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.
Why is this happening to me?
A question I hear all the time and one that both those who believe in Law of Attraction and those on a spiritual path want the answer to. The answer is simpler than you think, but as many of the things I talk about, simple is not easy.
There are a number of reasons that "bad" things happen. In my belief, we have to get from point A to point B in life. We go where we are needed. While we can resist for some time, eventually, we have to get there and it may take a "big" thing happening to get us to point B. Put in other words, we weren't going gently, so we get pushed there. However, I find that when this happens, people want to know why this happened and want an explanation. In my experience, there are three things that you should avoid doing in these cases.
1. Do not ask yourself, "how did I create this?"
It is a great question and practice in manifesting to look at your thoughts to understand how you created the outcomes you are getting. However, when something bad happens, the question, how did I create this is just a way to cause more hurt and pain. I believe we can create "negative" events in our life by focusing on them, but I believe more strongly, that we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY have to focus hard on the negative events to create them. Unless you are walking around thinking of terrible things happening to you over and over again on a repeat loop, you probably did not manifest it. In fact, you probably are manifesting something great and awesome, and this is the path that God and the Universe have chosen to get you there. It reminds me of a poster of a hamster in a maze, who chews his way through the walls and makes a beeline to the cheese. Must have been painful, but he got there real quick. While it seems bad, it may in fact be part of the process. When bad things happen to us, we let go of a lot of unnecessary pain. It is like when we are physically sick, like with a cold, we don't do our normal daily routine, because we don't have the energy for it. When emotionally trying times occur, we don't do our normal drama routine, because we are too sad or too exhausted to run our program. You did not create this negative outcome, or heck, maybe you did. Either way, its not a big deal because you are on your path to where you need to be.
2. Believe you can overpower a bad situation.
Bad situations are just that, bad situations. I have a number of coaching clients who are convinced they can overcome these, turn them around, change the person's mind, change the outcome. I am sure some of them can... they are pretty determined. But, why? Sometimes, when things do not go our way, our pride and ego can get hurt. We feel we need it to be different so we can feel whole and complete. But, we do not need any outcome to feel whole and complete. Just because someone said no, the deal fell through, the test result was not what you expected, is not a cause to go into overdrive to turn that situation around. If you really want to turn the situation around, accept it. Nothing turns things around faster than acceptance. If you can accept what is happening, and accept that it is really not the end of the world, then if there is a chance for it to turn around, it will. If you have to "work hard" to convince someone of an outcome, it is too much energy in the wrong direction. It is time to follow my favorite Abraham advice and let go of the oars and float downstream. Everything you want is downstream.
3. Convince yourself that you must stick with this so you can learn this lesson... and therefore never have this experience again.
Yes, and yes, I agree with this one, but to an extent. We do repeat lessons in life until we learn what we have come to learn from it. But, if you are in a bad situation that gets worse by the moment, what exactly are you trying to learn from that? If you have done your part, released it to God and the Universe, prayed for the other person's happiness, asked for Guidance and to be shown a different way, and bad behavior continues, it may be time to ask yourself the hard question. "Why am I choosing to stay in this experience?". We choose to stay in experiences for lots of reasons - some that make sense, many that do not. Getting honest with yourself about why you are choosing to stay in a particular experience is a good first step. For most of us, we stay because we are scared of the unknown. Ending an experience, whether that means leaving a job, a person, a place, can seem scary. And, because ending has so many feelings with it, most of us have a hard time doing so in a loving way. If you see this experience is no longer benefiting you, instead of "leaving" and "ending" it, why not set the stage for a new experience with the same factors. If you choose you are going to have an experience of joy, freedom, and happiness, then your current environment will either rise up to meet you or it will not. And, if it does not, then I ask you, "what are you pretending not to know?" I believe in magical outcomes and I also believe, God helps those that help themselves. Sometimes, having the courage to say, this is not working the way it is, and I want to make it better, is the best route. And, sometimes, you realize you have been there, done that, and got the t-shirt, and it is time for you to be honest about the experience you are having and the one you would rather be having.
I look around the world today and there is a lot of pain and hurt in the world. The number of people who are checking out using drugs of some sort or alcohol seems to be getting worse. The are people who cannot handle what is happening in the world and are spending time looking for who to blame instead of creating solutions. And, many people have lost the ability to connect without the use of a device, to just be present. When you look at who you are dealing with, the person or situation that is causing you grief, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is this person able to be there for themselves?
- Does this person have a good, solid relationship with themselves?
- Does this person have a good, solid relationship with a higher Source?
If the answers to these questions are no, then how can you expect this person to be in a solid, relationship with you? When we allow others to dictate or direct our experience, we step out of alignment with ourselves. And, we are too quick to listen to advice of people who have not done their own work. People who have done their work are cautious at best when telling you what to do with your life and they understand, it is all about the experience and your path and that you will get there.
For where I am in my growth, I need more self love and self compassion. I am not talking manicures and massages, I am talking about seeing who I really am and why I am here. And, there is a lot of noise out there. There are "bad" situations that come up and seem to demand my time and attention, and beg for me to suffer. There are many well meaning people who want me to stand up for myself or tell them this or tell them that, but that is not my path. My path is one of the greatest possible growth for me. I know that some of my greatest moments of growth came from heart break, being weak and sick, losing my step, being lonely. Some of my greatest growth came from the "bad" times. It is up to me to determine how bad the time is by how much I am willing to suffer about the situation. Life will continue with its up and downs, and we can spend time analyzing each one of them and suffering, or we can tune in and trust the divine flow of life. Choose to be grateful and at peace, regardless of what is happening around you, to the best of your ability. You will see this is the most powerful way to navigate life.
I am concurrently completing a module about being at peace and a module on self compassion. Surprisingly, or maybe not, they have the same message, being in a state of peace, is the ultimate self love, self care, self compassion, spiritual, giving, thing you can do. From this state of inner peace, anything you do or say, can only create good, because of the deep intention under it. Getting to this state, is a lifelong (for most of us) practice.
I started thinking about something I say all the time... When babies come into this world, they come in complete and whole. They are small, they are defenseless, and they do not know how to act in this world, but they are not in any way, incomplete. Yet, as we grow, we start to believe we are more and more incomplete. We are always seeking for knowledge, teachers, peoples and experiences to complete us. And, the more of those we get, the more we seek. At any time, I am reading at least three books on some way to improve my life; my already pretty-darn-wonderful-and-fully-complete life.
I do not think this will end my addiction to learning, nor do I think it needs to, but instead, help us all think about how we use self improvement. If you are already complete, then you really don't need to read this book, take the training, or read this blog to be better. You are already full and complete. Then you can choose to learn something new, try a new experience, expand your horizon, from a place of self-confidence. I know I am full and complete, and now, I want to have a new experience. Then, no matter what the experience brings, you can see it for what it is. An opportunity to learn, an opportunity to explore, an opportunity to try something new.
I study all these spiritual texts and principles and they keep coming back to one thing. You are just as God created you - complete and whole. Any action you take from this place, with the desire to keep and extend your peace, will lead to the right experience for you for your greatest good and optimal learning. As humans, we sometimes learn more from the experiences that feel painful in the moment. But, think about so many of your wonderful accomplishments - if you played sports, or a musical instrument, or were in a play or gave a speech - you had to feel discomfort, you had to stretch and grow, to get that glow of achievement afterwards. Just because something is not comfortable in the moment, does not mean it is not for your highest good. Being in a state of peace does not mean you will never have an uncomfortable experience, it simply means, you will see it for what it is, without thinking this is somehow personal about you or that there is something wrong with you.
Sit with this question for a moment: "Am I whole and complete right now, exactly as I am?" If you answered no, think about why you feel that way. It is an illusion. If you fix or get whatever it is that you think will make you complete, will you truly feel complete then? The highest good you can do for yourself, your family, your friends and the world, is to truly believe you are whole and complete and then act from that place. And you are only whole and complete when you realize you are connected to a power far beyond any problem or issue in this world. You can call that your deep connection with God or Source.
When I joined a program where we were going to take conflict resolution skills to kids in Southeast DC, I had to go through some extensive training. To this day, some of the best training I have ever had in my life (National Coalition Building Institute). We had to do a lot of work on ourselves before we were sent out to meet with students. In this training, I learned about the Swiss Cheese model in conflict resolution. The Swiss Cheese model explained that anytime someone says or does anything that upsets, hurts, offends you, it is because it hit a hole within you that was not healed, and therefore is reacting to what someone said. As I have continued my personal journey, this has proved true time and time again. Anytime someone offends me, it is because I myself perceive myself to not be fully complete in this area. In the past, I would do numerous activities to try to make myself whole in that area. Recently, I have found, it is much simpler, though, perhaps more difficult, I am not sure... I have simply decided to remember the truth about myself: I am whole. And, any perception or feeling I have that I am not, is not true. The only thing I need to heal or fix is the thought I have could have a hole, that I could be incomplete. I can fill this perceived hole with the love and light of God and then simply move on with my life. This has been my journey to not suffering. For me, not suffering and keeping my peace, is directly related to remembering Who I Really Am, and that person is not an incomplete human being.
When I think of my coaching clients, I realize they spend a lot of time deciding if they should do x or y. In fact, many of us, spend a lot of time thinking about, researching, and analyzing decisions. With a variety of what ifs and if onlys, we tend to drive up our anxiety and stay more stuck than ever. Many times, this leads to rash decisions to just decide so we can move on.
But what if it was SO NOT about the decision? In LOA circles, we talk a lot about there not being such a thing as a bad experience or a wrong turn, that everything is for the highest good, even if you have no idea what that highest good is. If we believed that, then why do we struggle so much with deciding?
We struggle because we think we can get it right or wrong, and we think that is more important than the journey. Each decision, whatever it is, takes us on a journey deeper into our life path and is a new opportunity for healing. Each decision is set up for us to have an experience, in which, there is great benefit.
We tend to think of a "good: decision as one that makes us happy and a "bad: decision as one in which we suffer. In truth, suffering is always optional. We can suffer in "good" decisions just as easily as we can suffer in "bad" decisions and we can be at peace in "bad" decisions just as easily as we can be in peace in "good" decisions. Over the past few months, I have really been exercising this choice as to whether to suffer or not. I have realized, I can truly choose whether I want to suffer or do not want to suffer and it is pretty easy, once I became aware of my choice.
What does this mean for us? It means, "Don't sweat the small stuff" and, "It's all Small Stuff". Next time you have a decision to make, instead of being so focused on the pros and cons, sit with it. The feeling of it. Choose your intention for your own self. How can this help me be a stronger person? How can this bring me closer to God (Source)? What good can I create in the world with this? How can this increase my personal level of peace, love and joy? Don't answer those questions - just ask them. Put them out there. You want that path that will create the maximal healing opportunity for you. That path may be thorny, but that is ok, if it leads you to a higher place within your soul.
Instead of asking whether you should do X or Y, ask instead... How can I increase my personal level of peace in the face of this situation? How can I bring more love into the world based on this situation? There is always a need for more peace and more love. Use the "decision" as the event to increase your personal level of peace and love. When you do, the miracle occurs. The decision will decide itself and it will really be no decision at all. Try it and report back!
If you have been following me lately, you know I am in a determined state. In my groups, I have said this IS the Summer to Shift. I have decided no more of the limiting, small, beliefs that have kept me stuck (why did I let them keep my stuck) and have taken on so many cool practices. I started with a "No Suffering" practice. Then, I flowed into an "Is this love?" practice. As I was doing all of this, I start meditating morning and night (ok, sometimes, only one of those, sometimes none, but a heck of a lot more than I was before). And, now... I have come back to the cornerstone - TRUST.
Do you know what Amina means? Trustworthy. One who can be trusted... and, now this Amina, is working on being one that TRUSTs.
This August, in Adventures with Amina, we are going to be discussing an amazing book by my dear friend, Akshay Nanavati, called Fearvana. This book is the real deal, y'all. If you have not gotten it yet, check it out. Akshay did a great job explaining how our brain works, and most importantly, how you can change your brain. One of the big things that came up in this book is the pause between your animal brain's response to fear and your human (higher functioning) brain's use of logic. That pause. That is what meditation is for. That is what prayer is for. That is really what, I think, all spiritual practice is about. It is about catching that pause. Lately, I have been able to do it. I really credit the "No Suffering" practice for upping my awareness of this pause. Lately, I have gotten to the point where I can see the moment of pause. That's where today's topic comes in.
I got to this place of noticing the pause, but then, almost did not know what to do. I know I need to change the pattern, think a different thought, be happier, etc. But, how? I was freaking out and suffering and now, I am experiencing the pause, but still having the feelings. And, that is where gratitude comes in. I would just start chanting, Alhumdulillah. In Arabic, Alhumdulillah is translated as, All praise is to God. It is amazing how just using this one word in a moment of pause can create an automatic shift. There is something about the word and the sound itself, the sound of hamd, which is praise (adoring gratitude) that is just calming. There was a study done once on using a mantra during meditation, they found that any sound repeated could get you into a meditative state, even the word, hamburger. I find that the word, alhumdulillah, gets me there pretty quickly.
The next tool in the process has revelated itself. What I find even more amazing is what happens after I spend a moment in a state of Alhumdulillah. Next, guidance comes in. I seem to calm into a state of knowing what to do next. It is usually not anything difficult and an easy solution. And, I am left in awe, as to how easy life can be when we are in the flow. When we are fully trusting that this moment, like every other moment, is perfectly divine. I seem to calmly know what to do all of a sudden. All the time. I just know what to do. And, when I don't know what to do and start to feel that frenzied feeling, I go through the process:
1. Am I choosing to suffer? Can I decide to not suffer?
2. Is what is happening love or not love?
3. I am now fully in the state of Pause.
5. Guidance, ease, simplicity and flow.
I invite you to try it too! Look at my last few blog posts (which I referenced in this post) to watch my progression. I have to tell you all, it has been easier than I would have imagined. The hardest part is realizing I am suffering (sometimes, I suffer for hours before I am aware I am doing it). And, join us this month in Adventures with Amina to befriend our fear. I am loving everything Akshay is sharing about Fear and how we react when it shows up. It is perfectly timed with my personal life experience. There is just not much to fear and when we are in fear, it is a such a delicious opportunity to see how we think and make a new choice!
I am a big believer in flow. I know there is a sweet spot where life gets so easy and things just happen, I call this place flow. In the past, I have noticed that I naturally go into a state of flow and then somehow come out of flow. I have always assumed this is just part of flow - sometimes you are in it and sometimes you are not. However, over the last few weeks as I have worked on using my will power to decide not to suffer, I notice that I am in a new type of flow... an easy flow.
In the past, I have easily been in flow, but it has felt exciting and cool. I am able to get things I just thought about with no effort; they magnetize into my life. However, lately, I have noticed that there is another type of flow that is even easier, it is simply being in the moment, without suffering and either giving or receiving love. Life gets very easy when we a) get present b) decide not to take anything too seriously (i.e., not suffer) and c) show up to either give love or receive the love that is coming towards us. It is a very simple, amazingly powerful, practice. It is my new definition of a practice with flow.
In each moment, after you have become completely present and you have decided not to suffer (read my blog post, but basically, you are stopping the story in your mind that is narrating what is happening and how it is terrible), you simply ask yourself, "is this love?". In that moment, you become aware of whether or not your behavior or the other person/people's behavior is aligned with love. If it is, you simply enjoy (savor) the moment. If it is not, you do nothing. If you are in a situation which is not aligned with love, or you are about to act in a moment, when you are not aligned with love, the best thing to do is to completely STOP and find your own way back to love. Love is a place within you. It is place of incredible power. It is a never-ending source and supply of peace and joy. And, if you are about to take an action or react to another person's action, from anyplace other than Love, nothing good will come of it. So, just stop and ask yourself, "what do I need to do right now to re-align with love?" What I noticed from my practice, is just asking that question usually re-aligns me with love.
I have noticed that I and many of the people I talk to spend a lot of time thinking about, reacting to, analyzing other people's actions and deciding what we need to do about it. I have also noticed, that the people around me spend a lot of time giving me love, but sometimes, I don't understand that is what they are doing. Imagine if you couldn't stand peanut butter and someone offered you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday. We immediately think that is annoying, because "they should know" I don't like peanut butter. But in reality, they love peanut butter, and from a place of love, they are offering you the thing they love. What would our lives be like if we just noticed the love behind the gesture? Instead of reacting to the behavior, ask yourself, is this love? If the answer is yes, then return the love. You don't have to eat the sandwich, but you can appreciate the person for the love they are offering. It's like when your cat offers you a half dead mouse or bird... is this love? I personally do not enjoy the experience of being offered a half dead bird, but I can see the intent behind it. What would it be like if we really became aware to what was being offered to us in every moment?
This is a newer practice I have been doing, but so far, I am blown away by how much love has been offered to me. A friend of ours bought fireworks because they thought my niece and nephew were coming to visit. I have been offered to go on a trip to Mexico and Greece. Another person has offered to design a t-shirt for me. The list just goes on and on... it is all love. I am offered so much love every.single.day. And, now that I am "seeing" it, I see it has always been this way for me. I think of all the guys I dated that were not enough this, or too much that, and I think, wow, I missed so many offerings of love.
This month, I invite you to join me. Grab your favorite pair of love goggles and put them on and start noticing what love offers you receive. Just notice the love that already exists. Whether it is concert tickets to your favorite band, or a half eaten bird by your cat, notice the love behind the offering. And, at the same time, notice your reactions. Notice when you suffer and need to "defend" yourself. Notice, am I in a state of love right now? If the answer is no, PAUSE. There is nothing more powerful than the PAUSE. Just hit PAUSE and wait. Take a breath. Take a walk. Watch the sunset. Re-connect to love. Then address the situation. You will notice that when you address a situation from a place of love, you are more honest, more direct, more kind, and more clear. Love is not a doormat. Love is a powerful force. And, using love to navigate life puts you in the relaxing, peaceful state of flow.
I hope you join me in this practice of giving and receiving love. The goal is to always be doing one or the other of those activities. And, as with everything we do, it is a practice. Celebrate each time you PAUSE before sending the text or PAUSE before opening your mouth and asked instead, "WWLD" - What would love do?
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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