And I Also Love
Fear can be all-consuming. As I sat at my desk, trying to come up with a theme for my end-of-the-month blog article (having left this task to the last minute, no less), I realized that I was having trouble thinking due to fear.
Dorian, a Category 4 hurricane, was originally expected to hit land by this Sunday evening and come straight for us (thankfully, now it seems that it won’t touch land, after all). And that brought up all kinds of fear. Fear of losing power (and staying without power for a week or more in the heat and humidity of the Florida Summer, as it happened when Irma hit us a couple of years ago). Fear of our old roof sinking in or being blown away. Fear of bodily harm. Fear of something happening to our loved ones. Fear of the TNR cats around our home being harmed or killed. Fear of the large oak trees in our front yard falling on top of our house or car. Fear of hearing about the aftermath of the hurricane, which always includes deaths and massive destruction. Fear of not finding basic necessities, including drinking water. And so on.
With fear, many physical and emotional sensations follow, such as shortness of breath and a constricted sensation on the chest; cold hands and feet; brain fog… Feeling tired and drained without knowing exactly why… Uneasiness, tension, irritability… Helplessness, hopelessness… And so forth.
Once triggered, fear breaks down into other fears: being in the wrong place at the wrong time; not being or doing enough; not being in control; feeling lost and confused, not knowing the way; making mistakes; losing those we love, including our animal companions; becoming irrelevant and disposable…
Then it expands into more-encompassing fears: going through the next economic crash, which is sure to come; not having enough to survive; the next mass shooting; the current trend of self-serving, narcissistic leaders everywhere in the world; hearing more horrible news about neglect, harm and suffering being inflicted on people, animals and other living beings, the planet; polluted earth, air, water; our self-destructiveness as a race; the end of the world as we know it…
Many years ago, I wrote a poem about the pervading presence of fear:
Fear of being seen, fear of getting involved, fear
Of the consequences, fear of the causes, fear of feeling too much,
Fear of not feeling at all, fear of letting it out, fear of keeping it in,
Fear of getting to know, fear of being in the dark, fear
Of the pain, fear of the joy, fear of life, fear of death, fear of myself,
Fear of you, fear of us together,
Overwhelming, incapacitating, powerful, raw, fear.
©2000 Gisele Marasca
How do we deal with fear? According to Elisabeth Kubler Ross: “There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It's true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it's more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They're opposites. If we're in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we're in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
I believe that one of the most powerful ways to live love and let go of fear is through gratitude. So I wrote the poem below around the same time I wrote Fear:
Thank you for the uncertainty
which makes me search for answers;
For the ignorance
which compels me to learn;
Thank you for the struggles
which make me grow;
For the sorrow which gives me depth;
Thank you for the doubts and indecisions
which cause me to think, choose and take action;
For the courage which drives me to take risks;
Thank you for glimpses of beauty
when ugliness surrounds me;
For light in the darkness;
For air, for earth, for water;
For trust, for beliefs, for faith;
For the friends I can be myself with;
For everything corny, mushy and over the top;
For love! Thank you for the love in me
and for the love around me;
Thank you for first times and second chances;
Thank you for fleeting moments and long pauses;
Thank you for smiles and laughs and music;
For hopes and dreams,
Thank you for me.
©2000 Gisele Marasca
As I reminded myself of how to balance fear with love, I started listing many of the things I have to be grateful for (including the fact that Dorian isn’t going to touch land anymore, and that I live in a safe and sturdy home inland). I also reminded myself of all the help and support we had from friends and family after Hurricane Irma, such as ice bags, a loaned generator for the fridge and a couple of fans, invitations to work and have meals at their homes, etc (we were also invited by several people to stay over, but we had to stay home to care for our 12 pets and rescues). And life started coming into perspective again…
FINAL THOUGHT: Every single moment of our lives, we are given the choice between love and fear. Which one are we choosing most often?
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 08/31/2019
Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash
Shifting Your Perspective For Pain Management
I’ve been dealing with sciatica pain on and off (mostly on) for many years now. For the last 3 months I’ve been negotiating a peace treaty with the latest sciatica crisis, but this one is very entrenched and doesn’t seem to be quite ready or willing to vacate its occupied territories (pretty much the right side of my body, from the mid-back down to the foot, with a strong hold around the hip, thigh and knee areas). As anyone who’s familiar with sciatica knows, there’s considerable pain involved in such a crisis. To aggravate things, the pain gets much worse when you sit (which I have to do most of the day, due to the nature of my work) and lie down (which often means very poor nights of sleep). After trying the usual strategies for several weeks (massages, chiropractic sessions, back stretches for sciatica, slow walking, heating pad, pillow under the knees, special seat cushions and back support, etc, as well as some pain medication), my level of exasperation grew to the point that all I could focus on was the pain; especially when lying in bed at night, trying to sleep through it.
As I’ve been practicing Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering mediation techniques twice a day, and also reading his book, A Yogi’s Guide to Joy (under References), it finally dawned on me that maybe I needed to approach this issue in a different way. In other words, what about paying attention to all those texts I’ve read, videos and webinars I’ve been watched, deep conversations I’ve had, etc, about not identifying so much with the mind-body (or the pain-body, as Eckhart Tolle very appropriately calls it)?
Coincidentally, as I was thinking about this, I caught a post by K.C. Miller, founder of SWIHA - Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, in her A Course In Miracles study group on Facebook (link below). The title of the post was “I Choose the Joy of the Divine Over Pain - Lesson #210,” which served as a strong confirmation of my recent line of thought.
So I decided to give it a try. That evening, when dealing with the usual pain and discomfort at bed time, I said to myself several times: “I choose joy!.” I really put my heart into it. And something amazing happened: the pain became less intense; or rather, my feeling of the pain decreased. For the first time in weeks, I fell asleep fairly quickly and had a good night of sleep. I repeated the experiment for the next two nights; same result. And since I was able to rest better, physical healing started taking place; so I’ve had less pain during the last three days, too. In addition, repeating the “I choose joy” affirmation to myself had the effect of self-hypnosis; I actually felt more joyful as I quietly fell asleep, and I’m sure that helped increase the serotonin levels in my brain, which in turn helped with the pain.
As I related my experience to my wise husband (an experienced Vipassana meditator), he suggested that I should try the same exercise throughout the day, and in relation to every challenge that life throws my way. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do. So simple, right? “I choose joy.” Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it’s definitely been worth the effort…
FINAL THOUGHT: “Our lives include both pain and suffering. Pain is physical discomfort, while suffering is the story around pain. The Buddha said, ‘When touched by a feeling of pain, the ordinary uninstructed person sorrows, grieves, and laments, beats his breast, becomes distraught. So he feels two pains, physical and mental, just as if he was shot with an arrow and, right afterward, was shot with another one, so that he felt the pain of two arrows (Being With Dying, Joan Halifax).’ “
Ironically, the harder pain is often the one caused by the mind (the second arrow)... Just remember, however: we can always choose joy!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 07/31/2019
Image by kalhh from Pixabay
Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy, by Sadhguru
Being With Dying, by Joan Halifax
I Choose The Joy Of The Divine Over Pain - Lesson # 210 (A Course In Miracles study group hosted by K.C. Miller/SWIHA - A Conscius Community*)
* This is a closed group. You may be required to join this group to be able to read this post.
Jon Stewart, former Comedy Central show host, has been in the news a lot lately. If you haven’t seen it yet, please make sure to catch the coverage of his testimony before Congress about the 9/11 First Responders bill (under References). Warning: It will be hard to keep your eyes dry.
FYI, in these days of false idols and celebrities that are all about image, authenticity is hard to find. I probably have just a handful of people that I truly admire and look up to; Jon Stewart happens to be one of them. Coincidentally, I have recently written an article named Becoming A Fully Functional Empath. On this article, I mentioned some of the qualities that a fully functional Empath or Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) often possesses and demonstrates. After watching Jon Stewart’s video and doing some research about his life before and after retirement, I believe Jon Stewart is the ultimate fully functional Empath:
1) He’s obviously a highly sensitive person, who cares deeply for his fellow human beings, as well as other living beings (read below about his animal sanctuary). He wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to show emotion for a worthy cause.
2) He has certainly found his voice and the courage to express it through his TV show hosting, writing, acting, producing, directing, public speaking, etc. In retirement, he took the time to come back to the lime light and emotionally expose himself for a cause in which he deeply believes.
3) He took on leadership roles, in spite of how jarring and challenging that probably has been for him; and in the process he’s had to deal with his share of criticism from a lot of disgruntled people along the years. A recent example happened after the aforementioned emotional speech before Congress, which earned the following comment by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell: “I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape but we will take care of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund” (FYI, after 18 years of struggle, the bill was finally approved by the House following Jon Stewart’s speech, but it’s currently under review by the Senate; please also refer to Jon Stewart’s reply to Sen. McConnell’s comment during his appearance at The Late Show With Stephen Colbert).
4) He served (and still serves) others in a meaningful and self-sustaining way, as mentioned above. In retirement, he and his wife bought a 12-acre farm in New Jersey, which they turned into a sanctuary for abused farm animals.
5) He seems to have been able to establish healthy boundaries and maintains good relationships throughout his career. He has also helped a lot of the professionals who worked with him to advance their own careers in show business.
6) He managed to develop effective coping mechanisms to be out in the world, dealing with life. Humor is obviously his top choice. But he also knows when it’s time to get serious, and will go to great lengths as an advocate for worthy causes.
7) He’s been able to create and maintains some balance in life. Although currently enjoying retirement, he’s still helping abused animals in his ranch and continues to be involved in causes that are close to his heart.
8) He has obviously been able to find contentment and joy in this process, while sharing it with so many others.
9) He has Inspired and continues to inspire others to find their own way. As mentioned above, he generously mentored several colleagues and even helped some of them start hosting their own shows, such as Stephen Colbert and John Oliver. He continues to be an inspiration as a vegetarian who helps abused animals, and who doesn’t mind crying on camera in front on millions of people, if that’s what it takes to give the powers-that-be a wake up call. He can also serve as a beautiful example of a fully functional Empath to all of the highly sensitive people out there. Jon, hats off to you!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 06/24/2019
Video: Jon Stewart’s Testimony Before Congress
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert - Jon Stewart as guest
Finding Your Own Way In This Crazy, Insensitive World
It’s not easy being an Empath. Even if you know what that means, and are aware of the fact that you may be one (which also implies you’re a HSP or Highly Sensitive Person), chances are you have a hard time with life in general. You hide. You’ve found ways to work or study from home, at least on a part-time basis; and even if you have no choice but to join the ranks as a student in a public school or hold a full time job at a large company, you most definitely hide. You don’t feel comfortable showing all of yourself and revealing who you truly are to most people; you hold plenty back. Social situations can be agony to you. You suffer. You see and hear and feel too much; all the injustices in the world, especially to children and animals, make you suffer deeply. If you take a chance, show yourself and get rejected, it will often scar you for life. You numb yourself. Sometimes everything is so hard to bear that you feel the need to go numb, either through soft addictions such as TV and food, or habits that include alcohol and drugs (prescription and otherwise). Too often, you have to struggle to get out of your bed, your bedroom, your house, and will yourself to continue functioning.
You’re far from alone. Many articles written about Highly Sensitive People/Empaths mention that they comprise 18% to 20% of the population. I wonder if that percentage is actually much higher than these reports show. Were all the “closeted” HSP’s/Empaths taken into consideration? How about those who have always felt there’s something different about them, but have no idea what it is? I personally know a lot of people (among family members, friends, acquaintances, clients, etc) who seem to have all the tell-tale signs of highly sensitive/empathic people, but who aren’t aware that they might be part of that group. Some haven’t even heard these terms before; or if they have, they’re not quite sure what that means. Not to mention that many highly sensitives have learned to hide their true nature, as they quickly understood that most people around them can’t handle who they are, or the intensity of the emotions they feel.
Something else that gives me the impression that there may be a lot more highly sensitive empaths out there is the amount of the available literature on the subject (by the way, if you’re not very familiar with these terms but feel that you might be an empath, I recommend checking some of available resources and taking a quiz). Although the purpose of this article isn’t to define these terms, I actually had a hard time finding a title for my blog article that hadn’t been used before. My research showed a plethora of books and articles with Empaths and HSP’s as their main theme. To name a few: The Path of the Empath; The Way of the Peaceful Empath; Becoming a High Functioning Empath; Becoming a Skilled Empath; The Alpha Empath; The Happy Sensitive; The Empath’s Survival Guide; How To Handle Being An Empath; Becoming An Empowered Empath; The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You; etc; in addition to tons of related articles and resources available. Actually, I almost gave up writing this blog article, thinking that these themes are quite overdone… Well, redundant or not, I thought of a few people with whom I’d like to share my views on this subject. So here we go.
Who Would A Fully Functional Empath Be? Ideally, perhaps, someone who:
- Found their voice and the courage to express it.
- Takes on leadership roles, in spite of how jarring that can be for them.
- Serves others in a meaningful and self-sustaining way.
- Establishes healthy boundaries and maintains good relationships.
- Developed effective coping mechanisms to be out in the world, dealing with life, but without the need to constantly numb themselves. They have learned that numbing themselves works only temporarily, and it comes with too high of a price: feeling like an emotional zombie at first; then having depression, anxiety, repressed anger, etc; and finally, dealing with the agony of knowing that they’re holding themselves back...
- Created and maintains some balance in life.
- Finds contentment and even joy in this process.
- Inspires others to find their own way.
If you have been able to achieve all or most of the above, kudos! But if only you’ve managed to become partially functional and are out there, feeling that there should be more to life that this (whatever “this” is); or are still struggling to find your way, take heart. Keep searching for your own truth, little by little, step by step. Information is useful and role models help, but in the end you have to feel your own way through.
Just think about this: Maybe a big part of what you’re meant to do here is simply to bear. To help bear the weight of the world through your compassion; to bear witness to what is wrong, what needs to change; and to bear life as you hold space for the new generations of Empaths to come and do their thing. Just the fact that you’re here, dealing with and surviving in this crazy, insensitive world, may be nothing short of a miracle…
No, it’s not easy being an Empath… But it does come with the opportunity to live life on deep and intense levels… for better or for worse. At this point in your life, what do you want to make of it?
“Empathy doesn’t make you a sentimental softy without discernment. It allows you to keep your heart open to foster tolerance and understanding.” — Dalai Lama
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/28/2019
Photo Credit: Image by ejaugsburg from Pixabay
“This Is Too Much!!!” About Highly Sensitive People
The Science Behind Empathy and Empaths
…And Then You Die
Some time ago I’d had a beautiful experience helping to save a butterfly (for those of you who missed The Butterfly Connection, please see the link below). Just a few days later, when I went outside to feed my rescue cats as usual, I noticed a torn piece of butterfly wing a couple of feet from where I was standing, on the concrete pad where I place the food. My heart sank. And as I instinctively looked down, I saw the dead body of a butterfly, belly up, partially torn up. Right there, by my feet, as if it was meant for me to see it and suffer for seeing it. At least, that’s how I interpreted at the time. Of course, I could had simply accepted the facts that it was butterfly season and we have several TNR cats around who like to hunt. They also like to present us with the occasional “gift” in appreciation for our services to them. I could have felt even more appreciation for the fact that I got to save a butterfly just a week before, and made peace with the fact that, unfortunately, you can’t save them all. It’s life. Death happens. Moving on.
Instead, I took that as a slap on the face by the “powers from above.” And the very same high I had felt just a week before shifted to the other end of the spectrum and turned into a deep low.
Enlightened and unattached much? Still a long way to go, I’m afraid… It actually took me several months to get out of that resistant mode and feel like writing this blog article after that incident, which is an indicator of how much easier it was to relate with the happy ending story vs. the one that ended with loss and death.
But at this point in my life, I finally find myself inching closer to acceptance and understanding in relation to the subject of death (or so I hope)… My conclusion (other than the fact that acceptance of the good, the bad and ugly in life is easier said than done) is this: Life keeps trying to teach us balance. It’s about understanding both ends of the spectrum. It’s about realizing that, much more often than we’d like to admit, we are not in control of external circumstances; only how we react to them. It’s about accepting that without death there’s no life, and vice-versa. It’s about acknowledging, as the Kybalion’s Principle of Polarity teaches, that good and bad, happy and sad, love and hate, etc, aren’t so much opposites, as they are extreme ends of the same pole.
So one day you save the life of a butterfly; another day you witness another butterfly’s death, and come face to face with the fact that there was nothing you could do. And it’s all part of life’s beautiful dance. It’s as simple as that (or should be)... Being able to understand and accept one of life’s most basic principles (or enjoying the learning process) is the key to having a joyful and fulfilled existence.
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 04/30/2019
THE BUTTERFLY CONNECTION - About Our Role In Others’ Lives
The Kybalion - The Seven Hermetic Principles
Last year I had a very telling dream which I’ll never forget, as it marked an important shift in my life. At that time, I was staying at a friend’s house in Tempe, AZ. She had invited me to attend a summit organized by the company she works for as a business coach. I had the dream the night before we were supposed to attend the registration event, which would be followed by a business Meet & Mix. One of my goals for that event was to network and generate new business opportunities.
In the dream, I was attending an event or gathering with this friend of mine. During the event, she was trying to hook me up with a man; so she approached a cute young guy and pointed me to him. At first he seemed interested; but the room was dark, so he saw mostly my silhouette and pleasing body shape. But when he approached and saw me at close range, he became distant and dry, barely polite. He then pulled my friend to the side and told her he wasn’t interested, after all. And I knew it was because I looked too old and not as attractive anymore.
Needless to say, I didn’t have a great feeling of confidence when I woke up the next morning, or when I finally attended the business mixer for real that evening. At 56, I feel comfortable with my looks (or so I thought); I actually believe I look good for my age; maybe even a bit younger than my years. I’m also happily married and certainly not “looking.” In addition, I’m aware that dreams such as this one are never literal, so I knew that my subconscious was clearly pointing to another kind of insecurity through my dream. It’s no coincidence that I had this dream the night before attending the business mixer, and I came to realize something important: I was wrapping my age and attractiveness around my perception of how professionally marketable I am these days, or how much more I should be aiming to expand my professional role and business ideas at my age. I realized that, in spite of everything I’ve accomplished in my life so far, and everything I’m still in the process of accomplishing, I had bought into the “I’m too old and my life is pretty much over now that I’m menopausal” cultural myth, and was having a hard time finding (or acknowledging) my new place in the world. In other words, the insecurity and self-doubt were related to how attractive I perceived I was (or perhaps wasn’t anymore) as a career professional or entrepreneur.
Although this stigma felt real to me at the time, and still is very real for many, things have certainly changed a lot from the times when people (women in particular) were expected to hang up their boots at a certain age. With trending attitudes such as “50’s are the new 40’s,” “60’s are the new 50’s,” etc, we see more and more middle-aged people embarking on self-discovery journeys, going above and beyond normal expectations for their age group and even becoming inspirational leaders in many different industries. In fact, we could say that the middle has become the new beginning. It’s the new mid-life phase when a lot of people find themselves finally free of life’s incumbencies and choose to take bold steps towards a journey of self-empowerment, by being true to themselves and claiming their own place in the world.
WHAT TO DO?
Once I realized what the issue was, I started doing some research and trying a few different approaches to address it. Here are some of the steps that have worked well for me (and I hope will work for you, too):
- Get confident. The truth is that’s it’s a younger world out there; so how can you compete with Millennials and younger gens? The answer is: it’s not a competition. By the way, I love Millennials. They are fearless. Their generation has the finger right on the sore spots of our current society; they point out everything that’s seriously wrong with the world, and in dire need of change. And they are certainly better equipped to deal with technology and its consequential overload of information and stimuli than we are, among other things. On the other hand, we bring the kind of life experience that younger people can only dream of at this point in their lives; and that includes how to be a (mostly) functional adult. So we actually can work well together and help each other.
- Get some perspective. This brings me to another important point in relation to how we can sabotage ourselves, and that is our tendency to compare ourselves; and not just to Millennials and other younger generations, but also to anyone else whom we perceive as having achieved more and become more successful than we are at our own age. If the goal of the comparison were meant as a form of inspiration, that would be just fine. But that kind of comparison is often loaded with guilt, shame and self-deprecation for not having done more with our lives, which can often feed into our insecurity and self-doubt, and in turn lead to feeling paralyzed and afraid to move forward. So stop comparing yourself to others! You are a unique individual, and your path is meant to be different than anyone else’s. Remember, only you can do what you do just the way you do it!
- Get healthy. This should be the next step, before moving forward with your goals. For instance, if you’re suffering from the many symptoms that come with menopause (namely, hormonal imbalances that cause mood changes, insomnia, lack of energy, hot flashes, etc), do some research about hormone replacement therapy, diet and exercise, and everything else that can help balance your hormones. In my case, along with dietary and other life-style changes, I decided to try a plant-based progesterone cream which has been working quite well for me.
If you have other (or more serious) health challenges, this step is even more important. Do what you know you need to do to achieve and maintain a healthy state of mind, body and spirit, to the best of your ability and circumstances.
- Get self-care. Although this is part of getting healthy, it deserves special emphasis due to the fact that many of us neglect ourselves in that department. We are so used to putting everyone else’s needs first, that giving priority to our well-being (which includes our own career goals and life paths) might sound like an alien concept. So spend time and resources doing those things that you know make you feel much better and help maintain your sanity. Yes, it’s ok to finally put yourself first.
- Get updated. To become more marketable and effective, it’s a good idea to find out what would help you get even better at what you do or have done in the past, and then go for it. Take classes, watch webinars, get some training on new technology, etc; and have fun in the process! Learning keeps your brain young.
- Get busy. Rather than getting lost in all the planning and list-making, take some solid steps. As Marie Forleo suggests, focus on progress and results, instead of perfection.
By the way, if you consider yourself a perfectionist, you might want to read the article below.
Becoming a Functional Perfectionist
- Get support. No one can do it alone! Join a group or create one yourself, enroll in community activities and events, volunteer, etc. Also, reach out to successful professionals in your field. Choose your role models and mentors carefully, however. Are they all about image? Look for authenticity!
- Get going. The Dalai Lama said that the “Western women will save the world.” There’s no question that a powerful revolution has begun; it’s all around us. So you can start by asking the following question: What do you believe your place or role in this revolution is? What’s been tugging at your heartstrings for a while? It doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful!
- FINAL THOUGHT: Get gutsy and get started! After all, what do you have to lose?
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 02/07/2019
As February is the relationship month, let’s explore some thoughts about the most important of all love (and hate) relationships: One’s relationship to oneself. I recently shared the following quote on the Ragi Center Facebook page: “When you’re in a dark place, you sometimes tend to think you’ve been buried. Perhaps you’ve been planted. Bloom.”
Now, that is an awesome quote (by the way, I haven’t found its original creator yet; when I do, I’ll give the author well-deserved credit). But what does that mean, “bloom”? How does one bloom? In my opinion, blooming means finding a way to get out of the comfortable, hidden darkness of the dirt and coming into the light. Growing, evolving. It means discovering who your authentic self is (or is meant to be), and becoming just that; the very best version of your completely fulfilled self.
But how does one push through the dirt to reach that complete state of fulfillment? I happen to believe that it starts with accepting where you are. There has to be a balance between aiming to become your best self, while at the same time appreciating and loving who you are right now. Because right now you are the best self that you can be; and you’ve done a lot, gone through a lot, learned a lot to get here. You’ve been preparing to take that proverbial leap.
Complete self-acceptance, combined with a healthy dose of self-awareness, can serve as the springboard that will help you break through those boundaries and reach for the skies…
Are you ready?
FINAL THOUGHT: Yes, authenticity is the buzz word for the new times, and there are many who are already getting tired of hearing it. Well, I say that it’s still far from being used enough… We can all stand to become more authentic with ourselves and those with whom we share our lives. I hope this fad endures!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 02/26/2019
A Message For The New Year
In an age when we own so much and have access to so much more, why is it that most of us are so dissatisfied, unhappy and often depressed about our lives? And how can we change that? How can we take steps towards being rather than having or doing, towards happiness rather than misery? Among the different available paths, a lot of us turn to spirituality for answers, while still holding on to patterns of behavior and core beliefs that keep us stuck.
According to Sadhguru, an Indian yogi, mystic and author, we hold the key to our own happiness by understanding and following a just few basic principles. Here are three of them:
1) All the rules are our rules. We made them up or inherited them from others. We use those rules to create the cages that entrap us. The good news is that we can choose to change the rules that we have often unconsciously accepted and live by. We have the free choice to choose to be free.
2) Our responsibility is limitless. We are all responsible for how we create and react to the world around us. In many circumstances, our actions may be currently or temporarily limited; but not our responsibility for what happens. This is not about assigning blame; it’s about understanding the impact our own actions and reactions have on how we live, how we relate to others (and others relate to us) and, due to the fact that we are interconnected, everything else that is happening in the world around us.
3) This moment is inevitable. This very moment that we are living right now cannot be changed. And this one… And this one… And so on. We can start making different choices that will potentially change our future, moment by moment. But we have no choice but to accept the moment that happening right now, which is a consequence and accumulation of past moments, as well as how our rules create our world. It’s our resistance to this principle that causes a lot of our misery. If we are able to accept that basic truth, our lives can become a whole lot easier, and we can start taking steps towards feeling more content as we make different choices. Happiness is within reach!
FINAL THOUGHT: Just try practicing these simple principles as you observe yourself and the world around you. It can be a life-changing experience…
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 12/29/2018
Jaggi Vasudev, also known as Sadhguru
Sadhguru’s YouTube channel:
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist (or either of its close relatives, the lazy perfectionist or the imperfect perfectionist)? Please refer to the article 15 Struggles Only Perfectionists Would Understand (also listed under References). If you find yourself there, you’re far from being alone. While the 2010 article Real Learning: Meet the Perfectionists mentioned that the general population contains approximately 30% perfectionists, that percentage has been steadily increasing; especially among young people worldwide, according to a Harvard Business Review article by Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill (Perfectionism Is Increasing, And That’s Not Good News). In the same article, the authors make reference to their published research which discusses the idea that perfectionism might be behind the recent rise in serious mental illness.
As a perfectionist myself, I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and get lost in small details and endless tweaking. Although I realize that perfectionism is counter-productive, as it causes a lot of busy work and often leads to procrastination and even paralyzing fear, it’s still a habit that can be very hard to keep under control. Over the years, however, I’ve learned a few tools that have helped me (and can also help you) in the journey to become a functional perfectionist:
1) HAVE A PLAN. You are much more likely to achieve your goals and remain focused if you take the time to put together a detailed plan of action, or at least a solid outline of action steps towards achieving your goals. However, try not to get too caught up into making lists and organizing the process, or nothing will get done.
2) CATCH YOURSELF! Focus, prioritize and continuously remind yourself of what really matters. Why are you here? What are your main goals, or what do you aim to accomplish or achieve? Who do you want to serve (or for whom do you do what it is that you do, or want to do)?
3) JUST DO IT! According to Marie Forleo, life coach, motivational speaker, author and owner of B-School and web television MarieTV, “perfectionism will kill your dream. It is the one thing that separates winners from the wannabe’s in almost every area of life.” She also says that none of us are immune to this; we can all slip into that mindset if we’re not careful. So her mantra is “go for progress, not perfection.” This is not about lowering your standards; it’s about stopping endless tweaking (which is a manifestation of procrastination caused by fear) and focusing on what really matters: results. “If you wait to get it perfect, Marie affirms, “you’ll never get it out there.” So do it before you think you’re ready! This is also how you learn and evolve; and there is no shame in growing and improving your work, once it’s already out there.
4) TAKE FREQUENT 5 R’S BREAKS (RELEASE, RECHARGE, RESET, REDIRECT AND REFOCUS). Your mind really needs breaks, and you’ll notice that you’ll be much more productive if you take them throughout the day. Brendon Burchard, one of the top motivation coaches and marketing trainers in the world, suggests taking a 5 or 10 minute break every 50 minutes to stand up and stretch; breathe deeply and get some oxygen in your body and brain while repeating “release, recharge, reset” in your mind; take a bathroom break; drink water; play with your pet or something that is relaxing for 10 minutes.
To redirect and refocus, Brendon also suggests that you ask yourself the following questions before you get busy again: Who needs me in my A game right now? How can I show up at my best? What are my priorities right now? What will advance me the most towards my goals?
BONUS BENEFIT: Recent research suggests that taking even a 5 minute break every hour to move your body (walking, stretching, etc) is more effective to improve your mood and promote well-being than a single longer walk or exercise routine before or after work.
5) GET HELP! If you catch yourself procrastinating often due to lack of focus or fear, take the time to examine what might be behind this pattern. There are many available therapies and techniques that can help you release, resolve and remove any fears, blocks, barriers, negative core beliefs or illusions of limitations that are in your way. Some of them are cognitive behavioral therapy, hypno-coaching, meditation, yoga, etc.
6) DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! If you’re making progress and catch yourself slipping back into your old patterns of procrastination and perfectionism, simply acknowledge it and shift back your focus to positive action steps and habits that get you moving forward. Release all that guilt and shame, and choose to be gentle with yourself!
7) DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS! As that wise old text Desiderata states, “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Just remember that you are unique, and NO ONE else can do what you do the way you do it!
8) ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR VICTORIES! Take time to appreciate and celebrate yourself at every turn; and not just when you manage to accomplish your goals or important milestones towards your goals, but also for all the small steps you take every day on your way to accomplishing your goals! Reward yourself and enjoy some well-deserved rest and play time.
FINAL THOUGHT: BE CURIOUS AND PERSISTENT! According to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, among other successful books, “all my most fruitful seeking and making in life has been born out of curiosity, and hopefully always will be. I feel like curiosity and stubbornness have been the two guiding stars of my existence as a writer, in particular. (The author Robert Stone once quipped, recognizably, that he had the two worst character faults possible in a writer — that he was lazy, and a perfectionist. I've always thought that if you can trade those two creativity-killing traits out for simply being curious and stubborn, then you are ON YOUR WAY.)”
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 11/26/2018
The Charge: Activating The 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive, by Brendon Burchard
High Performance Habits, by Brendon Burchard
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Real Learning: Meet The Perfectionists
Perfectionism Is Increasing, And That’s Not Good News
Why Perfectionism Will Crush Your Productivity — And How To Stop It
15 Struggles Only Perfectionists Would Understand
You Aren't Lazy — You're Just Terrified: On Paralysis And Perfectionism
How This Simple Formula Can Help You Increase Your Productivity By 30% Every Single Week
4 Steps To Restart A Bad Day
Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work.
For all the healers, change-makers and those seeking to help and serve others out there
Yes, I know… This is too much!!! It’s certainly more than what you bargained for. While your intention was to learn how to help others undergo deep and meaningful transformation, you probably never imagined that you’d have to go through it first (or yet again)… And that it might turn your life upside down in the process!
At the same time, you know you are here for an important reason: you’ve been called to action and this is your life path, so you need to keep going. Of course, maintaining balance in all areas of life while you’re at it would be ideal. But sometimes things will get messy, and balance might be hard to maintain… So what now? Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when trying to create balance and deal with overwhelm, as you continue to pursue your goals and dreams:
1) Remember that we often thrive and achieve the most when we are extremely busy and feel overwhelmed, as that forces us to take stock and focus on what really matters. Not to mention that we have the opportunity to push our limits and discover what we’re capable of!
2) Remind yourself of why you are here. What’s your purpose or calling in life? What’s your biggest dream of service? Why did you choose to become part of this amazing tribe of healers and change-makers? Get back in touch with what motivates your soul!
3) Get support. That can come from friends, family members, classmates, teachers, mentors, etc, as well as spiritual sources. For instance, how about creating an in-person or online meditation or study group with like-minded friends and fellow healers?
4) Remember to use the tools you’ve learned! We all use them to help friends, family, clients… But we often forget to get our tool box out and use it to help ourselves, and just when we need it the most! For instance, you can trade sessions with fellow healers to work on achieving balance, as well as releasing, resolving and removing blocks, barriers, limiting core beliefs and fears.
5) Focus on what really matters and moves you closer to achieving your goals (please see the video below for some great advice).
How To Deal With Overwhelm, by Marie Forleo
6) Never give up! Just keep moving forward, through and around your fears. Invite your dragons and demons for tea (or margaritas, as a student of mine suggested once; she thought that would be more fun!) and have a straight talk with them. Bring them to light and question them all!
FINAL THOUGHT: Put that fear energy to work for you! After all, fear is your friend; it reveals the road map to opportunity!
Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 07/09/2018