Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Wheels Keep on Turning . . .

8 Things You Can Do During Cycles of Change
Travel light. Clean out those closets--physically and emotionally! Do you really want to carry all of that "stuff" with you on the next part of your journey? Lighten your load!

Get organized. Set new goals or revisit old ones. Finally, put those photos in albums; write thank-you notes to your friends; start planning your next great travel adventure; update your household budget and savings plan. You'll be glad you did when your new cycle begins.

Explore your spiritual side. Make prayers of gratitude not worry. Develop a meditation practice. You don't have to sit in an ashram to connect with your spirit. There are lots of fantastic guided meditation cds out there. Start small--commit to 10 minutes of mind-clearing meditation a day for 30 days. Your life and outlook will improve dramatically.

Surround yourself with positive people. While you may not be able to weed out every Negative Nelly in your life, you can be selective about what you give your energy to and what you share with others about your personal issues and plans. It can't be stressed enough: what we give our attention to expands. Choose positive thoughts and ideas for moving forward with your life.

Get inspired! Books of triumph over struggle abound. Do some research, make a list of books that interest you and get busy reading. The inspired mind is a playground for creativity.

Help humanity. Ask yourself: How may I serve? There's no better way to get out of yourself than to give to someone or something else. Connect with volunteer work that ignites your passions.

Expand your mind! Take a class, join a group or develop a new hobby. A busy, focused mind has little time for obsessive worry.

Get physical. Start a new exercise program and commit to healthier eating. Everything brings energy to your life--for better or worse. Take good care, for how you treat yourself will set the stage for how you allow others to treat you. And it's a known fact: exercise causes your body to release those "feel good" chemicals that do wonders for a weary mind. So get moving!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Full Circle -- The Law of Cycles & Timing

Not so long ago, I had one toe in the Pacific Ocean and another in the Gulf of Mexico; bicoastal, some would say. Yoga kept me flexible. Meditation kept me grounded. Gratitude kept me sane.

Back then, I never imagined that I would quit my job, sell my home, pick up sticks and reorganize my life in this tiny mountain town at the top of Boulder Canyon, with little more than a pocket full of dreams and faith in the path I followed. In hindsight, I can see clearly the natural progression of things—the seeds of discontentment growing deep within my heart, forcing me to reevaluate my life.
Here’s the thing about seeds—they don’t grow overnight. You can plant them, water them—even talk to them—and you get nothing, or at least that’s how it seems. But there’s business going on underground: Roots are forming, intertwining with others for mutual support and growth, while decisions are being made about how many flowers, or apples, or tomatoes will grow from that seed. Then one day, just when you thought nothing was happening—BAM! Signs of life emerge from the ground, reaching for the sunlight. Suddenly, it all makes perfect sense.
So it was with me.
Today, almost three years later, my life looks very different. As I look out from my mountain perch surrounded by nature’s beauty, I’m reminded, once again, of how temporary it all is—this earthly experience called Life. Seasons change. People come and go. Time marches on, waiting for no one, yet moving us forward in rhythm with the silent longings of our hearts.
Just as the Aspen leaves turn green, then gold, falling to the ground with winter’s early warning, I’m reminded that we, too, must first die to one life before experiencing the new growth of spring.
Consider the Aspen—do you think it spends the winter fearing that it will never again experience the joy of having beautiful leaves adorn its branches? Questioning its Creator? Wishing things were different? Regretting its inherent change?
I doubt it. Rather, I like to think of the Aspens as hibernating, like the bears; conserving energy for the new cycle of life that will emerge in the spring.
Why should it be any different with people? Consider what you do between cycles of change. How do you fill your time? What do you give your energy to?
When your destination is uncertain, do you live in fear that your cycle of change is the beginning of the end of your life? Or do you get busy doing what you can to organize yourself, energize your thoughts, and develop a good plan before moving forward?
Even when change comes from a conscious choice to restructure some aspect of our life—to let go of a dead-end relationship, change careers, start a family, create a new business or embark on a great travel adventure—the temptation is to spend our time in an anxious state, questioning our decisions, worrying that it will all go horribly wrong; expecting signs of new life to emerge immediately on the heels of our decision to change.

Then there’s the frustration that comes when we’ve been in a cycle of change for a long time, because it feels like our transition is all our life will ever be. But if we could step back and observe ourselves from a distance, we would see that we aren’t done yet: We are still moving toward a destination that we can’t quite see because we’re consumed with the day-to-day experience of our change, slowed by the natural timing of things—like watching seeds grow underground.

That’s where understanding our cycles and timing can help. Remember: To everything there is a reason, a season, a cycle and right timing. Work with the energy of change, not against it. Be patient and mindful of your life’s rhythms, using the down-time to improve yourself—turning your weaknesses into strengths—as you prepare for a new cycle to emerge.

Nations can benefit from understanding this as well, helping us to see with broader vision and make changes that we've needed, but neglected, to make. We live in a time that calls for more awareness and personal responsibility than we’ve ever known before—a global economy and environmental network that inextricably links us all together. We can no longer afford to give our power to others and then criticize them from the sidelines when some aspect of society fails.

Yet we keep inching closer to the edge of chaos. As a nation, we must ask ourselves “why?”
Isn’t it possible that when “we the people” grow dissatisfied on some level with the way of our world that our collective dissatisfaction—conscious or not—demands expression in the light of day?
If we can disengage from the fear-based rationales fed to us by the media, our communities, and the world at large, we might just get to the truth: This crisis isn’t happening to us, it’s happening because of us--the collective "us." And we are responsible—all of us—for turning it around.
Like a snake preparing to shed its skin, it may feel like we’re beating our head against a rock, and that can be painful. But I believe that what's happening in our world today is a prelude to the kiss of new life that will emerge from this massive restructuring; but one part of the story unfolding in the evolution of humanity.
So as we move through this cycle of change, remember: Everything in life has its own right timing. Trust the wisdom that created you and the purpose behind all things, while doing what you can to keep your side of the street clean. And prepare yourself . . . for a bright new tomorrow will emerge just as surely as summer follows spring.

Will you be ready?