Thank you, Wayne Dyer, for a life well-lived in wisdom and love. Thank you for sharing your insights with the world and showing that love is the most powerful force there is. Your intelligence, courage, and wisdom will be missed. Through those you touched with your message of love, you helped make the world a better place. Please join me in celebrating his life and his new adventure.
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“The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery – not over nature – but of ourselves.” –Rachel Carson, environmentalist
What is mastery over ourselves? What would that look like?
Ultimately our intent, thoughts, words, actions and responses are the only things that we can control and master. These all involve choice and our own freewill. It’s the awareness that every moment involves a choice—whether it be on the automatic, unconscious level or with awareness and mastery.
The awareness of those choices in the moments that make up our lives involves a discipline of mind. Sound like a lot of work? It is—at first. But that discipline of mind becomes easier and easier, and it is SO worth it! How is it worth it? A simple example is when you make a conscious choice to change a thought. Maybe it’s a thought that really doesn’t serve any purpose other than making you feel down or defeated. By changing that one thought that has been floating around in your mind all day to one that is more uplifting, you can change the course of your day. You can also change the world around you by changing that one thought. Have you ever been around someone who stays negative about almost everything or doesn’t want to see a hopeful solution? It has an effect on those who are around them. The same is true for those who are hopeful, empowered and are taking action that is consistent with hope and empowerment. The hopeful draw people to them in a good way like a magnet.
Another example of that mastery is when you look at and consider the effects a choice you make will have on others before you make it. Does insisting that it be your way make you blind to the needs of others? I can think of an instance or two in my life where I, out of fear, had inadvertently done this. If you think about it, perhaps you can remember an example of this in your own life–an instance where you were coming from a place of fear–fear of change or fear that another way would not bring the desired results. How many times have we seen the effects of choices made by others when consideration was not made first about the impact those choices would have? Perhaps you directly felt those effects, perhaps not, but the effects were apparent.
Seeking mastery over others is not leadership; it is an abuse of power.
Seeking mastery of oneself is living a conscious life and is genuine leadership.
Masters are everywhere, in all walks of life. A master can be the person who sees her/his life as a service. It’s a janitor I know who always has a cheerful greeting and is truly joyful in doing what some people would consider a menial task. It’s the person in the parking garage booth, who recently when I asked “how are you?” answered with, “I’m blessed! I have a job where all day long I can greet people and wish them a good evening. What could be better than that?” I’m humbled by that kind of mastery.
Mastery is not perfection. Masters make mistakes, and they do encounter difficulties. Mastery can be working in a process of knowing there’s always more to know. Mastery can be about getting back up again after a fall or mistake, claiming it, apologizing for it (if it affected others), learning from it, dusting oneself off, and moving forward again.
Have you ever not been able to sleep because thoughts keep running through your head?
While thinking through things is really helpful and important (some people could even do more of that!), sometimes we can detour our lives and get off track by thinking or analyzing too much. This over-thinking can turn into a negative direction and create a state of doubt, stress, anxiety or worry (or even cognitively convince oneself of a hypothetical situation that doesn’t even exist). Have you ever encountered a difficulty with someone, thinking that their intent was negative and found out later that you were very wrong about that? You discovered later that they did not have a negative intention at all?
From the perspective of Quantum Physics, simply put, thoughts are things. Thoughts have an effect on us, the world, and matter. When we allow ourselves to go down a path of negatively over-thinking something, we are having more of an effect, many times, than we realize.
Our minds work through association (association with past experiences) or perceptual connections, so given free rein, the mind can divert us from being in the moment with what is really needed. We are so much more than our thoughts. We are deeper than thought. We all have a core of strength, wisdom, joy, and, yes, love that is much truer than thought. And ideally, thought can be influenced by and arise out of that inner core of what we really are.
In many traditions throughout the ages, the area of the heart is associated with this part of us that is more than our minds, more than thought, even more than matter (or the physical aspects of life). For thousands of years, it has been associated with the seat of the soul, with universal love, with wisdom.
Here is an activity to try:
Sit quietly and focus on your breath (just pay attention to breathing in and exhaling).
Quiet yourself and focus on the area of your heart.
Visualize a beautiful white light with sparkles of gold in that area.
Allow the light to expand into your whole body (including your head), filling your cells with that light, like a honeycomb lighting up.
Let yourself feel the love coming from your heart or soul, that inner core of wisdom.
Send this light of love from your heart to bathe the difficulty or person with that light. Send positive thoughts for that situation or person.
You may find that this easy and simple activity not only helps bring you back to a more balanced place, it also helps with your perspective in a situation. You might even find that things improve and the truer aspects “come to light.” This is also a good activity (in addition to other obvious ways) when observing a situation or area of the world that needs help—pouring into that country or situation the love from your heart.
When you see yourself in a place of over-thinking, it helps to bring yourself back to the heart, to infuse the problem with love. To some people using the word “love” sounds fluffy, and to that I say that love is a powerful force in this world–more powerful than fear, hate, and separation. It is what we truly are. It is the hope for the world. What would this world look like if more and more people brought themselves to a place of love instead of fear?
I recently wrote an article, ”Saying “Yes” into Overwhelm,” because I and many other people I’ve met have a patterned tendency to take things on. It is an understandable tendency for those who want to be of help, service or make a positive difference. The point of the article was not to not say “yes,” but to consider first if one can fit this one more thing into an already busy life or if it will tip the balance into overwhelm.
Having said all that, let’s explore the flip side of the coin. Even though I’m one of those people who has a patterned tendency to say “yes,” there are areas of my life where I might have a tendency to have a knee-jerk “no” at the ready.
Can you think of areas of life where that might be the case for you? Maybe it’s something that you shouldnot agree to, because it would be a healthy choice to say, “no.” But, there may also be areas or instances, as have been in my life, where to say “no” would limit positive life experience or opportunities. Usually these areas have to do with a fear of some kind.
While I enjoy speaking in front of large audiences (I had to get over that fear many years ago, but that’s another story), I’m somewhat of an introvert. During my personal time (preferring my “cave” to large social situations), that knee-jerk “no” might be in regard to a party or large social gathering. Saying “no” may limit my opportunity just to be out in the world connecting with others in a positive way. Being in this world is about relationships of all kinds, and communication is the key to all those many types of relationships. I was limiting myself. I was keeping myself in a bit of a box during my non-working time.
Perhaps you have a fear of over-committing your time, and your knee-jerk “no” might be there for just about any request. Again, it may limit positive opportunities and experiences and back you into a box.
The bottom line in the knee-jerk “no” response is usually fear-based, and fears limit us in our lives. When considering a response, before automatically falling into the patterned tendency to say “no,” here are a few things you can ask yourself or do that may help:
Is automatically tending to say “no” a pattern for me in situations like this? Is there a fear that might be preventing me from saying, “yes?”
If I say “yes,” what will it involve (time, energy, expertise)? Asking this question of the person or group that is making the request is important to make the decision in awareness.
What are the benefits of saying, “yes?”
Look at the various areas of life to see if you can fit it in.
Sleep on it (unless it’s an urgent situation) before giving your answer.
If still uncertain, talk with a trusted partner or friend who is supportive in your personal growth.
The important thing is to know yourself (and be aware of areas where there might be a fear) and make decisions in conscious awareness. Of course, this is a process, and with each “yes,” step-by-step, you can overcome a fear and open up doorways for positive opportunities, growth, confidence and, even, miracles.
Every day offers new opportunities for activity, along with the challenges of keeping on track with priorities. Accomplishing things step-by-step is helpful in bringing ourselves back into a state of balance.
Have you ever said “yes” too many times and gotten yourself into a place of overwhelm? I have. I realized what was behind the “yes” was my desire to serve and to help (which is a good thing), but sometimes ego can be in there, too.
Has anyone ever said to you something like, “We’re looking for someone with your gifts and talents,” or “We need someone who has your insight to guide this.” Saying “yes” to something and knowing that it will be of service to others is a very good thing. Saying “yes” to something, knowing that you are already over-committed, but it will give you the opportunity to shine, is another. There’s nothing wrong with “shining” in the world. It can be a good thing. But it can be a part of the motivation in making choices that will send you into overwhelm or cause other priorities or commitments to be compromised, derailing your purpose in life and creating difficulty–not only for yourself but others. Also, when in overwhelm there is usually not time for the things that can help you stay balanced and healthy (like exercise, sufficient rest, and social and creative time). You cannot give the energy needed for things if you get seriously depleted or become ill.
I don’t write about anything that I haven’t experienced myself, and I can tell you, the overwhelm from saying “yes” too much kept me in a place of chaos for several months. It had nothing to do with the people or the organizations I said “yes” to. They would have kindly understood if I had said “no.” It had to do with me and my choices.
So, if you have a patterned tendency to “yes” yourself into overwhelm, here are a few things that can help:
1. Stay in the moment with life choices, using discernment before giving an answer. In other words, don’t fall back on a past pattern of taking things on or automatically saying, “yes.” The answer probably doesn’t have to be given right away.
2. Ask yourself, “Is this going to prevent me from honoring other commitments?”
3. Ask, “Will I still be able to take care of myself (health and happiness), if I do this?
4. Ask, “Is being considered indispensable or wanting to shine one of the main reasons for saying “yes?”
5. Take a break. If conflicted or in doubt, take some quiet time to just ask for guidance. Deeper or higher levels of ourselves probably already know the answer.
6. Talk to significant others or those in our lives the decision will impact.
After having honestly considered all these things, and you think that saying”yes” is still the best choice, you’ll have entered into the decision and commitment consciously. Then there is more room to truly and happily give of yourself and serve.
Today I’ve been thinking about how important trust is. It is something that is vital to nurture in all good relationships, including professional ones. Trust is not automatically given by most people; it must be earned. Being consistent in building that trust with others goes a long way in creating strong, enduring relationships of all kinds.
What are ways to build trust?
Always following through on what you agree to or say you will do is one of the most important. And if it looks like you cannot honor an agreement, renegotiate as soon as possible with the person it concerns. Neglecting to do these things is one of the biggest reasons why trust is lost.
Another way to build trust is to consistently think the best of those in your relationships, whether they be friends, co-workers/colleagues, partners/spouses, or family members. People value relationships where they can feel that kind of security in knowing that they will be given the benefit of the doubt, and that the positive will be the first conclusion.
Apologies, sincere and soon, are also very important in keeping trust with others. We all make mistakes, but communicating a heart-felt apology (when the mistake effects another) as soon as possible will help in damage control of trust.
Nurture trust with others. It’s a precious thing. Once it’s damaged, sometimes it cannot be healed. If it can be renewed, it takes time to rebuild, just as it took time to create trust in the first place.
I’ve just returned from a trip to India, and my heart is filled with gratitude for the lovely people I met on my travels. I will cherish the memories of the kindness and generosity of spirit of the Indian people for the rest of my life.
For a year, my husband and I had planned on going to India, and just one month before we were to leave, I fractured a vertebra in my back. We were not sure if it would be possible to go, but after my neurosurgeon prescribed a brace and advised that if I was careful I could go, we started packing. I experienced culture shock in the extreme when I arrived in Kolkata (Calcutta). From the window of the car, we saw mile upon mile of low income housing. When I say” low income,” I’m not talking about the level of low income housing in our country. In India, “low income ” living is a very simple life, sometimes without some of the things we consider the basic necessities in the U.S.
What I observed was that most of the people were happy–whether I saw them on the streets, bathing in the Brahamaputra River, or going about their work. When you made eye contact with someone, they really returned the connection in a kind and soulful way. In the northern corner of Assam, we visited the Mising Tribe. The people of the Mising (or Mishing) Tribe lived very simple lives. Their homes were built of bamboo and thatch and were elevated on stilts (to accommodate the monsoons every year). There was no electricity or running water in their houses. After being greeted with a beverage that they brew themselves, we were treated to a celebratory dance and welcome. We visited one of the families in their home, and they talked about their daily lives, how they grew their own vegetables, worked in the rice fields, tended their livestock and spent time with their families. The village seemed to be very tightly knit, and there were common areas for people to meet, visit and celebrate.
They had made the time to visit with us, and honored us as their guests, and they were proud to share their lives and ways of living. After visiting the family in their home, we were treated to a lovely meal in the common area. The food was served on a banana leaf, and we ate it with our hands. All the foods, rice, lentils and vegetables, were grown there and prepared from the whole foods. It was deliciously prepared and served with love.
People we met in India loved to give. They gave of themselves without expecting anything in return. If they could help, they did. If they could say a kind word, they did. If they could make something better for you, they did. At first I felt a little uncomfortable being the recipient of so much generosity. But I finally realized part of what made them happy was that they loved to give. Giving brought them joy, but this kind of giving was not a material kind of giving. This giving was in acts of kindness.
At this time of year, I am especially reflecting on giving in a non-material way. So many times in our culture, people judge giving by the stuff that is given. From time to time, I’ve taken to giving anonymously–whether it be a card of appreciation for someone, just letting them know that someone sees how special they are, or doing something for them without identifying myself. This always took the pressure off of giving. I knew that there were no expectations or strings attached–just giving for the joy of it. I love to give, and giving of myself (without a material present to give) is something I want to do more of, without the safety of anonymity.
The people of India have taught me more than I can articulate here, but they have reminded me of the potential of life in making a difference in small ways that turn out to be very big in the lives of the people they touch. When we boarded a short flight in India, the flight attendant noticed my back brace and wanted to help my husband with the carry ons (my husband was carrying mine and his). When he saw that we did not have seats together, he negotiated with some people so that we could sit together–my husband could be close by to help me if I needed it. After about 20 minutes into the flight, the flight attendant handed me an envelope. It was a get well card with the hand-written message, “We all are thinking of you with healing thoughts that you will soon be well. Remember us as we will always remember you.” The whole flight crew signed the card. My heart was so touched by that very sweet and simple gesture. I will always remember that. When we were disembarking in Delhi, the flight attendant told my husband that he had been carrying that card in his suitcase for several months, knowing that there would be someone he would want to to give it to. When he saw me board the plane, he knew the card would be for me.
What an amazing person, and what an amazing country.
Having balance in one’s life and work is not about spending equal measures of time for all the areas of your life. That’s never been a possibility for most people. For those of us who have to work, there will probably always be more time spent in earning a living than in the other areas of life. Creating balance is about finding ways to fit quality time in–not equal time– for the various parts of our lives. It’s even about being in a place of balance while at work.
In the U.S., it’s easy to become consumed by working so many hours per week that we are too tired to spend quality time with loved ones or quality time for ourselves–reading for pleasure, taking a walk, or going to a movie. In the past, I have been one of those people and have learned some needlessly hard lessons in either getting sick or multi-tasking myself into overwhelm. I love to work because I love my work. But I also love and need to play and relax.
When was the last time you played cards, a board game, worked a puzzle or danced? When was the last time you laughed till you cried? When was the last time you took a whole day off to just do the things that refresh your mind, body or spirit (or all of the above)? When was the last time you looked back on your week and saw with wonder what an amazing, joyful week it was?
I don’t think there are many people who on their deathbeds say to themselves or others, “Gosh, I wish I could have worked one more day.” Instead, many people wish they had expressed more love to others, laughed and smiled more, or enriched more moments with the awareness of joy.
Life is short. It’s true. Look to create joy and balance in the fleeting moments of each day.
Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, speaker and certified life-change coach. For more information: www.maryclaireoneal.com
Living in balance can be a challenge in our day-to-day lives, but during the holidays, balance is needed in order to truly experience the spirit of the season all the way through the New Year.
What helps in consistently creating balance? The answer is pretty simple but the living of it requires focus and attention. Here is the “how”—drum roll, please: Being in the present moment. But what does that mean, really?
Being in the present moment doesn’t mean that you don’t plan or don’t look at the effects potential actions might bring. In fact, being in the present moment requires both of those things. It also means that you look at what is right in front of you and take it step by step to make your way to your goals. When a stressful or urgent situation comes up, look at what is right there in sight—what opportunities are there for you to see in that moment. Being in that present moment will allow you to take action that recreates balance baby step by baby step.
For instance, say, you have a big “to do” list, and you are waiting in a long line during your holiday shopping. Instead of taking yourself out of the moment and worrying about all that you have to get done (getting more and more stressed and frustrated), take yourself back in the moment and remind yourself that balance is right there, now. You may find that you are can then enjoy a couple of children in line laughing and being playful (reminding you of the joy of the holidays). Or you might find that the elderly woman in front of you needs assistance and you are able to help her. You might notice that something you have been looking for is in a display right next to you in the checkout line (and you can check one more item off your “to do” list instead of driving across town.) Funny, sometimes, how being in the moment can work out, and it does bring more balance to our perceptions and experiences when we see that each moment has those opportunities.
Sometimes being in the moment may bring you to the realization that you are dreading yet another year of hectic shopping, wrapping, traffic, and long lines. Maybe you decide instead to negotiate with family and friends to simplify and just do gift cards. Or even negotiate giving to each person’s favorite charity for the holidays instead of giving stuff. You may come up with the idea to negotiate drawing names so that everyone just buys one gift, and everyone receives one gift.
This is the time of year to be at our best–a time to LIVE the spirit of the holiday season in love, goodwill, peace and joy. Be fully here, balanced and able to see the wonderful opportunities in this moment.