When you come into contact or cross paths with another human being that you do not know, what is the primary thing that you want to do?
Do you make eye contact, smile and nod? Do you say Hello? Or, do you work hard to avoid eye contact, keep your space, and keep moving along your way?
What thoughts/feelings contribute to the ways you interact with others?
There is an inner knowing within all of us that helps us to gauge the general vibe of others. Sometimes we can become so distracted with cell phones, music, social media, and other devices, that we don’t tap into our inner guidance system. We might miss out on an opportunity to make a new friend, save a life, or lift up our own moods.
What would happen if you went throughout your day today with the intention that“No ONE is a stranger”? I am not saying that you should run off with a stranger and jump into a dark van with shaded windows. (Please don’t.)
I am referring to the conscious effort to mindfully acknowledge the people that are with you from moment to moment throughout your day.
From a Spiritual point of view,there is no unfamiliar face in our world. We came from the Formless (Spirit/God/Energy/Universe) and were made into Form (Human Beings).
If all of us truly are made from ONE Source, then we really are not strangers to each other.
We simply need to re-introduce ourselves.
Imagine how rich your world will be once you perceive yourself with connections everywhere that you go.
Turn off the music for a moment and say hello.
Look away from your smartphone or tablet, and actually make eye contact.
Love is more than just a feeling. Love Is a way of Living.
Modern culture frequently displays love as a sense of feel-good, fantasy, and endless romantic awe. Yet, these types of examples are temporary expressions of a bigger, more infinite concept. Think about this:When did you first learn about love? Who told you what it means? What thoughts, feelings, and experiences do you associate with love?
Many years ago, I had the misconception that love = suffering. I thought that loving someone always meant to sacrifice, to put the other first, and to stretch myself in order to make the other person happy. I did this not only in romantic relationships, but also in relationships that I considered to be very important to me.
However, one common and major thing kept happening…I was left feeling betrayed, used, and alone.
This sent me on a journey to re-evaluate my understanding of love. I reflected upon my experiences, looked at the spiritual aspect, read books, and then went out and asked questions from my elders.
One of my favorite graduate professors was in his late 80s. He shared this definition of love: “To take delight in the spiritual development of another”. When I first heard it, I felt a squiggly warmth and childlike curiosity. The definition seemed so plain, but when you look at it more closely, it actually involves several layers.
To take delight in another person’s spiritual development also includes the ability to let go of expectation, to eliminate judgment, and to release the need to be right. This way of loving causes you to accept a person as he or she is, because you are aware that spiritual growth is always taking place. To love in this way is to understand that the person is doing the best that he or she can, based upon his or her own circumstances (thoughts, beliefs, actions, feelings)…even if you don’t like it.
Don’t get me wrong. If someone is treating you in a way that is condescending, harmful, or life-threatening, and using “love” as the reason, I am not referring to this situation. This is not love. This is manipulation and abuse.
The love that I am referring to is made up of thoughtfulness, positive regard, and a healthy detachment. Yes, detachment. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “If you love someone, you will let ‘em go.”
Loving someone on the spirit level creates a greater sense of freedom for you and that person.
In various Biblical and spiritual texts, it is expressed that “God is Love” (Feel free to put The Universe, Creator, Allah, etc)…and “This Love is unconditional.”
Other texts also express that “Love casts out all fear.” Most of us have attached ourselves to others in unhealthy ways, saying it is love, when it is actually fear. Let go of the fear.
Look and see that the person is on his or her spiritual journey, and smile. Your supportive presence (even if at a distance) is more valuable than hovering around negatively out of your own worry.
Most importantly, see yourself this way. Be there for yourself as you go through your spiritual development. Remember, Real Love is unconditional anyway.
Take delight in your own journey as you Evolve in Love.
“Nobody with innocence loves to go to jail. But if he puts you in jail, you go in that jail and transform it from a dungeon of shame to a haven of freedom and human dignity. Even if he tries to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true that they are worth dying for…” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
If there is one thing that I would change about the quote above, it is this: “What are you willing to LIVE for? What do you desire to see changed in the world we live in right now?”
February is celebrated as Black History month in the United States of America. It is also the month where they celebrate Love, Romance, and relationships in honor of St. Valentine.
When I pondered upon what this month means for me, I thought about the fact that there really is not a specific month to represent the history of all beings. My history is your history because we are all connected, and inevitably we all impact each other worldwide.
I also began thinking about the state of the social structure in this nation. There is unrest among many groups of people who are called the “minority” in the United States of America. The nature of this unrest is a recurrence of similar themes that have spanned over several generations. There are rallies against injustice, war, and inequality for all humans. This history seems to repeat itself, while the people headlining the movements are the only difference.
Why is this the case? What is missing?
Soldiers are deployed and encouraged to fight for their country and the freedom of their people. Yet, right here in our own land, many are not Free.
Freedom first begins in the mind.
If a group of people have been taught to believe and perceive their world from an inferior perspective, then their lives will continue to reflect this status, even if they do rally against their status. This is because they are creating what they focus upon. Do not get me wrong, there currently exists a covert and overt hierarchy in American society which affects various groups of people in different, yet painful ways. This hierarchy exists because the nation was created by a group of people who believed that to divide, conquer, and monopolize power was the way to live.
But it is not.
Violence, separation, and destruction only breed injustice, greed, and death.
It takes a conscious movement of everyone in solidarity in order for this ancient, ineffective system to be eradicated. I have read that the largest population in the United States right now is the generation born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s, also known as Generation Y or the Millennials.
Why does this matter? The largest population in any place can have a huge impact on society. It begins with a shift in conscious awareness, collectively joining together, and is followed by mindful action.
Think about what your ideal world looks like. Is there a major disparity among groups of people based on the color of their skin or partner preference? Of course not.
What can you do to shift things in the direction that makes this ideal world more tangible?
If you are passionate about it, then you have the first ingredient that is needed to take action. Every piece of this Peace puzzle has a major part. First, begin to connect with others who believe in your cause. Second, discuss solutions from a collective and conscious point of view. Third, mindfully put things in motion from a solution-focused perspective. You will see just how much the world you desire begins to unfold.
You and I are the game-changers. We are the ones to lead a conscious movement, not by repeating old patterns of our predecessors, but by acting from a higher state of awareness and connectedness that focuses on the solution to the problems we face now. We need each other, and we are the answer.
We must create and influence the world that we desire to live in.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” –Jim Rohn
“You are the company you keep.”
Heard that before?
Think about it for a moment, and make an observation right now: Who is around you? Who are the people that are a part of your inner circle? What are you listening to right now? What books are you reading? Whose Facebook status are you always checking?
As my life has continued to evolve, so have the people who are in it. Some friendships have faded away, some have emerged, and others have transformed and strengthened over time.
When I was in high school I did not pay close attention to the people who surrounded me. I had friends that were in gangs, had failed classes, and got into fights often. At the same time, I had friends that were part of leadership organizations, in the band, athletic, and some who were academically inclined. I felt like I was connected to all of them, but I didn’t really know who I was.
My lack of self-awareness caused me to get into trouble. I was among the “wrong crowd” and had to deal with being in the wrong places at the wrong times. It was embarrassing and also very confusing.
During my sophomore year, I was selected to become Drum Major in the marching band. Taking on this role shifted my perspective. I had to spend a lot of time with other leaders and forward-thinking people in order to be a leader myself. I started to see some of the foolish things I was doing. I also began to isolate more and look within. Many of my friendships changed, but I knew it was for the better.
In my first year of college, I was somewhat rebellious. I had come from a small hometown where I was not allowed to go out much with friends. When I got out on my own, I wanted to explore the world (or at least Savannah, Georgia). My friends were partiers! We stayed up late, danced, played games, and always found something to laugh about. I loved the times I spent with them!
I made many mistakes, though. I was not seeking answers to important questions because I did not know what I needed to ask. I remember taking a psychology exam and asking my professor how I did on the test. He said to me, “Oh, you probably did how you thought. You made a B.”
But I didn’t think that I made a B. It dawned on me that something about the way I presented myself made me seem like a B was my goal. I was just doing enough to get by, and wasn’t applying any more effort than that, but I did not realize it.
I slowly began to notice that my core values were different than my buddies who I hung out with all the time. I had a scholarship and grant money that paid for my education, and had to maintain certain grades to keep them. Most of my friends weren’t as concerned about their grades, if at all. I also was one of the few people who liked having morning classes, but staying up late made it difficult to get up on time. I surrendered to the fact that I needed some guidance, and had to change the people I surrounded myself with in order to expand the way I was viewing my experience.
I felt drawn to some of the mentors at the university, and I began taking on student leadership roles. I spent a great amount of time serving others and left a legacy on campus. I loved doing that type of service, and I began making more connections to people and situations that lined up with my desires.
Now, I am surrounded by a completely different group of friends. We are conscious, mindful, life-loving, and progressive entrepreneurs. When I look at them, I am inspired to keep expressing my gifts and expanding my personal vision.
The music I listen to on a consistent basis, the movies I watch, and the books I read are all different now as well. They are positive and encouraging. I naturally migrate towards things and people that support my growth and propel me towards continuing to live my passion and purpose.
It is clear that we are all highly impacted by those who surround us. There is a subtle exchange of energy and conscious information that occurs when we spend time, communicate, and connect with others. This same exchange occurs when we listen to music, watch videos/television, and read information.
Maybe it is time for you to reconsider those whom you choose to surround yourself with. Do you feel that these influences are guiding you forward, holding you still, or pulling you back? If you do not like the answer, you have the power to change all of this today. Decide on what you truly desire, and make room for the Divine connections and influences that are sent your way.
Remember: The energy that surrounds us is the energy that we embody.
We have the power to choose how we color our lives.
Think about this: What would happen if another person really knew you and was aware of all your “faults”?
Would you fear that this person would take advantage of you? Would you worry that the person may embarrass you? Would you be concerned that this person may have some type of power over you?
Due to all of these fears, would you start to lie in order to feel as if you have the “upper hand”?
Those are a lot of questions to consider.
Now, think carefully about this next question: What would really happen if this person… wholeheartedly accepted you as you are?
As humans, we often lose transparency due to distraction from our egos. You probably have heard of the term “ego” in psychology, developmental courses, or some forms of spirituality. In metaphysics, our egos can briefly be defined as the part of our humanness that correlates with fear, survival, selfishness, judgment, comparison, competition, and separateness.
Ego is not necessarily a negative part of our human experience; however the nature of it can contribute to internal and external conflicts as a person evolves spiritually.
The further along I have traveled on my spiritual journey, the more easily I notice when my ego appears. For example, I used to be an extreme perfectionist (possibly with traces of OCD) who felt that all areas of my life had to be a certain way. Perfectionism has its place, but it is a problem when it causes high levels of distress. I used to have very high expectations of myself and others, which only led to judgment and self-criticism. At times, I even hid information about myself because I was worried that I would appear “imperfect”. After a while, hiding things while also being judgmental took up a lot of energy and mental attention. It became an act of sorts.
One day, I got into an intense argument with a long-term friend of 10 years. She told me very pertinent things about myself that were difficult for me to listen to because they were so truthful and challenged the perfect image that I had portrayed for so long.
I noticed how far removed I had become from the core of who I am. It stung really bad. Even in that moment, I went through some judgmental thoughts and feelings, but then I released them. It was humbling in the least.
I came to an understanding that I did not have to hide anymore. I did not have to pretend that everything was perfectly aligned exactly how I wanted them to be. I let it all go, and admitted that I had many flaws and was finding my way through them all.
Admitting this about myself was freeing! It changed my perspective, and gave me the opportunity to shift my focus onto things that had more depth and meaning in my life. It truly was refreshing and life-changing.
The next few weeks of the holiday season can be challenging for many people as they spend time with relatives, friends, colleagues, or alone. This is the time of year where stress levels are heightened, loneliness is common, and depression and incidents of suicide increase drastically. This does not have to be. Much of the distress and negative emotions around the holidays come from a belief that things “should be” a certain away. Imagine if every person chose to be transparent, removing his or her veils and masks. So much unnecessary pressure would be lifted. Maybe you are the person to start this transparency trend among those you encounter.
Let it all go. Kindly Be who you are.
The more open we are about who we are and how we feel assists us to create an atmosphere where we are accepted, AND where others are able to be who they are as well.
It gives us all permission to blossom, expand, and share our inner beauty.
I have done a number of workshops on forgiveness. I came up with these workshop ideas because I noticed that across the board, many of my clients had underlying resentments. These issues were preventing them from receiving what they really desired. I chose to do these workshops also because I did some extensive forgiveness work with my father. I experienced some amazing and mind-blowing results. (I will share the story with you about my father in a later post.) In this post, I am addressing forgiveness because once again I was put in the place of doing so.
Many people will admit that it can be hard to forgive a former romantic partner. I definitely can.
I was in a long-term relationship with someone who, in the end, realized that he did not want the relationship, noting that he was not ready for it. I became upset with him because I felt that he should have known this before we had been together for as long as we had been. I also was upset because, based on some of his behaviors, he seemed like he already knew that he didn’t want the relationship well before he spoke up about it. When he ended the relationship, he expressed to me that we should be friends, but I was just not ready to hear those words. This was disappointing to hear because I was expecting more to develop in the relationship itself at that time.
We had a set of mutual friends who had a habit of asking me where he was whenever they saw me. I became angry, defensive, and would fight back glaring looks as I haughtily remarked, “You know we’re not together right?” They would look at me and gently say, “But you two are friends.” I thought they were insane. This type of pattern went on for several months. I grew angrier because he seemed to be nowhere around to deal with the mess he had made.
One day I decided to seek a neutral spiritualist perspective, so I spoke with a Tarot reader about the situation. She looked at the cards and said, “You’re holding a grudge against him. You two can’t be friends if you are holding a grudge.” I was a little surprised that she said that to me (being that I am a Healer and could heal myself and others), but I knew it was true. The surprise was moreso that the grudge itself was upset because it could no longer hide in the shadows of my subconscious. I reflected on her words and the nature of the grudge.
Every time that I looked at him post-breakup, I viewed him with eyes of criticism, judgment, anger, and hurt; looking for all his faults. Before the breakup, I saw him with more clarity. I saw his spirit, appreciated his compassion, his kindness, enjoyed his talents, and admired his quest to bless many by shining his own Light. That is what I loved about him. It was not his behaviors that I loved, but him as he is. It was time to let go.
Thus, I had to begin the journey of forgiveness again. I thought to myself, “If I can forgive my dad for the abuse growing up and for not being there for me the way that I needed him to be, then I can truly forgive a guy that I have only known for a few years.” Yet I struggled. I felt as if I didn’t have to forgive him because he was the one that did something wrong. In reality, we both played a part in what happened between us. (More on that later in this post.)
What does it take to forgive? One of the most important things is the willingness to do so. Before I could get to the place of saying that I forgive him for his behaviors, I had to at least say, “I am willing to forgive you for them.”
From the willingness, grew the readiness to forgive. Once I was ready to forgive, I was able to look at the entire situation from the lenses of Love. This was not human, conditional love, but unconditional Divine Love.
I sat down, took out a sheet of paper, and wrote out all of the wrongs that I felt happened in the relationship. I wrote them vigorously with serious intention to let go. I then took out another sheet of paper and wrote out all of the things that I loved about him. Holding that loving feeling in my conscious awareness, I went back to the list of wrongs. I drew a line under them, and wrote the sentence, ‘I forgive you for…’ as I went through each item. I tore that paper up, saying out loud, “I set myself free.”
I looked back at the list of things that I loved about him. When I looked at those things again, I saw that they weren’t conditional at all; they were the Essence of who He Is. I chose to appreciate his presence in my life, even though it wasn’t in the way that I desired. He played a role that sparked me to grow as a person.
Then, a deeper knowing struck me–I needed to forgive myself for allowing things to continue in a way that I did not desire or deserve. I needed to forgive myself because I love me as well. I did the same ritual that I did for him, but for myself this time. It was insightful, yet freeing. All of those things that happened between us began to seem so small. I knew that none of it really mattered. I could see that Ultimate Love remained present through it all.
This is what I hope you take away from reading this post: Although forgiveness may be challenging at times, it is extremely powerful when done from a place of Love. Forgiveness empowers you, sets you free, and releases the old energy tied into something that really has no power in your present life. It opens up the doorway to live more beautiful and desirable lives.
Now that I have chosen to forgive, I am ecstatic to see the beauty that is allowed to grow because of the loving space that I have created. You may do the same for yourself as well.
And so it is.
Relationships are very dynamic experiences that, by far, are one of the most important aspects of Life. We are always in relationship with someone or something at all times; including our Self. Some of the most profound interpersonal relationships that we experience are related to those who parent us (grandparents, biological parents, step parents, adopted, guardians, etc.), those whom we call family, those whom we have romantic interests, and those whom we view as allies.
When I was 15 years old, I read the Bible verses on the nature of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for those of you who are curious). In summary, it says that love is patient, kind, forgiving, selfless, always victorious, and is Eternal. For some reason, I felt a strong conviction in my heart and made a vow to myself that I would learn to love others just like it is written in those verses. I had already believed that love was a powerful force, and I was becoming more aware of the misuse of the word in every day society and media.
Little did I know, this vow seemed to be the precipice for increased difficulties in all of my relationships over many years. I had problems with my family, was isolated from my friends, changed jobs often, and faced painful romantic failures too.
From my point of view, I loved others unconditionally, but was only being let down in return. I wanted to blame everyone else, but I couldn’t. I forgave easily. I didn’t hold grudges. I let people walk in and out of my life as they pleased. I had the misconception that this is how I could show others love. While everyone else received such forgiveness, I secretly got angry with myself for being such a pushover.
It didn’t dawn on me that I was missing Self-Love until I went through a period of time where I was forced to live alone, with no television. I had a spacious home, but no furniture, and no bed. I was single and dateless. I ate my meals cross-legged on the floor, and I slept on an air mattress during the night. I spent most of my time reading religious books and spiritual texts, doing energy healings, and meditating. Life was very simple, but fulfilling.
During this time, I reflected on my understanding of love and relationships. I realized that I had fallen prey to associating love with pain and drama. All of my challenging relationships essentially showed me how much I needed to look within. I was only experiencing what I subconsciously believed. I discovered how important it was to know myself, express what I need, and to let go of relationships that were not healthy for me. I learned what it meant to take care of myself and love who I Am. I finally understood that it was okay to say no and to set limits with others. With this new knowledge, my desire to embody unconditional love did not change; however my understanding of what it looks like did.
These are my valuable lessons on love: Loving someone means allowing the person to be exactly who he or she is, even if that person is not what you desire. It does not necessarily mean putting that person’s needs over yours, but respecting yourself, your needs, and compromising in a reasonable way. Loving someone is appreciating the experience that you share, while also letting go of expectations.
Loving someone stems from first knowing yourself, loving who you are, and allowing Life to flow as it may.