Always Keep Your Dreams Alive

Always Keep Your Dreams Alive

Night fishing in Baja, Mexico

“When our memories outweigh our dreams, we have grown old.”

~ Bill Clinton

“An-Angela,” I heard my mother stammer on the other end of the phone.

“What?” Oh no, don’t let it be that, I heard myself thinking.

“Angela, Dad passed away…,” my mother said in a voice barely above a whisper.

“No,” this was just incomprehensible. We’d seen him at the hospital the night before and he seemed so much better.

Racing to pick up my mother soon after that phone call to go to the hospital. Seeing my Dad lying there in the hospital bed looking so still and small. Feeling it couldn’t really be happening. Thinking any moment he’d open is eyes and start talking with us.

These are my memories of what happened one year ago today. The day my Dad passed away. The rest of the year is a blur, but that day is forever etched into my memory.

It’s been a tough year for my family and me, but life does go on – and it should. When we’ve lost someone close to us we think the world is going to stop because of it, but it doesn’t.

I remember going back to work a week later and wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, “My father is gone! Don’t you see how the world is different now?” Of course I didn’t do that. People continue to live their lives and work must go on, but inside you’re acutely aware that something’s changed. The love and security that you took for granted, and which insulated you from fear is gone – stolen in an instant.

Slowly, I began to reassemble my own life. It’s different now for sure, but after falling off the wall I’ve put myself back together again. In January I started my blog, and took to it like a duck to water, finding that writing articles helped me focus on something other than the my sorrow. I realized I was getting back to my old self when my dreams and plans for my life started to excite me again.

Planning how I might make my dreams a reality brought back discussions I’d had with my father. After I bought my house my father used to come by every few days to do handyman jobs, whether I’d asked him to or not. I think he enjoyed getting out of the house and having somewhere to go after he retired.

Having been a mechanical engineer, he could fix just about anything which was a godsend since my house was built in 1927, the same year my father was born. After he did his puttering around I’d always offer him something to eat and make him tea. We’d usually sit at my kitchen counter and talk while we ate our lunch.

That’s when I got to really know my father. We fought a lot when I was growing up, but sitting in my kitchen 20 years later is when our relationship blossomed. The one thing I learned was that my dad still had dreams even though he was in his 80s. There was always something a bit boyish about my father, and most people mistook him for a man much younger than his actual years. I realize now that it was his dreams that kept him young.

Back in 2004, my father had gone to California to visit my brother. They drove to Baja, Mexico and fished, and camped on the beach. On the drive down from LA they had a lot of “misadventures,” such as driving through flash floods, which ended up being some of the most exciting and memorable parts of their trip. Having been a fisherman all his life – this trip was his dream come true. Traveling and seeing new sights, while roughing it and camping with my brother made my father feel really alive, and young.

A few years before my father’s passing, he and I were in my kitchen on a frosty day in December cradling warm mugs of tea when he said, “You know I think I have one more trip left in me.”

At that instant I loved my dad more than ever. I really understood my father’s need to go after his dreams. I also felt a pang of fear in my heart because of the way he said it. It sounded as if he was admitting his life might not go on forever. I’d never thought about having to live without him – but his comment hung in the air like a terrible foreshadowing of a future I didn’t want to face

My sister put it best when she described my dad this way, “He just never knew he was getting older, it never occurred to him, so it didn’t get in the way of him living his life.” He kept on going because inside he still dreamed of that trip with my brother – of one more adventure.

Big catch on the Hudson

And, that’s why we too should strive to keep our dreams alive, and never give up. We need them to nourish our souls, and to lead us forward. Without them – there’s no passion, and not much point to life. As long as you’re still breathing, you’re never too old to have a dream.

Always keep your dreams alive.

I don’t know what my dad is doing now, but I sure hope he’s fishing….

What dreams keep you moving forward? What dream could you not live without?

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How to Walk Through Walls

How to Walk Through Walls

“Angela, would you come in here, please?” I heard my boss calling from her office.

“Uh, sure, be right in,” I replied hesitantly.

My boss wanted me in her office, but the problem was that her office was located in-between the walls, and there was no door!

I must be dreaming, I thought. How am I supposed to get in there? On some level, I was aware that I was asleep and dreaming.

I heard her call me again, so I had no choice but to “enter” her office. I focused my eyes straight ahead and walked steadily up to the wall, all the while wondering if I’d really be able to pass through it and – promptly smashed my face into it.

Ow! That’s not working, I thought rubbing my sore nose.

Then I realized, as I’d walked toward the wall I’d been skeptical about whether I could really walk through it.

I took a few steps back and then began walking toward the wall again. This time I heard myself thinking, I want to do this. I can walk through that wall!

The next thing I knew I was aware that my body had penetrated the wall. It was a strange spongy sensation something like walking through jello. I got my head through then pulled the rest of me through, and I was in. Her office was spacious and luxuriously furnished. Sun drenched the room through huge windows lining the walls – not what I was expecting to find in 4 inches of empty space between two sheets of dry wall.

I was curious as to what dimension we were in? The astral plane, the etheric dimension? But, all she wanted to do was talk business. She acted very matter-of-fact about it too, as if offices located in-between walls were as common as finding staplers on desks.

I woke up soon after this, and couldn’t get the dream out of my mind.

An interesting post I read by friend and fellow blogger, Scott Dinsmore (ReadingForYourSuccess.com), came to mind.  Scott’s article titled, “The Beginner’s Guide to Being Congruent,” is about how we easily achieve our goals when our emotions and beliefs are aligned with our intentions.

I realized my dream wasn’t about the physicality of walking through the wall, but about dealing with inner conflict when we’re trying to accomplish something. To achieve  our goals our desires, intentions, emotions and beliefs must all be aligned – or what Scott refers to as “congruent” in his terrific article.

To illustrate this, think of something you’re trying to achieve and read the terms and their meanings below.

Desire – wish, want, a longing, yearning, craving, need, aspiration. You have to really, really want this.

Intention – meaning, purpose, aim, intent, goal, target, objective. It has to give your life meaning and captivate your soul.

Emotions – feeling, sentiment, sensation, passion. You have to feel good about doing whatever it is you’re doing.

Beliefs – attitude, viewpoint, idea, thinking, way of life, values. You have to truly believe it’s possible for you to achieve.

Can you see how important it is for all four to work together instead of against one another? Think of a table with four legs – if one is missing the table top will rock unsteadily. It’s the same with us when we decide to accomplish something. Inner conflict will cause us to be unsteady and waiver – thwarting our efforts to achieve the goal.

As all of this flashed through my mind – I realized that my dream had answered a question I’d been been repeatedly asking myself lately: Why wasn’t my house selling?

It occurred to me that I’d been vacillating on my decision to sell my home. One minute my desire was to stay and then next to sell. Consequently, nothing seemed to be happening. My going back and forth on what I wanted was canceling out my intention to sell. I realized I’d have to become very clear and steady about what I want. Only then would there be any progress.

The other key part of my dream was questioning my boss about what dimension her office existed in. I understood this to mean that when we decide to do something, with no underlying emotional conflicts or doubts about it, we’ve actually entered another dimension. In this dimension resides the Truth that all possibilities already do exist, and that we are the creators of our reality. Once our consciousness is harmonized, and we’ve internalize this truth – the goal cannot help but manifest in our lives.  The more we understand this, and allow our consciousness to reside in this other dimension, the faster things will manifest in our lives too.

In my dream, I wasn’t able to penetrate the wall until I truly desired and I believed I could, in other words, when my emotions and desires matched my intention and beliefs. It’s the same with anything else we undertake in our lives. No matter what you want to accomplish if your desires, emotions and intentions and beliefs aren’t in alignment – no amount of trying is going to make it happen. Just like my dream, you’ll smash into the wall until all these elements are harmonized within you – and then, and only then, will you find you that you can walk through walls!

By the way, as soon as I had a good long talk with myself and re-aligned my desires with my intentions about selling my home – I got an offer!

What walls have you been able to walk through once your emotions, desires, intentions and beliefs were in alignment?

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Constant Craving: The Mystical Experience

Constant Craving: The Mystical Experience

Has the warmth from a sunbeam ever triggered a moment of pure bliss?

Has there ever been a split second where your mind was so still that you became aware of having stepped outside yourself?

Did you come across a deer on a trail and suddenly feel flooded with a love and connection to all of life?

Were you playing with your child one day when your heart just opened up?

These sacred moments are the essence of  what some call spiritual ecstasy, or the mystical experience. These events often trigger a spiritual awakening.

Everything stops, and it’s as if we see clearly for the first time and feel at one with all of life. The joy from this state of being emanates from deep within our souls. We are aware of a palpable pure goodness that is in and through everything and everyone.

But we don’t “think it” we feel this experience intuitively with our hearts.

That’s what makes the experience  mystical – the connection of our heart to the beating heart of the Universe. It requires no words. In fact, it’s indescribable and words can’t do it justice.

I strive to feel this connection in my daily meditations, but like anything in life you can’t force it. It comes randomly when it wants to, and where it wants to – if at all. It’s not something I’ve experienced often, but the few times I’ve been graced by the mystical experience are forever etched upon my mind.

The first time I had a mystical experience I was 17. I was visiting the tomb of Saint Dionysios on the island of Zakynthos in Greece. The saint‘s remains are kept in a locked glass tomb. Even though he’s been dead for centuries his body hasn’t decomposed; which is believed to be a sign that he’s a true saint. On occasion the body emits a beautiful perfume of unknown origin. He’s known as the “walking saint” as when he performs his miracles the tomb cannot be opened, and the people experiencing the miracle report seeing St. Dionysios. The bottom of his slippers are constantly wearing out and need replacing due to his “walking.”

When it happened the most incredible perfume wafted out of the casket. I heard angelic music and was overcome by the force of a loving energy that engulfed me. I was so immersed in the experience that I wasn’t aware I was sobbing until I heard crying and realized it came from me. I had to run out of the church to compose myself. I tried hard to remember the music, but it faded quickly from my memory. Needless to say, the experience made a lasting impression on me.

While I don’t consider myself religious, I’ve always been extremely connected to my spirituality. Even as a child I was aware that there was more to life than could be seen. I’ve had other mystical experiences since, but none so profound where I heard music or smelled perfume. After the experience I wanted to know why? What did it mean? And, what should I now do with this experience?  I’ve thought about it  over the years and feel the experience was given to me to validate my desire to devote myself to my spiritual growth.

The mystical experience gives us a momentary glimpse of our soul‘s true home, the place we will return after we permanently leave our bodies. It’s programmed into us to want to merge back into the ocean of pure consciousness that our soul emerged from. It’s as if we become aware of just how homesick we really are for the place of our true origins. This is the moment when you really know for sure that we truly are spiritual beings having a human experience.

It occurs universally around the world and across all religions. All who experience the mystical experience describe it with similar qualities. For many, it leaves them permanently changed. A desire to do good, emanate goodness and to inspire others to seek this transcendent state is common.

I believe that at some point, we all want to feel connected to something bigger than the lives we lead. To experience how more expansive we are than the bodies we’re confined to, and to escape the boundaries of the mind. These feelings may be the first stirrings of our spiritual awakening.

While a mystical experience can strike anytime with or without a yearning for it, the more you devote yourself to your spiritual growth the more likely it is that you’ll have a mystical experience.

And, it’s a given that the mystical experience will leave an indelible mark upon you – and that you in turn will leave an indelible mark upon others, as your inner light gently stirs the flame of spiritual awakening in those whom you meet on your path.

Have you had a mystical experience? Please share it with us and how it affected you.

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Would You Rather Have a Big House Or A Big Life?

Would You Rather Have a Big House Or A Big Life?

Do you hear a voice in your head whispering?, “I need to be free.”

Is there a secret part of you that yearns for more adventure in your life?

If money was not a factor would your life be dramatically different from the one you’re living today?

If you said yes to any of these three questions you might need to seriously reexamine your values and the life path you’ve chosen.

My response to all three questions is a resounding yes!

I’ve always known deep down inside a career in finance wasn’t the right fit for me, but for some reason I was driven to do it.  I’ve enjoyed helping clients with their finances but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing it in the corporate world. With each successive year I felt myself exerting more and more energy to squelch the intuitive voice that was screaming, NO, NO NO!

When I was growing up I dreamed of being a writer.

I’d read many of New York Daily News journalist, Jess Stearn‘s books and longed to travel around the country to interview people and write books on metaphysical topics. He wrote best sellers such as, Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet, Yoga, Youth and Reincarnation and Alpha Thinking.

I would see myself writing and I could feel how happy I would be doing it too. Intuitively, I always knew that’s what I was supposed to be doing. But, somewhere along the way I got the notion that it was too risky. I opted for the safe thing, the sure bet. The job with the steady paycheck and my little dream withered. Everybody said I had a head for business didn’t they? At the tender age of 21 I figured that’s the way it was supposed to be. You took a job you were good at and you stuck to it until you retired. The only problem was that my job never made me happy nor satisfied.

They say there are no mistakes.

I feel I had to learn to be a business person and earn a living in a very conventional manner in order to complete my education on the earth plane this time around. But at this point in my life I can honestly say: Okay Universe I get it now! I now know how to navigate the material world. NOW – can I please finally do what I really want to do?

I feel ready to redesign my life in way that allows me to have more freedom to experience and do what I enjoy and to help others through my writing as well.

To finance my new lifestyle I’ve decided that my house has to go.

When I think of my dilemma: Big House vs. Big Life, a scene from the film The Wizard of Oz comes to my mind. You know the one where the Wicked Witch of the East is crushed by Dorothy’s house and all you see are her red striped stockinged legs sticking out from under it? Dorothy is given the dead witch’s magical Ruby Slippers and toward the end of the film the Good Witch Glinda tells her that all she ever had to do was click her heels and she could have gone home. Like Dorothy, I realize I had the power all along too. All it took was my accepting that it was okay to sell my house and downsize. So, I’ve clicked my heels and decided, “There’s no place like home – and home is wherever I choose it be!” Now that I’ve accepted that this is the right decision I feel lighter and freer already – my house is no longer crushing me.

Over the last few years I’ve been reading more and more about the minimalist lifestyle.

I first encountered minimalist living 2 years ago on a blog called Zen Habits, written by Leo Babauta. He had this cool site with a picture of stones stacked on top of one another – that I absolutely adored. I became so enamored of this guy from Guam with all this simple wisdom – who was he and how the heck did he get so damn smart? Anyway, at the time I had another blog about personal finance and one of the topics I wrote about was scaling down and paying off debt in order to enjoy your life more. I thought I was writing something so new and innovative – me the mortgage gal telling others to quit borrowing so much money and live within their means.

But, when I discovered Zen Habits I learned there were people who were actually doing this already. They were living with less and finding the joy in having more freedom and less stuff to maintain. Having all this stuff to contend with and then needing a big house to store all the stuff in created a vicious cycle of having to work and work and make more money all the time. I realized my stuff was running my life instead of the other way around. It was then I started seriously thinking of downsizing.

I took a long time to come to terms with it though. Part of my accepting downsizing meant I had to reject all the “conventional” ideas of what it meant to be living an adult life. Weren’t you supposed to go to school, get a job and then buy a home and stay there until you were really old and then you downsized? How could I explain my desire to go smaller when all my friends were trading up to bigger homes? Could I go back to a small condo, or worse still an apartment after owning my own home? It was a lot to process – which is why it took two years to wrap my mind around it emotionally, but having come to terms with it I now feel at peace.

I’ve come to realize I’d truly Rather Have a Big Life Than A Big House.

Having a small home with little to no debt means freedom. The freedom I crave to recreate my life – my way.

No more taking jobs I hate because I have to make enough to maintain a big house.

It creates the freedom to freelance, to write what I please, to work on the book I’ve been thinking of in the day time when I work best instead of the evenings when I’m tired, to attend writer’s conferences – and not ask permission to take vacation time, to dream and contemplate and to allow my creativity to expand without restrictions.

And, the greatest benefit of all, so far, of reaching this decision has been the invaluable sense of peace I’ve gained by finally listening to my intuition – instead of fighting it – and acting upon my heart’s desire.

I’ve taken back my life and it feels good.

That’s my story. What’s yours? Are you ready for A Big Life?

What’s your idea of a Big Life? Have you already scaled down? Share your experiences, or what you’re going through.

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If You’ve Never Failed – You Haven’t Tried Hard Enough to Succeed

If You’ve Never Failed – You Haven’t Tried Hard Enough to Succeed

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Thomas Edison

Many successful people have failed while attempting to achieve their goals.

Actually, some of the most successful people on the planet have failed spectacularly! Did you know that Milton Hershey of the famed Hershey’s chocolates was fired from his first job as a printer, then went on to start and lose three candy companies and file for personal bankruptcy before finally starting the company that he became famous for? Can you imagine starting three companies that all failed?

Steven Jobs, the creator of the Apple computer began his career in his parent’s garage. Within a decade he’d built up a 2 billion dollar company. At age thirty Jobs joined the ranks of the unemployed when his own board of directors fired him. He went on to found another successful venture, Pixar, a company that creates animation for films such as Finding Nemo. He didn’t wallow in self pity after being fired. Oh, and by the way his old company Apple came back groveling twelve years later and hired him back. Can anybody say IPhone and Ipad?

Becoming successful takes fortitude and perseverance.

J.K. Rowling, the mega successful author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected by twelve different publishers before she found one to accept her manuscript. Even after agreeing to publish her first novel, they advised her to keep her day job. It seems no one had any faith in J.K. – but J.K. herself.

Even Stephen King‘s first novel, Carrie was rejected by more than a dozen publishers before he was offered a contract. Did he give up and say I guess I’m not a writer? No.

Simon Cowell, the now hugely successful record and television producer of American Idol and other international talent shows, was forced to move back in with his parents in 1989 due to crushing debts he’d amassed when the record company he worked for had financial difficulties. He recovered from this setback and pursued his dream and his successful results are now broadcast around the world.

Two years ago I was privileged to interview entrepreneur, A.J.Khubani for a magazine I contributed to. Khubani is a fascinating business man whose company, Telebrands Corp, markets products with the red AS SEEN ON TV label, such as the PedEgg, the StickUp Bulb, and the GoDuster just to name a few. Khubani started his business right out of college with a few thousand dollars and it was NOT an overnight success. Over the years he had numerous product failures that cost him a bundle, and faced crippling lawsuits over patent infringement, but he never gave up and Telebrands came back even bigger and more profitable.

Twenty-five years later his company is worth $100 million. The most interesting part of our interview though was when he spoke of failing and almost losing his business, and his home in 2000. He responded that failure and challenging times help us to mature. He also said that if he had a chance he wouldn’t change a thing in his life; that’s now much he valued the experience of failing because of what he learned from it.

Successful people don’t allow failure to deter them from pressing on.

They have a vision for their lives, and use their failures as a lesson and stepping stone to get them to their goal. They don’t give up. If you want to succeed you have to be unshakeable, unquakeable, and unsinkable and say to yourself: Failure is not the end. It’s the beginning. I can and I will try again.

(Here’s a short video on some of the famous people who’ve failed. Click on the link.) Famous People Who’ve Failed

I’m not trying to make light of failure. In fact, I was inspired to write this article because too many people close to me are facing enormous challenges in their lives due failing or losing a job. Of course it’s devastating to fail. There’s the huge emotional tsunami one has to survive beside dealing with the potential realities like financial ruin, homelessness, putting food on the table, etc. The point I’m trying to make though is that we do and can go on. It might not be pretty for a while, or even a long time, but as long as you have breath in your body you have a chance to try again and to use all that you’ve learned from your failure to regain your footing and come back even better and happier in the second go round.

Fellow blogger, Dragos Roua, from his blog of the same name said it so well when he wrote in is superb article titled, “The Six Stages of  Failure”:

You learn by doing. You see what you did wrong, when and how, and start to fix it. It’s like a DIY session, only it’s for the entire Universe. You broke something in your reality but now you know exactly how you did it. It’s like you have a map on how to re-assemble the pieces, so you pick your tools and start fixing that stuff.

If you have a dream declare it boldly! Don’t be afraid of what anyone thinks or says to you. Many new ideas aren’t accepted at first. Just think of how many people must have laughed at the Wright brothers before they designed a plane that actually could fly.

Create a plan to achieve your goal and begin working it. Even if you’re first few attempts backfire – keep going. Remember, the people who dare to laugh are the ones most afraid of failure.

So, don’t cower in the corner fearing failure – go for it. And, remember if you fail or if you’ve been fired you’re in great company. And, after realizing your in great company, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in there.

The  real meaning of success is not about fame and fortune. It’s what you learn on the journey getting there – particularly from your failures.

I’ve failed – and been fired from my first job. I’ve also left the finance industry and come back to the safety net of a “job” numerous times because my attempts in other industries haven’t worked out. But, I’m not giving up. Today is a new day – and another chance to try again. I’ve learned that failing is not the end of the world. I’ve also learned how important it is to plan and take small calculated steps toward your goals instead of jumping off a cliff all at once, and that’s what I’m doing now. Sometime soon, I know I’ll be self-employed writing/blogging, teaching and helping others how to develop and rely their intuition. Baby steps do lead to great strides.

What about you? Have you ever failed? What did you learn from it that is helping you succeed now?

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P.S. To learn more about hearing your intuition check out my books on Amazon (The Intuition Primer is a great book for beginners and it’s free to Amazon Prime members).  At Barnes & Noble both online or at one of their stores.

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Resistance is Futile

Resistance is Futile

Damn! Why can’t I ever stop thinking?

This was my mantra at 7 am as I tried in vain to meditate.

Some days I’m able to get deep into the zone of a meditation where my thoughts slow and then stop for a while. These are the best meditations. I’m detached but present in the flow of Universal Mind. I feel a clarity and a sense that all is well – just the way things are. Perfectly imperfect.

I am aware of a connection to all life which gently gives way to a quiet joy. I ride the waves of this Universal flow as long as I can before thoughts get the better of me again. I take the quiet joy with me out into my day and go about my business.

Today I could not surf that wave. It was just one big thought after another knocking me off my spiritual surf board until I got tired of trying to climb back on and gave up. All I kept hearing was: I have work to do. I need to exercise. I’m running low on milk. Got to get to the ATM and deposit that check.

With each thought I squeezed my eyes tighter and said NO not now! But, they wouldn’t stop. I followed my breathing again and my thoughts slowed somewhat but not to the extent where I could make that connection to the soothing calmness I craved.

Later while journaling it hit me. I was trying too hard. You cannot force yourself to get in the flow –  It just doesn’t work that way.

It reminded me of getting injections at the doctor’s office as a little girl. The idea that my little fanny was going to be pierced by a long shiny needle terrified me. And, no matter what my mother said, or the nurse about relaxing I’d tense up anyway which only made it hurt more.

It’s the same with those pesky thoughts. I was forcibly trying to resist thinking which makes no sense at all. The idea is to let them come and then go without reacting to the intrusion in your meditation. All pain comes from resistance. I knew this, so why wasn’t I doing it?

Resistance is a form of control. To resist your thoughts is the same as trying to control them. You can’t control your thoughts anymore than you can control another person or situation. All you can do is be present, observe and let them go, be it a person or situation. As soon as you start tangling with them it becomes a battle of the wills. Then the ego gets involved – and the ego hates to lose.

Resistance can crop up in any area of our lives – not just morning meditation. While  journaling I started thinking of all the other areas in my life where resistance had caused problems. I was reminded of how I’d clung to an unhappy relationship because of my resistance to accept that it was over. I also thought of how long it took me to stop resisting that it was time to sell my house and move on, and how I’d resisted following my heart in my choice of career for so long. This brought me full circle to realizing that the mornings that I got the most out of my meditation it came naturally without any resistance to my thoughts. They popped in – and they popped out.

I saw so clearly that resisting anything dams up the natural flow of our lives. The energy we expend to dam up the flow sucks the joy out of any experience in our lives. What a useless practice this is. Resistance is futile because in resisting we hope to avoid pain in some area of our lives, but what actually happens is the complete opposite – we create more pain that actually seeps into every area of our lives. Pain should be a warning that something is wrong, but when we dam up the feelings and get used to the pain it becomes all too familiar. No more of creating pain for me. After this realization I’m adopting new mantra in meditation and in life: Resist nothing.

Are there any areas in your life where you’ve been resisting change? Can you see how it has it affected you? How will your life change if you stop resisting and release the waters from the dam?

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