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6 Lessons On Letting Go

Photo by Hannes Caspar
Letting go doesn't mean that you don't care about someone anymore. It's just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself. ~Deborah Reber

All my life, I have relied on goal-setting to achieve results.

Whether it came to school work, or even just taking time to hang out with my friends, I would plan the entire day out on outlook or use one of many goal setting techniques that I had learned.

For example, I would stick a piece of paper on the ceiling of my bedroom with my goals written on it so it would be the first thing I saw when I woke up.

And while all this helped me achieve great results, I noticed that I was always chasing the next big thing or the next goal I set for myself. I noticed that I never felt genuine contentment in my life.

It wasn’t just with goals. When it came to my social life, I cared too much about being popular and tried too hard to maintain a good social image by pleasing people. And I constantly felt like I didn’t know who I was, and I definitely wasn’t happy.

4 Tips to Manage Ego and Find Bliss

Photo by Kasia Skrzypek
We must go beyond the constant clamor of ego, beyond the tools of logic and reason, to the still, calm place within us: the realm of the soul. ~Deepak Chopra

Imagine it is a beautiful day. The sky is blue and the sun is shining bright. There is a light breeze that just feels like a gentle hug. You are walking down your favorite street. Everything you see is just beautiful.

As you walk, your sense of peace increases. You then turn the corner and all of a sudden dark clouds appear out of nowhere. The sky turns dark. The gentle breeze is replaced with powerful winds. Pretty soon, you are pushing yourself against the wind. You think you are moving forward but actually you are stuck.

This darkness that appeared is not the weather. It is what happens when you stray from your innate nature — bliss — and succumb to the power of the ego.

Have you noticed that some people have sparkles in their eyes, shining with joy, while others seem to be traveling with a storm cloud over their head, consumed by problems? Those who exude joy don’t have fewer life challenges, they’ve just figured out ways to better handle their egoic mind.

5 Ways to Live in the Moment

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Forever is composed of nows. ~Emily Dickinson

For a long time I believed that living in the moment meant doing what I wanted, when I wanted to.

It has taken me many years to realize that I was wrong.

I felt the need to be free at an early age. I recall packing my bags to leave home at five years of age. My poor parents had a hell of a time with me when I hit my adolescent years. And of course, the teen-age years were even worse.

Basically, I didn’t like rules and regulations.

How I Learned to Meditate

Photo by Yulia
Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time. ~Shunryu Suzuki

The first time I meditated was about six years ago.

I was drawn to meditation by the same aspiration as many people — the desire to feel calmer and happier. I was a medical student at the time, and my life was just too stressful and hectic.

It seemed there was always more to do, more to worry about and no time to reflect. I felt disconnected and dissatisfied.

And then, I got dumped by a man I was madly in love with. I felt like a total failure. I was shaken and incredulous — how could I have wanted something so badly and still have it taken away from me?

I was not used to failure. I was used to setting a goal, laying out the steps and diligently taking them — one at a time — until I got what I wanted. I was under the illusion that with enough effort, I could achieve any goal and sidestep all feelings of pain and discomfort along the way.

4 Tips for Dealing With Fear

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. ~Unknown

From the minute I woke up yesterday, I was consumed by fear. The fear had no clear face, and I couldn’t tell what had sparked it or how it might be tamed from a blazing fire to a small flame.

It left me with a gnawing pit in my stomach, which I recognized as guilt and anxiety. Everything from that point forward felt off and out of place.

I couldn’t see that nothing in the present moment was wrong, only that the immediate future was unsure, and I had lost my firm grip on the control I believed I had.

So I attacked.

The Art of Detachment & Surrender

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. ~Buddhist Proverb

I wasn’t in the best of spirits when I walked into my local yoga studio for class on that blustery Monday evening. A slew of perceived problems, large and small, were spinning through my mind. I felt frustrated, helpless, and most of all, lost.

I wanted direction and guidance; I longed for the smallest bit of certainty that the decisions I’d had to make earlier would be the right ones. And when I considered relaxing and surrendering, I was unable to do either.

I was trying to run away from myself and my troubled mind, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Ironically enough, I’d published a post earlier that day about the fact that we all struggle with runaway minds and hearts. I’d written about the ways in which we are tempted to disconnect — to rebel against the love that surrounds us always.

The post emphasized compassion, forgiveness and celebration — all the things I wasn’t offering myself as I began my yoga practice.

The Art of Letting Go

Photo by Rosie Hardy
When the mind discovers that you are no longer afraid of its content, it will leave you alone.

There I was again — lying in bed paralyzed by emotion. Constant noise clamored for the attention of my awareness like an uninvited circus.

Calliope music screeched a cacophony of self-criticism as lions roared and circled below me, eagerly awaiting my plunge from the high wire after losing my delicate balance between safety and self-destruction.

What could I have done to deserve this?

I lay there, unable to move physically, but tortured by a violent mental fight that raged within me. My mind wrestled with intricate contortions in an attempt to keep its balance when what it really needed was stillness.

My consciousness kept trying to put out fire with fire, to silence thought with more thought. But these were only flames of a different color.

Be More, Do Less

Photo by Jon Jacobsen
It is the stillness that will save and transform the world. ~Eckhart Tolle

Several years ago I lived with a good friend who spoke English as her third language. While she spoke fluently after years of experience, there was one phrase I used that she had trouble grasping at first: Just be.

As in, “After we finish grocery shopping, let’s go to the beach and just be.” She’d always want to finish the sentence. “Just be … relaxing. Just be … writing.”

When I explained what I meant, that I would really just like to sit, observe and exist, without any expectations, she was delighted.

This, she declared, was a very un-American, very un-Western thing to do, which would make sense that why after fifteen years of learning English she’d never heard the phrase.

How to Find Your Unique Strength

Photo by Hannes Caspar
We grow primarily through our challenges, especially those life-changing moments when we begin to recognize aspects of our nature that make us different from the family and culture in which we have been raised. ~Caroline Myss

When Oprah Winfrey interviewed Jane Fonda for The Oprah Magazine, these two amazing women touched briefly on the subject of caring about what others think of them.

Oprah: I’ve read that, like me, you’ve always struggled with the disease to please.

Jane: I used to walk into a party and think, Oh, my God, will I be interesting enough? Will people like me? Will I be pretty enough? Do I fit in? Now I go into a room and think, do I really want to be here? Are these people I want to spend a few hours with? It’s a big shift.

Oprah: How did you make the shift?

Jane: Hard work. Growing up.

Jane didn’t elaborate on her answer, and I’m not qualified to speak for her. But I think we can all relate to how she used to feel.

Flow – The Secret to Happiness

Flow is the natural, effortless unfolding of our life in a way that moves us towards wholeness and harmony. ~Charlene Belitz & Meg Lundstrom

The majority of the books that sit on my shelves are ones that I have read, or deliberately decided not to read after losing interest after a page or two. So I was a little taken aback when I found one sitting smack dab in the middle of various dog-eared novels that I hadn’t read yet—The Power of Flow.

In all likelihood it was a transplant from my parent’s extensive self-help collection, one that must have snuck into one of my boxes. Yet, I hadn’t noticed it until I was—conveniently—experiencing stagnation in many areas of my life.

I’d say this is what “divine timing” is all about.

I spent the next few hours swimming in the pages, recalling all the times in my life when things seemed to fall in to place and doors opened without any physical effort on my part–the times when I was completely and totally “in the flow.”

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