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?
"I just want to knnnooowww", I find myself saying, often, in a whiny voice. I really just want to know. Why is that so hard? I want to know if it is going to rain tomorrow, so I can decide what I want to do. I want to know who will be at the event, so I can decide what I need to prepare. I just want to know. I don't feel like this is too much to ask for. And, I feel like it is so normal to want to know, to plan, and honestly, to control.
Then, I read something that stopped me cold in my tracks. Wanting to know. Wanting to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. I started to reflect on the story of Adam. Adam, in Heaven, in perfection, not in need of anything, in perfect bliss, and then a little voice whispered, "yeah, this is good, but want to see how it can be better? All you have to do is know what you don't know now and then you will actually be happy." Wow. That kind of sounds like me. I am perfectly happy, content, and life is good, and then something happens, not a big something, a little something, and I just "have to know" what I don't know now. Isn't this such a part of the human predicament? Wanting to know.
When I started to see the connection to Adam, being in Heaven (perfect peace, perfect bliss) and the Tree of Knowledge, I started to understand exactly how detrimental it is to our Soul to "just want to know." When we say, "we just want to know", what we are actually saying is, that we do not trust in the perfection of God's plan for us in this moment. We are pulling ourselves out of Heaven and in essence, creating our own Hell. Because, when you just want to know how the story is going to end, and you cannot, no matter what you do, it is a form of hell. And, this may just be the whole purpose of life. I am not sure... haven't gotten that far, I am still blown away by the desire to want to know. What if the purpose of life was to trust that every interaction, every experience, every moment was perfect in its creation and execution? What if we believed that we are actually in a state of Heaven right now or at least can be in that state in our mind, right now?
The last few weeks I have been practicing non-suffering. Regardless of what happens, I have chosen not to suffer. And, y'all, some not so fun things have happened. Just earlier today, I shed a few tears when someone "blew me off" (in my perception) instead of embraced and welcomed me. But, as I allowed myself a moment to feel the feelings, I reminded myself, I don't have to tell this story. I don't have to suffer. As you all know, and would tell me if you were in front of me, maybe she x or maybe y, but probably not "blew you off", and that could be my truth, if I want to choose to be happy. And, I do want to choose to be happy. In truth, I will never know. No matter what I do, I will not know if she was blowing me off or if I just happened to catch her at an odd moment. I will not know. I cannot know. And, then the question becomes, can I be happy without knowing? Will I choose the story that brings me grief or the story that uplifts me? And, most importantly, can I, in this moment, remember who I really am and know that no matter what I experience with another person, it does not, will not, and cannot change who I am fundamentally - a beautiful, loving, creation of God.
Next time, you find yourself saying, "I just want to know". Try this practice instead and see how it feels"
1. I do know. I know that I am always guided to the best possible path for my greatest soul development and the greatest soul development of everyone around me. I welcome the next step in my journey.
2. I will not choose suffering. I will not create stories that hurt me. I will choose to tell the true story, the story that reminds me of the truth of myself.
3. I know what experience I want to create. I want to create the experience of connection, of love, of joy and of peace. I know that my intention to create this experience will lead me the people, places, and events that will support this part of my journey.
I find for me, this practice helps me breathe a little easier and releases the grip of "needing to know" and especially, "needing to know, right now!". It helps me float into the space of pure faith and trust in the Higher Power. The place where I know what I need to know, that this can be as good as I am willing to allow it to be.
I love Anita Moorjani and her recent book, What if this is Heaven, is phenomenal. It talks about how every life experience can be seen through the eyes of perfection. What if we let the power that turned the acorn into an Oak Tree and an embryo into a baby be in charge of our lives? What if we let that All-Knowing power decide if what is happening (or what will happen) is for our best, instead of planning, organizing and determining. What would you do with all that free time of not worrying, planning, or scheming to control a future, that you never had the ability to control, no matter how wonderful, brilliant, hard working and dedicated you are? I have been writing more. Another chapter for a book, blog posts, and new stories about my life. It is amazing what we can use our creative energy to do when we are not busy trying to "know".
When I was younger, I marked new years by each Ramadan. I have always been a huge fan of this month for lots of reasons. Of course, there is all of the benefits that Muslims believe occur during the month with added prayers, added giving, and of course, fasting to keep God first and foremost in your mind. Then, there is all the community activities. Large community dinners with friends and late evening prayers at the Masjid (Mosque). I love all of these things, but what I loved the most, is the 30 day renewal aspect of the month.
Each Ramadan, for as long as I can remember, I took on a 30 day experiment. Any of you who are familiar with me, know that I am a big fan of applying concepts in a real way for at least 30 days to see if they work. I was no different as a kid. Growing up in America, I sort of borrowed a practice from Lent and added it to Ramadan, each year, I would "give up" one thing for the month. Instead of items like food, since we were fasting, that was pretty much already being given up, I would give up a "bad" habit each year.
I gave up talking about people behind their back, added giving $5 away each day to a homeless person so someone could eat the meal I was not eating (this was back in the day where $5 bought you a good meal), added saying all the prayers (there are the obligatory ones and then a bunch of bonus ones), genuinely complimented someone for something they are great at each day, and my personal favorite, gave up any type of lying for 30 days. Now, I would not say I lie. At least, I would not have said that, until I gave it up for 30 days. There was a lot of telling people, I could not make it to an event because of some reason, that was, well, not entirely true. This was huge for me. I realized how hard it was for me to say no, without an explanation, and usually a somewhat made up explanation based loosely of facts.
This year for Ramadan, I have decided to give up suffering. This is the new radical concept I am working with right now in life and I have found that it is bringing me a lot of peace and also bringing up a lot of other supporting behaviors that I have been doing that need to gently be shifted. I love telling stories. I love writing. And, I love looking at ordinary events and sprinkling a little drama on it, you know, just a little to liven it up. However, as I am choosing to give up suffering, I am seeing, that by default, I am giving up drama (still not fully happy about this one... it is a process).
This Ramadan, I invite you all to join me. Choose a habit that no longer serves you. It can be complaining, talking about others, seeing people as out to get you instead of out to support you, etc, and give it up for 30 days. Like Ramadan, this does not mean you will not do it at all for 30 days. Instead, it means, you make a commitment to something that is bigger than you and do your best to grow into that commitment. Most Mulsims do not enjoy or look forward to not eating or drinking all day, they look forward to making their connection to God more important than their daily life activities. And, when the purpose is so much greater than yourself, the actions (not eating, etc) are actually not really that hard.
Jack Canfield has a chapter from his book, The Success Principles that says 99% is a B*****, 100% is a Breeze. It is so true. Once you commit fully, whatever you are doing gets easier. What will you choose to remove (or add) to your life this next month in a commitment to be a better version of yourself? A commitment to be the YOU that you know you are capable of being?
Ramadan Mubarik my friends. I pray that this month uplift us all. I always teach people to join in any holy days that anyone is celebrating, because that many people focused on their higher connection is a good energy to be connected to. So, whether you are Muslim or not, I pray that this Ramadan uplift you.
This year, may we all be a little kinder and little more open and understanding to others. May we see that there is no one right answer to so many of life's questions and instead pray for ourselves and each other to be guided by the One who knows all. May we be more present to our daily moments and may be complete our daily routines with more awareness. May only kind words fall from our mouths. May our hands only be involved in kind deeds that build the world and our feet only take us to places that bring us closer to the true remembrance of Who We Really Are. May we act as children of God and see every person around us, especially those we really do not like, as children of God as well. May we be peace on earth so that there may be peace on earth. May we release anything that no longer serves us and grow into the men and women that we know we are capable of being. May we bless each other in every moment of every day. May we make love, peace, and kindness our greatest priorities. May we have the courage and the tools to speak out in truth in the face of injustice in the most loving manner possible. May we take all the good that has been bestowed upon us and increase the gratitude in our hearts and generously share with those that are truly suffering and do not have enough. May our hearts be cleared of any hurt, anger or residual ick that is left and shine bright with the love and light of God. And, may each of us, walking our own paths, increase the level of compassion towards ourselves and each other.
Ramadan Mubarik - May your prayers be answered and your burdens be lightened.
Remember who you are.
I have found this is THE most important thing I need to remember, no matter what is happening. You are not a mistake, or an accident, you are a child of God. And, you are not here to suffer or fear, but to create and love. When things get tough, it is easy to forget who we are, forget our power, and forget what we can create. I feel the pain. I feel the fear. And, I choose to remember that God is greater than any man, any words, or anything that is happening in the world. This is the time for great faith - in God, in each other, and in ourselves. From this place, we can create the solutions that the world so badly needs today.
When you are focused on your small self (the part of you that can be hurt and needs protection) you are stuck in a special kind of hell. Life is not, never have been about, and never will be about you, however, life is dependent on you to flow. You are AN integral part, but not THE integral part. This is a hard concept sometimes to get spiritually. You are everything and nothing all at the same time, because just like you are everything, so is every one else - no more, no less.
The only reason that is even important, is because once you realize nothing is really about you, you are FREE! Yes, FREE to create, to be your wonderful, amazing self. There is no one else here that is just like you with your life experiences. There is no one else who can do what you do, in the way you do it. Sure... there are tons of coaches out there... there are tons of people who write blog posts... but there is only one ME! And, the people who are in need of what I have, will find me, and the people who need a different blog post, will find a different person. It is SO not about ME!
Is this making sense to you all?
Each day, my only job is to wake up and be the best possible Amina I can be. That is it. If I do that every day, then I am fulfilling my life purpose. Days, when I wake up, and try to be a better Amina, or a different Amina, or the Amina who is liked, or the Amina who seems smart, etc... then, I am missing the mark. I am causing myself suffering, because instead of being the amazing, wonderful me that I am, with my nooks and crannies and say, how can I be the best me today? How can I spread joy, love, peace and acceptance wherever I go? How can I be of service to mankind today? How can I shine my light the brightest?
And... my next phase of the journey, which I am experiencing now... how can I choose to remember who I am and not suffer, when someone says, "I don't like your light" or, "ick, that light, I like blue light". These days, I am remembering, that no matter what someone else says or does, I do not have to suffer. Even if they say, "I do not like you. I think you are worthless." I can simply allow that to be what it is, and not suffer. I have to say, it has taken me years to "get this" but the lightbulb has gone off and I actually get it! It is so liberating.
Jack Canfield says, "whatever you think of me is none of my business". I always thought that was cute. But, now, I think that is a hugely powerful. Whatever you think of me, is truly, none of my business. You are a divine human being on earth. You have had a unique set of life experiences and you have a unique life path. Whatever you think of me, is about you and your life path, and not about me, and therefore, truly, none of my business. On principle alone, I would never stand in the way of someone and their life path... but how often have I done just that?!?! How often has someone been walking their path, and I have thought, "ouch, why did you do that, don't you know how that makes me feel?". And, the other person, for their own reasons, tries to "give in" to my needs, and then we are off on a merry-go-round of insanity. Both me and the other person.
Instead, when someone needs you to be other than that which you are, say, "I love you so much" and continue on your way. It is good for them and good for you. If you can do this, without suffering, well, I feel like you have life all figured out! That is the key to life. I have people in my life, a lot of them, that are great teachers. I say to them, I need x, and they say, that's nice and continue on their life path AND at the same time, they love me with their FULL hearts. There is nothing more powerful than to be unconditionally loved by someone who also unconditionally loves themselves.
To start, focus on unconditionally loving yourself. Once you do, unconditionally loving others just flows naturally. You unconditionally love yourself by ACCEPTING YOURSELF EXACTLY AS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW. That is unconditional love. All your nooks and crannies - love the pieces out of those. Don't "try" to change them, love them. The power of love transforms everything. The more you love those pieces of yourself, the more they will change. It is just how it works. The more you hate/judge/force those pieces, the more resistant and stuck they will get.
You literally cannot be more than you are in any given moment. In this moment, if I said, "be smarter!", could you? No, you cannot be anything but what you are. And, the more you accept what you are, the more you grow, because we all grow through love and acceptance.
So, sprinkle some love and acceptance on yourself today and watch your life magically change right before your very eyes!
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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