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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Two Steps to a New Relationship With Your Partner and Yourself

In the largely autobiographical film “Peaceful Warrior,” loosely based on the book Way of the Peaceful Warrior by author Dan Millman, we meet a mysterious old man, a delightful character by the name of Socrates who operates a run-down gas station. The story line revolves around the relationship that Socrates develops with Dan. As the plot develops, and Dan learns to trust the old man, Socrates takes him through a series of powerful experiences and challenging life lessons all designed to achieve a single end: to help Dan realize and then release himself from a set of largely self-imposed limitations carried over from his past. At an inflection point in one of their dialoguesto help strengthen the point he wanted to make of a particular lessonSocrates tells Dan:

The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

This idea seems simple enough to understand and, at one level, it is. But hidden within it is also a secret instruction that, once revealed, will help us see the way out of any and all old patterns we may be reliving with our partner. Study the following insight closely; read and reread it as needed until some of its higher understanding reaches the part of yourself able to employ its power.

At the outset of feeling any disagreement about to beginwhether we’re about to go on the offensive, or find ourselves on our heels, feeling defensivewe must have enough awareness of ourselves to realize this very simple truth: in that same moment there is only one of two things that can be causing this conflict. Either an unseen part of us has acted to start this conflict, or some unconscious part of us has been stirred into opposing a similar characteristic in our partner. As long as we remain unaware of this “starting gun” that sets us racing to win the argument, we’ll continue to see everything about the moment from one side only: our side. But here’s the truth, as well as the explanation for why no one can ever win such a race:

Both of these actions—whether an unseen part of us steps up to initiate the pattern, or steps back to resist an equally unwitting action instigated by our partner—are a part of the overall pattern. In other words, the real reason this negative pattern keeps being resurrected is that, over and over again, we identify with one side or the other of these opposing forces. Take away either one of these two sides and well, you’ve heard the old expression: “what if they gave a war, and no one came?” This is why as soon as we catch the smallest hint of impatience, a mounting frustration, or any sense of resentment gathering steam we must actdecisivelyas outlined here in the following two steps.

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See Your Part

What’s your own role?

The Practice:
See your part.

Why?

In situations or relationships with any kind of difficulty – tension, feeling hurt, conflicts, mismatches of wants . . . the usual crud – it’s natural to focus on what others have done that’s problematic.

This could be useful for a while: it can energize you, highlight what you most care about, and help you see more clearly what you’d like others to change.

But there is also a cost: fixating on the harms (actual or imagined) done by others revves up your case about them (see Drop the Case), with all the stresses and hard feelings that this brings. Plus it makes it harder to see the good qualities in those you have issues with, the influence of additional factors – and whatever might be your own part in the matter.{jcomments off}

For example, let’s say you work with someone who is unfairly critical of you. Sure, there are the ways that this person is out of line, self-righteous, whatever. Additionally, there are the ways that this person is also doing good things, plus the ways that other factors – such as coworkers who like to gossip – are making things worse. And there might be your own role as well, perhaps inadvertently.

To be clear, sometimes we really do have no part in whatever happened. Many situations are like a person walking across a street with a green light when a drunk driver hits them. And in many other situations, our own role is small at most, and never justifies the harmful actions of others. I feel it is courageous and self-respecting to recognize and as appropriate call out the harms done by someone to us or others.

And still . . . we usually have little influence over other people. Yes, we do what we can about what’s “out there,” but “in here” there are many more opportunities for managing our reactions and for becoming more skillful in life.

Further, I’ve never been able to come to peace about anything that’s bothered me until I take responsibility for whatever is my own part in it. Which, upon reflection, is sometimes nothing at all! But the willingness to see for oneself whatever one’s part is enables a genuine sense of release when we can enjoy “the bliss of blamelessness.”

Paradoxically, when you step into acknowledging your part, then you can step out of tangles of conflicts with others and ruminations and resentments inside your own mind.

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A Boy That Showered Us with Compassion

It’s funny how just as I’m about to wrap up one of my lectures, the strongest spirits come through to me.  One afternoon in particular, I heard a voice that was directing me to a couple in the front section.

“I feel I want to come right here,” I said pointing to a couple. "Which one of you lost your father, please?” The husband raised his hand.

“Your dad is here,” I went on. “But, he’s got someone with him who really wants to come through. Did you and your wife lose a child?”

The couple sadly acknowledged losing their son. At this point, the link was crystal clear, so I gently went on, “I feel that he passed from an illness, and I can feel a slight pain behind my eye. Was he eight years old?”

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Easy as Gravity

While every love we know is unique
and has its own history, every chance
to care traces back to the same
enduring love that lives below
all names.


The way the branches on this
towering oak trace back to its
enduring trunk.
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Dismiss These 3 False Beliefs About Your Partner That Drag You Both Down

Inside all of us is a confusion of ideas and expectations that have been built up over the years through our experiences, books we’ve read, movies we’ve seen, opinions of people who seemed to be “in the know,” and endless other sources.
 

Much of this “information” is distorted, irrelevant, or just plain wrong. Nevertheless, these are the ideas that precede us into any situation, coloring what we see, and making us compare and judge reality against the picture in our minds.

 
These false beliefs shape the world we experience so that old pains and problems are reseeded into every new moment; their unseen influence is one of the reasons why we find ourselves so often re-living certain unwanted experiences over and over again. We may blame some outside condition for our discontent, but the fact is most of what troubles us about life, does so because we “believe” it’s not supposed to be like that!

 
All of this is particularly true when it comes to our human relationships. Our relationships with others, especially with our partner in life, are fraught with expectations, need, and false beliefs.

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The Secret To Success In Any Relationship

You are free when you realize that you don’t have the power to MAKE another person change.

You suffer when you spend your time trying to control the lives of those around you to be what you want them to be.

People don’t change unless they really want to change. You only have the power to share your perspective, wisdom, and invite them to consider a different way of doing things.

When someone changes simply to make you happy, rest assured, it doesn’t last.

They must not only want to change but must be committed to it. They also must be open to your help. We sometimes try to change people that are not asking for help and end up trying to control them to fit our ideal.

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Who Needs Your Love NOW?

One of my favorite lines in A Course In Miracles is this:

The only thing lacking in any situation is that which you are not giving.

If you are out of sorts, stressed out, anxious, in need of a hug and some love, please know that you are not alone.

Most of us are pretty upside down these days about one thing or another.

And, an instant solution is to share some of your love with someone else.

Whether it’s a friend, elderly relative, stranger on the street, co-worker, neighbor, or the next person you come across, give them a big smile and a kind word, delivered with a blast of love and you can make someone’s day.

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3 Surprising Truths About Self-Love

Do you love yourself? Do you really, really love yourself?

Self-love has become a popular topic nowadays. Many people know that they “should” love themselves. However, a great deal of confusion prevails. What does self-love really mean? And how do you actually do it?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-love is “an appreciation of one's own worth or virtue” or “proper regard for one’s own happiness and well-being.” These definitions sound quite positive.

However, other definitions make self-love out to sound negative. Dictionary.com defines self-love as: “conceit, vanity, narcissism,” or “the instinct by which one's actions are directed to the promotion of one's own welfare or well-being, especially an excessive regard for one's own advantage.”

Ouch. It’s no wonder we have such confusion! Worthiness and happiness are important aspects of our spiritual journey. Yet on the other hand, most caring people do not want to be conceited or narcissistic, nor to love themselves at the expense of others.

On the quest for self-love, I’ve searched high and low for a deeper understanding of what self-love really means. Here are 3 surprising truths I’ve discovered.



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Are You Hiding a Secret?

In my work with my clients, I’ve often wondered why some people jump right into Inner Bonding and take off with it, while others seem to keep getting stuck. Perhaps harboring a shameful secret is one of the reasons.

In order to move forward with Inner Bonding and in our lives, we need to be accepting of ourselves, but it might be very hard to accept yourself if you have done something, or if you feel things, that are generally judged to be wrong or bad, or that you believe are wrong or bad. One of the things I’ve seen occur in my Intensives is that the environment is so safe and accepting that a participant might feel safe enough to finally reveal the secret. Once the secret is out, there is much more space for self-acceptance.

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The Power Of Acceptance

"I'm beautiful in my way. 'Cause God makes no mistakes. I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way." -Lady Gaga

I've Been Thinking...

The other day, my son Christopher said to me, “Mommy, you should ask Dwyane Wade to write for your Sunday Paper and share the story about how his family is handling his child’s transition. It’s super cool and inspiring.”


My son is a basketball fanatic, but he’s also one of the wisest, most empathic individuals I’ve ever met. When he was little, people would always marvel at his empathy, his kindness, and his loving nature. They would congratulate me for raising a young man like him, to which I always replied: “Thank you, but I had nothing to do with it! He was just born that way!” And that’s the truth.

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10 Ways to Escape the Painful World of Self-Judgment

It would seem – given the speed and ease with which most of us judge others (including ourselves) ­– that there’s something natural, even good about it. After all, just about every time our eyes alight on someone or something, we judge it as good or bad, all based on how it stacks up against some inner ideal we have of how things should be.

Why is she wearing that? He’s so clueless. OMG: I look terrible today. The inner comments never stop, and often come out in complaints we express to others. But we don’t see them as complaints. To us they are nothing less than our intelligent observations of life around us.

We also don’t see how this endless stream of judgments hurts us. When we impose a negative view on things and people based on the past conditioning we bring to the moment, we can’t experience life directly, or see the good it may be offering. We can’t see the beauty in what we’ve summarily cast away.

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How To Deal With A Breakup and Heal Your Heart

Breakups are never easy.

Often difficult, painful, and sometimes messy.

Know this: Your heart can never be truly broken, even though it might seem that way in the moment. Your heart is beyond physical, it’s capacity to love is infinite.

In any breakup your heart gets broken open beyond its current capacity to love. Prior to the breakup you were able to love to a certain degree. The breakup shatters the edges of your heart’s limits. Yes, it can be painful in the moment, but like a deep yoga pose it stretches you beyond who and what you were. Breathe into it, and allow your heart to open wider.

Every breakup is a potential breakthrough. Every breakup is a graduation to your next level, so long as you learn the lessons of the relationship.

The end of a relationship with someone you love can be extremely painful, but it is not a failure. The real success of a relationship is not in how long you stay together, but in how much you became the most authentic version of yourself and how much you loved.

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Scapegoating: A Dysfunctional Family System

When I work with clients, I can feel the beauty of their soul and I can feel their light shining through. I’m fortunate that the vast majority of clients that want to work with me individually or come to an Intensive are very ready to learn and heal and own their beautiful light.

One issue that frequently emerges is when a person has been scapegoated in his or her family of origin, and might still, as an adult, be being scapegoated. Scapegoating is when someone is blaming you for their feelings, wrongdoings, mistakes, and projecting their woundedness on to you, with no empathy or compassion for how this feels to you.
 

In families, one member is often the target of judgments, criticism, accusations, blame and ostracism. Scapegoating often begins is childhood and may continue into adulthood with your family of origin or with your in-laws. If you have been or currently are the target of scapegoating, it’s important to realize that you are being abused.

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3 Most Asked Questions about the Afterlife

I’d like to answer some of your questions about my work and the Other-Side. I hope these answers will offer you some comfort and clarity.

1.  Is my loved one on the Other-Side always connected to me?
Your family and friends in this world aren’t around you 24-7. But when there’s an emergency, they’re there when you need them. It’s the same way with your loved ones on the Other-Side. They know what’s going on in your life and try to let you know they are there for you, whether it’s for love, guidance, hope, or inspiration.

It takes a lot of energy for those who have passed to lower their vibration and make a connection to you. So it’s not something they’re going to be doing all the time. Your loved ones have their own learning to do over there and need time to grow and progress. That’s why those who have recently passed often need time before they’re ready to connect with you.

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The Power Of Love

Over the last several years, I’ve written and talked on the radio about the power of love and how important it is to use your intuition when it comes to love, dating, and relationships. I’ve talked about everything from reinventing your love life and changing your dating mindset to using your intuition when it comes to the scent of attraction (why online dating can go sour if his smell turns you off) and the sound of your date’s voice (sound frequency is so telling!) Ultimately, trusting your intuition will help you much more than any how-to-date manual. But, what about the reverse—what does love have to do with enhancing your intuition and connection to the All That Is?

We often tend to think of love as an emotion or an expression, but it is so much more. Love is unconditional, accepting, inclusive, uniting, understanding, kind, and joining. It’s a freedom from fear and separateness. It’s about showing compassion and kindness to yourself and the world around you. It’s also a commitment to reduce suffering and respect every creature and object. Love flows through every living being, connecting us to one another, the living planet, and the Divine. It’s what made you, your friends, and even the people who drive you crazy. It’s a part of our trees, oceans, mountains, and sky. Love is at the very essence of who we are. 

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Let's Get Loving

“I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you." -Paul Coelho

I've Been Thinking...

My first love was the horse pictured below. Her name was Miss Buck, and I loved her with all my heart. 

Just a few weeks ago, my brother sent me this picture—one I’d never seen before. When I saw it, I was reminded of what love feels like and looks like. Love feels safe. Love feels secure. It feels restful. It feels like home.

 


Do you know what love feels like to you? Several years ago a friend asked me that very question. I distinctly remember pausing, as I was quite sure no one had ever asked me that question before. It moved me and rattled me all at the same time.

Love is like that, isn’t it? It stirs up so many emotions. It can take you to the highest place imaginable, and then break you into tiny pieces. Your heart can be full one minute, and empty the next. You can be so hopeful when you are in love, and yet so full of despair when you feel unlovable.

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Rediscover the Power Of Love

The reality is that each and all of our relationships stir in us a host of strong feelings that, prior to their being awakened in us, we had no idea lay sleeping in our consciousness. These emotions range from deep delight to darkly disturbing, but to strengthen the point: whatever someone awakens in us is... our feeling. Which brings us to the next three important points. The more you’re able to see how they are secretly connected, the stronger will become your connection to a new order of love that can’t be shattered by any storm.

  1. Everyone in our life has a definite role to play in how we experience ourselves each moment; that’s their part, as much as it is ours to play a similar role in their life. However, they are not responsible for our negative reaction to what we see in ourselves when we’re in their company.
  2. On the other hand (and this isn’t to say that we’re to excuse others for their misguided treatment of us) but it’s not our job to make anyone else see where he or she is “wrong.” Which leads us to the last of the three points.
  3. If our wish is to discover a new and higher kind of love – the only one that can empower us to transcend our differences with our partner –then we must begin to see our old excuses for finding fault with him or her as...faulty!
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Dealing with the Death of KOBE

Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter and 7 others died tragically on January 26th.

Losing a loved one is never easy.

Grief is a natural process. Yet we have a tendency to suppress it and avoid feeling it. This only keeps you stuck in the pain.

We often think that if we feel the grief it will last forever. But no feelings last forever. All feelings when fully felt dissolve.

Or that if we feel the grief we will never survive.

So if you lost someone you love, give yourself full permission to feel the pain fully. It will break your heart open to a bigger dimension of love than you knew before.

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Beat the Valentine’s Day Blues with Mindfulness

Have you been dreading Valentine’s Day this year? If so, you’re not alone. This holiday that celebrates romantic love can feel like a thorn in the side of those who have loved and lost, or those who feel sad and stressed about being single.

Scientific researchers have documented the reality of emotional struggle around the holidays, with the Mayo Clinic noting that holidays often exacerbate stress and depression. Many people simply struggle to receive the meaningful social interaction they crave, and the resulting loneliness can be especially intense around holidays.

You don’t have to suffer in silence, though. There are many tools available to help you shift out of sadness or loneliness this Valentine’s Day, and mindfulness is a particularly valuable and effective one. Here are seven mindfulness tips anyone who feels sad or lonely this Valentine’s Day can try:

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Find Your Voice

This week I noticed a theme that I picked up on during conversations with various people I thought I’d bring to you. I noticed there was a recurring discussion about speaking the truth, using your voice in a powerful way, and dealing with the consequences of what happens when you don’t speak out of fear.

Authenticity requires you to use your voice with a certain veracity– telling the truth, the absolute truth. Finding your voice takes courage, especially if you were raised to be seen and not heard, or you had to fight to be heard, or you were punished for telling the truth. Maybe all these things were implied while you were learning how to fit in, before finding out who you wanted to be.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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