Sunday, September 3, 2006

Think you can't do it? Read this ...

If you are feeling overwhelmed about the risks you must take to achieve your dream, consider C.J. Hayden's story. A runaway at 15, she lived on the streets for a year before she found work that would pay the rent on a room of her own in a shared apartment.

In that year, she was raped, became a drug addict, and struggled every day for survival and a way out.

She made it.

Today she is a college graduate, published author and well-known speaker. Her books include Get Hired Now! and Get Clients Now!(TM)Get Clients Now!.

It is tempting to give in to feelings of isolation and overwhelm.

Don't.

Come back here and read CJ's story. Re-read the story of Ralph Green, US Paralympic skiier, in Find Your Passion. Post your frustrations and fears in the Comments section below and check back for encouragement from others who have been there too. Do the Ten Minute Meditation, read your action plan outline every day, and watch this space for Grow Your Plan, coming soon.

There are thousands of heroes like C.J. Hayden and Ralph Green who have overcome incredible odds to build a good life and live consciously. Talk to your neighbors, your friends. You might be surprised what you will learn.

Get inspired.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Rake the soul, plant the seeds

garden rake smoothing the soilFirst and most important is developing clarity of vision, a vision of what makes your heart sing. Second, synchronicity plays a big part. If the vision is clear, synchronicity can take over. Third, you must have a high sense of integrity, and always tell yourself the truth. Fourth, allow yourself flexibility.

Elke Siller Macartney in Be Yourself Boldly


Image: ©Cornell University Photography
Used with permission

If your vision of right livelihood makes your heart sing, you are ready for the next step.

If your heart is not singing, repeat the exercises in Find your passion II and in Plow the ground. It is worth the effort to get to know yourself and discover the desires of your heart.

You may have noticed little tendrils of fear, doubt and worry as you've responded to your dream during the past few days. Think of those as clods of earth after plowing. Today, we break them apart and rake them smooth for planting.

For this exercise, you need the following.

  • A few blank sheets of paper and a pen or pencil
  • A glass of water
  • A timer, preferably with a gentle bell
  • An open mind and a sense of humor
  • Approximately 35 minutes

Begin with a ten-minute breathing meditation to relax the body and release distractions.

When the bell rings, set it again for ten minutes and grab a clean sheet of paper.

Taking no care for margins, punctuation, or spelling, write every thought, fear, hope, dream, or worry that comes regarding your vision of right livelihood. Write quickly. Give yourself no time to censor. Write the words exactly as they come to you.

You may repeat a single thought again and again. This is fine. You want to know what bugs you and what motivates you.

Be willing to listen to the truth coming through your pen. For now, record without judgement.

If you can, smile as you write. Smiling relaxes the body and opens the mind to possibilities. Give way to mirth, when it comes, and keep writing.

At the sound of the bell, drop your pen and gently shake out your shoulders and hands to release the tension. Take a long, cool drink of water to keep the brain lubricated and ease muscle fatigue. Once more set the timer for ten minutes.

Take a clean sheet of paper. Leaving about an inch at the top for a heading, quickly draw four evenly spaced lines on the page, creating five columns. Do not worry about tidiness.

At the top of each column add a heading in the following order.

  1. Today's date
  2. Goal/Objective
  3. Target completion date
  4. Actual completion date
  5. Celebrate!

At the top of the sheet, in the 1-inch margin, re-state your vision of your right livelihood, the one you've been carrying around with you for the last week or so. Feel the need to revise it a little? Go ahead, but move quickly to the columns.

In column 1, write today's month, day, and year. It will be useful in the future.

In column 2, and leaving an inch or so between each entry, write objectives you must meet to achieve your right livelihood.

These may include updating your resume, returning to school for a degree, establishing a support system, graduating, planning the grand opening of your new office, recording your first album, framing the first $100 bill you earn in your new job.

The key today is to list the first step you know you have to take and five or six milestones that will guide you toward your goal.

Resist the urge to add details. Think in terms of the full journey and the major stops you must make along the way.

In column 3, quickly add a target date for achieving each objective. Without giving much thought, set what you feel is a realistic date.

Leave column 4, Actual Completion Date, blank for now.

In column 5, add a reward you will give yourself on the day you fill in column 4. Make it fun. Your mouth should water, your body tingle, your eyes light with smiles in anticipation of your celebration.

When the bell rings, sit back and take a deep breath.

Congratulations! You have just outlined a plan of action! Nothing puts fear, doubt, and worry to rest as fast as determined action. These five or six objectives are the seeds from which will grow your new job, vocation, career.

You have just five minutes left to complete today's exercise.

Take those last five minutes and read your plan of action. Pay attention to how you feel as you read each line. Be aware of your body's responses to the items.

Does your heart beat faster? Does your stomach burn? Do you notice yourself feeling lighter, grinning until your face hurts? Your body reveals what your mind may not want to admit. Pay attention.

Over the next few days, carry your action plan with you. Re-read it frequently. Use your body's signals to help you examine your motives, desires, fears, and loves. Refine your milestones, and continue to resist the urge to go into detail.

At this point, you are clarifying your vision. As Elke Siller Macartney says, stay flexible, and be willing to tell yourself the truth.

You've planted the seeds. Next: Grow your plan.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Ten Minute Breathing Meditation


This is a wonderful exercise for calming the body and mind. You can do it sitting, standing, or lying down. It is a great aid for inducing sleep when the mind is awash with the days events.

Image © 2001 Wild Dolphin Project
All rights reserved. Used with permission.


If timing your meditation, use a gentle bell.

Begin.

Sit solidly in your chair, your back well supported. Uncross your legs. Place your feet flat on the ground, your hands loose in your lap or on your thighs.

Be comfortable. Let go. Let your shoulders drop. Take a long, slow deep breath.

Close your eyes and take four more deep breaths, long and slow, letting all the air from your lungs and filling them full with each breath. Very likely you will experience a long, shuddering sigh. Let it go.

Now, just naturally breathing, not guiding your breath in any way, feel the intake of air through your nostrils.

Concentrate on the cool air touching the tips of your nostrils as you breathe in.

Concentrate on the warmer air touching the tips of your nostrils as you breathe out.

Thoughts will come.

Gently acknowledge each thought and return your consciousness to the cool breath touching the tip of your nostrils, in.

Graciously let go of the thought as you breathe the warm air out, aware of it again just at the tip of your nostrils. It may help to imagine the thought and any accompanying images or sensations drifting away, like a bubble or a dandelion seed, quickly forgotten.

Breathe.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

You may notice little discomforts in your body.

You may notice big discomforts in your body.

Let these awarenesses come and go.

Return each moment to the breath in, the breath out.
In.

Out.

A solution to a problem in your life may float to the top. It is tempting to stop the meditation and begin noodling on the solution, or to get up and take action.

Like the thoughts and discomforts, acknowledge the idea and let it go. Trust that any useful information will be available to you later. This is always true. Some of your best problem-solving will occur in ten-minute meditations. Let the answers come and go, like every other thought. They will be waiting when you are ready.

Breathe ...

Cool air touching the nostrils--In.

Warm air brushing the nostrils--Out.

Cool air--In.

Warm air--Out.

When the bell rings, gently open your eyes. Stretch your arms and legs, your torso. Like a cat on waking, warm the muscles in a big long stretch, a wide-mouthed yawn, opening the eyes wide, the nostrils wide. Stretch your face. Exaggerate your yawn. Expand the body. Expand the lungs. Expand the arms.

Smile. It feels so good.

Smile.


Of course, if you use the meditation to fall asleep, wait till morning to do the stretches and yawns! This meditation is a great way to start the day, too, waking the mind and body gently.

With folded hands,
Namaste.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Plow the Ground

© 2006 Microsoft Corporation
Before you plant a garden, you must plow the ground. This post will help you plow your soul.

In the previous exercise, you named the work you most want to do. You sat with it for a few days.

Over the time you carried that sentence with you, it may have morphed. Over the days, many versions of your dream may have ripened.

What you have in your mind/hand now are seeds—dream seeds. These are the seeds from which your right livelihood will grow.

Now we prepare the ground for the seeds to take root and thrive. In gardening, this is a two-step process. First you turn the soil over with a plow. Then you rake it smooth.

Today we plow.

Some of us feel stuck in jobs that deaden our spirit because we believe it is our best choice. Hardened ideas of what we can and cannot do permit no dream-seeds to take root.

Use this exercise to aerate your beliefs about what is possible. Use it to loosen the hard-baked soil of your mind and provide space for possibilities to take root.

For this exercise you need:

  • a comfortable chair
  • note pad and pen
  • a timer, preferably with a gentle bell
  • about 15 minutes

Helpful tools: a sense of humor and an open mind

Remember: right livelihood must bring true benefit to you as well as to others. In fact, you should relish going to work every day.

We will start again with a meditation, for it is in knowing the heart and mind that you clear the ground for plowing. You will find this web site utilizes meditation frequently for discovering the desires of the heart and preparing for change.

Place your note pad and pen at easy reach and set the timer for ten minutes.

Sit solidly in your chair, your back well supported. Uncross your legs. Place your feet flat on the ground, your hands loose in your lap or on your thighs.

Be comfortable. Let go. Let your shoulders drop. Take a long, slow deep breath.

Close your eyes and take four more, long, deep breaths.

Now sit still for ten minutes, breathing in long, slow breaths, feeling the intake through your nostrils.

Concentrate on the cool air touching the tips of your nostrils as you breathe in.

Concentrate on the warmer air touching the tips of your nostrils as you breathe out.


Personal Note
Often, I find it difficult to sit still in the middle of a busy day and focus on the breath.

A zillion thoughts go through my mind, some of which arouse an intense desire to jump up and do.

The trick is to say hello to the thought and gently return to the sensation of air moving in and out your nose--that tiny feather of air right at the tip.

This is a kind of waste-processing, or mind-movement. Let the thought go. Let them all go. Trust that what you need will return when you are refreshed.



For these ten minutes, acknowledge each thought that comes and return to the cool breath touching the tip of your nostrils, in.

Graciously let go of the thought as you breathe the warm air out, aware of it again just at the tip of your nostrils.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

Thoughts will come.

You will notice little discomforts in your body.

You may notice big discomforts in your body.

Let these awarenesses come and go.

Return each moment to the breath in, the breath out.

Be aware of the thoughts passing, making no effort to retain them.

In.

Let them pass--like gas--a momentary, sometimes piquant sensation, quickly forgotten.

Out.

At the end of the ten minutes, gently open your eyes, pick up your pen, and return to the question:

If I could do anything in the world that I wanted to earn my living, it would be
_____________________________________.

Fill in that blank. Do not worry if it is different than the one you wrote the other day, the one you carried to this work today.

Do not worry if it is the same idea and still feels impossible.

Trust your Self.

You have had several days to let this concept germinate. You are digging a little deeper today. Trust your knowing.

Write down that sentence. Type it on your computer. Put in a spreadsheet. Post it again on this blog. Speak it out loud.

Say it often.

Make note of the thing you most want to do to earn your living.

Accept this sentence as it comes, without judgment.

Notice if it is the same as the one you have been carrying for the last three days.

Notice how it has changed.

Notice how your feeling about it has changed.

If this sentence gives you pleasure, if the thought of earning your living in this manner gives you sensations of well-being, delight, or joy, skip the next paragraph and read on.

If you feel instead a sense of resignation, a sense of, "this is what I must settle for because I can't have what I really want," then return to "Find your passion II" and repeat these exercises until your mind and body are in unison with your dream.

One way to know you're there: a sudden "Aha!" feeling will hit you. From that moment, there is no turning back.

Now, taking what you've learned, write down every positive thought you have had about how this might work for you.

Without judgment, write them down as you remember them. Don't belabor this. Make it a quick, easy task--no more than five minutes.

Fold that paper and put in your pocket. Carry it with you every single day. Look at it or not as you like.

As you move through the next few days, this piece of paper in your pocket, ask for guidance from your spiritual source.

Everyone has a source of strength upon which they rely. Whether you call this source your God, Allah, higher power, your guardian angel, your spirit guides, your inner Self, you have one.

If you feel disconnected from your source, practicing the breathing meditation regularly will help regain that connection.


However you perceive that you are supported in the world, expect help from that source.

Ask for it. Speak your desire out loud and ask for guidance.

Expect that your guide, your higher power, is devoted to you, loves every hair on your head, and longs for nothing more than for you to achieve the work you are here on this planet in this time to do.

Expect help. Expect that you are worthy. Expect that you are loved.

Over the next week, carry these expectations with you. Carry the breathing exercise with you. Carry the list with you.

We’ve aerated the soil. In the next post, we will rake the soil, smoothing out the big clods of earth (doubt, fear, and worry) so we can plant the tiny seeds.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Find your passion II

Turkish Delight Poppy

Right livelihood is that which brings true benefit to oneself and/or others.


Anthony Flanagan on
Buddhism: The Noble Eight-Fold Path



Turkish Delight Poppy © 2002
AmericasWonderlands.com



Right livelihood brings true benefit to you. In fact, you should relish going to work every day because it is so much fun.


So I suggest something radical. Before you go any further in your job search, stop a moment and think about the one thing, more than any in the world, you would enjoy doing.


Stop! Hold on, I repeat, hold on to that first thing that springs to mind, the one you want more than anything else in the world to do.


For now, let go of all the reasons you cannot do it because a) you've been there, done that, and it didn't work; b) there is no way you can earn a living doing it; c) you don't have the training, experience, physical-mental-emotional attributes to achieve it; d) you are the wrong size, color, personality, gender, to do it.


Let go of all the blocks right now. Right now. For this moment, in this place, let go of them. If your jaw is clenched or tears are smarting because you cannot have what you most want, let go anyway.


Just let go.

Take a long, slow, deep breath.


Grab a pen and paper and complete this sentence:


If I could do absolutely anything in the world to earn my living, I would _________________________.

Fill in that blank.


Write it down.


**Post it as a comment on this blog.**


Put in a spreadsheet.


Make conscious note of the thing you most want to do to earn your living. For now, suspend judgement.


Your only task is to make note of it. Carry the note in your pocket. Put its twin on your dresser.


Mostly let it go. Let it sit gently in your mind, on your heart, without effort.


As the hours pass, be aware of the ways your mind drifts toward this idea. Be aware of the possibilities your mind sifts, as well as the barriers.

Accept every one, then let them go.


Imagine them falling like poppy seeds on the ground, too numerous to count. Some will take root and grow. Some will be eaten by birds. Some will simply decay.


California Poppies © 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


California Poppies © 2006 Microsoft Corporation


Coming soon: Plow the ground - a fifteen minute exercise to aerate the soul and release creativity


Your right livelihood begins here.

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Find your passion

Fountains of Enceladus Cassini-Huygens mission Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

I have a job. My job is to ski race. I get up in the morning. I go train during the winter.

Ralph Green, US Paralympic skiier,





Fountains of Enceladus Cassini-Huygens mission
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


If you think what you want to do is impossible, check out this article on Ralph Green. He's a young Brooklyn man who lost a leg when he and a buddy were shot on the streets of New York. He is a world class skier, a member of the US Olympics Disabled Ski Team, a student, and he works 20-hours a week at Home Depot.

What stands out most is Ralph's passion. He loves what he is doing. He has goals for the future. He intends to share his passion with others. He is in love with life.

Find your passion.

Friday, January 6, 2006

Money - important aspect of right livelihood

Let's get this out of the way at the git-go. Right livelihood includes money. To survive and thrive, we sell our time, skills, expertise--anything we possess that will buy a paycheck.



Money should be respected as a critical part of economic living just like water is a critical part of one's diet, but not the only part and certainly not the most interesting.

Gold Ocean


Image courtesy Microsoft

Never feel ashamed of the money you earn. It is your responsibility to make a living that provides for your needs so others are not burdened with caring for you.

This does not preclude times in your life when you graciously accept the generosity of others. Nor is it a license for greed.

Listen to your heart. Know when to negotiate fair compensation for yourself, and when to listen to the generous promptings of your own heart. Both are a part of right livelihood.