Saturday, January 12, 2008

Resistance is futile

I'm tempted to create some giant flash cards with sayings like "You'll feel so good once you've done it!" and "Just get started!" and possibly even "Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration." Something I can look at when I feel the haze of distraction coming over me to drown out the siren song that is making me want to play video games or fool around on Facebook instead of doing my morning pages or cleaning out the linen closet. This week I've been so aware of the demon of resistance raising its ugly head. It is completely insidious, and sometimes almost impossible to spot.

If you've read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, you might remember the Somebody Else's Problem field. I always loved this concept of an invisibility field that worked because people's eyes would just slide off of something that they thought was somebody else's problem. That sort of slipping around or off of something is how I often feel when resistance is coming up. I'll be sitting at my desk cleaning out my inbox and getting organized for the day and I'll say okay, now I'm going to do my physical therapy exercises. Without me consciously noticing, my mind will throw up the equivalent of an SEP field that makes my mind slip right past that thought and remember something it wanted me to google or something I "should" do on Facebook. An hour later I'm looking back over my list of things to do today and I notice "exercises / ice" is still there. I pick up the pen and start to cross it off when it occurs to me I haven't actually done them yet. I feel a bit like I've just had a prank pulled on me and I'll get up to do my exercises and almost immediately a haze comes over me and... I have to shake myself and force my legs to carry me into the other room and start doing my work.

Resistance has one goal -- to keep us from changing. My husband likes to quote Wayne's World saying, "We fear change." And it's true! Our ego is invested in us staying the same, keeping things comfortable, and ultimately keeping us small. Our spirit is invested in us becoming more, growing and learning and expanding into the people we were born to be. When we try to follow the voice of spirit, our ego digs into its bag of tricks and starts throwing road blocks in our way. Some of them are obvious -- I've learned to recognize the voice of fear in my head and know that if it's telling me not to do something, then that's exactly what I need to do. But resistance is usually a lot more subtle, using highly honed skills of rationalization to hide its true nature. The more I pay attention to what I'm doing, thinking, and saying, the more I can recognize when I'm in resistance. I'm getting to the point where I often notice the SEP field within minutes and I can get myself back on track, but it takes practice -- give yourself a consciousness vacation and see how quickly the roots of resistance coil back around your mind. For me anyway, it's all about creating new habits. Even if they're in keeping with your spirit's goals for you, your ego recognizes them as routines and relaxes a little bit. And the more you practice staying in the present moment and truly pay attention to what's happening around you, the more prepared you'll be when your ego throws up its next resistance smoke screen. You can look the resistance right in the eye, tell it you know what it is doing, and move through it towards your goal. I promise, each step out of resistance is easier than the last, and while practice might not make perfect, it definitely does strengthen the tools you have at your disposal to release resistance more and more quickly.

Wish me luck in shifting my habits. And please, send out a search party into the lands of resistance if you don't see me for a few days. Namaste.

Friday, January 11, 2008


One of the joys of being between jobs is the flexibility inherent in the situation. If I wake up in the morning and need to spend some time on forgiveness work, I can. If a book falls off a shelf asking to be read, I can follow that urge. If nature is calling me out into its luscious depths, I can pack up and go for a walk. I am spending a lot of time listening and following the guidance I receive. Ultimately, my hope is that it will lead me to an income source, so a lot of my focus is on my life's purpose and seeing what the next step on that path looks like.

Earlier this week, the daily "big idea" email I get from was about Dr. Mark Seligman's Authentic Happiness. The short idea is that if you figure out what your strengths are and use them, you will find happiness. I was, of course, intrigued and checked out the Authentic Happiness website and discovered a whole slew of interesting looking questionnaires, including the one calling to me -- Signature Strengths. My results were both unsurprising and edifying, and I feel compelled to share the top five (of 24) with you today.

My top strength is Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith. Not surprising considering how much time I am currently dedicating to my connection to my Source. I would guess that if I had taken this questionnaire a year ago, this would not have turned up number one, but today it truly is the best thing I have going for me and the source of the contentment I find in each day.

My second strength is Appreciation of beauty and excellence. This is definitely one that I try to cultivate. I happen to believe I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, so most days this is easy, but I can find beauty in anything, anyone, anywhere.

My third strength is Love of learning. Oh, if Ms. Tinsley could just see me now. I was the bane of many a schoolteacher's existence -- that kid who didn't pay attention in class, never did her homework, but still did well on tests. I always had an affinity for learning, but was so often bored it didn't come out in school until I was about halfway through college. As an adult, learning is a source of great pleasure for me, and I find myself taking classes whenever I can.

My fourth strength is Perspective (wisdom). Who knew I was so wise? I definitely do believe that we each hold a unique perspective, and mine is valuable precisely because it is uniquely mine. The unique perspectives of other individuals help me to hone my own, and I hope vice versa. The world is such an interesting place full of such interesting people. And hey, I'm one of them!

My fifth strength is Capacity to love and be loved. I love just about everyone I come in contact with. Now, that doesn't mean I always like them, but I can always find something in them to love. I am also blessed with parents whose love for me I have never had reason to doubt, affectionate and loving family members, a burgeoning family of choice (aka my friends), and the love of a supportive husband and adoring cats. It's a good place to be.

I love having the opportunity to explore and celebrate my strengths. I have spent too much of my life being my own biggest critic, focusing on all of my weaknesses and flaws. Just thinking about my strengths brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. Isn't that a much better place to live? I already feel that authentic happiness flooding into my life, and I've only just begun. Namaste.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The glory of emotions

I've been feeling very emotional this week. Like today, for instance, I was watching the last few minutes of Coyote Ugly while I ate my lunch. Not exactly a tearjerker, but I was totally welling up at pretty much any show of love, caring, or kindness the characters gave each other. It is a good sign for me. I am an incredibly emotional person but I was raised to believe showing that emotion was a sign of weakness. I cry when I feel any intense emotion, something that does not serve me when a boss calls me into his office to reprimand me or I'm experiencing deep frustration with a team member on a project. So over the years I learned to repress those emotions, shoving them down under layers of practicality. But it isn't like they go away. No, they act like volcanic pressure slowly building up until one day they explode with a passion all over some poor, unsuspecting, and most likely undeserving person. They also show up in the form of back pain, knee pain, headaches, stomach aches -- uncomfortable ways for them to seep out whatever their form. So experiencing emotion freely and in the moment is a relief, a positive change. Next up is to stop judging myself and feeling silly when the reaction appears to be an overreaction, to listen to what those emotions are telling me and follow their guidance.

I am far from alone in judging people during displays of emotion. Look at what happened to Hillary this week when she had an emotional moment while campaigning. People were talking about how this proves she's weak and that women won't make good presidents because they are too emotional. But I had the exact opposite reaction. I was so relieved to see her show her softer side, to have that emotion come to the surface and leak out. It made her more human and it made me like her more. Having a president with a full range of emotions who recognizes them as valuable and doesn't sweep them under a rug might be exactly what this country needs. Emotions are powerful guidance systems, especially if you are in touch with your intuitive and spiritual nature, and having leaders who are guided by ego and pride hasn't been working out too well for us. I believe that this new millennium is about transformation, about going to the next level and moving from merely surviving to expansive thriving. The consciousness of the country and the world is making a palpable shift, and I expect we'll start to see that shift showing up in our government too. I can't predict what the results of this election year will bring, but I do know that whatever happens, people are waking up, starting to pay attention in different ways, to focus on what they find to be most important and to make choices to bring positive change to their lives and the world. Just thinking about these opportunities brings tears to my eyes, and I am so relieved that I can feel those feelings right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And namaste.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Spring cleaning

There is something so incredibly satisfying about cleaning. And I don't mean the scrub the toilet and vacuum kind of cleaning. I mean the reorganization of books and pens and jewelry and even furniture and throwing out everything that isn't nailed down kind of cleaning. I usually associate it with spring, when you can throw open the windows and doors and let that wonderful freshness into your home. Today is about as winter in the Bay Area as you can get -- gray and cool and raining -- but that compulsion to do a little spring cleaning came over me this morning and I succumbed to its wonderful pressure. Wonderful because of the calmness and centeredness that comes over me when I get to soak up the results. It can be difficult to stop once I get rolling. I finish one thing and I see another and another and another that all need to be taken care of immediately too. I'm the kind of person that goes to bed when the sun goes down, but I've been known to stay up past midnight rearranging my bookshelves or cleaning out a closet.

This physical reorganization is about so much more than just making my home feel that much homier, a good enough reason in itself. It's about the way that it opens me up to do internal reorganization as well, setting the example outside so that my insides know what to do. If I've been banging my head up against a wall trying to work something through, a little spring cleaning is the magic ingredient to make everything fall into place. I'm not saying that I had any great epiphanies this morning -- insight is not a requirement for this process -- but I can tell from the shift in how I am resonating with my surroundings that it is working. There are still a few hours of daylight left -- is there anything else I can tackle today?

Upanishads Quote

God made the senses turn outwards, man therefore looks outwards, not into himself. But occasionally a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself.

~The Upanishads