Allowing more love to shine though the darkness

There are areas of our lives that many of us keep in the dark recesses of our minds—those fears, those places of ancient wrongs. When we are young, we are shaped by what we’ve experienced. As children we see ourselves at the center of the Universe, and things revolve around us. When something goes awry, as children we may see ourselves as powerful beings that caused those events. So, inadvertently, we emerge from childhood with these distorted ideas that turn, over time, into core issues. We all have had them.

Overcoming is what evolution is about. Stuck in the rut of limits doesn’t allow for growth, like a plant in a pot that is root-bound. Our core issues bonsai the expression of what we truly are—beings of love, creativity, energy, compassion and light. While overcoming is part of the human condition, when we do overcome, it creates a torsion that propels us into the next level of awareness—a more joyful one. These levels continue as long as we are consciously seeing the limits and working, in the face of our childhood fears, to prove them wrong.

There is a big problem when the adults we’ve become are still held prisoner by those core issues—like big babies walking around in adult bodies that still want to have things in a way that is familiar, where we are not afraid. Within most adults is the fear or fears of not being enough in some way—not smart enough, beautiful enough, good enough, skinny enough, or not . . . whatever. There are many variations on a theme, but they all boil down to “not enough” in some way. And in the world one can find many ways to convince oneself that those fears are founded in reality. If you are seeing yourself as not enough, you are lacking and looking to fill that void—and the matrix of money and power makes a profit from it over and over. I’ve worked most of my adult life to let go of those hyenas of “not enough” nibbling at my consciousness, my sense of self.

I’ve come to a place where I am at the core of the core of those issues, after tilting and vanquishing those little fear hyenas that attached themselves to that core. This core is the seed of them all, and I see it. I know it, and I’m tired, oh so tired, of it. I’ve looked at where it began. And while seeing it is a big part of the journey of letting go, I’m seeing that the magic of really saying goodbye and liberating myself is in forgiveness. Deep, authentic forgiveness—of others, myself and the Source of all things. When I allow myself to know that all the players were all doing the very best they could at the time with what they had or understood—really know that deeply in my heart, I begin to truly forgive—saying it in my heart and mind and really meaning it. Knowing it. There floods in the place where the darkness was, a deep and exuberant love. Love that is so satisfying and joyful that there are no words for it. Love that bring tears of joy. Love that makes you feel clearer, purer, freer.

The “players” involved in the beginnings of these issues need never know about one’s forgiveness, and please don’t communicate it. The forgiveness is in your heart and mind. Your increased ability to love and the light that fills you is all that will be seen. Forgiving oneself is a part of the puzzle, too. Letting myself be jerked around by this core issue for decades is something that I’ve worked on to forgive myself for—the lost opportunities for joy or to express love and creativity.

I used to not get this one—why forgive the Source of all things? I used to think, “The Source or Creator is perfect. What is to be forgiven?” I finally understand why I needed to forgive Source. My perspective in human form cannot see the endless ways that things work out for the highest good. The detours that things must take sometime (due to my own freewill and the freewill of others) to reach that destination are necessary. I’ve seen that without overcoming, I could not know what true freedom and peace feels like. I wouldn’t be as compassionate. And without overcoming I wouldn’t know how it was done, and for a teacher that skill is absolutely necessary. So I’m grateful for what helped bring me to where I am.

Forgiveness is not just thinking of a person, situation or thing and saying, “I forgive.” It’s deeper and more profound than that. I found most days, I set aside a quiet time and space of about 30 minutes to ask the Universe to gently show me for my highest good, what I need to forgive and to help me heal it with forgiveness so that the light of love can stream into the situation, persons, me, etc. It’s magic, and I am not alone in this process. Right now is one of the most powerful, liberating times of my life.

Please take the time to find yourself–your true self that has been covered over or held back from your center. The world won’t be able to get to you like it used to, and you’re more available to be of service to others. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

©Copyright, 2017 Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal is the author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World, a communication and leadership coach, consultant, Heartmath® Certified Trainer. For more information: maryclaireoneal.com and lifeworkresilience.com

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Mindfulness Training Brings Results

Peace of Mind

Mindfulness training to reduce stress has been around for a long time, and is now, at work, considered to be a highly effective, results-based practice that is becoming mainstream. Aetna, Intel and Keurig Green Mountain have all started to incorporate mindfulness as a leadership practice and have seen benefits to both the company and the individual employees in improvements in employee health, productivity and job satisfaction.

According to the World Health Organization, stress costs American businesses an estimated $300 billion annually, and the costs to the U.S. healthcare system might be even higher, particularly with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Training such as the Resilience Advantage™, Heartmath’s mindfulness principles and breathing techniques (can be done anywhere, even on-the-go) bring great results in the decrease of stress, health issues, and negative emotional states like frustration, and anger. An increase in health, as well as improved sleep, positivity, situational awareness, problem-solving, creativity and performance has been found in study after study. Here is data from a study six weeks after employees took the HeartMath® training, The Resilience Advantage™:

52% reduction in exhaustion and tiredness
60% reduction in anger and annoyance
60% reduction in depression
43% reduction in heartburn and indigestion
44% reduction in headaches and body aches
33% reduction in inadequate sleep

The principals and self-regulation techniques are based on over 20 years of scientific research in the field of neurocardiology. Among a few of the organizations that have invested in this resilience training with excellent results: US Navy; Fortune 500 companies worldwide; Stanford Graduate School of Business; hospital systems; and the US Army.

For more information about Heartmath’s the Resilience Advantage training:

Mary Claire O’Neal, Heartmath® Certified Trainer and Coach

US (+1) 859-272-2515

Website: http://www.lifeworkresilience.com

Article © Copyright 2015, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photo: Getty Images

Gratitude All Year

November is the month of Thanksgiving, and I find myself wanting to consciously and regularly take time out from my schedule, even if it’s just a few moments, to consider what I have to be grateful for. All of our lives contain a constant stream of moments, people, experiences and things that are gifts in our lives, but it’s too easy sometimes with busy schedules to let them slip by without acknowledging them. And, it’s way too easy to only remember the things that didn’t work out (or didn’t work out the way we wanted) in our daily experience. I’ve occasionally traveled down that road in the past, and the gratitude that comes from looking at what was working in my life has pulled me out of those times of not being in the flow.

The truth of it is, there are many more things that do work and are gifts in our lives than not, but it is so easy to settle into a pattern of looking at what is not working instead of what is. I have a friend who was born without eyes and has a disease that prevents him from ever being able to walk.  He has a beautiful gift of music and has been able to play the piano since he was an infant.  He lives everyday of his life with gratitude in his heart and on his lips. He is a happy person, even though he has to work very hard with the challenges he faces every moment of his life. He says of his disabilities, “Big deal. I have so much to be thankful for. “

Happiness is a choice. Always has been. Always will be.

I’ve found that gratitude is one of the most powerful states of mind and heart that creates happiness—consistent happiness. It’s pretty easy to be thankful and grateful for the big events and things, but it’s the little moment-to-moment experiences that make up a life of happiness and gratitude. Jotting down in my journal regularly at least six experiences, people, or things to be grateful for makes that joy more concrete, more real, and gives my mind a positive focus of what I want more of in my life.  I can look at my journal when I’m finished with my entries and realize that it was a very good day and life.

Expressing thankfulness and gratitude to others for something they’ve done (or just for being who they are) not only is a gift to the giver but a gift to those on the receiving end.  Obviously, this is not a big epiphany or even something new, but why don’t we do it more often?  I work with clients who already know this simple, yet profound, truth, and they want to make the flow of that kind of communication and gratitude real in their workplaces and homes, because they know the power of gratitude and happiness.

It’s really nice that we have a day every year in November to remind us of all this, but shouldn’t the spirit of Thanksgiving permeate all days?

Gratitude can be a feast for our hearts and souls everyday of our lives.

The Speed of Life

This article by Mary Claire O’Neal was chosen as one of the Intent.com articles of the week, 8/7/09.

M. K. Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” One of the things Gandhi may be referring to is slowing down enough to listen.  Really listen.  “Slow down to listen to what?” you may ask. My answer would be many voices and yet one voice: That still, small voice within, or the same situation that presents itself over and over, or doors opening or closing, or what a child is saying with his behavior.

Slowing down to the speed of life can mean slowing down enough to pull myself out of autopilot—out of a routine, out of behaviors and ways of thinking that no longer work for me, out of reactions that can create separation instead of unity.

Slowing down to the speed of life can mean waking up, being fully alive right now, knowing that in every moment resides that choice to be awake.  I have found that what I need to know is within me and also spoken through life all around me, if I’m paying attention. Life is filled with miracles and magic, but unless I am listening and watching, even the miracles will be missed.

Something I’ve found refreshing is to just sit quietly for a few minutes, away from the seduction of technology (stripped of my computer or phone) and listen to the silence or just to my heart beating. Contemplative walks can be a wonderful time for me to get creative ideas. Being out in nature is a way that many people find the silence and peace to listen.

Slowing down can also mean waking up to the wonder of life again. Listening to my heart when it says, “Take a break, play, be silly!”  But it’s so easy to say, “ I don’t have the time.” And it’s so easy to see another day fly by without that joy. Having stuff coming at us all the time is a common way not to listen. Daily routines can become ruts that can distract us from the promptings of our hearts or the still, small voice within.

When slowing down, one can more clearly see things that need attention in life.  It might be that a relationship or friendship needs some quality time. What might need attention is the physical part of me—needing more exercise or healthy eating.  I might be reminded of a letter or phone call that’s been put off for later or a creative project that needs my attention.

When people have regrets at the end of their lives, it’s usually not that they would have liked to have worked one more day (even if their work was a joy for them). It’s usually, “I wish I had said, ‘I love you’ more” or  “I wish I had been kinder, more compassionate.” When one really listens, promptings can become fulfilling action instead of regrets.

© Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal has been a nationally known communication consultant for over 15 years, speaker, certified coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more information: www.maryclaireoneal.com

Fearlessly letting go of information

stack of books with post its sticking out of the pagesI’m an information pack rat, and I’m out of control. I’ve recognized that I have a fear of not having the information I need when I need it. Because of that fear, I have stacks of magazines, journals, papers, and clippings that have either practical information to make life easier (like how can you use olive oil a hundred different ways in your household and, er, how to simplify and get rid of clutter) or ideas for travel and leisure. I also hoard professional journals, thinking that I’ll find the time to read them all.

The problem is that this stuff takes up space, clutters, and cleaning has to be done around it–not to mention the fact that I feel a little stressed when I look at the stacks and wonder when I’m going to find the time to read it (thinking that I’m missing out on something that will streamline my life or make it more efficient). The irony here is pretty transparent.

Some people like clutter and really thrive in that type of environment—finding the chaos stimulating. I’ve tried that. Clutter just doesn’t work for me. I’m relaxed and more creative in a fairly well organized environment.  My mind is released from the stuff. I really appreciate the zen-like aesthetic of almost empty rooms. Peaceful. No distractions. I may never have that kind of decor, but just to see most of the floor in my office would be a huge step. Huge.

It became clear that I needed to have a serious talk with myself. I did, and I’ve  figured something out about my information collecting.  What have I to fear?  There’s the internet, library and my husband, who is a wealth of information (or knows where to find it). I just googIed “practical uses of olive oil” and within seconds found that olive oil can prevent stretch marks, relieve jelly fish or man-o-war stings, remove paint from hair, and the list goes on and on. “Eureka,” I cried!

I just need to courageously plunge into the stacks of paper and know that the best way to make my life more efficient and easier is to fearlessly toss the paper   into the recycling bin and drop off magazines that might be an interesting diversion for sick people at my doctor’s office. The professional journals will be harder to part with, but I will have to be brave as I quickly look through and clip for files.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I will still buy and read magazines and journals, but if they’re hanging around after about three months—I intend to clip and then toss them in the recycling bin. Books are dear to my heart, and I will continue to buy, read and write them. There’s always the used bookstore for those I won’t read again.

I’ve realized that the clutter in my life is baggage–baggage I don’t need as I travel through my days. For instance, recently cleaning out my office closet took me two days of concentrated work on a weekend. Now my work is so much more efficient because it is no longer a struggle to search through all the stuff to get to what I’m looking for. I try to think symbolically when I go through stuff, like, ”I’m giving away this old computer software because I’m changing the ‘software’ in my mind by thinking differently, and I no longer need the old program.” The software served me well in years past, but it is obsolete for my needs now. Also, an added benefit of perspective is that by giving it away, it may end up in the hands of someone who can use it.

After that very important talk I had with myself, I’ve been trying to simplify, even in small ways, everyday. Some days I only have five or ten minutes to spend on simplifying, and that’s okay. I’m working up my courage as I write this to dive into the stacks of paper and publications I’m staring at. I must be fearless.

© Copyright, Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, speaker,  coach and is the author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more information: www.maryclaireoneal.com

True mastery

“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 could 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 I make a conscious choice to change a thought or a behavior. Maybe it’s a thought that really doesn’t serve any purpose other than making me feel down or defeated. By changing that one thought that has been floating around in my mind all day to one that is more uplifting, I can change the course of my day.

We can also change the world around us by changing that one thought.

Have you ever been around someone who is being critical or negative about almost everything?  It has an effect on those who have contact with them.  The same is true for those who are hopeful, empowered and are taking action that is consistent with hope and empowerment. They draw people to them in a good way like a magnet.

Another example of that mastery is when we look at and consider the effects a choice we make will have on others before it is made. Does insisting that it be our way make us blind to the needs of others?  How many times in the past several years have we seen on a national and global scale the effects of choices that were made (that first started with an individual making a choice or an individual pushing that agenda) that do damage to others?

Masters are everywhere, in all walks of life.  A master can be the person who sees her/his life as a service.  I see mastery in a janitor I know who always has a cheerful greeting and is truly joyful in doing what some people would consider a menial task. Mastery is in 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 self 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.

© Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, speaker, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more information:  www.maryclaireoneal.com