Tag Archives: soul work

The Satya of My Agraha

The Satya of My Agraha

“Satyagraha” is the priceless gift of “focusing on an ultimate goal and refusing to divert energy to unnecessary skirmishes along the way”; the art of restraint, of picking battles wisely, of discerning between bait and conviction.

I found this quote in a book by Susan Cain called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”. I’m finding it a fascinating read, I think mostly because I am innately curious about people and what makes them tick. But this quote above stopped me in my tracks; it was exactly the medicine I needed at exactly the right time.quite-book

The entire purpose of the book is to explore the quiet strength of introverts, something we often dismiss and overlook in a culture chock-full of extroverts. Having practiced being an extrovert most of my life, I have a tendency to think that I need to react to every criticism, defend every attack and fight every battle.

Over the years, though, I’ve been slowly learning to actively choose where I put my energy rather than impulsively getting drawn into a “skirmish” and then wondering how the hell I got into a mess. Apparently, this discernment is innately an introverted quality, meaning introverts do this much more naturally than extroverts.

To the extroverted side of me these “skirmishes” are attractive, presenting me with opportunities to prevail and triumph; however, they are exhausting to the introverted side of me. And quite frankly, sometimes they are just bait. Not because the initiator is purposely trying to bait me (although sometimes that may be true), but more so because if I participate it will be less conducive to achieving my goal than if I don’t. It may appeal to my ego in the moment, but really it will be diverting energy away from ultimately achieving my goal.

In Sanskrit, “satya” means “truth” and “agraha” means “soul force”. As a self-sovereign being, I am wholly responsible for the “satya” of my “agraha”, or the truth of my soul force. I can choose to temporarily divert my energy and take the bait of the battle or I can choose to more thoughtfully pause and contemplate my response, which may or may not be audible (or visible).

Certainly, there is value is being able to make a quick decision (a primarily extroverted quality), but not every situation warrants a quick decision or reaction. And certainly not every encounter is bait; some circumstances do require being addressed head-on. It is being present in the moment, being in the flow and being fully conscious that determines whether I can make this distinction. Because let’s face it, life doesn’t come neatly wrapped in a box with nicely creased edges and a bow on top; rather it is full of hairpin turns, steep cliffs and curve balls. Situations that require making this distinction happen spur of the moment and often without notice.

So this means that presence of mind becomes all the more paramount to my success and to my ability to ultimately achieve my goal, whatever that may be.

To peek inside the “Quiet” book, click here.

My Most Ecstatic, Realized Self

My Most Ecstatic, Realized Self

I was recently presented with the idea that Life is here to serve us; we’re not here to serve it. I think I’ve spent most of my Life living this idea backwards. Having this notion is like now having a new pair of glasses to see Life in a totally different shade…now I wonder how I can fully experience my most ecstatic, realized self by allowing (not expecting) Life to serve me!

To the Aspiring Writer: The Job Requirements

To the Aspiring Writer: The Job Requirements

I’ve been thinking lately about writers and the thought occurs to me that as writers, particularly aspiring writers who are not already getting paid for our work, we’ve really got it cush, yet we think we’ve got it tough.

As aspiring writers, we inadvertently sabotage ourselves, or at least hold our potential at bay, because we have both a wishful desire to get paid as a writer, and at the same time, we privately wonder why anybody would pay for our writing. What is profoundly insightful or insatiably intriguing to others, to us may seem commonplace. And we fall into the trap of thinking that if we thought of it, then anyone else can think of it too….so therefore our thoughts are not remarkable…and therefore our words are not worth money….and because they are not worth money, of course no one will pay for them. And voila! We’ve conveniently justified not writing. Because why bother anyway? Only people that are already getting paid for their writing, get paid for their writing, right? Wrong!

This is a classic case of a thought thread beginning with a statement of truth, but very quickly veering off track into a self-deluding lie, albeit one that tastes palatable and so therefore must be true. It’s too easy to assume because the seed of our thought started with a truth that the end conclusion will also be a truth. But that just isn’t the truth!

Herein lies the flaw: Just because anyone else can think of your same thought doesn’t mean they will, and even if they do, it doesn’t mean they will do anything with it, and even if they do do something with it, so what? Is your take on the same motif going to be EXACTLY the same as someone else’s? I hardly think so! But, by far, the biggest lie in this line of thinking is assuming that our thoughts are unremarkable and unworthy of monetary consideration because everyone else has the same thought potential as we do.

So that’s true: everyone else does have the same thought potential. But potential is where the truth ends. If we don’t turn that potential into writing that someone else can read, it remains just that–potential. And how much money do you think potential alone ever made anybody? Zero! Potential has to be turned into something. This is what distinguishes writers from thinkers. And the ‘something’ it gets turned into may or may not command money in the marketplace. But that doesn’t matter.

When you’re a writer (that’s not already getting paid for your writing), you can’t use whether or not your writing is going to get you paid as your impetus for starting to write in the first place. You just have to write and let your stuff get filtered thru the universal sieve of the marketplace. We all know that people get paid for crap writing all the time, but crap is subjective. If that crap is generating money for its author, then it is withstanding the test of the marketplace, period! The only difference is degree and as an aspiring writer, we can’t afford to concern ourselves with degrees; we should instead be concerned with breaking the barrier from not getting paid into getting paid, assuming of course that we are writing in the first place! And even after we break the barrier and start getting paid, degrees still really don’t matter, at least degrees relative to other writers. The only thing that matters is our results relative to our desires. And for promotion and marketing: they’re a numbers game. Promotion and marketing are a hedge, that’s it; nothing more, nothing less. We still have to write.

It’s like this: We miss 100% of the shots we don’t take, and as a writer we have to take the shots (i.e., write the stuff) regardless of what we think the outcome might be. One of two things is going to happen: We’re either going to produce stuff that people will pay for or we’re going to learn a hellava lot in the process, presumably about ourselves and about writing. And besides that, writing is an art and art works by working on its creator. The more we create (write), the better our (art) writing becomes. So who’s to stay that what we are writing now that no one is paying us for won’t pave the way for us to write something that someone will pay for?

The point is this: Write. Just write. Write regardless. Write with abandon. Whatever happens, it’s a win all the way around.

Money or no money, as writers, we have to be willing to put ourselves and our writing out there. It’s a requirement for the job!

P.S. Please excuse my several instances of prepositions at the end of sentences. If it makes you feel better, think of it as post-positioning instead of pre-positioning!

The Energy Signature of Acceptance

The Energy Signature of Acceptance

Acceptance of our limitations or circumstances does not mean that we will remain stuck in them forever. Interestingly enough, it is only by accepting them that we become able to grow beyond them. But let me caution that acceptance and resignation are not the same thing! Acceptance is a big lofty word that seems to be open to this wide chasm of interpretation. And, to some extent, I think this wide-openness precipitates confusion just as much as it allows for for freedom.

So what is acceptance and what is it not? Let’s first look at what it is not because most of us are guilty of practicing the ruinous side of this coin much more often than the virtuous side.

Acceptance is NOT

throwing a tantrum; pouting; judging or spreading ill about other people; plotting revenge; replaying or projecting conversations in your head; repeatedly telling everybody you talk to about an incident in which you were wronged; and accepting unacceptable behavior, just to name a few.

This last one is a biggie! There is a train-wreck at the end of accepting unacceptable behavior. How often do you allow someone to dictate your actions, either because they are overtly forcing it on you as if you’re their captive (and you buy into the idea that you deserve it) or because you are choosing to allow someone else to take up free rent space in your head? Their words permeate your actions, not because you want them to, but because they are already embedded deep in your thoughts. You find yourself doing or allowing the same thing over and over again and wondering why you can’t change that part about yourself or your life. And then you resign. You resign yourself into a deep abyss and call it acceptance.

Just as acceptance and resignation are not the same, acceptance and tolerance are not the same either.

It’s like this: Acceptance run riot becomes resignation. Tolerance run riot becomes self-loathing.

So what is tolerance, then?

Tolerance is temporary and external. It is allowing someone else the grace of poor behavior and not taking it personal or making it your personal quest to rake thru sorting it out with them. It is giving someone the dignity to take ownership of their own poor behavior by telling them the truth, by setting boundaries, and by not going back for more. It is honoring your own self-worth, while letting others to choose to destroy their’s.

Acceptance, on the other hand, is more about an internal state of being. It is a mental, emotional and spiritual resolve; an energy signature. Acceptance and tolerance (in its virtuous side) go hand-in-hand. Acceptance is what makes tolerance possible.

Intentional Life Legacies

Intentional Life Legacies

I spend a great deal of time thinking about the impact of my life. I once had the very powerful experience of writing my own funeral eulogy as a coaching exercise and it was unforgettable. At first blush that may sound morose, but the point is to project what you would want people to say and feel about you, how you impacted their lives when you still had clay feet; and to let this be a governing light by which you can live your life now.

I’ve also heard it put another way, which is to write a 200-year life plan. Again, at first glance, this seems ridiculous; the vast majority of us don’t live to be 100, let alone 200 years old! But that is precisely the point—the impact of our lives reaches well beyond the limitation of our physical existence.

While it’s impossible to always live our lives congruently with our own long-term projection of ourselves, that doesn’t mean the projection (or plan) isn’t worth having. And having a plan certainly doesn’t alleviate our lives of friction and conflict. Actually, I’d suggest having a planned legacy might create more collisions, because when we’re working toward (or on) that which is part of our soul work, the obstacles are a necessary and essential part of the process. If it weren’t for the obstacles, we would have no milestones—nothing over which to triumphantly prevail!

I read this recently in an issue of Backpacker Magazine:

We make choices, and nearly all of us start out incubating some grand, youthful ambition. We want to write novels when we grow up, or scale unclimbed peaks. But then we do grow up and we become practical. We choose [paths] that are easier, more conventional. We limit our adventures to what fits in the vacation schedule. (Bill Donahue)

WTH? Personally, I can’t stand the idea of getting to the end of my life (whenever that may be), looking back and living with the realization that I didn’t do anything that mattered, that I didn’t make a difference in the people’s lives that intersected with mine, that I didn’t live my life authentically to the best of my ability, that I didn’t stretch myself beyond what I thought were my limits; that I lived a wasted life, squandered my gifts, skills, abilities and opportunities, and that the only legacy I might leave behind is bitter resentment and bad memories for all the things I could have done better or differently and instead chose only actions in service of myself and my own immediate gratification. Yuk!

This is not to say that I have the expectation I won’t ever violate these ideas in the course of my life, and it’s certainly not to say that I am above situational regrets or having to fight on the battleground of my own frailties and weaknesses; BUT it IS to say that somehow in the grand sum total of my life as I lived it, I want the fact that I had one to have made a difference! And the only way I know how to do that is to have spent some time purposefully contemplating what I want the end to look like, so that I have a guide for the middle.

Living a life guided by an intentional legacy is not an easy life , in fact, it may be harder. But it’s fuller and purposeful. And if my choices are to pay the day-to-day price of a purposeful life now or to live a careless, unguided one—well everything comes with a price and I’d rather pay the price daily than the balloon payment at the end!

Commanding Power (in the name of love)

Commanding Power (in the name of love)

Commanding power is not the same as demanding it. -Ixchel

Demanding is that childlike tantrum while commanding comes from that place of inner self-sovereignty and is based on the sure and steady knowledge of one’s self.

Commanding comes from a place of love, both for one’s self as well as for others. I once heard that one of the measures of love is the extent to which I am willing to be inconvenienced–both by myself and by others.

Do I love myself enough to walk thru the uncomfortable feelings, tend to my responsibilities even when I don’t feel like it and honor the commitments I’ve made to myself? And do I love others enough to make myself available when they need help, perform acts of unsolicited kindness and be willing to temporarily shoulder a burden that might help them reach a personal triumph?

Wimp Junctions & Ugly Wrapping Paper

Wimp Junctions & Ugly Wrapping Paper

What the hell does that mean? And who would use ugly wrapping paper–especially on purpose?

I’ll tell you who….Life, the Universe, Nature, God, the Life Force, the Divine!

When we ask for Divine Guidance and Intervention, sometimes the Help we get comes in the form of another frustration, headache, embarrassment, more of the same crap we’re already sick of or a pain in the ass situation we now have to deal with. That’s what I call a gift in ugly wrapping paper. But why is that a gift?

Because it’s exactly these type of situations that put us at wimp junction–that crossroads between choosing to keep doing the same thing over and over or to triumph. Wimp junctions are always uncomfortable (did I say always?), usually don’t give us very much time to make our choice and are always rooted in fear (did I say always?). When we emerge victorious from wimp junction, we have learned a lesson that is paramount to our own unique development. We are released from its bondage.

Let me give you some examples:

Having a client that treats you like crap (gift in ugly wrapping paper)
Risk losing the client and the income they provide (fear)
WIMP JUNCTION
(1) Deciding the abuse is worth the money, or
(2) Informing the client that the way they treat you will not continue to be acceptable
CONSEQUENCES
(1) Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 (bondage)
(2) The client moves on and makes room for better clients or changes they way they treat you (gift)

Losing money on a big project (ugly wrapping paper)
The impact of this on your future (fear)
WIMP JUNCTION
(1) Letting the situation define you as a failure, or
(2) Deciding to do the work necessary to learn from it
RESULTS
(1) Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 (bondage)
(2) Being armed with new knowledge and insights that can be applied to the next project (gift)

Having an alcoholic spouse (ugly wrapping paper)
Losing the relationship (fear)
WIMP JUNCTION
(1) Continue to accept their unacceptable behavior and be miserable, or
(2) Seek help
RESULTS
(1) Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 (bondage)
(2) Building new relationships or deepening existing relationships (gift)

Are you catching on? It’s the messes that are the gifts in ugly wrapping paper! They give us the opportunity to stand in the middle of wimp junction and decide for ourselves if we’re going to rinse and repeat or do something different. I read recently in a book that the only people that have their shit together are those that are standing in the middle of it! We all have shitty, uncomfortable messes in our lives. The question is not “Why is this happening to me?”, but rather “How can this help me to grow if I choose to see it differently?”.

Sovereignty from Circumstances

Sovereignty from Circumstances

“The impact and meaning of a catastrophe are not in the event itself. The ability to tolerate it is a function not of what happens but our relationship to ourselves and our own minds. In that simple realization is absolute freedom.” (excerpted from Lost and Found by Geneen Roth)

This quote hit me squarely between the eyes. It was so powerful for me, I sat straight up from my slouching posture as I was reading and thought “OMG! That makes complete and total sense!” And it comes at a time when I am right in the middle of what my mind is defining as a catastrophe, yet I am observing myself be able to address each day with poise, posture, dignity and more and more often, freedom from the circumstances, while still working thru the circumstances. It is an interesting observation to realize that we are sovereign from our circumstances.

It reminded me of once at a conference about 6 years ago, I heard a guy that was giving a talk say “Rules afford us freedom”. Now this guy was loonier than a fruit-cake, had already sported hugely oversized green-lensed glasses to illustrate a point about perception (meaning that when you’re lenses are green, everything you see is green…to you); he paraded all 500 or so of us in the room thru some sort goofy game that was a cross between limbo and duck-duck-goose and bounced all around the room booming with high energy, as if he was performing on a stage. Well, I guess he was performing since he was a keynote speaker, but he acted more like he was performing for our entertainment, than our education.

So by now, you might have picked up on my judgements as a broadcast of where I was in my life those 6 years ago. If it wasn’t apparent, I was judgmental (obviously!), self-righteous, jealous, arrogant, intolerant and living in my head (it would be more accurate to say that I lived as if I was only a head)!

This gentleman was simply living out loud, living authentically, demonstrating an enthusiasm for his life and a passion for his work–precisely what he was trying to teach us to do!

So what does he have to do with dealing with a catastrophe? I suppose not much other than the paradoxical nature of both. The ideas that rules afford us freedom and that catastrophes have nothing to do with the catastrophe itself and everything to do with what’s going on inside of us; well this just flys in the face of all modern thought. But that doesn’t make it any less true!

I am learning that the physical forms and beings of this world are tools that help us relate to our own spiritual nature. We have relation-ships with people, material things, our bodies, experiences; and from these things we extract some meaning about ourselves. They give our lives context, as opposed to the alternative of floating around in the ether of spiritual space.

So, if it is true that we are spiritual beings, meaning that we are so much more than the things we can see, feel, touch, and interact with; then it would also stand true that there is more to life than only that which we can perceive or believe to be true. That maybe, just maybe, these things that seem counter-intuitive really do have some merit and when we can surrender ourselves to their essence, we just might be amazed at how much liberty they can afford us to live our lives from the inside out–from that core place of sovereignty and authenticity within us all. After all, we don’t have to believe it to be true for it to work!

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half of the things you do you might just as well turn them over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed-you must be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precsion of a machine plus the intelligence of human being. You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin-it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

Habit.

‘Retrieving’ Our Purpose

‘Retrieving’ Our Purpose

We recently got a new black Lab puppy. Her name is Phoebe.

While at the park with her, we found a pine cone and threw it for her to fetch. Throw, fetch, return. Throw, fetch, return. Over and over. In the sweetness and simplicity of the moment, it struck me that she was doing exactly what she was meant to do–to retrieve. It was intuitive and easy for her, without thinking about it.

And then I wondered…Why do we people make it so complicated to do what we are meant to do?