Before Valentines Day, Do This…

sun-heart-autumn-leaf-39379By Coach Debby

… I invite you to check in with your heart.  Are you truly having an experience of your heart today?  Are you listening to what your heart wants and desires?

I’m not referring to your dear Valentine.

I am talking about your own experience of knowing you are a loveable human being.

Without that knowledge—without really feeling the love in your heart for your SELF –- you may be experiencing just your personality, the part of you who gets stuff done.

Dr. Robert Holden, spiritual teacher extraordinaire, often asks this question of his students:  “Who are you when you are not judging yourself?” 

Some people say, “I am happy.”  Some say, “I’m really connected to something bigger and I feel alive.”  Some say, “I am free.”

Most of us can relate.  We are hungry for a sense of connection.

From his simple question, I have come to understand I am not truly happy, connected, and free when I entertain judgmental thoughts.

These are the times when I am actually turning away from happiness and freedom and busying myself with tasks, looking deeply into paperwork for my smarts and into the canisters of vacuum cleaners for a lovely appearance.

If that’s not enough distraction from my heart, I might have to employ people.  I might have to expect them to show up in a way that makes me look good or to only bring out the side of me that is smart, not raw and vulnerable and real.

What if this person is my dear Valentine?

It is at this point that I can see with great clarity that I am merely keeping up appearances and resisting my own heart. 

Therefore, it is with diligence that I revisit the question often:  Who am I when I am not judging myself?

The truth is then revealed.  I am a vulnerable human being with a big heart.  To know and embrace my vulnerability is to know my own heart AND be in a good space to share it with another.

Vulnerability gives me access to my heart.  It allows me to feel alive!  It dismantles all judgment.

Ultimately, vulnerability sets up the potential for a fantastic date!

Happy Valentines Day, from my heart to yours.

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My Practice: Mindful Walking in Town

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(by Rick Heller, originally published on Spirituality & Health)

When I go for a walk in town, I turn down the volume of my inner chatter so I can focus on the wonders that lie just around the corner. I live in an ordinary town.

Wonders lie everywhere.

In order to see, hear and feel these everyday wonders, I scan the muscles of my face and relax them. I loosen my jaw, letting it drop slightly, so that my lips are together but teeth are apart. I check in with the muscles of the throat, especially the area around the Adam’s apple, and let them go.

I bring my attention to the base of my tongue, and relax any tension in the spot where the tongue connects to the lower jaw.

Inner chatter is a kind of talking to yourself; when you relax the muscles used in speech, it goes away.

The transformation is amazing. My inner speech quiets down to a whisper and my mind sharpens to a focus on the world around me. Sounds become crisper. Whether the chirps of birds or the hum of a leaf blower, I take in the symphony without the judgment that stems from the inner voice.

Sights become more vivid.

When inner silence prevails, I become more aware of how objects inhabit three-dimensional space.

When I see a sunflower stalk stand up proudly, I stand tall too. When I see a flower’s stem drooping over, my shoulders slump.

As I walk, I fully inhabit my own body. I’m inside my own legs as they move jauntily and inside my arms as they swing back and forth.

I’ve had a chance to see how the sense of wonder brought on by simply being present compares to that brought on by natural wonders.

When my wife and I traveled to Ireland, we visited the Cliffs of Moher, with a seven-hundred-foot sheer drop into the waters of the Atlantic. They were stunning. They riveted my attention—at first. We walked along the clifftops, exploring new vistas.

On the way back, though, the scenery was familiar and my attention drifted. I caught myself and decided to pay attention to my steps and to the grass in the pastures that run up nearly to the cliff edge.

That effort brought my sense of wonder back, and for some reason, I became particularly mindful of sound. I felt the same sense of wonder that I’d experienced while viewing the cliffs minutes before.

Like all other feelings, the sense of wonder is generated within the brain.

Some things, like dramatic cliffs, are better at stimulating our brains to produce the sense of wonder.

But when we become skillful at mindfulness, we can produce these states in ourselves anywhere—even during a stroll through our own neighborhood.

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5 Questions to Ask Before Committing to a Goal by Todd Alan

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Do you ever feel like you’re suffering from a lack of clarity? Maybe you have plenty of ideas but kind of halfway go at something only to give up on the project later?

We get stuck because we haven’t truly decided what we want to do.

It happens to me too. Sometimes I get a fear of making something happen; it’s a commitment issue. I’ll ask myself:

Is this really what I want? Do I really want to commit to this?

And the big one: Is this going to change my reality?

You see, many of us can create a vision, but it’s going to radically change our reality…and we don’t like that.

So we have to create a clear vision of what our goals look like with us IN it. This is how we get unstuck and get serious about our commitments.

One way to do this is to take your visualized goal or idea and ask yourself these 5 questions to see if it’s worth your time and energy:

1. Does this dream enliven me? Am I charged? Energized?
2. Is this dream in alignment with what I believe?
3. Do I need help from a Higher Power to make this dream come true? (Which is a big consideration if you don’t have a belief system.)
4. Will this require me to grow into more of my true self?
5. Will this dream help others?

If you can answer yes to all these questions, then it’s a goal deserving of your commitment. If it’s no, you need to take another look.

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Before we Journey by Todd Alan

We’re winding down 2015 with hardly 30 days left in the year. As 2016 approaches, that gets many of us thinking: What do I want to do in the brand new year? What do I want for myself?

I’ve blogged a lot about manifesting and the Law of Attraction, and I’m sure many of you have your New Year rituals and techniques: writing down your goals, vision boarding, etc.

But I’m curious – How many of you take the time to reflect on the old year? Have you noticed what you accomplished? Did you celebrate? Are you hanging on to things that bummed you out? Are you shouldering some guilt over what hasn’t happened yet?

It’s just as important to give yourself a pat on the back for your wins as well as clear the clutter around the things that didn’t happen.

It’s kind of like cleaning out your car. Doesn’t it feel good to throw away old receipts and food wrappers, vacuum the dog hair out, and Armor All the dash? You want to get in that car!!

So if you’re still hanging on to the breakup from June or the painting you never started or the 10 lbs that didn’t go away, forgive yourself.

One stellar way to go about doing that is to recognize and celebrate the classes you did complete, the job you decided to quit, the one month you gave up caffeine, or that awesome speech you gave.

I’ll be doing the same thing – giving myself an attaboy and plucking the dog hair from my sleeves. I want a clean interior before I start driving along 2016.

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The healthy attachment to my very own life…

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by Coach Debby

What does your day look like today? 

Go ahead, check out your calendar.  How many things must you get done?

Take a look at the week; have you penciled in time for yourself?

Do you know how to have time for YOU in the midst of a demanding schedule?

Some years ago, I learned that I was making time for everything and everyone, but I made no time for myself.  I told myself this little lie: since I am doing work I love, I don’t really need free time.

Like most of us, I needed a wake-up call to get in touch with needs, and it happened one Saturday afternoon while I was playing “slave” to my computer.

My good friend Yvonne called and wanted to go to yoga together, but I had not been in months, so I was afraid a vigorous class would torment my body.  I also heard from Tracy who reminded me I had not been to writing group lately.

She braced the blow with, “You just need to bring one new page of writing.” But they had already seen my last page months ago.  I could not remember when I last took time for my own writing.

And then that evening, I heard from my mom who wanted me to fly down for a visit – a mother and daughter retreat – but I could not foresee any time to make it happen.

My mind recalled a day with mom at Venice Beach — how was I going to make time for another great day?

I fell into a situational depression. 

How did I become this person who gets through the day of work and has no personal time?  How did I lose the healthy attachment to my very own life?

I loved my job – loved working with students – but the demand to keep up with the workload was huge.  I was spending 50 hours of my week at a computer.

This plan robbed me of evenings and weekends.  It robbed me of time for my health, hobbies, and happiness.  It robbed me of my most important relationships.

My commitment to my job was more like a commitment to a thief!  

Do you see this in your own life?  If so, I can tell you it just takes a moment to make a new decision.

Truly.

Let yourself have a moment to make a shift. 

Sit down with a big, blank sheet of paper and chart out your life!  Figure out how you might stop “doing” your life, and instead, commit to “being” your life.  Where and when and how might you “be” with your work and family?  How might you “be” aware of your interests and enjoy time for them TODAY?

Start now.  Even if it means you only shift 30 minutes of “doing time” into “being time,” make it happen.  And watch yourself – you’ll get hooked, and you will continue to make more time for being.

Remember, this is your life.

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Here’s What Really Matters

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by Todd Alan

I’ve been reading a lot about pharmaceuticals recently and after having Dr. Eric Maisel back on the show, I’ve been thinking even more.

Now, Eric went way more in depth, but in the interest of a blog post and the interest of exploring what we can do right now to help ourselves, I wanted to write again about gratitude.

We’re all hearing more and more about how drugs like Ritalin or Wellbutrin release some of the same chemicals(serotonin, oxytocin) in our brains as when we practice gratitude.

This habit comes naturally for some, and not so much for others. We have to practice.

Affirmations work wonders:

“I’m always where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there.”

“We’re never given more than we can handle in one day.”

“I’m so grateful for friends and family.”

“The Universe supports me in all my desires.”

Or lots of people keep a gratitude journal. At the end of the day or beginning of the day, we need to tune in and make a record of what’s sustaining us. What are we grateful for?

It’s my belief we are energy beings. We’re a walkin’ talkin’ electronic machine. We work off energy like, yes, food but also the good energy, the positive chemicals we need to replenish ourselves with.

By noting what we’re grateful for, it releases those chemicals I spoke of earlier and melts stress. Now we become less stressed about the frivolous BS that is happening in our lives that is causing us to have unhappy thoughts.

Having gratitude is a way of saying, here’s reality; here’s what’s real. Here’s what really matters.

Gratitude is how we stay anchored.

Now, a word to the skeptics:

In AA, there’s a saying: “Believe that I believe until you can believe.”

When we’re all bent out of shape and crusted over from the circumstances in our life, we’re hesitant and resistant to have gratitude. Maybe you believe there’s nothing to be grateful for. But if you can at least believe that someone else believes that things will turn around when you practice gratitude and faith in a Higher Power, then eventually, you will believe too.

The program (or your life) won’t “work” until you believe in something.

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Detaching from Your Story by Todd Alan and Caroline Mays

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It’s great to have a dream, vision, and goal, yet once we’ve done all we can to manifest our desires, we have to detach ourselves from the outcome.

A lot of times, we become attached to a story. We have this vision of how our lives are supposed to look – nice house, nice car, 2.5 kids OR we’re supposed to be traveling and seeing the world or publishing a book.

And we hold on really tight to the story of what should be or what has to be, failing to notice everything that does work or is fantastic about our lives right this second.

When we attach to these stories, we put conditions on our happiness.

We’ll say, “I’m not going to be happy until I lose 10 lbs.” Or, “When I get a better job, I’ll be happy.” “Once we close on the house, I can relax.” “Once I have the money to buy my ticket, I’ll be stoked.”

Your life is a journey that deserves far more freedom than this; we cannot confine happiness and joy in these “when this, then that” stories. This habit can and does make us miserable if not crazy.

One seemingly small but powerful remedy to this kind of thinking is to take a minute, especially if things aren’t going according to plan, and consider all your little detours or, as I like to call them, micro journeys. Consider the last time you got a little off track (perhaps you’re there now), and see if you can pinpoint the value in that detour.

Maybe that horrible boyfriend led to a realization or the crap job led to making a new friend, or maybe the vacation you DID get to tropical paradise was a disaster because it rained the whole time, but you got a lot of reading done in your hotel!

The difficult times and the careful consideration of those difficult times are all part of the exploration and journey of life.

Where is there an opportunity to learn something? If you weren’t happy about it in the moment, can you see some value in it now?

A shift in perspective is a way of detaching from what didn’t or isn’t happening.

Now, I’m not saying we should forget about what we want. I am saying that we have to take an active role in noticing what is working and what we’ve learned.

So let’s back up a second and revisit those big picture desires, the BIG things we want out of life – the Europe vacation, the published book, the new house.

If you’re noticing the good stuff happening in the day-to-day, we have a lot more room for happiness now. Also, NOW we can relax and notice where we can take another step toward our big desire.

We aren’t fiercely groping at it. We still want it, but we are detached from that exact outcome because we see more gifts in today.

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Giving and the Flow of Abundance

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Music in the backyard

One way to keep hanging out in the flow of abundance is to give – give with no expectation of something in return.

From holding the door open for the person behind you, to donating money, or to donating time in the form of service, these are all excellent forms of giving.

3 Things happen when we do this:

  1. We get to feel good about ourselves all day.
  2. The person on the receiving end of our gifts is feeling the good energy and passing it along.
  3. Those who bear witness to this exchange are also positively affected by this kindness.

In other words, we can make changes in the world around us simply by giving.

The best part is that giving can be something we love to do. This is what giving looks like in my own life:

My and Debby’s show, Life Mastery Radio, is one way I give to our listeners – it’s a free show, but it’s not free for me. I give it my time and my money.

I do it because I love being a radio show host but also to put different thoughts and ideas into the world. Our show, I believe, helps people make better choices.

My Toast Masters community is another way I give back through service – nobody pays me to be there.

Bottom line is, I’ve enjoyed a bountiful life, and I know it.

Life Mastery Radio is a way for me to show gratitude and give back.

And while getting something in return isn’t why I do the show, I do notice how I reap the benefits of this giving:

I get lots of street cred for being a radio show host. And I get to rub elbows once a week with authors and thought leaders while getting the scoop on cutting edge ideas.

So you may think that you don’t have anything to give away – time or money. But you do.

And you may already be doing so without realizing it.

Holding the door open for the person behind you, buying someone a cup of coffee, stopping by to check on your neighbor whom you know has been sick – these are all perfect opportunities to help others, help ourselves, change the world, and stay in the flow.

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Taking Action on Your Own Behalf

piclabWe hear a lot of chatter about the dos and don’ts of attracting what we want. And even recently on the blog, I’ve talked about visualizing a desire, attaching an emotion to that desire, and then sealing the deal with gratitude when discussing the Law of Abundance.

But one major component to achieving our goals and dreams that probably isn’t talked about enough is taking action.

We have to take action on our own behalves. Spirit will take care of the rest.

Back in the day when I worked for another hydraulics company, I read an article about Baltimore Hydraulics. BH was everything I thought a machine shop should be; it was my ideal.

I taped that article to the wall of my office and later when I quit that job, I started my own business knowing nothing about being a businessman.

I knew nothing about management, accounting…nothing.

So I took a lot of action and studied what I needed to study about being a business owner and sought out the right people to talk to. As I progressed, and my old customers found out I wasn’t at the old shop, they began tracking me down to fix their stuff.

Years later, as a machine shop built up around me, I realized I had recreated Baltimore Hydraulics, my ideal machine shop.

Another notable thing that happened during that time was, as my business was growing, I realized I needed more money. I had to create a business plan for the bank.

They asked that I predict and forecast sales for the future, so me being me, I put all blue sky down in writing – best case scenario.

So the bank says, okay, here’s some money, have fun. Hard to believe when I had no business background. I was just good at fixing machines.

Years later, I was cleaning out my desk and found that old business plan. Out of curiosity, I double-checked those cash flow projections, and I hit those numbers almost exactly for the first three years.

That’s evidence of the power of putting a dream on paper – it’s a great first action step.

So you might be wondering, what are other ways to take action?

Because sometimes we’re trucking along and get stumped; we don’t know what else to do.

Action can be as simple as doing a Google search or taking a trip to Barnes & Noble to see what books you can find.  

Look for inspiration in magazines, music, nature.

It can be placing a call, asking for help, and checking in with your “knower.” Ask it – what do I do next? What do I try and where do I go?

Big steps like taking a class or small ones like a trip to the bookstore all qualify as action.

Put yourself in the stream of opportunity with action and spirit will direct opportunity to your path.

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Magic Potion

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by Todd Alan

Once I sponsored a man in AA who was having some difficulty with a certain situation. One of those situations that’s hard to shake.

It had him down in the gutter, and was making him uncomfortable.

So, I had him do a little exercise that involved writing out three paragraphs. I call this the “magical potion”:

In paragraph 1, you write down the situation (this might actually be more like a sentence or two).

In paragraph 2, you write down the facts.

In paragraph 3, you write down the truth, careful to use good, positive descriptive words in this paragraph.

For example, let’s say you’re broke.

The situation is you don’t have any money.

The facts might be something like:
“The rent is $700.00 a month. I’m making $15.00 an hour at a part-time job. Currently, my employer doesn’t have more hours to give. I’m on food assistance. My roommate makes more money and is probably worried that I will come up short. I’m worried I’ll come up short. I can’t afford the show everyone’s going to tonight. And I want that cappuccino I see that woman drinking through the café window. But it’s probably five friggin’ dollars, and that’ll leave me with about 10 dollars for the rest of the week.”

The truth might be something like:
“I took an adventurous risk to transition into a different career. It’s only part-time for now, but it could be full-time later. It was a risk, but I felt solid enough to leap. I am perfectly capable of finding more work and making more money. I’m a kind person, a brave person, and I’ve had friends comment they wish they were courageous enough to take their own leap. Just because my culture tends to attach a person’s monetary worth to their personal worth does not mean I have to fall for it. I am loved, and I have a few special people in my life who want me to succeed. I am bold which can, sometimes, lead to these uncomfortable circumstances. I am an artist, which means I’m creative and will thus find a way to change my circumstances. I will have money again.”

It doesn’t seem like much but this potion has great power. It’s an exercise designed to change how you view the situation, which often changes the outcome of the situation. It’s also a demonstration of how the truth doesn’t necessarily match the facts.

To quote Wayne Dyer, when you change the way you look at things, you change the way things look.

The AA guy called me back within 3 hours and his entire perspective had changed. He was almost proud to be in that situation, as he knew it was making him stronger.

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