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, September 30, 2011

A Call to Surrender

In my last article two weeks ago, I alluded to feeling overwhelmed and needing to back off from forcing a plan to happen. The full story is that I was guided to surrender when I spent sometime meditating on Labor Day earlier this month. To truly surrender is to allow the Divine, whom I feel as my Beloved, to take the lead as I continue to follow my calling to serve in ways that stretch my comfort, that I don't have to labor alone to make things happen.

The Labor Day meditation was a very profound experience that left me in a tender place for the last few weeks. I shared this experience, along with a bit of the background leading up to it, at Conscious Living Center on September 18. It was the most vulnerable I've allowed myself to be in a public setting. I'd like to offer the recording from that talk (about 12 minutes long) as a special installment of "Moments of Grace":

I've learned that faith isn't a threshold we cross over once after which everything is easy. Instead, it's a series of conscious choices to keep saying "yes" to what we came into this life to fulfill, even if we can't see the entire picture but only one step at a time. We can't force a plan to happen, which only creates unnecessary hard work and frustration. Instead, trust that the universe has our back, listen for guidance, and do what's ours to do one step at a time. In short, surrender to being led by universal wisdom and love.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sometimes The Best Plan Is No Plan

Can you relate to this scenario: You’ve been diligently researching and studying what you need to know in order to build your business or advance in your chosen line of work. You’ve heard from innumerable experts showing you a rainbow of success recipes that you should follow. You’ve come to a point of feeling completely saturated by all these recommendations and “must-dos.” Instead of feeling empowered to go forth and create your own breakthrough, you feel overwhelmed by the plethora of endless choices? You’re hard pressed to get your arms around your own plan. What are you to do?

That was my experience, and I felt paralyzed by the feelings of overwhelm. I learned that sometimes, the best plan is not having one for a while. Clearly, having plans is important, as it keeps us organized and marching toward our goals or fulfilling our responsibilities. However, there are real limits to plans, and trying to force one to happen could quickly become all-consuming, overwhelming and utterly counter-productive. Besides, it's grossly unkind to ourselves to keep pushing. We deserve a break.

Planning is the forte of our logical and rational left brain. When we develop and execute on a plan, we run our masculine energy – this is true for men and women. This is only one half of our capabilities. Our right brain houses our unbounded creativity and receptivity to ideas and inspiration. It’s our feminine side that’s associated with intuition, as well as knowing something without reasoning. Whereas masculine energy is directive and take-charge, feminine energy is about allowing and receiving. Those of us who have spent a lot of time in the business world and/or getting formally educated in the sciences or business have had a lot more training and practice in running our masculine energy. Again, this is true whether you’re a man or a woman. We weren’t taught in college/graduate school or encouraged in our work life to tap into our feminine energy, to let our right-brain creativity lead the way.

When we can’t come up with a plan or the plan we have isn’t going well, the knee-jerk reaction is to push forward; perhaps we didn’t try hard enough. But that’s counter-productive, and can only lead to overwhelm. It’s a sign that we have over-burdened our left brain and over-taxed our masculine side. Einstein said that we cannot solve a problem by staying at the level consciousness that created it. If we keep pushing the plan to force it to happen, it only exacerbates the problem – and the feelings of overwhelm. Instead, a more productive move is to cease frantic action, to get in touch with our feminine side for ideas and insights to emerge. This is the choice of allowing what eludes our rational mind to come forward. This is how we rise above the consciousness associated with the problematic plan, to get us unblocked and unstuck.

Since so few of us were taught how to tap into our feminine energy and unleash our right-brain capabilities, what do we do? Here are a few practices:

1.  Meditation – Cultivate a practice of quieting your busy mind, so that you learn to tune into your inner wisdom and creativity. Don’t be concerned about which style of meditation to practice. What’s important is developing a habit of meditating regularly, working up to doing so daily. Even 10 to 15 minutes a day would do wonders for you.

2.  Journaling/hot-penning – Set a timer for 10 minutes, and write non-stop from your heart until the timer goes off. Do this first thing in the morning, if you can, or when you can get into a relaxed space. This isn’t a brain-dump or a planning session. This is an opportunity for your inner wisdom and creativity to speak to you. Pose a question and wait for insights to come, such as:

o   What do I need to know?
o   What is trying to emerge from this situation?
o   What am I not seeing that would be good for me to see?
o   What do I get to create today?
o   What is the highest vision for [my career, this project, etc.]?

Note that answers to your question may come in the form of words, images or sensations. Just notice and record them in your journal or sketchbook.

3.  Pay attention to synchronistic messages – Experiment with posing a question (like the ones in #2 above). Then, pay attention to billboards, casual conversations, radio/TV/banner ads, songs, publications, etc. Seemingly random messages may come to you from these sources containing insights to your question. If you’re really new to this practice, start with asking about something little, and notice what you see or hear within a couple of days of your asking the question.

When the masculine side of us is on overload, the best plan is no plan for a while. This creates the space for our feminine side to allow insights to be revealed to us. At a practical level, when we’re overwhelmed and our battery is running near or on empty, we need to stop doing and just be, so that we can recharge. The last thing our overwhelmed self needs is more pushing and doing. Instead, it needs some nurturing and loving before more creation through us can flourish.

It'll take some conscious practice – especially for those of us Type-A, chart-the-course personalities – to resist the knee-jerk reaction to continue doing and pushing. But, ultimately, the best approach is one that’s balanced. It’s one that leverages a true partnership between our masculine and feminine sides. It’s one that allows for the time and space for receiving insights and the time and space for taking purposeful, inspired action.

What are your perspectives on planning and allowing insights to come to you? What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by creating and following plans?

You can find a more detailed discussion of using a balanced approach with both masculine and feminine energy in the Introduction Chapter of REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life. Find out more about REACH 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, September 9, 2011

Heard Any Songs Lately?

Have you ever had a song pop into your mind out of the blue? Have you turned on the radio or walked into a cafĂ© just in time to catch a song playing that’s particularly meaningful to you? Did you ever pay attention to the lyrics, the mood of the song, and why that particular song intruded your consciousness, when you were just going about your day minding your own business?

That song may seem like a random coincidence, but it isn’t. It is synchronicity at work. Synchronicity occurs when seemingly random events provide us with answers or assistance at just the right time when we’re pondering something or feeling stuck. Of course, it requires us to pay attention and be ready to receive this information or help.

Do You Believe in Magic?

I am a huge fan of synchronicity, and have had profound insights delivered to me via what might appear otherwise to be random incidents. For instance, sometime between 4:17 and 4:19 am this past Saturday, my clock fell onto my living room floor, producing a loud crash that jolted me awake. That clock has been hung on the same wall for over 4 years. It isn’t too heavy for the dry wall. It was as if someone lifted it from the wall and dropped it on the floor. Just the day before the “clock crash”, I had posed a question to the universe. The numbers 417 to 419 – the approximate time of the incident – gave me very supportive answers to my question. It was pure magic in a way but also very real at the same time. While I don’t necessarily want things to crash left and right in my house – thank you very much! – I appreciate the insights that came through with the timing of the “clock crash.”

Synchronistic insights also come to me through music. The last time this happened was on Labor Day this week while in meditation. I was in the process of accessing intuitive wisdom regarding my next steps with REACH, as I focused in turn on seven different energy centers in my body, also known as chakras. When it got to my heart chakra, which is the energy center for giving and receiving love, I saw a picture of reindeers and Santa getting ready to deliver presents. When I asked why I was seeing that picture, what I got was that innocent children still believe and have yet to be tainted by life. My REACH work is meant to help restore innocent, untainted love, faith and hope in others’ hearts. As this insight was coming to me, I heard the song, “Do you believe in magic?” My REACH mission is about restoring faith in the magic of life. It was a beautiful message to come from and through my heart center. It has stayed with me all week, and now I want to share it with you.

You, too, have access to this magic; everyone has. The universe is constantly there ready to help you. That is, if you believe and pay attention. Otherwise, you’ll miss the loving support that’s available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However smart and capable you are, know that there’s an amazing force beyond the comprehension of the human mind available to you. You can tap into this force to help you fulfill what you need to do, to give you answers and assistance when you’re in doubt or feel stuck.

The choice is ultimately yours. You can choose to try to make everything happen all on your own, or you can tap into universal wisdom to help lighten your load. If you choose the latter, pay attention the next time a song pops into your head, or when you see a number or number sequence that catches your attention for any reason, or when different people seem to be saying the same thing to you at unrelated events. In short, pay attention to what otherwise appear to be random coincidences. When you do pay attention, chances are you’ll gain insights that would otherwise elude your rational mind, no matter how powerful it is. Your rational mind only runs about 5% of your life on a day to day basis. What about the other whopping 95%, give or take? Do you really want to leave all of that up to chance and randomness?


The chakra meditation mentioned above is detailed in the “Envision” chapter of my book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life. I also talk more about synchronicity, along with intuition and dreams in the “Epilogue.” Find out more about REACH 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, September 2, 2011

For What Do You Labor?

Steve Jobs’ recent announcement about stepping down as the CEO of Apple prompted a lot of discussions about his legacy as a major business leader. Among the reflections shared were those around the commencement speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005 during which he urged everyone to do what you love. If you don’t happen to love what you do, “Keep looking. Don’t settle,” he said.

As we head into the Labor Day weekend, it’s a good question to ask, “Am I doing what I love?” If your answer is “No,” what are you doing about it? The answer to that question may seem too obvious to state but probably too uncomfortable to face as well. That is, figure out what you love and go do it! After all, life is too short. Do you really want to wait for terminal illness, being laid off or having some other disruptive life event to make the choice for you to leave what you don’t love?

Finding what we love requires us to have a very intimate understanding of ourselves and our purpose in this life. Yet, this can be a tall order. After all, with the way life works, we started learning since we were kids who to be, how to behave to be accepted. There was a finite window in our childhood when there were no contingencies around our dreams and desires, nor limits to what was possible. That is before we learned to filter every wish and desire through the lens of social acceptance. Then, we spend decades continuing to build our lives – and our identities – to conform to acceptable norms and expectations, e.g., getting educated, getting married and raising a family, being financially secure, etc. Many of us get really, really good at following these socially sanctioned prescriptions of how to live. Before we know it, we’ve created a life we're supposed to love, except we don’t. How did that happen? Does this sound familiar?

So, what do you do if you aren’t doing what you love? Jobs’ recommendation is right on, “Keep looking. Don’t settle.” I’d go one step further to emphasize that the looking starts internally. Try the following.

If you aren't doing what you love, love what you’re doing right now.
This step is a must: Honor what you’re doing right now. Identify the good in your unsatisfying work life, e.g., good friends you’ve made at work, the paychecks you get regularly to sustain your life, etc. Appreciate them. Be grateful for them. Charge your consciousness to be magnetic to these conditions wherever you go next professionally. Start releasing the negative emotions and judgments associated with your current job by practicing forgiveness. Don’t forget to include yourself, if you’ve judged yourself for not having the guts to leave what you know doesn’t serve you. If you’re currently out of work, practice appreciation and gratitude for your previous job(s), and release any resentment, anger and other negative energy around the economy, being let go, etc.. 

Turn what you hate into what you love.
Make a list of all the undesirable conditions in your current job. Be exhaustive with your list. Once you’ve done that, pivot each condition to the opposite. For instance, “underpaid” to ”being paid well,” “overworked” to “great work-life balance,” etc. Identify the top 5 pivoted conditions. Visualize yourself working in these conditions often. 

Engage your forgotten inner child.
Go back to the unfiltered days of your childhood and remember what you truly loved to do. Was it being creative? Was it about building things? Tell your rational mind to take a nap. In your mind’s eye, close the door for a few moments to challenging thoughts like, “Yeah but I can’t make a living doing this,” or “That was only child’s play, not practical now considering the responsibilities I have,” etc. Journal on the insights that come up. Draw if it resonates with you more. Give your inner child some air time to tell you what you’ve forgotten that your true self loved to express. 

What’s the legacy you want to leave behind?
If you were to think ahead to the end of your life looking back, for what would you like to be remembered? Clearly, your legacy would include much more than work. But, if you were to leave this world having lived a fulfilling life of joy, loving what you do will have been a part of it, whether it’s work for pay or not. This question is worth pondering. And, when you know the legacy you want to leave behind, how would you live to fulfill this picture?

Once you are tuned into your inner compass to direct you, what’s revealed to you one step at a time will bring more purpose and fulfillment. Before long, the word “work” will take on a whole different meaning, because it won’t feel like work anymore. This journey of looking within may take some time, and the length varies from individual to individual. But know that you cannot miss your life. As you continue looking, remember always to honor yourself and where you are in your life. Whether or not it makes sense right now, you’re always exactly where you need to be.

There are more tools to help you tap into your inner wisdom to uncover what you love in 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.

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