Thursday, February 20, 2014

streams of thought...february 20th, 2014

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are." Bernice Johnson Reagon.

I am learning an interesting lesson here in Denver. The lesson is this. I should never expect to know what the weather is going to be like within the same day let alone one day to the next. We had beautiful sunny 60 degree weather throughout the day yesterday; however, around 8 pm it started to snow.

Learning the art of never really knowing what to expect seems to fit in all other areas of life, too.

So, let me ask this question. How are our beginning of the year commitments coming along? 

We all know that they were difficult.  For those that have kept up with those commitments, we applaud you for your efforts and successes.

Some of us remember the commitments and realize that we let them go a few weeks ago. 

Some of us are still hanging on to them; however, it has become a battle to keep them going and only do it on a sporadic basis. 

Keeping those commitments is a battle.  If it wasn't a battle, we might be either guilty of setting the "bar" too low or we may be wondering why we didn't do them earlier.

Well, we are near the end of the second month of this New Year.  The feeling of spring is starting to set in with the arrival of March.  Oh, we know that we will still face some winter moments in the next month or two; however, inwardly we know that spring is almost here. The season of natural introspection is about to blossom into the season of new energy. It is during this time of the year that we find a new breath. We get new energy.

Unfortunately, I believe that we miss the spiritual seasonality of life. We get so tired of the cold... and the snow... and the bitter wind. We miss this seasonal opportunity to drawn within so that we can assess who we are becoming.  We get distracted from asking ourselves, “Are we being true to who we are designed to be as a person?” 

No, I don't mean that we ask the question that we seem to ask ourselves often... "Am I working at the right place?"  No, it is deeper than that. 

Do we ask ourselves?

If I have the heart of an artist, am I developing and utilizing those skills that speak from my heart? 

If I have the capability of being a leader, am I giving myself the opportunity leading a class or a project or a movement?

If I am a thinker, am I developing this gift by reading great books or developing ideas that could change the world?

If I am a listener, am I giving the gift of my presence to someone who needs to be heard?

It is in this season of winter that all external signs of nature's life seems to disappear.  The leaves on the trees have fallen.  The flowers are still yet a seed in the soil of the earth. The warm air may briefly appear like it did yesterday but can quickly escape because it lacks something that we create within ourselves... limitations. 

Yes, we create within ourselves the shackles called “limitations”.  Life has been described as a "brief moment of time" or "we are like a vapor". Yet, time has no limitations.  Vapor has no limitations. The wind has no limitations. Who can harness either of those things? So, why do we want to harness our own capabilities with self-imposed limitations?

We create limitations within ourselves.  Erroneously, we impose them on others by saying or doubting their capabilities. 

If we are a business person, we look to see what a new applicant can do to increase our bottom line; instead of thinking outside the box and wondering if the job is the right one for this person. Basically, we place the job above the person.  We wonder if the person is the right one for the job instead of wondering if the job is the right one for the person.

If we are a coach, we have kids who try out for positions. During the course of the try out, we have children trying out for positions that do not fit their capability.  So, we should help them to see the strengths of who they are so that they can develop their value by being the right "player on the team".  

As a parent, we think of how successful we want our children to be without really wondering what defines success for each of them; because it is going to be different with each one.

We are still in a season of dormancy.  We are still hiding our "seasonal leaves".  If the original commitment of the year is still in play then keep on moving towards its completion. If the original commitment of the year has been pushed off to the side, don’t think negatively about not keeping it.  Consider the fact that maybe we just made the wrong commitment and make the right one today.

We are confined by our limitations.  We are defined by being who we truly are meant to be.


Monday, February 17, 2014

streams of thought...february 17th, 2014

Who are you? No really… who are you? We ask this about ourselves all the time in every decision we make throughout the day. 

For example, some of us got up this morning and opened up a box of Lucky Charms cereal and poured it into a bowl. Even the bowl tells us who we envision who we are… if we think that we have a big appetite we got the big “Jethro Beau Dean” mixing bowl… if we saw ourselves as needing to cut back on the “magically delicious” crunch of sugar and cereal then we got out a smaller bowl.
Some of us got up and rushed out the door with a couple pieces of toast and shot of coffee… what we have in the coffee tells us even more about who we have accepted about ourselves.

Others might have mindfully got out a banana… some steel rolled oatmeal… juice… and consumed it in a mindful manner after giving thanks and asking for the grace to carry this meal within our body.
Each example tells us more and more about who we think we either are… or want to be… or better yet are on the path to becoming.

We all make simple and complex choices throughout the day that reflect an inner message.
I remember while in the midst of my struggle; I would discover the strength to walk a few blocks. I had no idea what I looked like on the outside but I know what I felt like on the inside. But you know what I remember the most? The smiles of some of those that I walked past.

I have a habit that was created within these past few years where I have developed this practice of looking into the eyes of people when I encounter them. Those glimpses seem to tell me a lot. You can see caution in some. You can find peace in others. There are some that all you can see is pain… or searching… or wonder. Every once in a while, I would make eye contact with someone as I would be walking along and sometimes I would be surprised by … their smile. Now I call them my angels. It was the Divine’s way of telling me that I am noticed and loved. It was His way of telling me that I am going to be ok.

How many of us think that we have made choices well in advance? We, may very well, have made decisions in advanced but scientists have discovered that we are given the option to make “mental choices” every fifteen seconds. It is this repetitive action that leads to a habit or a lifestyle. Our brain actually gets used to the chemical and the electrical impulses from those reactions when we make those choices and that repetitive action leads to a normal state of behavior that is called a “habit”.
We are given a lot of choices to consider and some of those are choices lead us to believe who we are. These choice can happen in the moment of time… a mental blink… every fifteen seconds. Our choice of who believe that we are is going to be reflected in our actions… in our words… in our eyes. If we believe that we are nothing more than someone that gets up and shuffles into the “kitchen” to mentally and emotionally eat “junk food” and believes that is all that we are… we will become “junk food” and that is not magically delicious.

Savor the thought… consume the belief that we are more than our circumstances. We are more than the day to day grind of a job that betrays the true value of who we are. We are more than the medicine or the tubes that we have in or hanging from our body. We are more than the bank account that is either barely over zero or exceeds the millions. We are more than just a whisper of time. We are the creative design of a person who has the ability to overcome all opportunities of life. Our intrinsic value is determined not by what we possess but by the passion that is within our own heart and mind.

Breaking script… Namaste

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

streams of thought....february 12th, 2014

Sometimes I get a little lost in the journey.  Do you ever feel that way?

We get caught up in the movement that we exhaustedly sit down at the end of the day and we simply... with a sigh... wonder what happen.  We made plans. We set the calendars. We made lists. We did every conceivable organizational thing we have been taught or promoted to do but yet we think about all that we did not accomplish. We think back on the day and become aware of a lost fifteen minutes driving.... or ten minutes standing in line... or the phone call or project that took a lot longer than we had planned for. 

So, what do we normally do?  We begin to think that we need to just either be more disciplined or we need to plan better or we need to just be more focused... or perhaps... maybe, we need to give ourselves space. 

In the past four months, I have been working on my balance and flexibility.  It has been a difficult two years and the tension of the inner struggle for health has taken its toll on me. However, I know that what I am doing in the present is beyond my wildest imagination. I look back at photos that were taken prior to my diagnosis of cancer and I am reminded that I was not as healthy as I thought that I was at that time.  My body was betraying my own sense of health.  I was running and preparing to participate for a half marathon but the whole time my body was silently dying inside. The thing that I thought was normal was actually anything but normal. I have very little recollection of the first month after my first surgery but I do remember at times driving around the streets of Denver feeling exhausted and confused.  I, now, realize it was the lack of glucose and other vitally important nutrients. In that first month I had not eaten or drank anything of measurable value.

Four more surgical procedures later, I was walking out St Luke's Hospital for the last time.  Well, more like shuffling out of the hospital for the last time. A year after that last surgery, I am sitting here planning on going on an exploratory / immersion trip to Nicaragua. I will have my personal trainer certification from the NCSF at the end of the month. We will be in the second semester of a graduate school program in Counseling/Psychology at Regis University. We will be Level One certified in the practice of Reiki. We will start the completion of a book that will hopefully encourage and inspire others.

Inwardly, I smile that it took me almost a half a century to realize that the act of balance comes not from juggling a lot of projects or tasks. I am now aware that being stable is not the same as being sedentary. But the journey of health and healing came from within before it was seen from the outside.

I remember my yoga instructor, Julieta Claire, inviting me to come back to the practice of yoga.  I knew that I was going to be very limited due to the devices that I had to carry and was attached to at the time. To me the invitation meant more than the actual participation. Since that time, I have had not been able to practice with Julieta but I have carried on the practice in my home. I am aware that for me the invitation was an external gift of belonging. The internal gift of belonging is found in being mindful of my own longing to "be".  To be authentic. To be faithful to my own practice. To be content not in things but content within my own sense of self. To not be judgmental. To not be critical of self.  

The Buddha says that we should only speak when these four criteria are being met:

§  Is it True

§  Is it Timely

§  Is it helpful

§  Is it kind

Christ said that we are to love others as we love ourselves. But how many times do we forget the second part, "as we love ourselves" The act of metta.

A good friend Rachael Medd said, "To help cultivate a state of balance and stability; among the suffering and noise, [we need to know] what it is to be ‘alive’ and to be able to make sense of this, accept this and use this to not only realize, but explore… who we truly are."

When I read those words, I was reminded of what John O’Donohue wrote. He writes, “The beauty of being human is the capacity and desire for intimacy” It is not an intimacy that is met by the presence of another but by the presence of ourselves. We become so deeply aware of who we are that we reflect it in what we do. It is on the “mat” that we are drawn deeper into gently embrace the spiritual tension that we feel.  We want to embrace the tension not in the sense that we approve of it but that we acknowledge it.  We are present with our own situation that we learn from the emotions that those tensions create. We become mindful that the presence of tension promotes within us the inflexibility of being able to give ourselves the space and the grace to just be whom we truly are.   O’Donohue leads us in seeing that the intimate awareness of who we are is the greater angel that comes along to interact with the emotions that insecurity and doubt may create. And this interaction is not an internal session of struggle but acceptance.  Because with acceptance comes understanding. This understanding leads us to know more deeply and safely where we need to redeem the lesser part of who we struggle to be.   Because without this redemption we lose our balance and stability.

Breaking script… Namaste

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

streams of thought....february 4th, 2014

“Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.”  – Irish Proverb
It is another cold and overcast morning.  A beautifully typical morning for winter time.  There are a few people scattered around the coffeehouse this morning.  A few early students who are either working on projects or possibly getting in that last minute mind expansion of information for an exam that will come and go.  Quickly the exam will be forgotten along with the information that memorized for it.  The information that we so diligently studied will fade away along with the short term promise that we will never wait until the last minute again.  It is a dance that we all do at times. We know that there is a project, an exam to prepare for, and a race to prepare for or possibly…. the next chapter of our life that we are wanting to write but our mind is not willing to find the words or action to start it.

There are a few of us in this room that have asked this question to ourselves… “What is that I really want to do?”

There will always be the response of…
I want to head to the slopes to go snowboarding/skiing…. I want to go somewhere where it is warm and the beach is right outside my door… I want to find love, again… I want to spend more time with my family…. I want to…. um, I am not sure. Can I have a moment to think about it?

We have desires.  We have expectations. They are all a part of being alive. Do we ever sit down for an extended period of time and not think about something that we want to do?  It may even be as mundane as paying the bills. It might be at adventurous as exploring a place like Machu Picchu.  It may be as relaxing as finally reading that book that we have thought about for months and never had the time nor the quietness to do it.

We all have an inner need to move.  We would like for it to be a forward progression.

What stops us?

Is it that we feel like we are too old… or too young? Do we feel like we are not ready to take that “next step”?

What is it?

Is it that we look at our lives and say that there are too many obligations already? Do we look at our physical capabilities and wonder how we will finally be able to have enough strength to breathe let alone move? Do we look in the mirror and all we see is a person that has unfulfilled dreams?  While we are looking in the mirror are we looking at the greatest enemy of them all… ourselves?
Why is that we long for and we dream of moving; yet we are emotionally paralyzed.  We see all that is moving around us and yet inwardly our wish to move is met with a “body” that simply… can’t…. move.

What is going to make the difference?  Enough of a difference that we are able to move a finger… to slide our foot forward… to breathe in the air of possibility so that our spiritual lungs are filled with the oxygen of opportunities. What will have to happen so that our inner spirit breaks down the walls of self-defiance?

It might be that we need to look at ourselves in a way that we never thought was possible.  We have to stop just seeing others moving and see ourselves doing the same. We have to have a faith that comes not just from hearing you can do it but a faith that is built in the belief that you will do it. We have to have a foundational shift within ourselves that no longer says I can’t… I am not… I wish I was…. to an inner voice that says I am even though I have no idea where this wave is taking me. We have to place ourselves in an internal state of peace that says that no matter what happens… I have moved. A place that is decorated not with dreariness of dreams never acted upon but a vibrant room that is filled with the spirit that says you are valuable enough to change.

What if the present moment does not match up with the initial plan? Guess what… they never do. A tree that is growing will never look like it did when it was a sapling.  A stream bed is slowly but constantly changing.  So, why do we think that our dreams will be the same as they were when we started? We seem to get either discouraged with or defeated by what is a simple law of nature.  We begin to see that the life plan that we had six months ago doesn’t look exactly like we imagined. The relationships that we were in have either deepen or are a part of our memory. This is the way of life.

The Irish proverb says, “Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.”  It doesn’t say that our hearts bring us where our feet are… but our heart will tell us if we are where we truly want to be. It is in the act of being that we find out where our passion and love of life is honestly residing. And this act of moving does not always mean that we will have a straight path… a path that is flat…. or doesn’t seem to go backwards at times. We will begin the hike…. a trail that may seem arduous at times… we may encounter an illness or a loss or some other kind of significant change. We will see a field of boulders that we need to cross over and wonder if they will shift and take us down the mountainside. We will also find a shady respite from the heat of the moment.  A place that we can hide away but yet still move in.  If we are present enough on this journey, we will see little columbine flower like moments of beauty. A flower growing where it would seem impossible to grow roots but yet…. there it is. A symbol that life has some small moments that will remind of the reason that we are alive… to see the beauty in the midst of the journey.

When we think about where our heart is maybe an even better question is this.  Is our dreams an illusion or are they the beginning of a life that simply… breaks script.

See you on the trails…
Breaking script…. Namaste.