Welcome!


Thank you for reading my articles here. If any piece resonates with you, I encourage you to share your reactions, as they will likely resonate with other readers, too. I also invite you to visit my website to learn more about REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life. Much Love and Many Blessings, Alice

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Love to Pay the Plumber (Guest Post)

Today's article is the great gift of a friend who's a true modern mystic, Lesley King. Lesley and I met at a workshop in June. When I first saw her, I instantly felt an intuitive recognition. I even said to her, "You feel so familiar to me. Have we met before?" As we got to know each other virtually, I realized that it was my spirit that recognized hers. I've since had the privilege and honor of witnessing how loving, giving, wise and intelligent Lesley is. Her contribution of wisdom today speaks to a great way of viewing money, prosperity and even love - how they are all meant to flow in and out of our lives, to keep circulation going, as intended by universal laws. To me, it's a more practical and accessible version of the Buddhist concept of "non-attachment." Enjoy this very special Moment of Grace, courtesy of a very special soul, Lesley King.
 
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How to Flow Money in 3 Easy Steps

Many years ago, when I would have a leaky faucet in my house, I would get a heavy feeling in my chest and stomach. How much is this going to cost? I would fret. The larger the problem, the more my anguish. Will I be able to afford this? I would ask myself.

Today, though I’ll sometimes have a moment of anxiety, it is quickly replaced by gratitude. Oh good, I get to outflow to my favorite plumber, Charlie. He is a Master plumber and an especially nice guy, so having this attitude is easy, and when I write the check my joy is sincere.

What’s amazing is that I have that same attitude when I pay my accountant, my mortgage—even my taxes!

The secret is in knowing deeply that I don’t have money. Instead, my job each day is to Flow love, energy and money. If I believe that I am wealthy, that is a fixed notion—it is a concept of the mind, and the mind wants to own everything.

In the “Flow” concept, I own nothing. All in my possession—my house, car, computer and the cash in my bank account—belong to the Divine. I am simply using those things. This is a wonderful attitude because it means that I have nothing to lose, literally, since I own nothing.

The great point about Flowing wealth is that the Divine is infinite, so the money, energy and love, too are infinite. This is a great contrast to believing in wealth. If I have wealth, I pay the plumber, and suddenly I have less wealth. But if I Flow wealth and pay the plumber, I’m actually richer because more must Flow in.

I didn’t just arrive at this belief. It came over a period of time and practice in knowing the truth of it. Here is a step-by-step guide to learning how to Flow:

1.    Gather your attention
2.    Rely on the Divine
3.    Give freely of your love, energy and wealth

How to perform the three steps:
1.    Gather your attention: This step involves implementing a spiritual exercise in your life each day. The exercise focuses the attention, which is the Divine power as represented in the material world. Focusing this power is integral to Flow. I will give more instruction about how to do this in an upcoming blog post. But the heart of it is contemplation rather than meditation. In contemplation you focus your attention by reading valuable spiritual works. The most potent of these are by the great mystics such as Hafiz, Rumi, Lao Tze, and the contemporary Sri Gary Olsen. But the best writing for any individual is what he/she gravitates to most right now. Before I became a mystic, I read what came into my hands, what I was drawn to. This included the work of Thomas Moore and Deepak Chopra, among others who address soul’s journey. Today, during my spiritual exercise, as I read, I’ll notice my mind will want to wander, but I keep bringing it back to the text. This practice of taking charge of the attention is integral to Flow.

After the contemplation, my mood is always heightened, which is a great starting place for a day of Flow. Throughout the day, I constantly bring my attention back to this feeling of expansiveness.

2.    Rely on the Divine: In this step, you stop calculating and relying upon money for safety and desire fulfillment. Years ago, before I knew about Flow, I used to keep a running tally of my bank balance in my head. Whenever I felt unsafe, I would calculate in hopes of feeling better. Sometimes the total would ease my fears, but often it would only aggravate them because, to the mind, there is never enough love, energy or money.

Today, whenever I feel fearful about money, I know it is only a cue from the Divine to re-center my attention on the love right here, right now. All Flow is created in the present moment, all wealth manifests here and now as well.

I do know people who don’t pay any attention to their finances, who spend wildly and have no money. Their practice requires taking more responsibility for their finances, though the same focus on the Divine applies. We’re looking for that middle point between too much focus on money and too little. It is not that I forget completely about my finances. I balance my checkbook and pay my bills on time. I simply don’t rely on money for safety. Any time I feel unsafe, I think of the Divine and feel the ease of that connection.

3.    Give freely of your love, energy and wealth: This is where the gathered attention moves into physical action. Whenever called upon to pay anything, do so with love. I used to be so afraid about money that I would have anxiety attacks at the grocery store. I needed to buy food, but the expense of it filled me with uncontrollable fear. I sat through that fear, recognizing it as simply an emotion—not reality. Then I began to recast my thinking while buying and paying for anything.

First I acknowledged how the things I was buying would enhance my spiritual walk—nourishing food, clothing that makes me feel pretty and expansive, and house repairs that keep me sheltered and comfortable. Over time, I relaxed with this, and now I just see it all as Flow. Each day I am blessed to give. I expand the concept to helping my loved ones and friends. Really, love, energy and money are just different forms of the great Divine Flow, so generosity with any of them will return the same to me.

Practice Steps:
1.    Do a spiritual practice for 5 to 30 minutes each morning, noting how your mind will want to run out, but lovingly bringing it back to the text before you. Practice this re-centering on the now as you go through your day.
2.    Each time during the day that your mind tries to rely on money for safety, gently draw the attention back to the state of love established in the morning practice and focus on the task before you.
3.    Whatever you are asked to give, whether love to your spouse, energy to work, or money to the plumber, do so with gratitude and a sense of the Flow, knowing that you have infinite wealth at your disposal and you must Flow it into your creation.

Lesley S. King is the author of many travel books and articles. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Audubon Magazine and Frommer’s Travel Guides. Her newest project, The Inner Adventure, helps readers discover the treasure in every experience. Check it out at www.lesleysking.blogspot.com.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Love is a Choice


Dr. Wayne Dyer often humorously says that friends are God’s way of apologizing for our family. That’s because, while we can choose whom to befriend, we were born into our family. For many of us, our family members challenge us the most, whether in disapproving of how we live our lives or acting in such a way that repeatedly tries our ability to love them. You know what I’m talking about, right? 

As mentioned in my recent articles, I was with my entire family earlier this month. I’m so excited to report that it was a beautiful love fest! The first time I was with my parents and 3 brothers, we were standing outside the temple where the shrines of my paternal ancestors were installed—it likens visiting a cemetery. At that moment, it hit me that I was actually with everyone in my immediate family for the first time in 16 years! I got emotional, even though cognitively I knew I was going to see everyone. Despite (still) not knowing how to react to their crying sister, my brothers were touched. A few days later, my mom remarked to me that the bond among us 4 kids was really evident to her and it really warmed her heart.

The brief family sketch above may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is *huge* to me. You see, for a long time, love was not a word I’d associate with my family. I was born into a family in a culture at a time when being a girl was a rotten deal. My mom didn’t find her own mother until after all of us kids were born. At our first meeting with our late grandmother, my mom asked her what she thought of the 4 children. To that, my grandmother said that the 3 boys were great but not the girl – me. I was sitting right there! When I was 9, I came home excitedly with my glowing report card from school. My late paternal grandmother, who was living with us at the time, promptly picked up my younger brother and put him on her lap. With arms around him, she consoled him, “Don’t worry, next time you’ll beat your sister.” Up until I was in college, I was repeatedly told that I was not as worthy or as smart as my brothers, that I’d need a college education to compete with a high school graduate for a job. Well into my twenties, I’d frequently wake up in the middle of the night crying from nightmares involving my family.

For many years, the cumulative pain haunted me and weighed me down. Not having the tools to identify and release it properly, I stumbled through life looking outside of myself to try to fill that big gash in my heart. I also threw myself into working really hard to find a place in this life where I could belong. In the process, to my great surprise, I started to discover that, contrary to the messages drilled into me for 2 decades, I’m actually quite smart. It took many more years, but I eventually learned that I’m deserving, too – and not because I’ve earned it, but because I inherently am deserving.

Earlier this month, I was in a place to embrace with pure love the family I had associated with great pain for many years when I didn’t know any better. Thanks to continued spiritual study and practice, my perspective has changed. Those with whom I associated great pain have had their own unhealed wounds; they have been doing the best they know how to do. By electing to look at them through the eyes of love, I freed myself from the prison of my own internal suffering. 

Love in its purest form isn’t conditioned upon anything. It has been there within me all along waiting for me to harvest, become and express it. I’ve been consciously following my guiding principles for this year – part of what I got when I meditated on New Year’s Eve to set intentions for 2011: Become the best version of you. Love awaits harvesting in your heart. I cannot adequately describe in words how free and full I feel from allowing love to flow from within, to be love in motion and action, and to see my family through love-filtered glasses.

In closing, I hope my sharing here inspires you to heal any wounds you may have from your own family life. Love is a choice always. Whatever you give, it returns to you multiplied exponentially!

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If you like my articles, you’ll love my book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life. Find out more here.

If you love my book, I’d be so grateful if you’d consider writing a couple sentences about it on amazon.com.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Practicing APP


No, I’m not talking about what to download to your smart phone. APP represents three key ingredients for living with intention, rather than just marking time: Authenticity, Purpose and Passion. Let’s talk about these in turn.

Authenticity

We live in a world in which we’re constantly managing our image and reputation--whether we’re aware of doing that or not. Fundamentally, as human beings, we all want to be liked and accepted, to be considered a good person and/or really good at what we do. We want to present our best face. We’ve learned since childhood what to do to gain approval. If we aren’t mindful, we can easily fall into the trap of becoming a lifelong chameleon, contorting ourselves to be someone we think we need to be in order to be accepted. However, moving from act to act to gain fleeting acceptance ultimately leaves us empty. Are we truly accepted for who we are? No, because we didn’t represent our authentic selves. 

Real connections, whether personal or business, can only be formed and sustained when we show up as our authentic selves. We bring who we are, what we’re about to these relationships. We coach, lead, follow, support, collaborate, share our lives with others who know that they can trust us, that what they see is who we are and what they’ll get. They know we aren’t perfect, just like they aren’t, even if we have different strengths and shortcomings. That’s why we complement each other. That’s why when we come together with others, the whole of the community, the organization, the partnership is more than the sum of its parts. When we’re comfortable with our vulnerabilities and let others see that we’re committed to being authentic, it inspires them to do the same. In turn, we learn, grow and thrive together.

Purpose

We live in a very busy world, full of things to do, commitments to meet. When we get to a certain stage in our lives, we’re parents, children of elderly parents, in addition to being working professionals who spend most of our waking hours doing jobs that, quite frankly, many of us dread. We aren’t sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way of growing up to become adults, we become saddled with responsibilities. We either never really knew our purpose in this life or we knew at one point--could be in the form of a childhood dream--but somehow feel we have lost our way.

When we approach something with purpose, e.g., volunteer for a cause in which we deeply believe, or participate in a family event with the intended purpose to (re-)connect instead of simply feeling obliged, there’s a joyful and expansive energy that fills us up. Have you ever noticed that? Conversely, whenever we do anything out of a sense of “should,” there’s a tenseness we carry with us that may manifest as sore necks and/or backs, difficulty sleeping, indigestion or any number of physical or psychological symptoms. All of us come into this life for the purpose of creating joy and growing, even if the specifics differ from person to person. The more we become mindful of choosing what to do and why we want to do it, we become tuned into our true selves and tapped into the flow of creation in the universe.

Passion

Do you remember being really into something (or someone) and how limitless the possibilities seem when you feel that passion coursing through your veins? When we aren’t doing something for which we feel passion, it becomes drudgery. That’s why, when we don’t love what we do, we find ourselves on the weekly treadmill of dreading every Monday morning, willing ourselves to slug through the week, waiting to exclaim “TGIF!” (Thank goodness it’s Friday!). Instead of passion, much of what we do is motivated by what we feel are obligations. As a result, we spend more time doing things grudgingly rather than giving of ourselves freely and joyfully--because that joy boomerangs back to us multiplied.

When we’re passionate about something that’s objectively big and scary, our love for and belief in it fuels our resolve to move mountains to make it happen. It’s not that we don’t feel fear or self-doubt; rather, the passion we feel is greater. That’s why so many self-development experts urge us to find and follow our passion. That’s why we hear such wisdom as when we love what we do, it isn’t work.

Call to Action

For many of us, we feel less than authentic, purposeful and passionate about our lives. Does that mean we all need a life overhaul? No, unless you feel called to do so. Otherwise, life is a process. What we can all do is inject APP into our daily lives. Here are some points to contemplate and practice:

1. What one simple thing can you mindfully do every day to honor your authentic self? May be it’s feeling ok to say “no” to something that you truly don’t want to do. May be it’s feeling ok about getting a little emotional about something that touches you.

2. Before you do something, think about the purpose your action would fulfill other than obligation. For instance, go to your child’s recital with the purpose of celebrating the talent of your child. Go to work with the purpose of making one customer’s experience better directly or indirectly by what you do. 
 
3. Do something each week (or more often if you can) that really engages your passion. Perhaps it’s taking a pottery or drawing class. Perhaps it’s volunteering your time to visit the elderly.
 
With mindful practice, we can all up our APP quotient in our lives.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Honoring beginnings while dreaming big

In The Big Leap, Dr. Gay Hendricks says that we all have an internal thermostat setting vis-à-vis success and happiness. Whenever we exceed that setting by creating more success and happiness than what we subconsciously believe we deserve, our instinct is to drop back down to that familiar default setting, even if it’s suboptimal. In other words, we unknowingly self-sabotage because we don’t know how to deal with more success and happiness beyond the limits we had somehow set for ourselves—and forgotten about. Until we shine awareness on these limits and break through them, we unknowingly repeat self-limiting patterns in our lives.

I’m currently visiting my childhood home (Macau, near Hong Kong), celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday and participating in the first family reunion since 1995. None of us thought it’d be 16 years before all 4 of us kids and both our parents—plus 4 grandkids now—would be in the same place again. I really looked forward to this rare family gathering, and booked my flights a year ago, as soon as discussions first started. 

As much as I was full of anticipation for this reunion, as the trip approached, I also became aware of some low-grade anxiety I had about this visit. This unease was familiar, as I had it every time I made this long trip across the Pacific Ocean since I left home 25 years ago. The difference this time is that I’ve developed the consciousness to recognize what’s underneath the stress. It’s a tap on the shoulder to reconcile my current reality with forgotten limiting beliefs about money and success. It’s time to clear out some more neglected weeds in the fertile ground of my subconscious mind.

Over the years, every time I’ve traveled back to my childhood home, my life would so happen to be in transition and/or I'd have to watch my spending. To give you an idea, in 1992, I came back to my parents’ home as someone’s depressed trailing spouse, with a Master’s Degree but no job in hand, feeling that life was hopeless and not worth living at age 21. In 1995 and 1997, I was a doctoral student living on a small graduate assistant’s stipend. In 2004, I was going through a divorce, in addition to being burned out from my consulting job then, and in the process of reinventing myself. In 2007, I had just bought my very first house on my own in the expensive San Francisco Bay Area. Not only had I invested my life’s savings in the down payment, my discretionary spending shrunk dramatically because of having a mortgage. On this current trip, I’m still in setup mode with my REACH mission; it isn't the homecoming of a successful entrepreneur—not yet anyway.

I started wondering: Why do I keep repeating a pattern of returning to my childhood home not particularly feeling prosperous or successful? I’ve certainly created a good life overall and increasing success in between visits over the years. What’s behind this pattern I keep repeating? My contemplation yielded a very simple answer: I was subconsciously trying to honor my beginnings. 

I was born amidst a pervasive consciousness of lack. This consciousness was in part cultural and in part circumstantial. My parents were born in the World War II era, and had truly heartbreaking, depriving childhoods. Despite that, they did an amazing job raising us 4 kids with what they had and what they knew how to do. I’ll never forget an experience when I was 9. I asked my mom for what was equivalent to $1.20 for a school project, and got yelled at so badly that you’d think I committed a crime. I was stunned. What wrong did I actually do? My mom later explained that money was really tight, and that was why she freaked out when I asked for money, even though it wasn’t much. Her intense fear and desperation burned a lasting imprint in my young heart and consciousness. I’m recounting this moment to give you a sense of the environment in which I was raised.

Subconsciously, returning to my childhood home posh would be grossly incongruent with the messages around financial hardship with which I was raised. Even though I’ve done a lot of work in releasing limiting beliefs about abundance, my consciousness has been focused on the current life I’ve created in the U.S. In effect, I’ve manifested a completely different reality thousands of miles away from where I grew up, where I got many years of foundational subconscious programming about money and security—or the lack thereof. Just like what Dr. Hendricks said about returning to my original thermostat setting, my subconscious mind needed my success status to match my memory of childhood circumstances whenever I go back to Macau.

What a revelation all that was! I truly honor where I came from, as it offered the contrasting life experiences from which to pivot, to break through my default thermostat setting and to reach greater heights in this life. But, it’s clearly time to let the old programming go and to leave the past where it belongs. I’m not my mother, fearfully and desperately trying to manage a household with severely limited resources. I’m most certainly no longer the 9-year-old who was gravely afraid of being a burden to my mother and felt grossly insecure at home.

Instead, I choose to mindfully acknowledge and honor the tenacious dreamer in mewho has successfully realized every dream I’ve had since childhood, starting with wanting to create a bigger, better and more meaningful life than the one into which I was born. Each dream has led to a bigger one that expands my consciousness and stretches me to grow—more and more rapidly—to surrender to Divine flow and to express more grace and joy my spirit came into this human life to experience.

What about you? Are you in any way held back by your default success and happiness thermostat setting? Are you repeating any patterns in life that could be traced back to forgotten childhood memories? Are you unknowingly still trying to honor where you came from? Know that by breaking through your old thermostat setting, you aren’t dishonoring your beginnings. Instead, you’re simply recognizing that where you came from set you up to make conscious choices to becoming more successful and happier. There’s nothing wrong with that. Honor your past, celebrate the present and dream big for the future!

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