Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love: The Ultimate Intention


One simple word with so many meanings.
We perhaps overuse the word love to denote what we like, but love; true, unconditional love, is the greatest felling-thought-emotion that we can ever know.
Unconditional love is all encompassing. It requires complete forgiveness - of both self and others - and total compassion for all.
When we connect to unconditional love we can feel as if we've been set free on the beautiful flow of life, no longer tethered to ego driven grudges and petty animosities.

That's why I love setting the simple intention: LOVE.


Daily intentions are often based upon more specific things we want to work on or achieve, but sometimes the simple intention of LOVE can be all that we need. In fact sometimes I wonder if we even need to bother with anything else...

Try taking that one simple word into the forefront of your mind today, and whenever you may feel  lost and alone, stressed out or anxious, or frustrated with others and the world around you, simply bring that word 'LOVE' to your attention.
God is in the word - what we think becomes our reality...
So what better reality to create than one based upon love?

~ Blessings

Monday, January 30, 2012

When Did You Stop Singing? When Did You Stop Dancing?

I felt like giving her a good shake and yelling "What the hell are you doing?!"

...and perhaps it would have been justified. Perhaps that's what some of my spiritual warrior friends would call righteous anger...

I was sitting, chilling, drinking a cup of Joe and watching an Andean folk band perform at Granville Island in Vancouver. A few very young kids got up and began dancing in the way that only kids can. Moving simply to move, without fear or embarrassment.
There is something so natural about the way kids react to music, and something so beautiful in the purity of simply moving physically to something that moves us on a deeper level.
What better example of the interplay of the psyche and the soma?
A few more children got up and started bopping around to the primal sounds of the drums and flutes, until there was a veritable toddler dance party occurring.

Unfortunately I could see that some of the parents started becoming a little embarrassed by their children and one by one began corralling them and telling them to 'stop' or 'sit down', 'be still'.
For me at least it was so sad to see spontaneous expression curtailed like that.
Many of you may be thinking "Hey, it's no big deal." But I think that it is.

How many adults are afraid to express themselves? How many adults have lost the joy of movement? How many adults would benefit so very much from being more able to simply do what feels GREAT without fear of what others may think?

It is the subtle conditioning we receive, especially when very young, that shapes our actions throughout life. We can of course choose to change and co-create a new reality, but the more conditioning and patterning we have to battle against the harder this can be.

This scenario reminded me of something my friend and mentor Darryl Gurney once said: "When did you stop singing? When did you stop dancing?"
This was something that he had in turn been told by a Shaman in South America.
And what a great call to action!
When did we stop expressing ourselves for fear of what others think? When did we stop doing those things that feel so wonderful because they are not the 'norm'.

Live. Laugh. Dance. Sing. LOVE!

Be content being unconventional, because if the 'norm' is boring, and if the 'norm' doesn't let you express yourself in a way that makes you and those around you happy...then quite frankly being normal sucks!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Being Alone vs Being Lonely

[Post by Cliff Harvey]

I think we have all had the experience of feeling lonely in a crowded room, and conversely have been completely alone and yet not felt lonely.
Being alone and being lonely are two very different things. The presence of people does not mean we will feel less lonely, and being without the immediate presence of people does not entail that by nature we will be lonely.

I have experienced the extremes of sitting on a particular beach, on different days (in the early hours of the morning) and being nearly completely alone, but in some instances feeling lonely and isolated, but most often feeling connected and loved. 

The feeling we have of loneliness comes from disconnection. When we disconnect from others, and develop a feeling of being disconnected from the earth and the world around us we are likely to be lonely and feel truly alone. However when we reconnect and realize that we are all one, and can only ever be one, and that every thing and being is connected we can never be truly alone or lonely!

Knowing, and more-so truly believing that we are loved, unconditionally, is a key component of feeling connected. When we constantly require constant and visible signs of love and appreciation from others we are lacking the solidity of self love, and we will never truly believe that we are loved when these reminders are removed. Consciously of course we know that there are people who love us, on a grander scale we know that there is universal love, and we can never be disconnected from it...we can only choose at times to close ourselves off from  it.

I have had many realizations of the universal truth of love. Some have been spontaneous whilst out walking or surfing, others through meditation, transformational breath work, yoga, and two of the most amazing experiences during a Psych-K 'Life Bonding Balance' and another as a result of a workshop/retreat I attended.

Part of the 'Life Bonding Balance' is to imagine your best and worst case death scenarios. The interesting thing for me was that in both scenarios that I imagined, I was alone. However in one I had the unshakable faith that I had helped make the world a better place and that I was unconditionally loved.
In the other I knew that I had deviated from my path of passion and purpose and was alone, lonely and without love. (I recount this experience in Time Rich Cash Optional: an unconventional guide to happiness).

The workshop/retreat culminated, after a weekend of self-work, with a period of reflection in which to allow a resolution or breakthrough to occur. As I contemplated in silence the beautiful realization that I am loved sprang into my mind and infused throughout my entire being, seemingly connecting me to all the universe around me. This realization...not simply knowing consciously but truly, deeply knowing, believing and understanding that I am loved provided one of the most deeply calming moments of my life. A moment that has infused itself through every subsequent moment.

Using the belief statement: "I am loved" as a daily intention or personal mantra reminds us day-to-day and moment-to-moment that even if we are alone, we need not be lonely, because love is always held for us in the hearts of those who we in turn love, and provides the wonderful threads that bind us all in a loving universal embrace.


And here's a bonus for you! 'Alone' by my boys in Like A Storm 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You Gots ta Have Hugs!

[Post by Cliff Harvey]

I remember a short time after moving to Vancouver, Canada in 2007 that something didn't quite feel right.
This didn't surprise me - I had moved to a new country with all that entails: new friends, colleagues, sights and sounds; and not surprisingly there was a sense of at times disconnection and loneliness. But I couldn't help but think that it was more then just those cosmetic changes.
I soon realised that one of the things I was missing - that I had lost in the process of moving cities, was all the hugs I was used to!
Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a pretty "huggy" person. I love to hug my friends, my family...in fact anyone that I'm close to (and that's a lot of people!) and there is nothing like cuddling  with a special someone. But when we move to a new place we inevitably have a period of re-establishing personal dynamics with those around us, and the intimacy we once had may not be immediately available.
This is a natural and normal consequence of finding our comfortable position again amongst others - but if we are not careful we can forget to re-introduce the things we have (temporarily) lost; not least of which is the importance of human contact.

As soon as I realised this lack of contact, and the effect it was having on my psyche (and no doubt soma) I made an intention to bring others into my personal physical space and to have  AT LEAST 1 hug per day.

I have used this (1 hug per day) exercise with clients, and many are surprised at how much effort they need to apply in order to break out of their comfortable (but ultimately self limiting) isolation and achieve just 1 hug, each and every day. They are further surprised (as was I) when they realise just how many days they go without a hug,or any meaningful contact with others.

 The benefits of physical contact for reducing stress and encouraging feelings of wellbeing are well known, and your body will thank you for making the effort to create that valuable connection with others.

I write about the value of connecting meaningfully with others in Time Rich Cash Optional: an unconventional guide to happiness as a crucial facet of creating a life of joy, passion and purpose...and there is no more meaningful way to create heart-felt connection with someone than through a beautiful, warm embrace.

Have at least 1 good, firm hug EACH and EVERY day! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Learning to Sit Alone, in a Quiet Room

[Post by Leo Babauta]

‘All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.’ ~Blaise Pascal

Think about some of the problems of our daily lives, and how many of them would be eased if we could learn to sit alone, in a quiet empty room, with contentment. 
If you’re content to sit alone quietly, you don’t need to eat junk food, to shop on impulse, to buy the latest gadget, to be on social media to see what everyone else is talking about or doing, to compare yourself to others, to make more money to keep up with the Joneses, to achieve glory or power, to conquer other lands or wage war, to be rude or violent to others, to be selfish or greedy, to be constantly busy or productive. You are content, and need nothing else. It solves a lot of problems. 

Can you sit alone in an empty room? Can you enjoy the joy of quiet? 

Most of us have trouble sitting alone, quietly, doing nothing. We have the need to do something, to check our inboxes and social media, to be productive. Sitting still can be difficult if you haven’t cultivated the habit.  

I’ve been learning. In the morning, as my coffee is brewing, I sit. Even for a few minutes, at first, it is instructive. You learn to listen to your thoughts, to be aware of your urges to do something else, to plan and set goals. You learn to watch yourself, but to just sit still and not act on those urges. You learn to be content with stillness. You learn to savor the quiet. It’s something most of us don’t have, quiet, and it takes some getting used to. 
When we’re driving our cars or out exercising or eating or working, we have music playing or we talk with people or we have the television on. Quiet can be amazing, though, because it helps us calm down, contemplate, slow down to savour the emptiness. An empty room, too, is a luxury. I try to empty my room of clutter, so that it’s fairly bare. That leaves only me, and the room is a blank slate ready to be filled with me, my creativity, my silence. I love a Spartan room. Being alone is another pleasure we too often neglect. When we are alone, we go on the Internet or TV to see what else is going on, what others are doing or saying, instead of just being alone. This isolation is a necessary thing, that allows us to find ourselves, to learn to be content with little instead of always wanting more. 

Can you practice being alone, being still, being quiet? Just a little at first, then perhaps a bit more. Listen, watch, learn about yourself. Find contentment. Need nothing more.

Check out some of Leo's e-books at www.katoahealth.com

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Recap: Top 3 Posts of 2011

In case you missed them, these are the 3 most viewed posts from 2011. Enjoy!

The Feminine Ideal - Frailty or Strength? ~ March 3rd
A call to action for women to be strong and empowered!

Am I Vegan Paleo? (and why I eat the way I eat...) ~March 2nd
A look into they way that I eat and why, and a caution to not define yourself by arbitrary nutritional dogma.

Some Saturday Kettlebell Fun in the Sun! ~ February 18th
Off the cuff article on one of my random Saturday workouts that garnered a lot of interest.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

How to Set the RIGHT New Years Goals and Resolutions

It's that time of year when people sit down to focus on the year ahead, and inevitably that entails setting goals and resolutions...which famously few seem to stick to!

It's the time when gyms do a bumper trade and diet fads, detoxes and productivity systems sell like hot cakes...

The biggest problem that I see around this time of year (and when I work with people on goal setting in general) is that people often set the absolute dead wrong goals!

People miss THE key step in setting and achieving the goals that really matter and that is: to identify the life you want to be living!

This seems to be simple step, in fact a step so simple as to be unnecessary, but without actually taking the time to think about and connect with key aspects of the life we want to be living we have no idea whether our goals are leading towards that.

The question that most people ask themselves when setting goals is 'what could I do?'
In this respect goals give direction, which is exactly what they should do...but if the direction is not congruent with your values and ethos (in other words your best case life) the direction will be all wrong!
So rather than simply asking 'What could I do?' we should perhaps ask 'What would I love doing, and what would be congruent with my highest purpose in life?' (Lofty goals eh!?)

Starting the goal setting and resolution process with a Value Setting exercise helps us to set the right goals, the goals that matter and that are congruent with our highest values and ethos.

This value setting can be as simple as taking the time to think about your perfect life: what your environment is like, how you are, how you treat others and are treated, how you live and what you do day-to-day.

[Interested in discovering your Value Set, Setting the Goals that Matter and connecting with your life of Passion and Purpose? - Like our Facebook page for details of upcoming Life and Purpose workshops - Details TBA]

Check out last years posts on how to keep your Resolutions!