Dec 28, 2005

Have you ever experienced the crushing atmosphere of four young restless children in a small space for a long time, feeling all their childish exuberance? 

Have you ever felt the pressure of something new, really new?   These two situations like oil in lemonade would not, could not blend.

I would have given much for a quiet space to collect my thoughts, a space life chose not to afford me. 

There I was, seven hours of driving, pounding headache, the last fifteen miles down a winding road with several cars hanging off my bumper. 

Suddenly there are blue and red lights flashing, and the scream of sirens invading my pounding head.  Some neatly dressed man in his pressed uniform and fluorescently offensive jacket is signaling me to pull over.  In a state of complete and incomprehensible thoughtlessness he writes me a speeding ticket telling me that the tailgating traffic was no excuse for my ten km per hour speeding spree.  Incredibly he seemed oblivious to my four, by this time, totally unruly children, my pounding headache or my beautiful wife who was apparently lacking in beautiful praise for me in that moment. 

In that instant with the tools I had I could not have mustered a glimmering of the notion of surrender.  I am sure the last fifteen miles were pervaded with a thick, sticky silence that left everyone feeling just a little dirtier than they possibly could have felt after traveling for three days through the steaming swamps of the Darien gap.  That moment could be construed as a turning point in my life. 

Over the next ten years I embraced inner study as a way of life.  I learned the value of surrender and forgiveness.  I learned to breathe, I learned simple relaxation techniques, I learned to speak my needs and listen to the needs of others. 

Ten years later as I stood in the doctors parking stall in a new town I had recently moved to, with a light slowly dawning in my head that my car was gone, towed away, surrender did not even glimmer in my thinking; back to the books.

Another ten years have since passed by.  I continue to study, I continue to practice.  Do I yet know how to surrender?   In the moment, occasionally; with a little time I seem to.  When I discover how to find the humour surrender seems to finally finds completion.  Then I find a new opportunity to learn surrender.

May you find within yourself the strength to surrender to life's challenges in 2006.

Blessings,

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Dec 14, 2005

One of the greatest hypotheses of modern man is; ‘where ones attention goes, ones energy flows’. This can simply be stated; thought is creative.  Every successful sales person and athlete is quite aware of this idea on a personal level.  Many other people are aware of this in their own success oriented careers and prove it daily to their satisfaction. 

Unfortunately it will continue to simply be a hypothesis, a postulation, even a quack idea to the worshipper of empirical thinking because it continues to be immeasurable.  How can a person measure the intensity and focus of a thought?  How can one correlate physical experience to mental activity? It is now and always will be impossible to prove anywhere but in our own lives.
So what does all this have to do with labeling? Very simply, to give a thing or situation a name we give it identity, we give it existence.  We cannot think about what has no name.  Even ‘it’ is enough of a name to identify with a situation or object.  So we label. 

The imperative here is that we label each situation in some way that will empower us ‘to have dominion over it’.  If the feeling we hold around an idea is fear, then that is part of our thought, —and that is what we will create, individually and collectively.  By our fear we will actually be giving it power to dominate us.  This is not a good thing when the label that hangs over us is ‘Cancer’ or some other ‘incurable’ disease.

In Dr Larry Dossey’s book “Healing Words he sites studies that show the attitude one holds toward a disease directly correlates to ones ability to ‘beat it’. 

Some people say "I have ‘insomnia’"; I say "I have an opportunity to meditate".  Some people say "I have a cold, flu or some rampant Asian strain of bacteria"; I say "I am having an ‘elimination’".  I don’t deny what is happening, I merely disempower it with a more manageable label.  Of course when I am seeking sympathy I will label my disease so as to get sympathy.

We may not be able to stop our thinking but with practice we can certainly change our patterns of thinking and maybe, just maybe we will create for ourselves more fulfilling lives.  It takes time, maybe years for some, to make those shifts but the value is high and the rewards are high.  This

Christmas give yourself the gift of a new and empowering label; call yourself successful, happy and healthy.  Don’t accept other people’s labels of dis-ease; that is no gift to give yourself in this sacred season, or any time for that matter.

May the joy of the season be with you.

Many Blessings,

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Dec 7, 2005

We are going to have to change as dramatically over the next hundred years as we did over the last. 

One of the key areas of change that the advent of oil has facilitated has been travel.  Societies and families have discovered the freedom to expand and spread out.  Very often families will now be scattered all over the globe where at one time not long ago most people would live and die within ten miles of their birthplace.  With this coming onset of dramatic lifestyle change there is likely to be much mental stress exacerbated by our sense of distance, of separation. 

Psychologists have long recognized that people living within fifty miles or less of family will tend towards greater mental health.  They will feel a sense of belonging.

Yet today, belonging is a word of terror or at least anxiety for much of humanity.  We want to belong but we don’t want to be bound.  The struggle comes largely from our interpretation of the word.  For most belonging carries a strong sense of obligation; what must I do to belong? Like so many areas of challenge in our lives the struggle comes from striving to get rather than give.  We constantly ask “What will I get from belonging here?” 

For me, it is the less important question and never of itself leads to satisfaction.  The only question I have found to bring any true sense of fulfillment is, “What can I give to this moment, this organization, this person?”  Once I have determined that the person organization or activity is moving me in the same direction as my values I commit to it with my time, resources and creativity.  For me to belong is principally to BE. 

A simple acronym for BELONG would state:

BE
Loving (how can I empower this moment?),
Open (how can I stretch myself to meet the present needs?),
New (how can I see this moment for the first time with the eyes of a child?),
Giving (how can I give of my time, treasure and talents to empower this moment?)

…where 'this moment' is your family, work, organization or spiritual community. 


As Saint Francis expressed; it is by giving that we receive.  Belonging is about giving into that which we truly value.  It is about standing forward with our actions and saying this is what I believe. 

This is exactly what the spirit of Christmas is about.

My wish for all of us is that our hearts expand into this season of giving. I desire that we can all find and embrace a real sense of belonging through this day, this season and this year.

Many Blessings,

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Dec 21, 2005

Somehow two unwelcome gifts often show up in people’s stockings this time of the year.  Expectation: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without expectation, every child who celebrates Christmas is taught from the youngest possible age to have expectations.  Most are encouraged to write their lists and encouraged to expect returns. 

It is healthy to have expectations, at least it is healthy to have expectations of ourselves.  To expect something, anything from another is to set oneself up for disappointment; sooner or later those expectations will likely go unmet. 

Hand in hand with the expectations of others is the guilt accepted for not meeting others expectations.  Every adult is familiar with that sense of failure when unable to meet those expressed needs. 

Sometimes I think guilt is the number one disease of our society.  Stemming from a deep need for approval and a belief that it is not deserved, it often surfaces as a sense of melancholy. Something that can’t really be touched leaves the caring soul with a feeling of emptiness. There is only one way to move through guilt and that is to recognize it by our experiences then own it and finally let it go. 

There are many methods used for this process and many professionals to help.  The key is willingness.  One cannot change ones life and experiences without first having a feeling of willingness for a greater experience.  One must first having a willingness to do whatever is necessary in order to make that change occur.

This year don’t make guilt and expectations a part of your Christmas experience. Be willing to accept a new idea of Christmas, be willing to accept a bounty of love,  be willing to accept the good intentions of others.  And in all of this give yourself the time to enjoy the wonders of this day, give yourself the time to really feel how you feel and know it is good.   May the riches of goodwill fill your stocking this Christmas.

Blessings,

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Nov 30, 2005

Many of us forget that happiness is a choice, many more of us are not even aware that joy is a choice It is. 

Life happens; how we respond is our choice.  People will at some point or another cut us off, how we respond is our choice.  People will sometimes get angry with us, how we respond is our choice.  People will sometimes mistreat us, again, our choice.  At some point in our lives the choices will be harder; death, disaster, loss of many kinds. The choice is ours.  

It is always our choice where our attention goes.  In order to make that choice we must be conscious of how we are feeling.  We must actually be paying attention to ourselves. 

Many of us are so busy with our lives that we don’t actually know how we are feeling.  Most of us, most of the time are completely unconscious of what we are thinking.  That too is a choice, a choice not to choose, a choice to give away our power to people and events we cannot change.

Our only real power lies in the choices we make for ourselves; what to think, what to feel and how to respond. 

Yesterday, the flow of my day improved and by the time my work was complete I was able to look back on a good day; more so because I made it so.

I went home and got to make those same choices all over again.  I didn’t do so well.  I was tired, I was grumbling. I had too much work, not enough hours and not enough energy.  It all had to happen after my ‘work’ was done.

Again, after some struggling I chose happiness.  It was not so easy, it isn’t always easy.  Yet I made the effort to shift my focus and I did it, I had a fulfilling evening.

Sometimes you will find it easy to choose joy in your life.  Sometimes you will find it difficult.  Yet still the choice is yours.  Sometimes choosing your happiness takes inner strength.  Always the choice made empowers you.

May your days be empowered by your happiness.

Blessings,

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Nov 23, 2005

I arrived home the next day to find my house had been broken into; things were stolen.  I saw it again but this time it was me.  I noticed the obvious, cash, items I used daily, the chaos of the intrusion, but my eyes were blind to all else.  I had become so accustomed to my environment that I could not see the things that were missing.

Often in our lives we take for granted things and people very dear to us.  They start to simply take up space on our mental shelves. 

Sometimes in our lives we forget; we take for granted our own feelings of joy, love and peace.  We don’t even notice when they go missing.  It is easy to think that such feelings are the result of our environment, our friends and affairs but they are not.  They are the result of our choices.  It is a decision to be happy; it is a decision to see goodness in events unfolding around us, it is a decision to appreciate each moment as it unfolds.  The decision is easier made when we have made a habit of it yet we must still remember.

It is a decision to be who we want to be and it is a decision to remember who we have chosen to be. We so easily lose that which we forget about.  The universe builds for us what we think about and removes what we forget. 

The things in my life that were taken can easily be replaced if I want them; they can be released if I was done with them. How I feel can also be replaced as I choose.  Today I choose to appreciate life, I choose joy. 

What do you choose?

Blessings,       

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Nov 16, 2005

Learning to take action without regard for the outcomes was one of the hardest things I had to discover.  There is still for me often a sense of paralysis that descends when I identify a productive course of action.   This very inertia has often resulted in brash action counter-productive to my desire; action which disregarded its impact on environment and people as well as the outcome.  An overenthusiastic word, forgetting to communicate or assuming that others knew what I was thinking have been disastrous mistakes which have left people feeling wounded.  Get up, dust off and carry on.

I am learning from children; ‘baby steps’.  I hardly focus on my goals in achieving them; they have been internalized to the point of being simple urges.  A toddler does not decide one day to walk, try, fall down, do it again and quit.  Yet for each of us with our dreams that is often what we have done.  That child has a greater ideal, tangible but largely irrelevant.  The bright object on the shelf, that object of parental attention, consumes them to the point of becoming unconscious of their immediate need. 

The true goal becomes superfluous to the tangible desire.  Is it possible that objects of desire only serve to progress us toward a goal of inner growth?  “If you want to feed a man teach him to fish.” If I really want to progress I need to develop new skills.

I am definitely in favour of the progress of inner growth such as direction, assertiveness, anger management and self confidence.  For most people progress would be a term reflecting upon their circumstances.  It would signify better work opportunities, cheaper commodities, more labour saving implements and the like.  Few in the overall spectrum would see progress in terms of personal growth.  Yet I would argue that the only level of progress which is lasting is a reflection of inner growth.  As we as individuals grow our circumstances grow with us, all other growth in our affairs has no real personal value.

May your action today lead to real progress this season, may you discover for yourself deeper gifts of self worth.  May you progress toward a greater realization of your potential.  

Blessings,

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Nov 9, 2005

As the cycles swing around again we find ourselves fast entering our season of cold and dark.  We have past through the harvest and my wish is that all our pantries are stocked, that we each see our way through these coming months in comfort and joy. 

It is custom for most of us in this part of the world to have a mid winter celebration including gift giving. Whether it is Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice or any other religious tradition the occasion tends to hold a high level of importance.  And with it a greater than usual opportunity for hurt.

I cannot recount the number of times in my life I have sweated and struggled to come up with just the right gift to show my deep appreciation of a person.  With all my efforts I have still experienced that ‘look’ with the words of “Oh,… this is perfect, this is wonderful,” … uttered from a face completely out of alignment with eyes and body language.  And on the other turn, after waiting expectantly for that perfect something from that closest of people, I have gazed upon some item absolutely foreign to me and known my next second of response would be critical to the health of our relationship.

In my last weeks I have taught a class that looked deeply at many stories within the Bible.  While looking at the stories of Jesus healings and teachings I noticed a theme around his gift of healing.  The people who Jesus praised most highly declared very clearly their need, their desire; and then proved it with action and faith. 

These were the people who were healed.  Could it be that we are to ask for what we want in order to get it.  Maybe the oweness does not fall on the giver of the gift to ‘get it right’ but rather on the recipients to make their needs known.  Maybe there is power in speaking our needs?  Maybe the gift really is a declaration of a loving intention that can only be received fully by the one who is willing to declare his or her desire. 

Today in my life, before I look at the value of a gift received, I think I shall look at my own willingness to speak my desire.  I choose to appreciate the intention of every gift given whether just a smile or a passing wave.  I choose to see that my world truly is filled with good will.

As you enter this new season may you speak with faith and conviction your desire.  May I and all those close to you truly hear your needs.  My desire for all of us is needs fully met.

Blessings,

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Oct 26 2005

The problem with this convoluted communication is simply that thoughts and words are creative.  As is often said in motivational talks “what you think about comes about”, when we add the focus of our spoken word to our thoughts we empower the beliefs driving those thoughts.  We start creating patterns in our lives, patterns as varied as our backgrounds yet always according to our intuitive sensibilities; a negative thought or word will create a negative tendency. 

Even a little white lie carries a basic thought that others don’t care enough to listen to our needs; it carries an overall negative or destructive tendency.  This holds true of course for positive thoughts and words as well, the real challenge for most of us is that we don’t actually pay attention to what we are thinking and feeling so unknowingly we create repeating patterns in our lives.

Why does that keep happening to me?  Why is s/he so lucky?, because of a tendency of thinking.
Some people, managers, executives, counselors, sales people and many others are trained to hear the subtle nuances behind the words people speak.  Happy, sad, angry; it is all audible to the person who is consciously listening, paying attention.  We watch the body language, the colour and design of the clothing people wear, we notice make-up, we pay attention to timeliness. All of this most of us do to some degree unconsciously. 

This is much of where those first impressions come from.  We look around a public place and ‘feel’ to avoid certain people and drawn to others.  The professional listener realizes it is usually about the other person and no longer takes personally other peoples emotional packages.  Yet even this listening that only a few are trained to do is of little value in bringing peace to our world, harmony to our communities and joy into our relationships.

What we need to do is learn to listen in a new way.  We need to learn to listen to the hidden intentions back of the words.  In “A Course In Miracles” it states that every communication is a call for love or a gift of love.  In “NVC”(a communication technique developed by Dr Marshall Rosenburg) they say that all communication is either ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.  There are many ways of saying the same thing.  What is important is the practice of listening in this new way; what I call listening to the hidden intentions. 


Every person is seeking to make their life better in the best way they believe possible.  Listening to those hidden intentions helps us to better meet those needs while more readily meeting our own needs.  Listening to intentions helps us to be more honest with ourselves and with others.  Honesty is essential to creating peace in our world, our communities and our homes.

Do I really hear you or am I just listening to my own need to feel good, to feel approval.  Do you hear me?  Through much practice, through diligence and through an intention to create harmony I slowly but surely create a peace filled movement in my life.  I wish for you to catch the wave of peace this week.

Blessings,

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Oct 19 2005

It causes me to speculate whether there is some underlying correspondence here.   Maybe if we, as a society, changed our approach to conflict and sought resolution rather than victory there would be a ripple effect right through into global weather patterns; something to ponder. 

What I care to explore today is a word that is being thrown about in conjunction with the present labour dispute between government and teachers; Law.   The word law was derailed thousands of years ago into a completely new and inaccurate use.  At one time it was applied to acts of nature or an unseen power we collectively recognized as the gods or God.  It was something that was beyond our ability to change.  In the realm of science this use of the word law has remained unadulterated since its recorded beginnings with the birth of pure science in the age of the Greek city states.   Within this original context a law is something by its nature, unbreakable; in science if a law can be broken then it is not a law, it is merely a theory or concept.

It was a beautiful move; a “coup d’etat”.  By usurping this one little word governmental and church leaders gave themselves an appearance of authority equal to God and nature. 

Let’s face it, there’s not much authority in ‘rules’.  If I don’t like the rules you play by I can just go play with somebody else, or if I’m big and strong enough I can change those rules; I can make my own game.  Laws on the other hand suggest something immutable and divinely ordained.  To break a law is inherently wrong and somehow not acceptable if it is even possible.  To do so carries an implication of guilt.

So today when a dictator or a majority government passes a ‘law’, (and I really see no effective difference between the two) they have usurped the authority of a supreme deity to execute punishment in order to enforce their will.  That is a scary prospect in this age we live in. 
Democracy is supposed to be a process whereby the collective wishes of the people are represented; it, like all political systems, must be monitored by a level of moral responsibility and integrity within the people.  There must be a willingness to stand by a justice for the majority of people even if that is not in the best interests of a select group of powerful individuals.  As Martin Luther King stated, and I paraphrase; “if a Law is unjust there is a social responsibility of the people to oppose it.” 


It is good to remember in this ‘civilized age’ who makes the Laws and who makes the rules and what the differences are.  When the rules are out of alignment with the Laws it is my duty to adhere to the Laws and support a change of the rules.  This in my estimation is my social, moral and spiritual responsibility.  I honour above all humanity the individual or group willing to stand upon their integrity at the risk of persecution to face their Goliath of political, corporate or social persecution.  This, to me is living in Spiritual integrity; this is the theme of the Israelites in the bible and of the majority of religions worldwide.  To truly and effectively do this I must be willing to look within, listen, declare my good and act with selfless faith to bring about the change we seek.  

Am I willing; something for me to ponder. 

Blessings,

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