

I happened into the cathedral downtown
and heard serious, ancient song in Latin
or Greek. Wonderfully, the words had no
meaning but the weight the voices carried,
the search their eyes revealed.

I was happy to receive no message
so beautifully.

It made me want to whittle new myths
for our children’s children
to lose their way by.

Finding is never as urgent
as needing to look.
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What’s Your WORD for 2021?

This year I don’t plan to make any resolutions.

If I learned anything from 2020 it’s that trying to make plans while in the center of a chaotic cyclone is a set up for disappointment and frustration.

Instead, I am going to make ONE WORD the focal point of my biggest desire for 2021 and that word is CONTENTMENT.

Striving for contentment isn’t a new thing with me, but it is something that I now want to master now.

There were many years when my focus was happiness, but I’ve learned that for me, happiness is not the ultimate goal because happiness is tied to other people, outside circumstances, and unforeseeable experiences.

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Shine forth in glory on the planet

As we step into the New Year with an essential sense of enthusiasm,  we skeptically look behind us at the year gone by.  Even though there are apprehensions galore at how things went by, yet undeniably a new wave of excitement does seem to run through our veins. 

The uplifting sense of warmth and cheer despite the wintry chill of January keeps us smiling with inherent peeps of joy from within us.  

Celebration all over the globe, this year, has had a different meaning. The usual parties and hugs between friends, to celebrate the new level of awakening within us, has had a change in its manner. The year gone by has left us with a fresh perspective on life and it's meaning.  

So many questions to life's mysteries, so many answers of various kinds. 

As always, the onset of the New Year gives us a time for reflection. And this year we can all say in unison from all over the globe that the New Year has dawned with a whole new level of hopes and aspirations. Being positive is now considered a "way of life" not to be ignored. 
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Creating A New Vision For The New Year!

Welcome, 2021!

We have so many hopes pinned on this new year. It will take us a while to process and implement the vast need for social change and healing illuminated in 2020. Maybe in the past we’d say “that’s it” for last year and be quite glad to see it in our rear-view mirror. But this paradigm shift will require us to pause and take a deep respectful breath of hope knowing there is still a lot of patience and work still ahead as we traverse the in between time from what was to what will be.  

The old way is being dismantled and  being cleared away, and even if we’re not 100% where we hoped we’d be, we are still making room for more love, creativity, courage, compassion, hope…and joy. This and that will be true! 

And, if there is one thing I know for sure.

How we consider and integrate the past has a huge impact on how we experience our future. “If we do what we did we’re gonna get what we got!” 

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Happy New Year

Hi dear friend…..

I wanted to to take a few moments and wish you and your loved ones my love and prayers.

2020 was indeed a challenging year for us all. However, you are still standing! All the challenges that you faced simply prepared you for living your purpose ahead.

I wanted to personally thank you for all your support during this past year.

Whether you have been following my work for many years or are just finding about it now, I am deeply grateful for your being a part of it growing around the world, as well as sharing it with your friends and family.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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