Hope is Always Available

Day 2 – Hope Is Always Available

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

In today’s meditation, we learn that hope is an intrinsic part of who you are, like the love and compassion in your heart. But to make this hope a real and powerful force in life, we need to activate it with self-awareness. Once genuine hope is ignited, it transforms your reality and eradicates fear and uncertainty.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Day 2, “Hope is Always Available.”  Anything can be a miracle, a blessing, an opportunity, if you choose to see it that way.  When you see life through a lens of hope, everything can change.  This can be a challenging concept of practice when you’re in the center of a storm.  I know this is true.  I’ve had a few storms myself.  But what looks like a dark patch or a setback can actually be a beautiful turning point.  Hard to see it when you’re in it.  Maya always used to say, “There’s always a rainbow in the clouds”.

As Michael Bernard Beckwith said on Super Soul Sunday, “I can choose to feel love even when there’s conflict.  What happens I activate my choice muscle, expand my awareness, my life changes.”  Choice muscle…that’s a good concept.

 

When we’re faced with a difficult situation we always have the choice of two reactions…hope or despair.  When you choose hope you open your mind and heart and very naturally you begin to imagine other possibilities.  Are you facing significant life change like getting out of a bad relationship or starting a new job or trying to lose the burden of weight?  Well often we feel chaos or resistance in those moments.  What I do know for sure is that resistance will try to take you down.  So we often put off life-decisions because we don’t take the leap.  Deepak says, “Go for it now.  Hope lives in this moment and every moment.  Don’t waste another second.”

DEEPAK:

We’ve started the journey to make hope real and lasting in our lives.  The first thing to know is that hope is a quality that exists in consciousness, like love or joy.  When a situation looks hopeless we are not seeing clearly.  On its own consciousness is always life-supporting.  Every cell in the body nourishes and supports itself through the wisdom that evolved in our DNA.  Your awareness is just as life-supporting.  But if we make choices that are self-defeating or that deny reality, the mind can lose hope.  The way to heal any situation is to activate hope.  This happens here and now because hope is always a part of our present awareness.  Otherwise hope is mere wishing, which is a dream of the past or future.  Stop and think about the things you hope for at work, in relationships or from yourself.  You will find there is a spectrum of hope that runs from a casual “I hope so” to “My hope is my rock.”  A conviction born of trust and belief in yourself.

Where does such a solid foundation come from?  Your core self.  When you connect with your true-self as we do in meditation, hope develops more strength.  Then “I hope” begins to change your personal reality.  It eradicates fear of uncertainty.  As an example, consider your approach to love.  You may be waiting for the one to magically appear.  An ideal beloved who will make everything right.  You may be in a relationship where love is taken for granted or where the most loving part was at the beginning.  You may feel not enough love.

These are mild forms of hopelessness.  On the other hand a hopeful relationship to love is active and self-directed.  Instead of waiting for the one to magically appear, YOU become the one.  Instead of seeking love, you live and give the love you want by what you say and do.  In both the hopeless and hopeful relationships to love a person hopes to be loved.  Yet only in the second case is this hope active, strong and life-supporting.  At its strongest hope creates the outcome you want in any situation.  It carries the full power of intention.

CENTERING THOUGHT

The power of hope is here every day.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Samprati Hum

My true self is wide awake.

DEE:

Today hope is a strong part of who I am.  And that comes from faith in having a power greater than myself in my life, a god of my own understanding.  And that hope comes from self-awareness.  I didn’t have hope, faith, a god, nor self-awareness until I reached my bottom in my disease of alcoholism.  I just existed on the planet with no purpose, no direction and a huge void in my life.

I don’t believe it was a coincidence when I finally had the desperation to ask for help.  I couldn’t go a day, no matter how much, how long and how hard I tried, to get through a day without drinking.  And that is when my life changed and I became a sponge soaking up this new way of living.

For me a 28-day treatment program and Alcoholics Anonymous has shown me the way to Dee, to understand Dee, to accept and embrace Dee, to love Dee.  And the new Dee has hope because my god is here with and for me to guide and protect me on my journey through life.  And my purpose is to share that with you in your periods of self-doubt and self-loathing, or just in a state of confusion.  We all go there.  We all get over-whelmed.

I just want to share with you that everything is perfect at this very moment.  Stay here.  In the moment.  Love yourself for YOUR gifts.  You have many!  Don’t compare yourself to anyone.  They don’t have YOUR gifts.  And remember that you are perfect just the way you are, right here, right now, on your journey through life.  Keep going.  Enjoy the ride.  Love yourself.  And never forget that you are not on this ride alone.  There are many of us who want to share your journey, to give you hope and compassion.  Don’t deprive us of that.  Please.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in inspirational and motivational gifts with a message, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com.

From Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s 21-Day Meditation on HOPE.

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Faith Connects Us Heart-to-Heart

FAITH CONNECTS US HEART-TO-HEART

(from Oprah and Deepak – Become What You Believe)

OPRAH:

I believe our greatest power is our ability to love.  That’s where all power is…to show love, to receive it, to BE love.  There are a lot of ways to describe love.  It’s grace and kindness; it’s understanding; it’s forgiveness; it’s respect; it’s cooperation; it’s harmony and reverence for light.  You have the entire power of all that is at your disposal.

Love is trusting and having faith in something larger than yourself.  Every opportunity you get move in the direction of love.  That’s where your greatest power lies.  It’s the power to connect us all in peace…heart-to-heart.

As my friend, Marianne Williamson said, “Love is what we’re born with, in our hearts.  Fear is what we learn.”  The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.  Love is the essential reality and our purpose being here on earth.  To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.

Marianne goes on to articulate so beautifully the power of love when she says, “When our minds move in harmony with love, through forgiveness or prayer or the simplest tint of thought, then mountains move and the Universe shifts.”  When we believe in the power of love to move mountains to shift the Universe, miracles will no doubt occur.

DEEPAK:

The strongest imagined bond in the world is the bond of love.  A total transformation occurs when enemies are turned into loved ones.  In the World’s Wisdom Traditions love is deeply connected with spirit.  As the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment.  It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.”

To find the heart of creation, you must explore your own heart.  Inside it are stores many experiences of love and non-love.  These two side are in conflict which is why many people find it difficult to place their faith in love.  They have had too many experiences of non-love.  Whether they were experiences of betrayal, rejection, fear or abandonment, trusting in love is hard when painful memories still linger.  That is why we restrict our search for love, in order to not be too exposed or vulnerable or put ourselves in harms way.  Matters of faith must be proven in real life.  This is certainly true of love when we go beyond the personal, expanding love to include more and more people.

The first step is to aspire and live as a loving person.  The second step is to look for situations where love can help.  The third step is to reach out and perform an act of love.

The ego is afraid to be exposed and vulnerable.  But this is a misperception.  An act of love doesn’t mean putting yourself on the line or saying “I love you” out loud.  It means performing an action that helps another person the way you would like to be helped.

Help can come even through a loving thought.  It can come through an act of generosity, an understanding word, or by simply asking, “Are you okay?”.  Your heart already knows what to do.  In fact when we extend ourselves, it is almost always from the fullness of the heart.  When you act out of love you expect nothing in return from the other person.  Love makes no one a victim or a martyr.  Love connects people from heart-to-heart with mutual benefit for both.

A mother finds it easy and natural to turn her love into action.  There is a connection of the heart that bonds mother and child.  Feeling vulnerable or exposed doesn’t come into the picture.  The bond of feeling is unbroken.  This is the idea to keep in mind in extending your love beyond your family and close friends.  Find a sympathy of the heart that feels right.  In this way you avoid stress and strain in the name of love.  A world based on the sympathy of one heart to another would be a perfect world.

CENTERING THOUGHT:  My faith calls me to love.

DEE:

When Oprah says, “Love is trusting and having faith in something larger than yourself”, my heart gets so grateful and full that today I have faith in something larger than myself.  This has changed my whole life, my outlook on life and, more importantly, this has changed ME.

I wasn’t given this life-changing gift until I reached my bottom in the disease of alcoholism, miraculously asked for help, and slowly scraped my way out of the depths of hell.  Prior to this surrender I knew my life was void of something but I couldn’t figure it out.  I had everything that every middle class American woman would want…a family, a home, two cars, a dog and a cat, a job, a loving family and friends.  What was missing?

A Power Greater Than Myself, a God of My Own Understanding, was awarded me by Alcoholics Anonymous.  Not only have I learned to turn my life over, I have learned to stop thinking and to live from my heart.  I have learned to let my god do the driving while I ride along in the passenger seat of our pink convertible Cadillac and enjoy the ride of life (the pink cloud).

When Marianne Williamson says, “Fear is what we learn”,  I thank my AA sponsor for walking me through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to teach me how fear-based I have been my entire life and how to let that go.  Being able to finally get comfortable in my own skin and to love myself for who and what I am is so empowering.  And to learn that my purpose is to share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my bubble gives me a reason to excitedly arise every morning!

When Deepak says, “Matters of faith must be proven in real life.  This is certainly true of love when we go beyond the personal, expanding love to include more and more people,” I am honored to practice AA’s 12th Step, “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs,” in my everyday “real” life.  When I continue to stay active in my recovery, then Step 12 is a no-brainer for me and I can actively accomplish Deepak’s three steps above.

I know for a fact that as I got and stayed sober “One Day at a Time”, I got “unsober’ that way as well.  When I ceased attending meetings, working with my sponsor, picking up the phone, connecting with the fellowship, that void came back into my life.  And, oh yeah, I picked up a drink after over 13 years of sobriety.  The disease immediately reared its ugly head and once again took over my life.  All I could think about once again was the next drink.  Cunning.  Baffling.  Powerful.  The disease of alcoholism.

So don’t go there.  Take it from me.  Learn from my experience, strength and hope.  Stay mindful.  Stay connected.

With much aloha, Dee

For those interested in inspirational gifts, art with a message, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com.

Let Your Feelings Lead You to Prosperity 

Let Your Feelings Lead You to Prosperity 

By Louise Laffey

Have you ever watched the movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory? Did you love the idea of a special chocolate river flowing through a secret chocolate factory? Or did you love the idea of tasting wonderfully, beautiful creations beyond your wildest imagination? You may have loved the idea of exploring exciting new places and receiving lots of fabulous surprises. And you may also have loved the idea of living a magical life, full of happiness and fun. 

How can you create that prosperity in your life? 

Your Happiest Life 

Your adult version of living your happiest life may be linked to the notion of needing to be financially wealthy and secure, and of being materially comfortable so you can lead your perfect life, doing what you want when you want, without the unwanted pressure of your always having to work to make ends meet. 

If you spent time following that dream, you may have found that there were a number of on-off, stop-start moments—moments that felt perfectly right, followed by moments that felt awfully wrong. Those may have felt like the normal ups and downs of life. You may have thought that once you reached a certain point things would settle down—that you’d be content. But that isn’t true; something is missing. 

Feel the “Bad” 

When you begin practicing the feeling-your-feelings experiment you may notice how much of your life is spent avoiding feeling the present moment. You may want to feel something else, something better, to feel anything but what you are feeling in this moment. Why? Because when you are truly honest with yourself, in this moment you feel bad—the last thing you wanted. But that’s exactly what you need to feel. 

When you stop resisting the moment and allow yourself to sit in the discomfort of your feelings, you may notice your heaviness starting to shift. Before you know it, your bad energy lifts. You may begin to feel light and free. And that right about “now,” things start to flow. 

Dee:  Being able to live in the moment, in gratitude and in humility, didn’t happen for me until I got sober.  The first miracle was being able to stop drinking every day, which was a must.  Whether I wanted to or not, I couldn’t go a day without drinking.  

Once my mind started to see clearly I was taught many things about myself and my alcoholism.  Through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I was given the opportunity to create a Power Greater Than Myself over which I could turn my life and my will.

Well, that seemed impossible being the intellectual self that I was.  But what did I have to lose?  So I chose the neon clown head that I could see from my room in rehab, the Circus Circus clown in downtown Reno.  He was smiling and warm and colorful.  Just the way I thought a Higher Power should be.  From there my Higher Power has evolved beautifully and has given me a contentment and freedom beyond my wildest dreams.  I live my life totally different today, in the moment, in acceptance, in trusting that everything is perfect at this very moment.  There are no coincidences.

Be Open to Your True Self 

The longer you continue your experiment, the more the Universe will point you back to the source of your resistance—to every unwanted feeling that you had avoided until now. At times, you may want to blame your pain and suffering on an unkind, unforgiving God, but the evidence will prove otherwise. 

A loving and benevolent energy will guide you every step of the way, showing you how to unblock your flow. Feel the exact vibrational source of your resistance, knowing that if you are willing to feel, your energy will integrate and heal. With each new unfolding comes a sense of relief, a feeling of being open to receive, and, best of all, a fresh and genuine excitement to uncover more of your true Self. 

Dee:  I have spent years fine-tuning my Higher Power from the cherished Circus Circus clown to what it is today.  My Higher Power today drives me around in a pink convertible Cadillac (kind of like we’re on a magic carpet) while I enjoy the ride learning and experiencing what I need to at that moment.  You see, I no longer have to be in control, or at least think I am.  I turn my will and my life over to a Power Greater Than Myself and trust that I am on the right path.  I have found over time, trial and error, doubting and questioning, that this works.  And when I feel agitated in my gut over people, places and things over which I have no control, my Higher Power tells me these feelings are not serving me.  Embrace them, then let them go.  I do and whisk them away into the clouds.  So freeing.

When you can open yourself up to the truth of how you feel in any given moment, you open yourself to the power of presence, to the healing power of self-love. You start to experience a sense of spaciousness where there was no space before, an awareness that shows you that you are not your judgment, nor your resistance. You allow yourself to see that every moment is given to you effortlessly, every moment filled with everything you require to return you to your flow—a flow you recognize as your own, full of the joy and freedom of your purest potential. 

Dee:  I never yearned for contentment.  I didn’t even know what it was or that I was lacking it.  But I did yearn for happiness, serenity, good health and well-being.  I realized that these all went hand-in-hand not being able to have one without the other.  When I stopped yearning for them they came.  I feel them.  I feel light and worry-free.  I am happy, serene, healthy and well.  Without even trying.  But more so I received this awesome gift that, again, I didn’t know I was lacking.  I couldn’t put my finger on it for a long while but then it came to me.  I am content.  

Receive Your Gifts 

Your resistance will start to give way to receiving; your mental grips will turn into gifts. Your familiar moments of on-off, stop-start frustration will become welcome signs to show you when and where you are limiting your willingness to receive and to expand. Learn to trust the magic in the amazing opportunities being dropped in your lap—all the synchronous meetings, exciting connections, fun invitations, and thousands of incredible moments bursting with creativity and beauty. 

As your confidence in your experiment grows, so does your happiness—a deep and lasting contentment born from living in the moment. You can feel your truth—the flow of prosperity is already within you. Feeling your feelings sets it free. 

Dee:  Being the intellectual self before finding recovery and the freedom from alcohol was exhausting.  Rationalizing any and every thing was a full-time job that got me nowhere.  I was weighed down with the lack of my self-control and self-will.  My energies and drive weren’t making me happy nor healthy nor free nor serene.  I was living in a cycle of More…More…More and all I was getting was More…More…More of “You’re a loser” and “I hate you.”

A complete turnaround came for me when I experimented with living from my heart and not my head.  Turn off my brain and feel what’s being said in my gut.  Don’t react but nurture those feelings from within and go with them.  They speak my truth.

I have found this new and freeing way of living has awarded me great gifts that I wasn’t even striving for because I didn’t know they even existed or my brain told me they weren’t in my reach…that I wasn’t worthy enough…or smart enough…or good enough.

My heart never tells me to dwell in the past nor worry about the future.  If I stay in the moment in front of my nose, I know that everything is perfect at this very moment…and that includes me!  If I remember to turn my life, my worries, my everything over to a Power Greater Than Myself to control the outcomes of my life, all will unfold perfectly.

Embody the Flow 

When you can feel that your prosperity is effortlessly given to you in every moment, you start to embody the Truth that your natural state of being is one of well-being. You recognize and acknowledge that your most authentic operating system is one of relaxed ease and grace, of abundance and flow, and not the false, learned conditioning of resistance and struggle, of lack and limit you have grown used to. 

The more you practice your feeling experiment, the more you learn to hold this truth. You learn to lessen the grips of your old patterns of resistance and open your hands to receive all of the goodness, all of the wonder life has to offer you. With experience comes confidence and faith in the knowing that you can be safely carried by the river of abundance that flows within you, and that in every moment, you are worthy of receiving the full magnificence of who you truly are. 

Dee:  Try it; you’ll like it.  Fake it ’til you make it.  Trial and error.  It’s a journey.  Odd at first and definitely a whole new way of living.  But it works!  All burdens are removed from your shoulders.  The doubt starts to lift because you begin to experience that this surrender and change in mindset produces wonderful results and miracles.

Live Magically 

You can live a magical life like Charlie did when he discovered the chocolate factory. You hold a golden ticket— the ability to tap into the power of your feelings, and your true well of being that feeds you with unconditional love and prosperity. You must choose this new adventure for yourself, for only you can be the hero of your story. 

It’s up to you to discover the flavors of your happiness and your unique life purpose, and to learn to trust that you are always—and in all ways—supported by an intelligent field that knows and honors your heart’s deepest intentions to live your best life. 

This feeling way of life is a magical ride. Find out for yourself if it’s your new way to fly! 

Learn how to tap into the power of your feelings and manifest your deepest desires with loving support from like-minded women and wonderful speakers at our Chopra Women’s Retreat. Learn More. (https://chopra.com/live-events/womens-retreat/) 

Dee:  I live a Disney-type life…the happiest place on earth.  From the Circus Circus neon clown to where I am at this very moment I shall never grow up.  The adult-shit that I’ve experienced throughout my life has not served me.  Being who I am and loving who I am has.  Not having to prove anything to anyone else is the way to be.  It’s all between me and my Higher Power.

I live very optimistically, very positively, even in the turmoils that surround us.  There is always good to come from EVERYTHING…compassion, love, understanding, forgiveness, faith.  If you chose to live this way, the ripple-effect will spread throughout the planet and great things will come.  Feels good to live this way.

With warmest aloha,  Dee Harris

For those interested in my Art with a Message of Optimism and Hope, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

About the Author 

Louise Laffey, Guest Speaker 

Once a young lawyer and an intuitive spiritual seeker, Louise Laffey, struggled to reconcile what she viewed as two separate lives. As a lawyer she enjoyed many of trappings of the modern world, but always felt like she was compromising herself and her values to meet someone else’s agenda. She escaped to South America, where she embarked on the spiritual journey that led her to create the process of fully aligning prosperity with her purpose. For the past nine years, Louise has travelled the world, teaching more than 50,000 people from over 20 countries to identify and clear the unconscious blocks standing in the way of their prosperity, freeing them to consciously create more wealth and abundance in… Read more (/bios/louise-laffey) 

The Chopra Center

HOPE: THE MAGIC INGREDIENT YOU NEED IN LIFE

Hope: The Magic Ingredient You Need in Life

By Melissa Eisler

In a world full of fear, stress, and sadness, it can become second-nature to develop a negative worldview. There seems to be more pain than you can heal, more dissent than you can mediate, and more uncertainty than you can make sense of. In times like these, what options are there to comfort yourself and bring forth positivity?

The difference between those who let their circumstances bring them down and those who choose to embrace the goodness of life and find that comfort lies with the important element ofhope.

Hope is a powerful antidote to feelings of despair and desolation. A life marked by hope is a life marked by optimism, regardless of where you find yourself It doesn’t mean that you are always happy or that you can’t feel emotions like hurt, sadness, or anger, but it does mean that your view of your circumstances – and those of the world around you – goes beyond what is actually happening.

When you hold onto hope, you begin to understand that you are part of a greater narrative that includes both global and personal experiences of joy and suffering. Simply put, hope brings perspective. It can sustain you during the hard times and bring even more fulfillment to the good times.

While hope acts as the perpetual light in the midst of darkness, it’s not easily cultivated in the dark. Develop your hope muscles while times are good so that you can better tap into it when life takes a turn for the worse. Here are four ways to cultivate hope.

Seek Inspiration

Hope requires a dependence on something greater than yourself. Where it’s honoring a Higher Power or recognizing that the Universe has pieces at play that are beyond your control, hope is built on the understanding that you and your circumstances are not the epicenter of what

makes the world move. Tapping into that understanding helps you gain perspective and allows you to not depend simply on your feeling about a particular situation.

Dee:

Before getting clean and sober I had no Higher Power…I had no hope. I was spiraling fast into the depths of hell. But having no religion in my background I had no clue about Heaven and Hell, God, Devil, any of that. But from my experiences growing up I felt that drugs and alcohol were what the Devil was all about.

By the grace of a Power Greater than Myself I miraculously found myself in a treatment program. There I learned that I could have a Higher Power of my own understanding. So I made one up. It was full of good…kindness, love, warmth, forgiveness, happiness…and everything that gave me hope. Over the years my Higher Power has developed and strengthened and has guided me to strengthen as well.

Today I turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power. I let it do the driving and teach me what I need to learn as I ride along in the passenger seat. I turn my control over to this entity and find my life is so much easier, lighter and rewarding that I could have ever imagined possible!

Use times of prayer and meditation to reflect on the good in the world, starting with what you are thankful for in your immediate surroundings (including opportunities you’ve had and loved ones who surround you). Then, reflect on your broader community. Instead of harping on the negative things happening in life, see how people are caring for each other and improving the lives of those around them. See the world how it could be and recognize that your sense of being is found beyond the temporal world. Get inspired by all the good there is in the world – because it is always there, it is sometimes just buried under the muck.

Dee:

I strive to keep negativity out of my life and look at the glass half full. Even in the darkest, most hideous events, I can find a pinhole of positivity. These events seem to bring people and communities together, to love and show compassion, to be of service and just “there” for one another. Most of us human beings are full of goodness; we just don’t sell news.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

Oftentimes, the who and what you surround yourself with dictates whether or not you have a positive or negative worldview. There is power in surrounding yourself with positive people, environments, and experiences that bring you joy and encourage you to become the person you want to be. This doesn’t have to mean that your life has to be all rainbows and butterflies, but it does mean that you should put some effort into surrounding yourself with elements that create a positive life.

Dee:

Today my life is full of like-minded people in recovery. We have all come from depths of hell in our own ways to find the light and hope in a life without substance abuse. We are all so grateful

and humble for this new life and our purpose is to share our experience, strength and hope with all who are struggling.

Not all of us in recovery are happy, joyous and free. Some are still pretty negative and on their pity-pots. When they choose to remain there for this part of their journey I must distance myself so not to jeopardize my own sobriety, serenity and chi. But not without first stressing that I am here for them when they are ready to turn it over to a Power Greater Than Themselves.

This also means purposefully distancing yourself from negativity. Creating boundaries to protect yourself from negativity can be challenging. It might mean limiting time with a life-long friend or family member who is always complaining, turning off the somber news reports you’ve become addicted to, or switching joys to avoid a toxic workplace. While it can be difficult to make these types of life changes, saying no to negativity and yes to your well-being can create a life that will sustain you through good times and bad. By leading a positive life, you are honoring your own needs.

Dee:

I oftentimes get to spend weeks at a time with family members who ruffle my feathers. Sometimes I can walk into a room and cut the tension with a knife. I try to be mindful and in the moment, grateful for this time together. I try to make it count. But it takes energy that I feel I should not have to expend to make “quality” time with loved ones.

Turning that time into a positive helps tremendously. Remembering all the positive things that they have done for me humbles me. Tuning in to “I have no control over people, places and things” and “They are on their own journeys” reminds me that everything is perfect in this moment. I call my sponsor. I go to a meeting.

Get Involved in Your Community

One of the most effective ways to get out of your own cycle of self-reliance and tap into hope is to serve others. Your community has local organizations that need volunteers to help pack lunch bags for the homeless or build houses for families in need. You can use your professional skills to create a marketing campaign for a hospice care organization or raise funds for a cancer research center.

When you get involved in what’s happening in your community, you are exposed to different people with different views. You get a front row seat as a witness to people taking care of one another. It can restore your faith in the goodness of people and help you realize that everyone has issues they are facing; it’s not just you. While you may not be able to completely change someone’s circumstances, you can help bring joy and perspective to their situation. This helps to create a more holistic view of your own life, seeing that there is good amidst the bad.

Dee:

Because I am a recovering alcoholic most of my community involvement revolves around Alcoholics Anonymous. I learned early on that service is critical. Suiting up and showing up for a meeting is service. There I can give back what was so freely given me when I needed it most…experience, strength and hope. That is my way of saying “Thank you for this awesome

life”. I also get great joy from speaking at DUI Classes once or twice a month. If my message can give one person a glimmer of hope, then my purpose was served.

Celebrate

The truth is, there is always something you can celebrate in your life. Celebrations are usually reserved for big milestones – birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions, and births – but you also have the opportunity to celebrate the little things. Take your spouse out for a casual dinner as a “job well done” for cleaning the house. Treat your kid to an ice cream cone for presenting her class project.

And the most fun celebrations don’t even have to revolve around an accomplishment. Declare next Tuesday your favorite day of that week and buy lunch for your co-workers, drive outside the city to star-gaze with a loved one just because you want to, and wear your fanciest clothes to dinner tonight just because you’re worthy of something special.

By creating a rhythm and mood of celebration, you can train your mind and heart to recognize the good in your life. This hope can sustain you through the thin and thick of life. Regardless of what you’re facing, what you see on the news, or how dire your circumstances may seem, hope can help you look at your life and say, “I’m glad to be alive.”

Dee:

Just remember to stay in the moment and know that everything is perfect at this very moment… especially YOU! You are not in control and there is a Higher Power that has your back…to guide you, protect you, teach you, love you. That Higher Power is your hope!

Aloha, Dee Harris

For those of you interested in positive and hopeful Art with a Message, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Enjoy! Mahalo and have a hopeful day!

About the Author

Melissa Eisler
Certified Yoga and Meditation Instructor and Writer

Melissa is the Senior Content Strategist at the Chopra Center. Also a yoga instructor, she is passionate about motivating people to live a healthy, balanced, and purposeful life. Melissa is the author of The Type A’s Guide to Mindfulness: Meditation for Busy Minds and Busy People (http://amzn.to/1J1dYvz), a practical guide for new meditators in the modern world, and the creator of mindfulminutes.com (http://mindfulminutes.com/), a personal blog about mindfulness and life balance in the digital age. Melissa teaches Vinyasa classes at her favorite studio in San Diego, meditation and yoga to kids and families in the oncology ward…(Read more (/bios/melissa-eisler).

Taken from The Chopra Center

How to Be Mindful Without Meditation 

How to Be Mindful Without Meditation 

By Sara Schairer

Do you ever find yourself avoiding your meditation cushion? Whether subconsciously or on purpose, you’re not making the time to sit.  Or have you tried meditating, and you’ve decided it’s not for you?

Luckily, meditation and mindfulness are not one in the same. You don’t have to meditate in order to be mindful. Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts, sensations, surroundings, and emotions, and meditation is one tool for developing mindfulness but isn’t the only tool.

When you are consciously bringing your wandering mind back to the present moment, you are cultivating mindfulness. You can do that in everyday life by tuning into your surroundings.

Dee:

I often remind myself that all I have is this very perfect moment, right here, right now, in front of my nose.  I’ve got to notice it, savor it, cherish it.  It will never come again as life changes constantly and I am always in transition.

When I allow myself to get in the moment, I am truly present, truly grateful.  There are no thoughts or regrets of the past.  There are no worries or anxieties of the future.  Just now.  Feeling the breeze.  Hearing the birds.  There are no coincidences of everything happening within and around me at this very moment.

Experiment with using your senses to notice these new things as you move throughout your day, and see what happens.

1. Notice Your Bed

When you first wake up, notice the feeling of your sheets against your skin and your mattress and pillow supporting you. Feel the air against your face, and notice the air temperature.

2. Take a Mindful Sip 

Stop for a moment to savor your morning beverage of choice. Smell and examine your coffee or tea before taking a slow sip. Close your eyes and wholly feel and taste the liquid on your tongue before swallowing.

3. Savor Your Shower 

Have you ever truly paid attention in the shower? What does the water feel like as it hits your skin? Notice the soap as it lathers, and tune into the feeling of the soap on your skin. Mindfully massage your scalp as you shampoo your hair.

4. Cherish Your Family Members 

If you have children or a partner at home, can you notice something new about their morning routines? With nonjudgmental curiosity, observe their moods, energy levels, morning greetings, and favorite breakfast items. What can you notice that you’ve never seen them do before?

5. Consciously Commute 

If you drive to work, try tuning into the feel of your steering wheel in your hands, and notice the air conditioning or heat against your skin. If you’re on a train, subway, or bus, first pat yourself on the back for taking mass transportation. Then tune into the feel of your seat, and take in your surroundings by noticing who is with you and what you can see and hear.

6. Look Up 

Pause to take in the sky above you. Are there clouds? What do they look like? Do you see any birds or trees? Can you see something in the sky that you’ve never seen before?

7. Truly See Your Colleagues

Is there something new you can notice about your coworkers? Perhaps the person next to you listens to classical music or has photographs of her family on his or her desk. Maybe your boss has a skip in his or her step today.

8. Slowly Munch on Lunch 

Before digging into your lunch, take a moment to examine it. What colors and textures do you see? What does it smell like? Take a small bite and allow your mouth to take it all in by noticing what the food feels like. Is it crunchy or soft? What tastes do you observe? Does the flavor change as you swallow? Try to take several slow and mindful bites. If your mind wanders, try to bring it back to the process of eating.

9. Take a Hike 

Stretch your legs in the afternoon with a walk around the block, and allow your senses to engage with your environment. Can you see something that you’ve never seen before, whether it’s on the ground, on the side of a building, or high in the sky? What do you hear? Tune into each step and notice what your legs do and how they feel with each step. Also notice your feet and the important job they have.

10. Scan Your Body 

Take a moment to close your eyes and tune into your body. Start at your toes and move up, observing each body part until you reach the top of your head. Be curious about what you find, noticing any tension, lightness, heat, pain, or other sensations. Notice if the mind wanders and creates stories about those feelings. If so, see if you can bring the mind back to the sensations without judging them.

Dee:

I use this method of scanning my body when I feel tense, when I allow myself to be riddled with tension.  I begin with totally tensing up my entire body.  And then I relax.  Starting at my toes, concentrating on them, feeling them, I release any tension.  I work my way up to my body this way.  Every part of my body up to my head, fully concentrating on each body part and releasing all tension.

I trip on what each cell in my body is doing without my awareness.  It’s magical how each cell has a purpose without my control or intentions.  They just happily go through the day doing their business, keeping my body as strong and healthy as they can.  When I have an injury or sickness they gear up the army and concentrate on the body part that is no longer strong or healthy.  They know what to do.  I can’t tell them what to do.  They fix me.  I’m better.

My brain, my heart, lungs, every organ in my body do their own thing as well.  My thoughts seldom go to what they are up to.  They know what to do.  They do it without my awareness or permission.  Again, their purpose is to keep me as strong and healthy as they can.

My eyes blink, I cough, I have an itch, my hair grows.  Again, without my control or awareness.  Our bodies are so amazing!

11. Notice Your Social Media Use 

Do you have a habit of checking Facebook or Instagram without even knowing it? Start tuning into those habits and see if you can be more intentional with your time. Once again, don’t judge yourself for the time you spend on social media, simply observe it.

12. Appreciate the Sunset 

Step outside to take in the unique colors of the sunset, and try to notice something you’ve never spotted before. Is there a cloud shape that reminds you of something or someone? What colors do you see? How does the air temperature change once the sun dips below the horizon?

13. Glimpse at the Moon and Stars 

The night sky offers up a feast for your eyes. When is the last time you truly looked at the stars and moon? Take the time to examine what’s beyond the atmosphere and allow yourself to feel awe if it arises.

14. Listen to the Sound of Silence 

As you make your final moves toward bedtime, stop, close your eyes, and listen. What do you hear, and what don’t you hear? Can you notice the sounds or silence with curiosity, allowing your ears to hear the texture of each sound?

Practicing mindfulness throughout your everyday life can help train the mind to focus on the present, with or without cushion. Observe what happens when you make noticing a priority.

Dee:

Last year as I was sitting on the beautifully manicured lawn of the Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu, mindfulness and living in the moment became a priority for me.  My husband was having heart surgery and I was waiting to hear from the doctor how the operation went.  

I remember my head bouncing from thought to thought.  It was a long month being away from home with just the clothes on our backs when we were Medivac’d immediately from the Big Island to Queen’s following a heart consultation.  I’m a busy person.  I NEED to keep busy to keep out of my thoughts and to keep sane.  I found a lauhala tree on the grounds, pulled and prepped leaves (lau) and started weaving bracelet after bracelet.  The island, the aina (land) and mana (spirit) provided me sanity and serenity.  Again, no coincidences.

But as my husband lie on the operating table and knowing that the end of his life could be near, my thoughts bombarded me with fear.  I started thinking about how I might be flying home alone.  I thought about calling my sons to help me clear out Dad’s belongings.  I thought about living in a home and having a life that would be so empty and void without my soulmate.

And then the mindfulness kicked in.  “Shit, Dee!  He’s not dead yet.  Get up to the waiting room and be there when he comes to.  Everything happens for a reason.  You’ll be okay and never alone.  If God has a purpose for Graeme greater than what he can do on this planet, be accepting and joyful for that.”  I made my way up to the waiting room.  And today…we live happily ever after.

One more thing.  I am an alcoholic in recovery.  During my quiet times on the Queen’s lawns I would sometimes think about how a drink would take the edge off.  Thank goodness I’ve stuck closely to AA and the fellowship which reminds me that it’s the first drink that will kill me.  I’ll be off and running.  I’ll be sneaking drinks and hiding booze.  I’ll have to cover up the smells of alcohol on my breath.  AND I WON’T BE FULLY PRESENT FOR MY HUSBAND who needs me NOW!  I don’t drink.  I get humble.  I get grateful.  I use the toolbox for living that Alcoholics Anonymous has given me.  I weave more bracelets.

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, Recovery and Being in the Moment, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

Learn the keys to conscious living from the comfort of your own home with our Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course, led by Deepak Chopra. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/online-courses/primordial- sound-meditation/on-demand)

About the Author

Sara Schairer

Sara Schairer is the founder and executive director of COMPASSION IT (http://compassionit.com/), a start-up nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions and attitudes. She created the one-of-a-kind reversible COMPASSION IT wristband (http://compassionit.com/wristbands/) prompting compassionate actions on six continents, 48 countries, and all 50 states. Wristband sales fund compassion education programs for youth, teens, and adults. As a public speaker, Sara encourages her audiences to “compassion it” in their daily lives. A Stanford-certified instructor of Compassion Cultivation… Read more (/bios/sara-schairer)

From The Chopra Center

Smiling Is Powerful Medicine: Research on How Smiling Can  Improve Your Health, and Relationships 

Smiling Is Powerful Medicine: Research on How Smiling Can  Improve Your Health, and Relationships 

By Karson McGinley

No matter where you find yourself on this planet or what language you speak, you’ll know a smile when you see one. While cross-cultural studies reveal slightly different meanings ascribed to smiling, they appear throughout the lifespan of all human (and some non-human) beings. Scientists have identified three different kinds of authentic smiles as well as identified the traits of a fake one.

What can all the research on smiling do for you? More than you might think. Psychological researchers have found many benefits to the act of smiling that include improved relationships, improved mental health, and even increased lifespan! Keep reading to learn more about some recent findings on smiling than can take your life from good to great with a simple curve of the mouth.

Dee:

I have always valued my smile.  I have been blessed with a “good” smile, but I haven’t been blessed with strong bones that hold my teeth in my mouth that make a “good” smile.  The photo above is a mosaic frame I gave to my prosthodontist of with a photo of us.  This wonderful man helped me get my smile back when my teeth and implants were falling out of my mouth, due to deteriorating bone.

Smiling Is Good for Your Health 

You likely tend to think of a smile as a result of positive emotions or stimuli, but it turns out that your smile can actually affect your stress levels and productivity, too. When scientists asked participants to engage in a challenging task, they found that the smiling folk had lower stress levels and heart rates than the non-smiling group. Some people were asked to hold chopsticks horizontally in their mouths to simulate the shape of a smile, and even those people saw the positive effects of the smile on their faces.

Dee:

I’ve heard that looking in a mirror and smiling while talking on the phone (especially at work) can make a world of difference on how that conversation plays out.  If you smile during that conversation I bet the end results will turn out greatly more positive than if you frowned or had no smile.  I bet your stress level and productivity will be more healthy by your smile, as well!

Smiling also releases endorphins, which improves your mood, helps you to relax, and lowers your blood pressure. And because smiling is contagious, the benefits of your smile extend beyond your own body to the people you engage with.

Smiling May Help You Live Longer 

So if smiling can contribute to less overall stress, and lower stress levels prolong lifespan, then smiling prolongs lifespan, right? Right! A compelling study at Wayne State University studied photos to classify the smiles of 230 baseball players. They found that the players with partial smiles lived on average two years longer than players who didn’t smile at all; those who had the biggest smiles lived roughly seven years longer than then non-smiling ones.

While it might be frightening to think about your school-age yearbook photos having any indication of the span of your life, it may be time to turn that frown upside down to make up for lost time.

Dee:

My granny lived just shy of her hundredth birthday.  She was always smiling.  I never heard her say anything negative or anything bad about anyone or anything.  Her mindset led her to a long and happy life.

I try to live my life like that today, being optimistic and hopeful, joyful and content.  Even though life throws curveballs at us each and everyday, can we not take the time to remember just three things for which we are grateful?  Can we not know that at this very moment everything is perfect and just as it is meant to be?  What are we going to do with this moment?  Be at peace or shit on it?  I choose to be at peace.

Smiling Improves Your Relationships 

Looking for a date or a mate? People find you more attractive (and thinner) when you smile. Studies show that different areas of the brain light up when looking at pictures of people who are smiling versus not smiling. People who are smiling to any degree are generally labeled more attractive (and women are considered more trustworthy than those with neutral expressions. The next time you are in a social situation and want someone to talk to you try smiling and see what happens.

Dee:

I remember an old beau telling me how much more beautiful I am when I smile.  Agreed.  When looking at photos of myself without my smile, “Yuck!”  Scary!”  “Ugly!”

As I practice daily smiling and centering on a life deserving of smiling, staying in humility and gratitude, my photos sure are more pleasing.

Smiling Improves Effectiveness in the Workplace 

The benefits of smiling extend beyond interpersonal relationships to the work environment. Smiling at your coworkers creates moments of connection that lead to greater productivity and teamwork. People in the service industry prove to have a more positive effect on customers when they smile. And people in leadership positions tend to favor their employees who smile more regularly. However, be careful, as some studies have shown that smiling too much can prevent you from being hired, as it can make your potential employer find you to be less serious or competent. One article suggests that smiling only at the beginning and end of an interview is enough to show that you are friendly, but not so friendly that you would be taken advantage of or manipulated.

Dee:

I remember my boss and customers always ribbing me for smiling all the time.  I would just reply, “Sure beats the alternative”.  Why not smile?  All we have is this moment in front of our noses and it’s good, yeah?  It brings me into gratitude.  I sure like living realizing my glass is half-full, and not half-empty.

Smiling Improves Your Mood 

Yes, you smile when you’re in a good mood, but smiling can also put you in a good mood. When participants were injected with botulinum toxin (a neuromuscular blocker) that would paralyze the frowning muscles in their faces, their moods improved and their depressive symptoms decreased. This finding suggests that the facial expressions involved in a true smile are part of a feedback loop that affects your emotions. People who frown during unpleasant procedures report more pain than those who make neutral or relaxed faces, inferring that the feedback loop works both ways.

Dee:

I’m being reminded of the countless hours I’ve spent in the dentist chair.  Not always pleasant.  But when I remember to breathe, that everything is perfect at this moment, that the end result is worth this discomfort, I can release my tension back into the clouds.  It does not serve me.  Being stress free and in the moment helps tremendously to get back into gratitude and serenity.

Also, I try not to expend what little energy I have on thoughts and feelings that do not serve my well-being.  I spent so many wasted hours on researching why I had bone-loss.  I could have been using that energy for something more positive.  I did, however, later find out by my periodontist the simple reason for bone-loss in my mouth while the rest of my bones were strong and healthy.  None of that research nor delving into my past of “could have’s, would have’s, should have’s” made any difference of where I am now.  I shall expend my energy in a positive direction moving forward, not backward.

What Constitutes a Real Smile? 

The botulinum toxin studies also point to the importance of the eyes and forehead when smiling authentically.

The Duchenne (or genuine) smile involves not just the muscles around the mouth, but also the ones that cause the cheeks to raise and the eyes to crescent. People who smile just with their mouths (think of the “say cheese” smile when taking a photo) don’t experience the same rewards as those who are smiling with their entire face; they do experience some of the benefits, just to a lesser degree.

People who tend more easily toward Duchenne smiles self-report better life satisfaction and marriages, however, so it may be worth learning how to smile with more of your face in the long run.

Dee:

Just be who you are…perfect at this very moment.  It will show up in your smile if you are comfortable in your own skin and love yourself.  And you should feel good about yourself.  You’re doing and being the best you can…right now.  You have gifts that no one else on this planet has.  Cherish them.  Share them.  Not only will your self-love and self-worth show up in your smile, it will emanate from every fiber of your being, felt by everyone around you, and the trickle-down effect is magical! 

Practice Makes Perfect 

Practice makes perfect—especially for men. Researcher Marianne LaFrance says that women smile more than men (mostly because they’re better at social intelligence and judging what is going on with other people). But far and away, children win the smiling contest. One article reports that children smile, on average, 400 times a day, whereas the happiest adults only smile 40-50 times a day.

If that doesn’t give you a kick in the pants, consider it this way: speaker and entrepreneur Ron Gutman says in his popular Ted Talk on the hidden power of smiling, that smiling is like a superpower. But unlike the power to fly or to become invisible, this one can be learned, practiced diligently, and improved upon.

So watch a funny movie, play more with your kids, and practice calling to mind someone who really lights you up when you’re posing for a picture. The smile on your face could literally make you happier, healthier, more effective, more attractive, and live a longer life. Doesn’t the thought of that make you smile?

Dee:

Just like any- and everything in our lives that we want to change, practice makes perfect.  The seed has been planted.  It’s up to us how badly we want to change.  See the glass half-full and not half-empty, living a positive and optimistic life, living in peace and contentment; they all come from baby steps.  Keep at it.  You will get results beyond your wildest dreams!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center’s Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

About the Author 

Karson McGinley, Yoga Teacher, Life Coach, and Joy Seeker

Karson McGinley is the founder of Happy-U ( H olistic A pproach to P ositive P sychology & Y oga) and the co- owner (along with her husband) of Happy-U Namasté Yoga Center (http://happyunamaste.com/) in San Diego, CA. A teacher for over a decade, Karson works to bridge the gap between the ancient wisdom of yoga and the modern science of happiness through her yoga classes, workshops, and Happy-U’s Teacher Training program. Karson’s classes are inspired by what goes on in the modern day life of a joy-seeker, using the power of music, laughter, and storytelling to take her students on a journey within.

From The Chopra Center

I AM NOT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME. I AM WHAT I CHOOSE TO BECOME.

“I am not what happened to me.  I am what I choose to become.”

 – Carl Jung

No one’s life follows a linear path.  No one’s life is devoid of mistakes, pain, and regret.  No one lives a perfect life.  No one is immune to some kind of struggle.  Everyone has something to work through.

So today, start where you are – not where you wish you were, but where you are.  I used to spend so much time beating myself up for choices I’d made.  Living in either the past or the future keeps me up in my head, out of reality, robbing me of the present.

So today, I choose to live in the present.  My intention is to authentically be myself as I am today.  I try to stay conscious of not judging myself and others.  All that time and energy I spent in the past and future I can now spend on my family, my friends, my purpose, and my mission – in other words, my actual life.

This day offers each of us a chance to be the person we want to be.

From I’ve Been Thinking…Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life by Maria Shriver

Dee:

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Right?  When I reflect on my 62 years on this planet I’ve had so many journeys, experiences, interactions.  I now know that each and every one of them was for a reason, were perfect at that very time in my life.  I am who I am today because of those chapters in my life.

It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that everything changed…for the best.  Before then I was an active alcoholic.  I had no religion nor spirituality in my life.  I lived from my head and not from my heart.  I had no purpose and felt like a waste of space on the planet.

When I found that I could not go a day without drinking I talked to my dad in heaven and asked if he would help me.  My dad died of alcoholism.  We were not close.  I was afraid of him as a child.  But he helped me.  Soon thereafter I was in a 28-day treatment facility for alcoholism.  I was taught about the disease of alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Those 28-days changed my life…for the best.  I realized that no matter how much I thought, how much of my will I put into not drinking, it wasn’t going to happen.  I was allowed to make up a god of my own understanding and turn my will and my life over to it.  I was taught to live from my heart and not my head.  And I found that I was not alone.  There was a fellowship of like-minded people, like me, working to live a better and sober life.

I no longer look in the mirror and hate myself.  I have learned to love myself and be comfortable in my own skin.  Working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has shown me that alcohol was just a symptom of my disease.  I learned what makes Dee tick and how to shed the defects that didn’t serve me.  I have been given a toolbox for living.  I learned to trust myself and others by being rigorously honest.  I learned to ask for help and to be there for those in need.

Turning my life over to a Higher Power has been such a gift.  Today I have a purpose of sharing my experience, strength and hope with whomever enters my bubble with whatever issues that ail them.  I can be mindful and respectful and make eye contact and listen.  I can show compassion and give comfort.  

Today I can live in the moment without regrets of the past nor fear of the future.  The present is all I have and all I have to do is be the best I can be.  Not perfect.  Just the best I can be.  I don’t have to impress you.  I can be me.  I love being me.  I love allowing my god to be in control and know that I am protected and guided through this journey called life.  Yes, all along there was a purpose for me that I would have never realized had I not been an alcoholic.  A grateful one at that.

Please love yourself for who you are.  Don’t compare yourself and your life with those around you or those in the limelight.  Love yourself and your unique gifts that none of us has.  YOU have them!  Share them.  Use them to make this world a better place and to give hope and optimism to those who enter your bubble.  You’re perfect just the way you are…right here…right now! and know that everything happens for a reason.

Aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

REVEAL YOUR PURPOSE AND TAKE INSPIRED ACTION

Reveal Your Purpose and Take Inspired Action 

By LouiseLaffey(/bios/louise-laffey)

If you were adventurous of spirit and chose to embark on the feel-your-feelings experiment (https://chopra.com/articles/how-to-trust-your-flow-and-own-your-power), you’ll know that putting down those old familiar mental identities of thinker and doer is not for the faint-hearted.

It takes courage and conviction to live a different way of life to those around you, but once you’ve been bitten by the “being-ness” bug there’s no turning back! You’ve tasted the joy and freedom that comes from living in clear flow and you’ve rediscovered the power that can turn dirt into gold.

Let the Universe Show You the Way

Even if you think you haven’t taken the full plunge into being-ness, rest assured you’ve already tasted a little bit of the magic that comes from feeling your feelings and allowing the Universe (https://chopra.com/articles/how- to-recognize-signs-from-the-universe) to openly show you how things really work. You know you live in a vibrational Universe. You’ve had plenty of synchronous signs dropped in your lap to make you sit up and pay attention to the fact that you are not the one actually running the show (although a part of you still thinks that you are).

Dee:

What a total life changer…not only being able to go a day without drinking but turning my will and my life over to a Power Greater Than Myself, that I got to make up!  A new and weird thing to learn was living through my heart and not my head.  Totally against how I lived my whole life up to that point.  I was intelligent.  A thinker.  Anything I put my mind to I could get.  So why could I not go a day without drinking?

Allowing my Higher Power to do the driving and me to kick back in the passenger seat enjoying the ride, the lessons, the interactions, my life, was so foreign.  But once I tried it and found that obligations were being met, my life became more interesting and exciting.  I wake up now wondering what the day holds, excited to learn from experiences both “good” and “bad”. 

The good news is you’re at a point in your awakening where you understand you have the power to create. Now you want to know how to use that power with greater effect.

Unearthing Your Purpose

You want to use your power for good—for a purpose (https://chopra.com/articles/discover-and-fulfill-your- lifes-purpose) bigger than yourself. Usually it’s to help someone or something you feel passionate about. You want to leave a positive, meaningful impact on the world. The only problem is that you don’t always know exactly what that purpose looks like or how you’re going to make that purpose happen from where you are now. Even if you do have some sense of clarity, your purpose doesn’t always unfold as fast as you want, when you want, and most of all, how you want.

It can lead to a terrible sense of frustration. You can drive yourself crazy trying to work out what you are supposed to do with your life. The problem may be that you are making the same mistake by going into your head to try to solve your questions. Stop thinking! Go inward and start feeling your answers.

Dee:

I got sober awhile ago, but did not stay sober.  As a newcomer I did everything suggested in AA.  I felt I floated on that pink cloud for many years.  But as we get sober one day at a time, we also get “unsober” one day at a time as well.  My life was good…until I stopped attending meetings, staying connected to the fellowship, giving back what was so freely given me when I needed it most…and I forgot what it was like to be a newcomer.  Slowly I got back into my head and stopped living from my heart.

Shift Your Focus Inside

When you shift your focus inside, the lights suddenly turn green. You begin to ask yourself questions with a fresh sense of openness and freedom, curious to feel and hear the answers to come. Instead of bouncing straight into your thoughts (https://chopra.com/articles/noticing-when-your-thoughts-argue-reality), take a few moments to sit quietly with your feelings and wait with the nothingness. And then, there it is, your next clear step. The perfect instruction to move you forward with ease and grace: inspired action. No confusion. No fuss. Perfect timing.

Dee:

Having slipped after over 13 years of sobriety I was scared shitless that I wouldn’t make it back into AA, the fellowship, and sobriety.  The only requirement for AA is the desire to stop drinking and I didn’t have it.  I checked myself into an outpatient program having spent 28 days in a treatment program my first time around.  Being an alcoholic was confirmed to me with that first shot of tequila offered me, even when I said, “No.  I don’t drink.”  It yelled at me to drink it and I had no defense, no insurance for which I pay premiums by going to meetings and reaching out to those in need.  I told myself I was fine but I needed the fellowship to call me on my bullshit.

After going to daily meetings for weeks” and confessing “I drank last night”, I finally surrendered and accepted I had to do what was uncomfortable to me.  Making calls to four women each night to say, “Hi, I’m Dee and I am not in the sunlight of the spirit”, seemed ridiculous.  But it worked.  Something worked.  I stopped drinking and once again I can live from my heart, not my head, and float on that pink cloud once again.

Act on Inspired Action

You will recognize an inspired action when it arrives; it compels you to move. You can’t see it coming before it lands but when it does, there’s no mistaking it. It will come to you complete, with the energy of Truth you’ll find hard to ignore. And while your mind will try to tell you otherwise, it’s much wiser than thought. An inspired action is always simple, clear, and precise. It may turn up as a feeling that it’s the time to go, the place to be, the person to meet, or the thing to see.

Whatever its sign, it will always leave you with a smile as it magically shows how this piece of the puzzle fits perfectly into the moment that’s about to unfold.

Dee:

When I’m waiting for answers to come to dilemmas that perfectly arise in my life to teach me something, to help me grow and be a better person, I put that dilemma in my God Box, quiet my mind and know I will get good orderly direction when I’m ready.  When the student is ready, the master appears.  How do I know?  I’ve experienced it, many times, to my wonderment and gratitude.

Be Your True Self

The more you practice navigating your life through feeling your feelings, the more you realize a big part of your purpose is learning how to follow inspired actions. As your willingness to trust the process grows, so will your confidence and success.

Every inspired action will bring you a stronger, clearer sense of your best direction and a new sense of wonder, as opportunity after amazing opportunity opens up with effortless flow. And with it, the awareness of a physical sensation within, the feeling of a vibrant, river-like momentum noticeably moving through you. Step by step, the Universe will teach you how to use your power with purpose for your highest good—how to live in your true flow by being more of your true Self.

Dee:

When I left rehab in 1998 my counselor told me it was a waste for me to go back to being a grocery checker.  Resentment!  I was a good checker.  It was a good job.  But now that I’ve left that job to pursue my love of art, I’m finding I am creating art with a message of hope, of recovery, of unity.  I am also finding that when I sell either online or at a market the connections I make with other like-minded people is amazing.  It’s a win-win.  They get to bring home my art that inspires and offers optimism and I get to pay my bills and grow to be a better person.

Let Go of Fear

When you consciously choose to trust your inner wisdom to guide your steps, you realize universal energy is always showing you the path of least resistance, the most efficient way for you to use your energy so you can fulfill your purpose. If you can loosen the mental grips, the misinterpretations you have imposed upon your feelings by simply observing them in the moment, you begin to let go of your fear, the “into-fear-ence” (a term coined by author Michael Brown in The Presence Process) that has been blocking your natural flow. You can open your hands to receive the moments of magic that are waiting for you. The more you can allow yourself to open up with childlike curiosity to what is being given to you in each and every moment, the more you will discover how to surf the waves of your emotions with a new sense of awe.

Dee:

Today I strive to live in the moment.  I no longer have regrets of the past nor worry of the future.  I know that everything is perfect at this very moment and there is a plan and purpose given me from my Higher Power.  And that plan is to share my experience, strength and hope with others whether alcoholics, drug addicts, those suffering from mental problems, abuse, or life itself.  That’s what “I get to do” each and everyday with excitement and anticipation!

Every day you are offered thousands of opportunities to notice this one moment, the perfect moment to connect you back into your feelings. You have the opportunity to go back into your Self and embrace the energy of love that can propel you to heights only your soul can imagine.

All it takes is a willingness of heart to trust in your flow and try your experiment. Only you can ask the questions that will light up your life, and only you can feel the answers that will fill up your heart. Keep feeling, seeking, exploring, receiving, and most of all, believing.

Gain clarity on why your life is the way it is, what’s holding you back, what you really want, and how to get it at our Chopra Women’s Retreat. Learn More. (https://chopra.com/live-events/womens-retreat/).

Dee:

Getting sober doesn’t happen overnight.  I did not become an alcoholic overnight.  I had to shed a lifetime of defects (thanks to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous!).  Through experimental “fake it ’til you make it’s”, trial and error, hope and optimism, I finally get to love myself for who I am, with my alcoholic thinking and behavior.  I have a tool box to help me get back on track.  I have a fellowship that calls me on my bullshit.  Life is so much easier and way more meaningful and rewarding.

Aloha and mahalo for taking the time to read my blog.  For those interested in my Art with a Message of Hope and Recovery, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris.

About the Author, Louise Laffey (/bios/louise-laffey) Guest Speaker 

Once a young lawyer and an intuitive spiritual seeker, Louise Laffey, struggled to reconcile what she viewed as two separate lives. As a lawyer she enjoyed many of trappings of the modern world, but always felt like she was compromising herself and her values to meet someone else’s agenda. She escaped to South America, where she embarked on the spiritual journey that led her to create the process of fully aligning prosperity with her purpose. For the past nine years, Louise has travelled the world, teaching more than 50,000 people from over 20 countries to identify and clear the unconscious blocks standing in the way of their prosperity, freeing them to consciously create more wealth and abundance in… Read more (/bios/louise-laffey)                                                                                                                         From The Chopra Center

MINDFULNESS IN EVERYTHING

Mindfulness is not a difficult task, or a practice that takes up too much of your day. Today we will discover that mindfulness is not a momentary state of being, not a time out of the day, but a state to be carried with you in everything you do, say and think. Let’s look at how everyday activities, things you already do, can lead to the calm you seek.

Dee:

For some reason as soon as I am behind the wheel of the car driving from point A to point B, I pray for mindfulness. Because I know myself. Because I know my brain. I am all over the planet thinking about what needs to be done, thinking about yesterday and tomorrow, about you and about me. Thinking about everything except driving and this life-or-death excursion.

So I pray to be mindful. Pray to be respectful. Pray to be in the moment. And then I see it. Experience it. All the beauty that is in front of my nose. The trees. The road. The people, who all have lives and stories and journeys.

I am able to swerve out of the way of the driver coming from the opposite direction who turns in front of me. My heart does not race. I do not react. I am not upset. I am thankful. For being in the moment. I am alive. And I make it to my destination on time.

I try to carry this mindfulness with me throughout the day. Yes, it goes away and then I must remind myself to get back in the moment. I am no longer driving, but you and I meet. My brain is again all over the planet. I strive to make eye contact with you and give you the time and respect you deserve. We were put into each other’s lives for a reason. I must know that. I must feel that. I must learn from our coming together. I know there are no coincidences.

Most of us spend some part of our day outside. Observing the world around you with fresh eyes is one way to call forth peace. Notice the wonders of nature, how the leaves on the trees change colors, fall, then reappear again in the springtime. Listen more closely to the symphony of birds chirping happily as they go through their day. Look into the happy faces of children on their way to school, or on an outing with their parents.

Dee:
What’s really magical, not to take away from all of nature’s beauty from majestic El Capitan in Yosemite to the teensy bug I can barely see, is to realize what is going on inside of our own bodies, without our consciousness , without our control. Realizing that each cell within us has a purpose, to keep us strong and healthy and fit. How magical is that?!!!

 

As you do your work, be thankful that someone is paying you for your talents and abilities. At the end of the day, be fully present with your family and/or friends. Really listen to what they are saying. When you view your surroundings in a new way, listen to your loved ones carefully, move and walk in gratitude, this is mindfulness in its essence. Commit to walk this path and every moment of your life will be far less stressful, much more peaceful and calm.

Dee:

I am so very blessed to wake up excited every morning to go to work, to be my own boss, to have purpose in what I do and be able to make a living at living my passion. I was very hesitant to leave my comfort zone and steady paycheck and health benefits of 20 years to take an early retirement. I am also very blessed to have found a Higher Power of My Own Understanding in Alcoholics Anonymous to which I can hand over my problems, dilemmas and worries. Sleeping on these life issues and putting them in the God Box helps tremendously in remembering that I am not in control, just in the passenger seat as my god steers me through the life I am intended to live. I listen to my heart, listen to suggestions, then God and I make choices together.

I am slowly getting better at making eye contact, not just for the sake of making eye contact, but to really get in the moment and give that person my full attention and respect he deserves. Again, there are no coincidences as to why that person was put before me. I’ve gained such a wealth of human compassion, loving and caring from those who have entered my “Dee Bubble” to whom I have given my full attention, the message God drove me to while I was in the passenger seat. Being mindful not only leads me to the calm I seek, but to the gift of human interaction…with YOU!

Let the words you’ve heard settle for a moment as we move into silence beyond the thoughts. Find a comfortable place, preferably a straight-back chair. All you need to do is breathe, feeling the inhale and exhale of each breath. The steady rhythm of the breath calls us into the peace and calm we seek.

As thoughts cross your mind, and they will, simply accept them and let them pass, like clouds across a blue sky. Notice any place in your body where you feel tense and just breathe it out. As you follow your breath repeat to yourself silently, “I am mindful in everything I do. I am mindful in everything I do.”

Inhale deeply. Hold for 3 seconds. Hold. Two. Three. Exhale fully for 5 seconds…two… three…four…five. Inhale…two…three. Exhale…two…three…four…five. Let us begin.

From The WellBe Presents Back to Calm in 7 Days Meditation Program

For those interested in Inspirational Art with a Message of Aloha and Well-Being, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris. And for those who would like to know more about my art and the story behind my creativity, please sign up for my email updates at https://mailchi.mp/ f96bf32af105/welcome. Mahalo and Aloha, Dee Harris