I have always been a huge fan of Valentine's Day, though, admittedly celebrated my fair share of Valentine's Days alone. My mom used to send me flowers each year on Valentine's Day because she knew how much I loved the holiday. Over the years, I have had numerous guy friends who would do something special with me on this day, send me something or take me out to a casual dinner, just to help me celebrate a holiday I so dearly loved. And, now, that I see my life through the eyes of love, I am able to appreciate all of these gestures on a whole 'nother level!
One of my favorite blog posts was about the Valentine's Day that I decided to be my own valentine. And... I LOVE Valentine's Day so that meant roses, chocolate, romantic dinner overlooking the ocean, the works. Oh, and an amazing card with the Eifel Tower on the front and when you opened it, La Vie en Rose played (I still have it). Within a week of that Valentine's Day, I had met my now husband. And, if you read the post, you will see how painful it was for me to order the roses (I was so embarrassed!). Another realization I was having at that time was that I was SURROUNDED by love. Ok, I wanted a boyfriend, and to be truly, madly, deeply in love, and well, was no where near that, but I had so much love in my life. From family and friends, to total strangers on the street who were so kind to me, co-workers who cared, and even folks in the service industry I interacted with regularly who were so happy to see me and get me a cup of coffee or a green juice. I was surrounded by love everywhere I looked. In hindsight, it is not at all shocking that I found my truly, madly, deeply love shortly thereafter. I was already vibrating love, loved, and in love. Its a well known fact that "in-love" people, even if you are just vibing it without the actual partner, are irresistible!
In A Course in Miracles it talks about how our goal is not to reach for love, but to remove all the obstacles we have placed between us and Who We Really Are, which is Love. You are Love. What would your life be like if you started acting in accordance with Who You Really Are? What would change if you walked around BEING Love? What opportunities might you see, that have always been there? What experiences would you have by being totally true to yourself, your true nature? And, how many other lives would you change by showing up in this world as Love? We sometimes forget that our Truth is that we come from the Ultimate Source of Love. We were created by the Ultimate Source of Love. And, who we are, is Love. We are surrounded by love at all times in every situation, even when our momentary perspective puts blinders on our eyes. We are still surrounded by love.
This Valentine's Day, I invite you to remember the truth about yourself. I invite you to walk through the day BEING love. All the things that love are for you - be that in your daily interactions. Be kind, caring, thoughtful, giving, receiving, fun, happy, joyous, supportive, nurturing. Be Love in every one of your interactions. You could ask yourself, WWLD? What would Love do in this situation? The more you act like Love, the easier it will be to remember that that is your truth. And, the more your are interacting with Love, the more love you attract to yourself. Be the Love you wish to receive and watch the miracles unfold.
Have you ever gone grocery shopping without a list or started a project without making sure you have all the materials (or started cooking without making sure you had all the ingredients?) I have. A lot. Often. I think I am moving faster, but in most cases, I have to re-do, re-start, break the flow, and everything takes longer. I am pretty sure that is why I married my husband. He never makes a move until he has thought it out all the way, has all the materials he needs, and has thought through the likely scenarios of what may come up. Wow!
I have learned a few things on this latest journey of taking ownership and responsibility of my decision to suffer. One of the biggest things I learned, is that I rely to heavily on the feedback of others. I actually love this about myself. I love hearing different perspectives and seeing things differently. I also know for a fact that I am so unsure of what I am doing. I have made decisions that I was 100% confident and SURE were right, that turned out to be hugely misguided and based on some unconscious unmet need versus my true nature. I have passed on opportunities that I was 100% sure were all wrong, only to be shown later, that they came from a place of deep love and respect and deserved to be at least considered. Knowing my own imperfectness, I looked often to others for their thoughts. But this shifted this year as I worked on my practice of non-suffering. You see, in order to not suffer, I had to change the way I saw everything that happened to me. And, I had to see it completely different than how any conventional wisdom would teach me to see it. In order to do that, I had to stop sharing and telling others about what was happening because 1) if I was talking about it, I was suffering over it and 2) even if I felt good about it, when I told others, they would say something that would make me question myself and thus start another cycle of suffering. In order to stop suffering, I had to stop giving events air time in my life. Internally in my head and externally in the form of telling others what happened and asking for their thoughts and perspectives about it.
I also learned to have more discernment in whose advice I listened to. I wrote a blog post about who to follow and why. I realized upon signing up for a class, that I tend to sign up for classes with people who I see consistently, walking their talk. No one is perfect and the teachers I follow tend to talk about the things they are working on and perfecting, just as much as the things they are rocking and getting right. Authenticity. And, the person who is Remembering Who They Really Are. Because, when I spend time in the company of people who Remember Who They Really Are, I naturally Remember Who I Really Am. They create an environment where that naturally happens for me. In Who to Follow and Why, I suggested some questions to ensure the person whose advice you are taking is doing their own spiritual work. Both of these are essential to consider before allowing outside influences in to your inter-alignment process.
As this year ends, I have noticed I am talking to God a lot more. I am talking about all kinds of stuff. Whether I should try a new recipe or just make the one I always make. Whether I should let the cleaning lady bring someone with her or tell her to come alone. Whether I should take a big trip I want to take or wait longer. Whether I should reach out to offer consulting support or wait and see what flows in. Being in flow, which is my favorite way to be, requires aligning yourself with a higher power. Whatever you call the Higher Power, the key is to align internally to that higher vibration, that higher plane, and get a higher perspective. In my blog, Puzzle Pieces, I talked about how to create the things I want in my life, they are not from using the same puzzle pieces and making them fit, but by opening up and allowing more in to create a bigger, better outcome.
Finally, the last reason for focusing on Inner-alignment is because you are currently Whole and Complete. You have everything you need, right now, inside yourself, to create whatever is the highest, best outcome. I love the opening of A Course in Miracles, which talks about the goal of ACIM. It is not to teach love, because that is something that cannot be taught, but instead, to remove your barriers to love. That is so true about each of us. There is nothing to fix about ourselves or improve, only to remove the barriers, the hurts, the suffering, that keep us from being the amazing human beings that we TRULY are already.
As we step into 2019, this is my prayer for us all
Dear God -
As we move forward, guide our steps, our words and our actions.
Remind us often of Who We Are and Why We Are Here.
Remind us that love is enough.
Remind us that us being our true, authentic self is what the world needs the most.
Where we have fear, replace it with faith.
Where we have judgement, replace it with discernment and knowledge.
Where we have anger, replace it with true sight.
Where we have pain and suffering, replace it with miracles.
Let us not judge ourselves or others.
Let us see the truth of Who each person we encounter Really Is, so that we may remember Who We Really Are.
When we walk away from another or a situation, let us leave with love in our heart and with kindness, under your direction.
When we get triggered, remind us to pause before acting.
When we feel hurt, allow our own self compassion and your love to wash over our wounds and heal them.
Grant us our heart's desires and more than we ever imagined possible, so that we may give more than we ever thought possible.
Ease the burden of every human around the world and allow us to be of use to end suffering for all.
This year, give us the strength to be the men and women we are capable of being so that we may do the work that so desperately needs to be done to uplift the planet and each creature on it.
Use us for the greatest good of all. Use our gifts, our talents, and our strengths. Heal our weaknesses and our wounds so that we may shine brighter and be the miracle for each other.
So it is and so it shall be.
This past year, I had an amazing opportunity to take an 8-week course on Self-Compassion. I was excited, knowing I would learn some cool things that I could pass along to others. You can imagine my dismay when I had to repeat week 1 of the course before being able to move to week 2. "I failed Week 1 of Self-Compassion", was the victim-based thought that went through my mind. However, in reality, the teacher was much more interested in me experiencing self- compassion than being able to mentally regurgitate the correct answers on a worksheet. And, this started a now, 9 week, journey into Self-Compassion that was truly transformational.
While self-compassion is by no means a new word, it does not seem to get the same air time as its cousins self-love and self-care. While I believe it is how a word makes you feel, the vibration, the images, and the feelings it conjures that is more important than the dictionary definition, I did spend some time distinguishing these words. Self-compassion to me is a complete acceptance of Who You Really Are as well as your flaws, weaknesses, and wounds that you received by traveling through this thing we call Life. Self-Love is you ability to truly, completely, and unconditionally love yourself, knowing Who You Really Are as well as your flaws, weaknesses, and wounds. And, self-care, is your ability to take a time out, pause, and take a moment for yourself to re-ground and Remember Who You Really Are, in the moments where you forget. I believe Self-Compassion is the process to get to Self-Love, and Self-Care are the moment to moment actions you take to reinforce the mindset of Self-Compassion. They are all linked and create a process that leads to less suffering in this life.
I remember in my 20s, when I was trying to meet Mr. Wonderful, and kept having one let down after another, people used to tell me, "you have to love yourself first before someone can love you the way you want to be loved." It sounded like great advice. So, I would sit in front of the mirror and stare deep into my eyes and tell myself I love you. Then, I would look myself over and name things I loved about myself. As time passed, and still no Mr. Wonderful, I wondered why this process hadn't worked. "I love myself. I told myself so in the mirror! What else do I need to do?!?!" I needed to accept Who I Really Am and love that person, the one with the flaws and weaknesses. I needed to stop hiding the parts of me that I had not accepted and instead give them space and allow them to be. I needed to realize that the way other people see me is their perception, based on their life experiences, and does not truly reflect anything about me. These were lessons that were yet to come in my life. And, as you can imagine, when they started coming, just the mere beginnings of them, I not only found true love, but I found myself waiting to be loved by me.
One of the agreements of this Self-Compassion course I took is to turn around and teach it others. That is what we are doing in my subscription group and for the month of January, in Adventures with Amina. I am excited to take what I learned and what I experienced and share it with you all. I have seen subtle shifts in my life over the past few months that have led to more peace and less suffering. If you feel like you have made the big shifts and done the big work, I would highly recommend this course. Its like the tiny, thin, washer, when you are putting together furniture that does not seem to have a purpose, yet, is the one thing that makes everything come together in a stronger, more sturdy, more reliable way. That is how I see self-compassion. The necessary component that makes all the other components of your life work so much better.
I had a huge ah ha moment, one that is a pretty obvious one with Law of Attraction circles, the other day. I was participating in The Good Vibe University's 7 Day Receiving Challenge, and on one day, in the video, we were being asked to open up to all the opportunities that are always being offered to us. That, most of us, most of the time, have confined ourselves to a small box of possibility, and we do not have all the things we want. In order to get our BIG wishes, we have to expand that box.
I noodled on that all day as I opened myself up to see where the Universe is offering me bread crumbs in the direction of my dream. It was knocking around in my head all day. That night, as I was going to sleep, all of a sudden, I realized something! I have a picture in mind of what I want (my vision), and I have a handful of puzzle pieces. I keep using these puzzle pieces to create my vision and they do.not.work (argh)! But, of course they don't work! They are not all the right pieces. Some of them are, some of them are pieces to someone else's puzzle that I have the opportunity to give away and help someone else's dream come true, and I am missing some pieces, that are not here, yet.
Have you ever tried to make one of those really hard puzzles. And, you think you found a piece that "should" fit and you try to ram it in and it does not fit? How often do we do that with life? We know what we want, but the puzzle pieces in front of us won't give us that, so we duck tape pieces together, ram them together, or just sit there and lament about the puzzle pieces we have. In reality, the pieces for the picture we want are on their way, or maybe even right under our nose (did you check under the table to see if it fell down there) but we are not seeing it, because we are too focused on a handful of pieces and making those specific pieces work.
After realizing this, and it was a huge ah ha. I was laying in bed and when I saw this, I felt a mix of pure excitement and relief. And, then I felt a little silly, because I KNOW this already! In Law of Attraction, you focus on what you want, and leave the how to the higher power. In spiritual principle, you ask to be used for the highest good and to be directed by the higher power. In no principle, except our insanity as humans (I love that about us) does it suggest that you sit down and try to figure your entire life out with a pencil and a piece of paper. The one thing we know that does not work is us trying to be the mastermind.
This is such good news. It is the kind of news, where you can fall back in your chair, and let out the breathe you are holding and say, ah. There is nothing for you to do. There is nothing for you to figure out. You will get the puzzle pieces you need at the right time. And, the fastest, quickest, best way to get those puzzle pieces is to:
1. Be clear about what YOU want - your vision
2. Be grateful for the pieces you have (even those that don't belong to you and need to be returned, like debt, illness, lack of opportunities in your field of expertise, etc). After all, not all puzzle pieces are the preemo corner pieces, but together, all of the pieces make the picture.
3. TRUST that the puzzle pieces you want and need are in your immediate vicinity. Not just on their way to you. But, right here, as you do #1 and #2, you will have the eyes to see thm (as my friend, Ming Chee would say).
Final Thought: I go back and forth about the idea that Life is Hard. There are many days, that I do not believe that at all. I certainly have a ton of evidence in my own experience that shows that life is easy, magical, and constantly surprising me with goodness. However, I do like the thought of elbow grease. I like the idea that we are not put here to have things fall in our lap (all the time, but a lot of the time, yes!). That instead, we are here to push ourselves to growth. It is not that the puzzle pieces are being kept from you, but that you are being asked to reach a little, to sing a little, to prioritize your joy a little more, to be more grateful. At the end of the day, I do not believe we are here to get what we want but instead to become the men and women we are capable of being. To grow, to expand, to stretch. Not in a painful way, though, in moments, it may be uncomfortable, but that discomfort is what makes the attainment of that puzzle piece all the more sweeter!
I am here to be of service. Use me today to be the best me I can be. May I be helpful. May I spread love. May my life be helpful to another. I know that as I walk the earth with this attitude, that all the things I want and need will magnetize themselves towards me and find me. I no longer worry about what I do not have, what is missing, where I need more. I understand that the human condition is one in which we always believe we need more, we are Strivers, and while that can cause our pain and suffering, it also causes us to create and be better. Today, instead of striving, I show up for myself and my life with the puzzle pieces I have and say, I am so grateful. I trust and know that whatever I need to grow and improve myself and my life is always being offered to me in the perfect way at the perfect time. And, so it is.
I am a recovering control-freak. And, though, I am not sure you can recover from this condition, I take minuscule, almost non-noticeable baby-steps in the direction of Trust. The other day, I was in a tough situation. I am sure you can relate to this, needing to be in two places at the same time. The place where you want to be and the place where you need to be in order to keep all havoc from breaking loose, or at least, being able to quickly get things back on track when they go off track. I was anxious. I was nervous. I had to trust someone to handle something who had a so-so track record.
As I drove away from one event, leaving it in, let's say, less-than-capable hands (I really felt that way... sorry, not sorry) and drove to the other event, I felt the anxiety kick up a notch. All of a sudden, I remembered something someone had said to me. "Amina, when you trust, who do you really trust?" This is one of those obvious questions, that when you are muddled, seem impossible to answer. I have answered it numerous ways, "Myself" is the one I say the most. Since, I think that is what society expects me to say. I am supposed to be independent, I got this, I don't need anyone. I NEVER feel this way, but part of me thinks I am supposed to feel this way. And, it hit me, in the moment of hearing that question what the "right" answer is. So, I ask you to think about it for a moment. When you trust, who are you really trusting? Is it the other person? Is it yourself?
I realized, who I am really trusting is God. Even if I were to stay at the first event, there is no guarantee, that with me there, monitoring everything and having a plan B for every.single.thing, that something would not go wrong. There is no guarantee that I would do better than or be more successful than the person who was running the event, having nothing to do with our individual skills, but to do with fate, life, things happening, basically, everything that none of us can control. The person I am truly trusting is God. That is the power I put my trust in.
I have heard this numerous times. I have probably said it even more times, but until that moment, I don't think I truly got it. There is only one Source that any of us can completely, totally, utterly rely upon. It is not ourselves, we know that. We know the number of times, we swore we would not do something and 5 minutes later did it. We know how many times we have made mistakes. And, it is not other people, we know what it is like to be disappointed by counting on, expecting, other people to do something and they, for whatever reason, could not, did not, or chose not to. And, the times others let us down and the times we let ourselves down, hurt. They left a mark. Yes, they made us stronger, but for many of us, they also put another brick up on the impenetrable wall we have been building. They lead to us trusting less. However, when we realize, that each of us, ourselves and others, were just doing the best we could with the knowledge, awareness and resources we had at the time, we see, that is not a strong enough place to put full trust. Human are fallible. Its just a fact. We need to put our trust in something that is completely solid.
This brought me such peace. I offer this to you as a way to bring you peace. The next time you have a big meeting, a tough conversation, a negotiation, an apology, or have to leave the execution of an event to someone else, try shifting your trust from the other person or the outcome to the Source of all. Trust, that whatever is in your highest good is what will occur. Trust, that there is a power, so much greater than you, that has got all of this under control. Trust, that there is nothing for you "'to do".
When I got to event #2, I realized, I could put my phone on silent and I did not need to check it. I was sure, confident, that event #1 was going well. In fact, I knew it was. How could it not? I had left God in charge of it!
For the past few years, each time I hit a bump in the road, it was suggested I go to a Vipassana. A vipassana is a very specific 10 day silent meditation. Each time, I agreed. And, yet, I found the idea of being still and quiet for 10 days as a form of torture. In A Course in Miracles, it talks about the healing to your disease being the one thing you think would kill you. In this case, I am pretty sure I would not survive no talking, no texting, no writing and no reading for 10 days... what would I do? I would have to sit with myself for 10 whole days and get to see that I am whole and complete, without interaction with others.
I have plenty of folks in my life who would LOVE being quiet, and uninterrupted with themselves for 10 days. I am CLEARLY not one of them. In the process of working my way up to a Vipassana (which I still have not done, even though I promised myself I would in 2018, for which there are about 40 days left...), I started doing tiny, itsy, bitsy baby steps in the right direction. Like, walking the Camino de Santiago, not alone, but for large portions of the whole day, I stayed in silence with myself. And, using the practice of WAIT - Why Am I Talking? When my mouth opened and words were tumbling over each other to fly out at lightening speeds, sometimes, I was able to catch myself, and ask if I really needed to be talking at this moment. I cannot tell you how many times I realized that the world will still turn without my two cents on the current situation. I, often times, sprinted into my bedroom and closed the door with a good book versus gave into thoughts of suffering or control or figuring out how to "manage" a situation. I decided to just disengage with the drama and engage with the drama of a good book instead. I share these because they helped build up to the latest moment.
I was sitting at a meeting at Unity, which is a spiritual group that focuses on loving and uplifting everyone, wherever they are, whatever they believe and spreading more love and acceptance in the world. Last Sunday, when we walked in, we were given a slip of paper and asked to write our first name on the paper and put it in a basket. A little later, the basket was passed around and we were asked to take a slip of paper. My paper said, "Ian". All week, we were asked to pray, thank, and send good energy to this person. Someone in the room had a piece of paper that said, "Amina". Well, Ian is in for a treat, because this activity is SO AMINA! I tucked his name into my cell phone cover and have at least 10 times a day sent him a prayer, a good thought, a hope for amazingly, good to come into his life. And, the key here is that I have NO IDEA who Ian is. I looked around to see if I could figure it out, but then I stopped myself. I do not need to know Ian to wish him all the good the world has to offer. And, that is when it hit me at another level. I love this place. I love this practice. I have found a place that fills me with peace and love and happiness. I love the practices. I love the concepts. This is SO AMINA. And, that is the big epiphany. Things being SO AMINA.
I realized, I have spent a lot of time trying to get someone else to see how cool things are and not realizing, that things are great, because I think they are great. I do not need anyone else to get it, see it, understand it, or agree with me. I love explaining and sharing my experience and what I have learned, but in that moment, I realized, I really do not need one other person to get it. All of a sudden, I flashed back to being a little girl. And, I remember KNOWING that being kind, being generous, not "protecting" yourself, even if you were attacked, going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, was the best way through life. I knew, as a small child, that LOVE truly is the answer. And, as I got older, I learned things that were counter to this belief, and I worked really hard to take what I was learning about getting ahead and being successful, and combining it with what I knew to be true, you can get ahead by helping others and by being honest, and kind and authentic. And, I was tortured often. The world kept telling me that I had to defend myself and stick up for myself. When, I did. I ended up feeling better in a moment, but the guilt of "sticking it" to someone would come crashing over me.
In that moment, that I was given someone's name, who I did not know to pray for, something clicked. There are so many people in the world that would rather take the long road, the harder path, the steeper hill, to be aligned to what they believe in. To be true to themselves. Even if it is harder. Even if no one gets them. There are so many people who would pray for someone they do not know, just to add a little more love and kindness to the world. There are a lot of people who are JUST LIKE ME! Who I am and who I have always been is wonderful. I have worked hard over the past 10 years to remove the layers of guilt and the beliefs that clouded the natural light of who I am. And, I am proud that each day I move a little closer to being me. The real me with all my wonderful qualities, and all my cracks and weaknesses. I am moving to a place where I do not feel the need to hide or fix the parts that are not perfect, but fill them with love, like the ancient practice of repairing pottery with gold, so that the cracks are filled with gold and in repairing, create a new beautiful piece of artwork.
This self acceptance and self compassion starts with kindness. When you are kind to yourself, it is easier to be kind to others. And, sometimes being kind to others, helps you start your own practice of being kind to yourself. Self compassion and kindness are big for me these days. Being kind is the best gift you can give yourself. When you help another person, the impact to your own self is immeasurable. When someone wants to snap out of a bad mood, I tell them to go do something nice for someone else. It is an instant mood cure. Even though you are doing for another, what you are actually doing, is reinforcing the truth about yourself - that you have enough, that you are whole, that you are full. See, you cannot give if you are empty. The mere action of giving to another, reinforces to yourself, how full you really are. This holiday season, we are doing 30 random acts of kindness. They are small and powerful. I hope you will join us in this practice. It is a way to infuse the end of the year with powerful energy that will help you remember how amazing, wonderful, full and complete you truly are! To join us, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/kind30/
Many years ago, on a trip to Pakistan, I saw a young boy, about the age of my nephew riding a donkey cart selling oranges. I was amazed. My nephew, at the time, was 12 and this 12 year old, was by himself, on a cart, selling oranges. Through the help of my cousin, I had the opportunity to talk to him and learn his story. He was in school, but his Mom had passed away. And, now, he picked oranges from the villages orange trees, and both he and his Dad sold them on different days in different places. He got up at 4 am and road the donkey cart 2.5 hours to the big city to sell oranges. And, he would leave whenever traffic died down and no one would buy more, sometime at 11 pm at night and drive back the 2.5 hours to his village. 12 years old. It felt like I was talking to someone at least 18, but he looked 12. I wondered if he was ever scared. He definitely did not look happy, but not exactly sad either.
I felt called to help him. I bought oranges and paid a lot extra for them so he could have some extra money. And, I wanted to give him some money, but did not know how to in a way that would be kind. I ended up asking my cousin to do it for me. Over the course of my visit, I would see him often and wave and smile but we never really spoke. I would often send my cousin to check on him and get updates on his life. When I left Pakistan, I left enough money with my cousin to give him 500 Rupees a month. At the time, this was roughly $10 a month. Over the course of the year, my cousin kept me updated about him. That year, his whole family got new clothes for the religious holiday. Something they tried to do once a year (this is 1 new outfit per year) but were not able to every year. I had another visit to Pakistan and when I left, kept the money going another year. The following year, he was able to put his three little sisters in school with the extra income. Not only was it because of the money I was providing, but the stress was reduced, and their orange sales were also increasing. You all understand that, it is about expectation and vibration.
I don't remember how many years I kept this up for. I just know that when I stopped, mainly because I had not been to visit in a while, my cousin and other family members kept it going. The family continued to thrive and flourish. I tell this story because it reminds me of the man walking along the beach throwing starfish back into the water. Someone says, "look at the beach, there are millions of starfish, you can't save them all. It doesn't make a difference if you leave them here or throw them back". To which the man replied, while tossing another one into the ocean, "it made a difference to that one."
If you think back on your own life, there have probably been some moments where someone's small kind gesture really influenced you in a major way. I have a blog post about the time when someone one a stuffed snowman at our Holiday party and gave it to me and the impact of that small gesture. That is why Random Acts of Kindness work. My sister was telling me about having a hard day the other day, and the woman in line ahead of her at Starbucks was taking forever, only making my sister more irritated. But, when she pulled up to pay for her order for four people, the woman had paid for her full order! Needless to say, her bad day got turned upside down and became a great day. Good moods, happiness, joy, they are contagious. If you help one person find that, you are changing the entire world.
I hope you will join me for 30 days of Random Acts of Kindness. We start the Friday after Thanksgiving and go to the Saturday before Christmas. While I have chosen 30 activities for us to do together as a group, I have a list of over 100 activities that you can choose from, or you can create your own. The goal is to do one every day for 30 days. The result of this practice will amaze you. More joy, more peace, more resiliency to anything negative going on around you, and more of what you want flowing to you easily. I always say, what you give, comes back 10 times over. If you want something badly, give it away and you will get it. We can practice giving love, peace, hope, joy, respect, kindness to others, and in return, on those days, when life gets tough, you will get it back!
The challenge is FREE! I hope you will join and get your office place, your place of worship, your community, your family to play with you. The more kindness we can bestow, and the more people giving kindness, the more good we will ALL experience. You can sign up here and join the Kindness Rocks Facebook Group! Looking forward to being KIND together! For those of you already in Adventures with Amina, you do not need to sign up, but may want to join the Facebook Group!
One of the most transformational practices you can have is a gratitude practice. While I have always been a fan, I have never gotten into it in the "popular" way. The gratitude journal or carrying a rock and each time you touch it, remembering to be thankful. Or, one I loved, but never found myself doing, each step after getting out of bed, say one thin you are grateful for. These are all amazing ideas to remember gratitude, that I found myself never doing. In true Amina-fashion, I created my own functional gratitude practice.
I have always considered myself a Gratitude Superstar! Cognizant of complaining and blaming, being grateful for the big and small, and being generous. However, on my amazing vacation to Greece, sitting on the beautiful island of Santorini, I found myself unhappy, funk-full, complaining and a far cry from grateful. I was so ashamed. I tried to shake it. I reminded myself sitting where I am is on people's bucket list! I tried to pep talk my way out of it. I tried saying something I was grateful for with each step, which only frustrated me more. Nothing worked until I did my tried and true gratitude practice.
I heard that on an island, not too far from us, there were Syrian refugees in a refugee camp. I started to think about their experience and what they had suffered and endured. And, well, that pretty much did it. From their, I started to think of what I had and what good can I do with what I have. Funk gone. Complaining history. Joy and gratitude abound. I have found that the single best cure for the funk is being of service to another. When you think of your life as what you have and what you can give, your entire perspective shifts. There are people all over the world who have so much less than I do and are still turning around and helping someone else, with the tiny, little bit they have. We call these people Heros and Saints, and while I agree, I have also come to learn, that this practice is for their own mental salvation. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, what is and is not working, and sometimes, remembering that what you do have, regardless of how you feel about it at the moment, is a blessing to another, can turn that "not enough" thought into "richest person on earth" thought.
I realized that day, that I do need a Gratitude Reboot. It has been a habit, but clearly one, I let slide a bit. That is why I pulled out Pam Grout's Thank and Grow Rich, with her 27 gratitude practices. I like these, because they are different every day. For me a new practice to try daily makes it fun and like a gratitude game. For this month, you can join me in the Gratitude Game in my free Facebook Group, Adventures with Amina or by downloading my Gratitude Practice Program! I made it free this month, because, well, I am grateful you are here and part of my life and my community!
I am about to walk a few days of the Camino de Santiago in Spain in two weeks! As I prepare for this journey I am thinking of how I got here.
Years ago... I really don't remember how many, well over 20. I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. I fell so madly in love with that book that I started devouring every other book he had written. Eventually, I came across The Pilgrimage about his spiritual journey on the Camino de Santiago.
Ever since I read that book, also at least 20 years ago, I have wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago. To give you a tiny, bit of background on what I have uncovered to even say that. When I read the Pilgrimage, I was a fully devout, fully practicing, Muslim. While still fully devout and mostly practicing, I have had a spiritual journey that has incorporated more ideas of the nature of love into my practice. Part of why these have appealed to me is their perfect alignment to my own religion of Islam. Everything I have learned has supplemented my relationship with God. I remember at the time thinking it would be cool to write a book about a Muslim girl doing a Catholic pilgrimage. Camino de Santiago starts in France and ends up in Santiago, Spain, where Saint James is buried. It is a 38 day walk, if you do it in the traditional style. While I am only walking the first three days during the Pyrenees, the fact that I am going to be on the Camino at all, is filling me with unbound joy and another feeling that is hard to put a word to - filling me with the feeling of honoring myself and my own journey.
Over the holidays last year (2017), I finally got around to reading Sonia Choquette's book, Walking Home. The book came out in 2014 and I have had it probably since at least 2016. But had not read it. I realize now that part of the reason was fear. I knew if I read it, that this calling my heart would be so strong that I would have to take action. And, that is exactly how I felt. Big things changed after reading her book. Somehow I had connected with the Camino energy and I can honestly say the end of 2017 and all of 2018 have included huge, super subtle, shifts that completely change the way I interact with myself and others. None of them are super sexy, but they are so profoundly healing, that I find myself drifting into more and more loving and authentic choices in big and little things.
In the Spring, just months after I had finished Walking Home, I was offered an opportunity to go to Greece. I declined it. I came up numerous times again. Each time, I declined it. With every major spiritual journey I have ever had, I notice, I decline the opportunity at least 5 times before I say yes. It's telling and also slightly adorable. It's definitely a reminder that life will get you there, regardless of how much you politely decline. Finally, I said yes, and somehow a trip to Greece miraculously included time to walk a few days of the Camino. Here I am, less than a year from finishing Walking Home, starting my own Camino journey.
I currently have Sonia's follow up book, Waking Up in Paris. I have not read it yet, because I am pretty sure I know what I will be called to do upon reading that book! I still have a few more polite declines before I start that journey.
The other day, I saw an event from Sonia about a Big Reveal on Facebook. I accepted it, knowing, there was no way I was going to log into FB at a specific time to watch it, but I was sure I would see the replay... eventually. I happened to be on FB right as it started and clicked over, doing other things, while it was on in the background. After 30 seconds, I switched screens to watch on FB and within 2 minutes had clicked the link to purchase her new program. I honestly have no idea what it is called. After I had purchased it, I kept watching her talk and she started to talk about what we would get in the program, that I had already purchased. I thought to myself, "why are you telling us what is in it? It is clearly awesome and I already bought it!"
That got me thinking... why did I buy her program without knowing what it was called or what the full content was going to be? And, I had an amazing ah-ha moment! I bought it because I know she is doing the work, walking her path and growing. And, I bought it because I know that the energy she has created in this process is energy that I could benefit from and that will allow me to have my own personal growth.
I noticed a few months ago, that there are a core group of people who follow what I do and purchase everything I put out. I have always felt so honored that they purchase my offerings, join my groups, and read what I write. And, after seeing Sonia, I truly understand why. I am doing my work. I am so far from the mythical "there". But, I am walking one step at a time, almost every day (I take quite a few days off to just enjoy where I am on the path). I am always a better version of myself at the beginning of each year. I can see my growth on an annual basis and it is huge. I am constantly improving my ability to fully love unconditionally and creating the space for others to walk their path. That is why people follow me.
There is so much information out there! I decided this past summer, that I would only seek out healers that are doing their work on a regular basis. I went to a Healer who was busy blaming, complaining and adding fear to the area of healing. I realized as knowledgeable as this person probably is, they are not doing their own growth work. And, while I am sure I would learn a lot of content from them, I cannot be sure my energetic field would grow to allow me to have the healing experiences I need with this person. I could also tell because it was hard to sit still. I physically wanted to leave the session. In the past, I would be hard on myself for feeling this way, but I now know, this is my Soul talking to me. If they are not actively working on their own ability to increase love and their awareness, I probably do not need them working on me or giving me advice. I have gotten to the stage where I realize it is important to listen to those who are actively working on their spiritual development because their advice will rarely tell you what to do, but instead light up a path for your own growth. As you look at who you buy from and follow, I suggest you ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I believe they are doing their own personal work to grow, learn and expand their being?
2. When I interact with them do I feel better or worse about myself? Do they inspire or expire me?
And, if you find yourself buying everything they put out, like I did, know, that you have found someone who you believe will create the space for your own wonderful, amazing journey to remember the truth of Who You Are and Who You Have Always Been! Thank you Paulo Coehlo, Sonia Choquette and so many others who have helped me start this Camino journey!
I recently completed an interview and was asked, "what is the thing you are most proud of in your life?" Without missing a beat, I replied, "learning how to love". Think about it, none of us have ever been taught how to love. It is my belief that it is inherent in each of us, but that, life's events and experiences, teach us ways to "protect" ourselves from love.
During the ages of 2-8, we make "decisions" about our lives that impact how we live the rest of our life. You can imagine what might be terrifying to a two year old, or even, an eight year old. Now, imagine that you relate to other people based on what was terrifying at the age of 8. It may seem silly, but that is how our programming works. To read about how we live in our lives in Fear and how to embrace Fear to make positive life changes, I strongly recommend the book, Fearvana by Akshay Nanavati. Wow, just Wow! How our brain works and how we can turn it around.
Most of us are living our lives through an agenda, that we are not even consciously aware of! To live life fully and openly, we would be living in Love. What does that mean? To live in love means to know beyond a doubt that you are perfectly safe at all times, that what is happening right now is the exact, perfect thing to be happening, and that no matter what is happening, you are now, and have always been, perfectly whole, complete, and unharmed. Sounds nice, right? How great would it be to actually feel that way all the time?
Running an Agenda
Normally, when we have a fear response come up, before we even know it, we start running an agenda. What is an agenda? An agenda is the thoughts, actions, and behaviors that you created, way back when (2-8 years) to avoid the seeming pain of a situation. It is how you respond to fear and to your perception of lack of love. Some agendas are really basic - getting angry, ignoring, pretending nothing is happening, are a few. Others are more sophisticated. You will not be surprised to learn that recently, I uncovered a beautifully-orchestrated, sophisticated, amazing agenda I have created to handle situations with conflict. While the agendas may work, they may even seem good, in reality, when you are running an agenda, you are not being your own wonderful, amazing, authentic self, who is worthy and deserving of love, just because. When we run agendas, we feel like we need to handle or take care of a situation, instead of trust in the Greater Power of the world to allow something to flow and bring us to where we need to be. These small actions we take, within our agenda, reinforce this idea that we cannot trust and count on God's Love, perfect safety. And, each time we reinforce that message, our agenda gets stronger and more entrenched.
I was in a bizarre situation the other day, that in and of itself, was not a big deal. But, it left me shaken and crying. When I had the time to reflect on it, I realized a few things that I noticed while the situation was happening but chose to ignore. Instead, I ran my elaborate agenda. But, it did not work. Not only did it not work, it totally backfired. See if you can relate to this. My agenda is like a golden get-out-of-jail free card. It always works. The tears came from the shock and corresponding fear in realizing that my golden card was not accepted in this situation. However, that is exactly what I have been praying for. I have spent the last few months building up my own inner compassion, inner strength and another way to say all this is my own relationship to God. Of course the agenda was not going to work! I have been working on dismantling it (though, I did not even consciously know it existed) for months!
I realized when there is conflict, I immediately go into "action" mode to end it. In developing a stronger relationship with myself, I have realized, that sometimes when there is conflict, it means the other person has a problem. The first step would be to ask, is this my problem or their problem. Had I done this in this situation (hee hee, hindsight!), I would have seen this was their problem and no action was necessary on my part. But, I did not do that. I jumped into "action" mode. I became the agenda version of myself I would call, "Super Amina". Super Amina is AWESOME! She is sweet, kind and willing to say sorry or take responsibility even if it is not her fault, because, well, she is a Super Hero and she can handle your "bad behavior". People LOVE Super Amina. Unfortunately, often times, Super Amina has to put real authentic Amina into a box to come out. As I went to approach this lady, I heard a small voice saying, "you know, you don't really need to fix this". I ignored it and marched ahead (as Super Amina) to a horrible, painful, conversation, that left me in tears. There is so much more to this story - such as your energy travels and I really did think I was better than this woman. At some level, I am sure she picked up on that. But for now, we can stop at my running my Super Amina agenda. And, you all have seen me running my authentic joy agenda in the joy challenge. If you see them both side by side, authentic Amina is a clear winner.
How do we get to authentic agenda-less living?
We get here by looking at all the times we are not here, one at a time. Each time you are not feeling like you are in the perfect flow of life, stop, and ask for Holy guidance to see the situation differently. In A Course in Miracles, we are told that all that is required of us to have a change of mind is to our willingness. When we are in a situation and it is unfolding in a way that brings up any amount or type of fear, we simply ask Source to show us the situation differently. Show us the situation through the eyes of perfect, holy, Love.
When you see yourself getting upset (any of the fear behaviors, scared, angry, mad, annoyed, irritated, frustrated, etc), realize I am about to run an agenda! I am about to create a story about this situation, and that story is going to require another version of myself (not the authentic one) to come out.
At the end of the day, we all just want peace. We want to love and be loved. We want to give and receive. We want to be part of a community, a group, where we can be celebrated for being our authentic selves. I maintain that all of us have access to that right this moment. If you feel you don't, ask yourself, what is the story I am telling myself about life? If the story has any aspects of needing to protect yourself, know (with love) that of course you are going to step out of your authentic self and try to protect yourself. As long as we feel vulnerable, we will feel the need to protect ourselves. But in truth, we did not create ourselves. You did not bring yourself into being. And the force that did create you, is pure love, and therefore, created you with and as pure love too.
Hi! Welcome to my blog, Lunch with Cinderella. I love writing about my life experiences and the fact that they may help spur some cool experiences of your own. If you are here, leave a comment... I read them all and love hearing from you!
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