Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A New Earth -- Your Inner Purpose

Jenn's thoughts and learnings from the ninth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

"There is always only this one step, and so you give it your fullest attention. This doesn't mean you don't know where you are going; it just means this step is primary, the destination secondary. And what you encounter at your destination once you get there depends on the quality of this one step."
~Eckhart Tolle,
A New Earth

This chapter, Your Inner Purpose, was by far my favorite in A New Earth. Don't get me wrong, the whole book, this whole web event series, has been wonderful, but this one spoke to a deep place in my soul. My apologies for continuing to be a week behind the live class, but I really wanted to give this chapter the time and attention it deserved.

I think this whole chapter can be summed up by my favorite expression: "Life's a journey, not a destination." I love how Eckhart talks about this concept, gives it his own spin and increases my own understanding of it. He speaks of inner purpose and outer purpose. Your inner purpose is about BEING, is about awakening, and is always primary. Your outer purpose is about DOING, and is always secondary. When we usually talk about our life's purpose, we are talking about the doing, and almost without fail we have placed this doing in the future. True purpose is in the present moment, whether it comes from being or doing. Its focus is not on the destination--its focus is on this one step, whatever it is that is occurring right now, in this moment.

I've found myself this week becoming aware of what I'm doing in the moment and saying, "My life's purpose is to be doing this." So right now, my life's purpose is to be writing my blog post. Just saying that immediately makes me expand, makes me more aware, enables me to feel my aliveness and allow the words to flow through me and into my fingers. I am one with life and my inner purpose--I am awakening.

I could probably end right there--that AHA! has carried me through the week and I expect I'll be playing with it for weeks to come. That one concept opens up my field of awareness and makes me feel so energized, so alive, so fully present, and allows me to distance myself from what has been my goal these past few months, which is to uncover my outer purpose. But the thing is, living from the inner purpose IS the path to the outer purpose. As Eckhart says, once you realize that the primary purpose of your life is the inner purpose, to awaken, then the secondary purpose, the outer purpose, falls into place. By being true to life, being true to this moment, the now, life will become helpful, bringing to you whatever is most appropriate in terms of aligning your inner and outer purpose. This is when the synchronicity associated with following your bliss begins to occur and the world shows up for you, supporting you and providing for you.

There may be a period of uncertainty while your inner and outer purpose come into alignment, but that's the whole thing about life being a journey and not a destination--life is an adventure, full of the unknown and therefore full of possibility. When you embrace the uncertainty, you open the door for opportunities to arise. When you resist the uncertainty, you block the flow from making itself manifest in your experience. I loved when Oprah was talking about letting the light shine through you. An image came to me, that we are here to become translucent and in so doing, we let the light of consciousness or awareness or presence, whatever you choose to call it, shine through. When this light shines through us, then the light becomes fuel for whatever it is we are doing. That's when we have the full power of the universe available to us.

Eckhart spoke of his writing practice, and it's one that I want to take into my week and try out for myself. He said that it was never about the end result. If he'd been trying to write a great book whose purpose was to bring awakening to the planet, he would have been getting in his own way. Instead, he was coming from the place of inner stillness. He listened to the voice that told him it was time to write, and sat down with a pen, a notebook, and the stillness. When a thought came to him he would utilize his intellect to review this thought for its truth, for its quality. If it made sense, then he would write it down. If it didn't, then he would let it go and return to the stillness, allowing the next thought to come. It's a small moment, focused on the inner purpose, but when those moments stack, what unfolds leads to greatness. Take this attitude, this approach into everything you do this week and watch how it changes the work you are doing. Namaste.

Photo: "Autumn Stream," originally uploaded by Kimberly

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tools for the journey

Nothing can stop the man with right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
~Thomas Jefferson

I've been focusing these past few months on the internal tools we have at our disposal to connect to Source and our inner wisdom, enabling us to embrace the guidance that is always available to us as we go through our life journey. Meditation, following your intuition, using a mantra, forgiveness, staying present--these are all powerful tools to help us on our path. And while nothing can replace that internal work and desire, you definitely don't have to go it alone. There's a whole world of external resources that can be very useful in providing guidance and confirmation that what we're receiving intuitively really is coming from our inner wisdom.

Community. Perhaps the most obvious, ubiquitous, and useful place to look is in other people. Whether it be an individual or a community, the people we encounter in our lives are gifts from the divine. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of supportive spiritual centers out there. My personal favorite is Sacred Center New York. August Gold is perhaps the most transformational teacher you will ever have the privilege to encounter, or at the very least, that I have discovered so far on my own journey. This Center has an energy that is lighting up the whole of New York City, expanding its reach further and further each year. Not close to New York? That's okay, there are many spiritual communities available to you. Religious Science International, United Centers for Spiritual Living, Unity, and Unitarian Universalist have churches all over the country that might appeal to you. There are also many independent churches, Zen centers, study groups, book clubs, even groups and workshops meeting at metaphysical bookstores. I trust you won't have to look very far before you find a spiritual group within your community that would welcome your participation and provide you with loving support for your journey.

Readers. I am relatively new to the concept of receiving a "reading." I never used to take the concept very seriously, possibly because I felt you needed to do it all on your own and possibly because I discounted the quality of the information that could be gleaned through this process. About a year ago, however, my ideas on this subject shifted, about the time that my ideas on most subjects were shifting. I heard a description of the readings that Caroline Reynolds does, talking about how she uses reading your chakras to help give you clarity and point you in a direction that will ultimately bring you a sense of fulfillment, and knew this was something I needed to do. Working with Caroline has provided not only guidance, but a sense of progress as my life begins to blossom in new and unexpected ways. She helps me to see how things are interconnected and where my blocks are so I can better focus the work I'm doing where it will have the most effect. Others I have worked with less extensively are Genevieve Vulser, an angel mediator, hypnotherapist, Reiki master, and spiritual teacher, and Belle Star, whose aura photography and readings guide her life coach practice.

I recommend working with someone whose work you are familiar with or who has helped a friend you trust. If this isn't an option, check your local metaphysical bookstore to see who they would recommend. Make sure that the type of reading they provide resonates with you, is in alignment with the kind of guidance you are looking for. The thing to keep in mind with any reader is that they can only speak to where you are today. Anyone who is claiming to be able to see the future is really picking up on where your energy is now and looking at the natural evolution of that energy if it were to continue unfolding exactly as it is today. However, the future is always malleable, we can always set new intentions and make new choices that alter the path we are on. The information they provide is just a tool to help you steer your journey in the direction you choose. Think of it as a compass, showing you where you are headed in relation to your true north, and use it accordingly.

Movement. Connecting to the life force energy through movement can be very powerful and rejuvenating. Yoga is a wonderful option, especially if you go with one of the more spirit-oriented schools of thought, as opposed to those who look at Yoga purely for its exercise benefits. I personally prefer Hatha Yoga, as it feels like a holistic approach to the mind-body connection. While I haven't yet had the pleasure of taking a class from him, the description I've heard of Ned Grant's classes is exactly the kind of yoga I would enjoy participating in. From his website: "Yoga can be considered to be a two-step process, in which the first step is the focus of the mind, and the second is the release of energy that emerges as a result of that focus. In Hatha Yoga, the focus begins with what we do with the breath and the body." Until I find a yogi like that in my neighborhood, I'm diving into my new love, Qigong. I get so much energy from this practice that I barely notice it is also exercise. I feel revitalized within the first few minutes of getting my Qi moving and its effects last throughout the day. If you're interested in an introduction to Qigong, I would recommend picking up one of Lee Holden's DVDs.

Cards. Cards are a great tool for receiving messages or gaining clarity on what is coming to you intuitively. I am loving my tarot cards these days and find this tool to be a great asset to my daily guidance. Once you learn to read tarot cards you can do readings for yourself or for others, or if you'd prefer you can find a reader to look at the cards for you. Also handy are message cards like angel cards or daily affirmation cards. Ask the universe for what you need to know today and allow your intuition to pick a card--the message you receive is usually a great reminder of where you need to place your attention today for best results.

Pendulums and Crystals. A recent (re)discovery for me is the power of stones and crystals. All products of the earth have energy, and many crystals amplify your own energy in different ways depending on the crystal. I've found a handful of different stones and crystals that I meditate with, each with their own energy. If I need a boost to my intuition, I use one, but if I'm looking to open my heart I use another. Crystals make great pendulums as well, which are excellent tools for refining intuitive messages. Start by asking your pendulum simple questions so you can begin to see how it responds with its yes, no, and maybe or don't know responses. Once you begin to develop a relationship with it, you can ask it questions you need clarity on and see which way it swings. It can take time for your confidence in this tool to grow, but the more confident you are, the more you can rely on its answers.

Sound. Having just spent a few days exploring the Globe Sound Healing Conference, I am especially aware of the ability of sound to open you up to a deeper connection to Source and a greater connection with your own inner wisdom. I had the pleasure of experiencing an alignment by a "crystal alchemist" my first morning at the conference. If you're ever in Mount Shasta, you will definitely want to look up Crystal Tones at Mount Shasta--their crystal bowls are amazing, producing vibration that sings to your soul. Another pleasure was exploring the "percussive sculpture" of Bruce Gray, whose drums and rattles feel like they are alive. These are true pieces of art as well as powerful ways to connect to that primeval rhythm within. Music of all shapes and sizes provides a way for me to experience the divine, regardless of how I'm feeling or where my thoughts are running. Experiment with different musical forms, both participating and listening, and see what works for you.

These are really just a handful of the tools that are available to you at any given time. The takeaway here for me is that the world has so much to offer you, so much support to give you, so many avenues for you to explore. Your job is not to walk down every path or try on every tool for size, but to explore enough so that you've found a few tools that work for you and be open to new tools as they show up for you. Whether its a new person coming into your life or guitar lessons or a beautiful deck of angel cards, these tools are here for our enrichment. They don't replace the guidance we receive from within, but they enhance it, providing us with the support of the universe's loving arms. Relax, surrender, and enjoy the ride. Namaste.

Photo: "Daimonji path," originally uploaded by Chris Gladis

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Throwing out the list

You know that feeling when you're aware of what you probably should be doing but you seem to be incapable of doing it? Suddenly anything and everything else feels super important, whether it's unloading the dishwasher or picking a piece of lint off your sweater. I suspect that's something we've all experienced at one time or another. For me, anyway, it manifests as a form of beating myself up, as even the presence of the word "should" suggests in my first sentence.

One of the challenges of having the appearance of so much free time in my life is that all of those things that I always wanted to do have now moved to the level of "things I should be doing" in my head. I have a list of "daily goals," which is really more like a daily task list. I swear, even if all I did was finish off this list everyday I'd probably feel overwhelmed. My morning practice alone has bloomed to the point where it takes a minimum of two hours to finish everything. Then there's three meals a day to cook and clean up after. I'm training for my Avon Walk, so there's walking or cross-training to be done, plus stretching and icing. I have a category for "coursework" that includes things like the Prosperity Game from Ask and It Is Given, the Attracting Genuine Abundance course I signed up for from DailyOM, and finishing up my A New Earth reading, watching, and writing. As I mentioned in my last post, I've started a Chinese medicine regimen, so I need to make sure I allow time to prepare the herbs in the morning and then remember to drink them after each meal, not to mention carving out time for my acupuncture and massage appointments. There is, of course, writing my daily blog post. And oh yeah, I'm also freelancing, so somewhere in there I should find time to both do my work and drum up new business. Phew.

While these are all worthy objectives for any given day, the problem lies in my being overwhelmed from the start. I'm practically already behind schedule when my feet hit the floor in the morning, and there's a voice at the back of my head that is telling me that if I'm not going to get it all done anyway, I might as well take my time. So instead of having a purposeful, flowing day filled with joy at the prospect of getting to live my life the way I always wanted to, I can end up experiencing a day full of stress, with never enough time to get anything done, and overflowing with distractions that I allow to take up my time instead of recognizing them as the unnecessary derailment that they really are.

So my goal for this week is to throw out the list, but perhaps more importantly to also throw out the distractions. I've shut all of my browser windows, streamlined my "to do list" to just those things I need reminders to complete, and shifted my focus to the present moment. Right now is the only moment that matters. And when I live this moment to its fullest, there is always plenty of time to get everything done. Care to join me in this adventure this week? Choose a new practice with me whereby you allow the universe to find its flow in your life, bringing your attention to where it is needed in each moment, allowing those daily tasks to unfold effortlessly. Experience what it is like to live from the place of awareness that is your true self, being truly present where you are, starting right here, right now, in this very moment. Namaste.

Photo: "let's dance!," originally uploaded by Tinou Bao

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