Monday, November 29, 2010

Abundance with the Cornucopia

During our Thanksgiving meal we learned about the meaning of the cornucopia. The cornucopia is known as the horn of plenty and stands as a symbol of our holiday. I explained to our family and guests that the horn originated in the Greek mythology.

According to the ancient legend, Zeus who was the supreme deity of Greece was born to Cronus and Rhea. His parents gave him in the care of the daughters of Melisseus who was the king of Crete. The girls hid his cradle in a cave and fed him the milk of their goat Almalthea. During playtime, one of the horns of the goat broke off. Little Zeus felt bad about it and therefore gave the horn magic powers; whoever had the horn, would get their wishes fulfilled. The king’s daughters were delighted. Lateron, Zeus placed the goat’s horn (caper – goat and cornu – horn) as the constellation Capricorn in the sky, which we know as part of the Zodiac signs.

While we were eating our turkey and trimmings, we were reminded to be grateful and focus our attention on abundance, and truly believe that there is a God who supplies us with everything we need. We went around the table, and each gave an account of what we were grateful for. It made a very pleasant atmosphere and gave the food an even better flavor.

Looking at the cornucopia the next time, let the richness of flowers, fruits and grains be a symbol for prosperity. If we can focus on plenty and are grateful for having enough, the cornucopia can be a reminder all year long for abundance.

Or we can remember the wish of Zeus and the magic powers of the horn and make our dreams come true.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Living a Life of Gratitude

During these unstable economic times it is useful to find something else to focus on. By thinking about the troubles we are facing day by day or the changes we have to make, we may only get more stressed. It is has helped me to pay attention to feeling grateful for what I have. I have written about the Practice of Gratitude before but I thought during the week of Thanksgiving it is very appropriate to look at it again.
To practice gratitude I like to introduce an acronym I have made up in order to remind myself of being in charge of my destiny, not the economy or any political leadership.

G for grace – many of us may have the habit of saying grace before we eat a meal or take a trip. Rather than just making it a habit of repeating the same words, we can be aware of the fact that a prayer or blessing actually raises the vibration of our food, puts us in a better mood and lets us appreciate our meal and where it came from.

R for relax – I sit for a few minutes; take a few deep breaths; reflect on my day, and let go of all my worries. Stress is the number one problem for health and other disruptions of life. 

A for acceptance – there is something about accepting things the way they are. We can fret over a rainy day or a traffic jam or we can just accept it, enjoy the growing grass or listen to some inspirational message while sitting in traffic. In accepting our life the way it is we take responsibility for our existence and make the best of each moment, living in the present moment. By accepting ourselves and others we become open for whatever happens.

A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort—at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude. Often we feel grateful and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don’t get around to it. Someone has said that ‘feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.'"
~ T.S. Monson

T for thank you – thank you is one of the first social rules we teach our children. It feels good when we say thank you to the grocery cashier or the man opening the door for us? In the U.S.A. we even set aside a day for Thanksgiving. I just recently learned about how to say thank you without words: 
~~ make the sign waving your hand from your heart or watch the video on the gratitude campaign.

I for increase - there have been noted research by scientists to tell us that being grateful can increase our health, prosperity, peace of mind and make us more altruistic.

T for thinking – with a little help and being more conscious we can affirm a more positive attitude. Gratitude and attitude rime, don’t they? Scientists teach us that our thoughts form our emotions, and that we can change them?

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
~ William Arthur Ward (1921-1994, Writer)

U for universal law – there is a famous quote which says: Gratitude is not only the greatest virtue but it is the parent of all others. One of the universal laws impacting gratitude is the law of attraction or sowing and reaping. The law of attraction states that we are like a magnet. Expressing gratitude for any situation projects a magnetic force that draws to us more of what we are grateful for. More specifically, it’s the resonance that you project at the energetic level through your thoughts, beliefs and emotions that you will attract and receive. It’s not what you need or what you want, but the kind of vibrations you give out. You could call that the boomerang effect.

D for deity or divine – I believe it is only fair to say “thank you” to our creator for giving us life and the opportunity for growth. After all we live in a beautiful universe which is abundant.

E for emotion – when I started my research for this talk I learned that gratitude is an emotion. Now, I could tell you all about Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough who are two of the leading American psychologists who investigated the benefit of gratitude. They describe gratitude as personality strength—the ability to be keenly aware of the good things that happen to you and never take them for granted.

But rather than focusing on the intellectual approach to reach gratitude, I like to share with you how I practice gratitude. Every night before going to bed I sit for a while, relaxing, reflecting on my day, and I think of all the things and events I am grateful for. Sometimes, I have to force myself to do it because I don’t “feel” grateful. Then, I think of people who have real predicaments like the flood victims in Pakistan, or hurricane victims in Haiti. Or someone who is sick or just is having a hard time. I don’t stop until I get this feeling of gratitude, it always comes. When I get that mushy feeling inside my chest I dwell on it for a while and then give thanks for it. Then, I am ready for bed. I repeat the same in the morning before getting up, which puts me in a better mood.

"When we feel true gratitude, whether toward particular people or toward life, loving kindness will flow from us naturally.  When we connect with another person through gratitude, the barriers that separate begin to melt." 
~ Joseph Goldstein ~ One Dharma

There are many more practices available like writing a gratitude journal, making a list, or expressing gratitude to someone. Whatever your practices may be, I like to encourage all of you to try it out. It may help you too in these trying economic times.

I want to finish by saying: the more grateful you are, the less you focus on the negative circumstances in your life.


Monday, November 15, 2010

BAGHA - Ancient Practice of Protection and Empowerment

Since I learned about the releasing techniques, I wondered what I could do to prevent emotional stress in the first place.  Then I received an email from Burt Goldman the American Monk.   He explains that a simple technique called the BAGHA can help.  Here is his video:
Video of Bagha meditation

It is as simple as putting your tongue to the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth. This technique is part of meditation practices but can also be used in stressful moments.

Last week, when we were driving to the hospital for my hip replacement surgery, I was sitting in the back seat, pressing my tongue against my front teeth. In my mind I repeated the words – let go, let go, let go. It helped me to stay calm through all the preparations for the surgery and took me through recovery with ease. To the point, that I was discharged one day early, after only 3 days at the hospital.

The Bagha technique is a part of traditional yoga exercises. Here it is used to calm your mind and restore balance to yourself. The beauty of the practice is that you can use it anytime, anyplace and under any circumstances. The idea is to establish a trigger or metaphor to enter a state of meditation anytime during the day, even with your eyes open.

Burt Goldman suggests to choose an animal for your habit or addiction you want to change. Every time the situation comes up, picture your metaphor and say: STOP.

In energy medicine such as Qi Gong, when you touch the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth with your tongue, it is understood to be the energy switch from the male and female energies. According to Dr. John Diamond the bagha helps balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

“Holistic Healing always starts with the actuation of the Life Energy, the Spirit—the Healing Power Within. Only then can there be the full appreciation and joyful acceptance of the beauty and wonder of life. This and nothing less than this is True Health.”
~ Dr. John Diamond

What are some of discomforts of anxiety?
• Racing Heart
• Heightened feelings of fear or apprehension
• Sweating excessively
• Nausea
• Dizziness
• Headaches
• Hot flushes
• Muscle tension and tremors
• Chest pains
• Inability to breath correctly or hyperventilation
• Heart palpitations
• Disorientation
• Fear of a heart attack or that they might be losing their mind

Remember, you can use The Bagha anytime you feel anxious or emotional and of course, when you want to clear your mind for meditation, like the Daisy Pond Meditation.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Lord Directs Our Steps

Prov. 16:9 “The human mind plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps.”

I was reminded of my confirmation quote when I listened to Joel Osteen’s  message this week. I chose that quote many years ago when I participated with many other 16 year olds in the rite of confirmation at our Lutheran Church. It was a guideline for me all my life.

Mr. Osteen’s reference was a quote from:

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts than your thoughts.”

He encouraged us to get God out of the box and not limit him in the way He is guiding us today, different from yesterday or thirty years ago.

It is most crucial for us believers today, to get out of our own box of traditional beliefs and concepts. Now is the time for new paradigms and we can’t just depend on old perceptions.

On a more personal note, I have been dealing with arthritis for the last couple of years. Because of an old accident injury, it settled in my right hip. For the past 2 years, I have been trying to find many different natural and traditional healing practices, with no breaking results. I used vitamin therapy, steroid injection, acupuncture, massage, prolotherapy (adult stem cell treatment), ARP Wave stimulation, physical therapy, etc. All along, I have been praying for healing, believing that God could heal me. Then I had to asked myself, what kind of healing do I want, and do I want to walk again (I have been using crutches for the last 6 months because of weakness in the right hip joint)?

Meanwhile, I started Practicing Gratitude. Through this, it became more my focus to surrender myself to God and his guidance; to put away my own ideas. He has set me on a very interesting journey which includes the discovery of how I can heal myself – by releasing emotional baggage first. And yes, also to have hip replacement surgery, because I could accept now, that it was not by my own mistakes that I ended up with a deteriorated hip joint. I will talk more about this emotion release. Right now I am still releasing emotional, cellular memories through a method called the Emotion Code.
The last couple of weeks have been quite remarkable for me. I have become more flexible overall, with no morning stiffness, and almost no pain in my right hip. The joint is still creaking and crackling when I walk but there is very little pain, and I don’t have to take any medication. Honestly, I am not looking forward to the surgery, but I am not scared either. I am submitted to God’s will, and trust that everything will happen as it is meant to be.
By giving up resistance and just letting go of my own expectation, I am healing my energy system and eventually, my body. By letting go of my need for control, I release the stress, which is always internal. Letting go is a lifelong process. I have come to accept the benefit of a practice of release which is as easy as deciding to let go of non-resourceful feelings like worry, nervousness, fear, etc. It takes a certain awareness and willingness to be observant. Whatever we pay attention to, will eventually dissipate. We only have to be patient with ourselves and move into the direction of resourcefulness. The solution is right within the problem, emotions come up, and when observed and felt deeply, will just disappear.

I am reading a book right now, Unleashing Your Authentic Power – Resistance-Free Living by Jim Britt.  He makes it very clear that it is all in our power to overcome negative feelings and eliminate emotional waste. It is just another approach of the Emotion Code.
This is the time where we need to continuously search and educate ourselves in the direction of solutions and growth. More than ever before in history we want to be self-directed and most of all let go of old beliefs, paradigms and stinking thinking.

“We all need a daily check up from the neck up to avoid stinkin 'thinkin' which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes."
Zig Ziglar

Monday, November 1, 2010

As A Man Thinketh

A man literally is a consummation of his thoughts. Mr. Allen wrote his short book in 1902 as one of his first works. With it, he has influenced modern writers like Norman Vincent Peale, Earl Nightingale, Denis Waitley, and Anthony Robbins.

To listen to an audio summary, please go to:

“Of all the beautiful truth pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this – that man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.”  James Allen
Mr. Allen compares man’s mind to a gardener who cultivates his plot. He likens weeding out the garden, and growing beautiful flowers, vegetables, and fruits to nurturing your mind by focusing on positive thoughts and feelings. He suggested that man’s character is built by the vital thought-element which can be corrected by watching the external circumstances of one’s life. As long as we believe that our circumstances are determined by external influences, we will always struggle. He hints that the outer world shapes itself to the inner world of thought. When we look at the harvest of our garden (character) we can determine how we did, and learn about both suffering or bliss.

“Man doesn’t get what he wants but what is he is.”  James Allen

Man are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improves themselves, and get stuck. Mr. Allen warns us of superficial judgment. Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; or vice versa, bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is a natural law. Corn can only produce corn, or an acorn will grow into an oak tree. He warns that suffering is always the effect of wrong thoughts in some direction. He discovered that our circumstances are therefore the result of our own mental disharmony.

Law is the dominating principle of the universe. When we cease to whine and complain, and start searching for the hidden justice that regulates our lives, we will discover the righteousness which is a moving fore in the spiritual government of the universe. James Allen knew that the proof of this truth is in every person, which can be discovered by going inward through prayer and meditation.

Therefore, thoughts of fear, doubt and indecision create weak and irresolute habits which end us is failure and dependency. While beautiful thoughts will lead us into habits of grace and kindliness. And loving and unselfish thoughts bring us prosperity and true riches.

He concludes that man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts and attitudes, and influence and shape his circumstances.

The same is true in regards to health. Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought. When we focus on negativity and sickness, our body can only respond in the same way. Out of a clean heart comes a clean life and a clean body. He suggests that just changing our diet will do no good unless we can change our thoughts, too. When we have clean thinking, impure foods don’t appeal the same. The best physician is to have a cheerful and grateful disposition.

James Allen knew that we need a strong focus. Therefore, he suggested to have a legitimate purpose and clear vision for one’s life. With that kind of aim it is easier to push away fears and doubts and keep on going when the going get rough. Then, even temporary failure is not the end but rather a stepping stone to greater heights.

Over and over, Mr. Allen reminds us that our own thoughts direct us to achievement or failure. Someone who has achieved results can only help another when he is willing to be helped. To continue on the path of achievement that person has to become strong himself. He has to develop the same strength he has admired in the other person. It is not in the having but in the becoming that he can help himself. That achievement cannot be reached without sacrifice, without letting go of the “lower thoughts.” The higher he lifts his thoughts, the greater will be his success, the more blessed and lasting will be his accomplishments. He concludes that achievement of any kind comes from effort, self-control, resolution, purity, and righteousness. Definitely directed thought and focus will bring achievement in any area of life: business, intellectual, or spiritual.

Poets, artists, musicians, explorers, scientists, and sages are the creators of heaven. The world became more beautiful and substantial because of the way they lived. Without their visions and ideals, we would still live in caves. Because they followed the ancient directions of ask and you shall receive, they discovered new worlds for us. Mr. Allen reminds us to keep on dreaming, following our deepest desires, and pursue those dreams. Don’t just wish or dream lofty dreams, but follow through with your ideas: imagine the unimaginable; and never, never give up. Everything started first with an idea. Just talking about it would not realize that dream, it needs action, perseverance, and nurturing. Once you have achieved your goal, people may call you lucky or fortunate. It was not just chance or luck, but hard work and effort what brought you to your target.

To follow your passions you may have to separate yourself at times from others. You need peace and quietness to replenish your strength. Mr. Allen suggests to seek serenity and stillness to understand yourself and the true sources of your blessings. Self-control, self-discipline and true passion come from the inside, and only the wise man can master them all. He concludes his essay by saying: “Peace, be still!”

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