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.

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WHAT YOU IDENTIFY WITH YOU BECOME

(FROM OPRAH AND DEEPAK…BECOME WHAT YOU BELIEVE)

OPRAH:

It’s been said that what every you believe, you are.  Your beliefs are that powerful.  They literally can dictate your reality.  Wherever you are in your life is a reflection of what you believe to be possible for you in this world.  What do you believe is possible for yourself?

Each of our beliefs is influenced by a myriad of life experiences, good and bad.  When you take charge and build up on your positive beliefs, when you are the master of your beliefs, when  you are the creator of your perceptions, you have the power to shift your reality.

When you begin to shape your beliefs the Universe will dream a bigger dream for you than you will have yet dreamt for yourself.  Believe in your dreams and every part of your world will open up in new and glorious ways…because everything is possible!

DEEPAK:

We’ve seen that your identity, the “I” you call yourself, is built from your beliefs.  This includes the negative and positive beliefs, the hidden and visible beliefs.  Your identity is always on the move depending on how you see yourself and what you believe in.  Static beliefs make life’s journey much more difficult.  If you always have to be a winner, you face an uphill climb everyday.  If you always have to be the one who gives in, the hill is just as steep.

The power of belief should be your strongest ally…and it can be.  At this moment what you believe is already guiding what your life is becoming.  All the labels, tags, memories and assumptions you have tacked to your sense of “I” are churning out responses in your mind and body.  So the question is this, “Are your beliefs directing your life or are you?”  A static belief is like a microchip sending out the same signal over and over because that is how it was programmed.  The process is automatic.  You always have the option of unplugging the chip and changing the program.  You are in charge of your beliefs, not the other way around.

Many people have adopted an exercise.  They write down exactly where they want to be in five years, along with an action plan for how to get there.  For the exercise to really help, however, the action plan must be based on the right beliefs because everything we think, do and say expresses a belief either directly or indirectly.  Because that’s true a better exercise is to write down what you want your beliefs to look like, not five years from now, but five days or weeks or months from now.

Take a common belief like, “My life is working out the way I wanted it to”, which is a belief in low expectations.  The new belief you’d want is, “My life is working out better than I expected it to”.    This is a belief in rising expectations.

What would it take to make this belief become part of who you really are?  Several practical steps are involved.  The first is not to let yourself fall into low expectations.  Examine how you’re selling yourself short.  The second step is to find one part of your life where you can reach greater fulfillment.  And the final step is to take action in this one part of your life, however modest it is.

Higher expectations can be achieved in relationships, in caring for your family, in doing a better job, or in expressing more love.  It can be about asking for more appreciation or taking on bigger challenges.  The same steps work in any situation.  Once you see where the limiting belief is undermining you, you have the choice to believe in yourself instead, going step by step at your own pace, but always progressing.

DEE:

So true our beliefs are influenced by a myriad of life experiences from the day we were born.  Each sight, sound, taste, smell and feeling has influenced who we are today, like it or not.  Today I strive to shed those “not’s”, to build on my positive beliefs.

But for many decades in my life I did not know how to build on my positive beliefs.  My microchip was screaming out that I was a loser.  I had no positive beliefs.  You see, I am an alcoholic and for a great chunk of my life, I couldn’t stop drinking.  That’s all I could think about.  Everything else was getting in my way of filling that need for alcohol.

It wasn’t until I finally succumbed, surrendered, accepted I needed help…and asked for it…did my beliefs change.  My outlook on life changed.  My love of self slowly emerged.  Freedom and peace was felt.  I couldn’t do this on my own, unplug the chip, change the program.  I had no control over my life.  But surrendering, accepting, and even embracing this disease called alcoholism has allowed this new identity, this person I call “Dee” to surface, to flourish, with the help of a treatment centers and Alcoholics Anonymous.  They taught me the action plan I needed at that time and I sucked it up like a sponge.  Sweet stuff!

Now I can write down a plan for action for 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months.  But I have learned to never stop “living” in the moment, being grateful and humble for it.  Yes, I need a plan to give me direction for today.

I shall not fall into low expectations, nor shall I fall into high expectations.  I have learned that no expectations lead to no disappointments.  Again, I shall have an action plan to drive me forward, but I shall allow a Power Greater Than Myself guide me to where I need to be.

For those interested in my art with a message of inspiration and unity, please visit my website at DeesignsByHarris.com.  Aloha!

Beyond Belief Lies True Knowledge

Beyond Belief Lies True Knowledge

from Become What You Believe by Oprah and Deepak

DEEPAK:

The world has been changed many times through the power of belief.  And you are part of the current change which is bringing more light and fulfillment into your personal reality every day.  Yet there’s another dimension to this path using belief to reach a state of true knowledge.  In the Worlds Wisdom Traditions there are many statements and promises about the higher self.  Whether we speak of the higher self, the core self, the true self or higher consciousness, the reality is the same.  It means finding your source and living in the light permanently.

How do we know when we have found this state of being?  Clues have been left and yet they can be puzzling.  Existing in the light has been described as unconditional love, unity consciousness, enlightenment emerging with the divine.  These are lofty terms that imply a state of transformation beyond everyday experience.  However, if the light is eternal and unbounded as is described in every Wisdom Tradition then it is already present in everyday life.  You do not have to seek it, pray for it or reach out with a cry of the heart.  The light is your source.  Therefore, you only need to remember who you really are.

At the beginning of this path a person has forgotten what the true self is.  At the end of the path the true self is as close as the next breath.  In between is where faith is needed.  Imagine a day when the sun is sometimes hidden by clouds and other times shines brightly.  The sun does not come and go.  Its light is steady and only appears to be darkened.  This is the same image often used to describe the relationship that we have with our true self.  Its support is unconditional and constant.  But our perception is sometimes clouded or not especially clear.

Perception is a powerful influence of us.  We can see ourselves as weak, diminished, fearful and unloved.  But through the practice of meditation clarity begins to dawn.  This is the testimony of thousands of years of personal seeking.  Exposing the mind to its source and the light of the self brings your existence into the light everyday.  The clouds begin to pass away and the sun begins to shine more brightly.

FAITH BRINGS COMMUNION WITH MY SOUL.

DEE:

Not only has the world changed many times, but so have I because of the power of my belief.  I strive each day to bring more light and fulfillment into my personal reality.  I learn.  I grow.  I put my faith into a Power Greater Than Myself, my light.  I am not the person born 62 years ago.  I am not the person I was yesterday.  I am the person right here, right now, sharing my thoughts and feelings on paper.

I believe that my greatest change came from being an active alcoholic in the decades of early adulthood to becoming an alcoholic in recovery in my later adulthood.  Prior to my recovery I felt lost, that something was missing in my life.  I had no true peace nor happiness.  I had no Power Greater Than Myself.

But Alcoholics Anonymous (please note that this is my story and I am not a representative of Alcoholics Anonymous) has awarded me with the 12 Steps, which has awarded me to choose a Higher Power of my understanding, which has awarded me a whole new outlook on life and a whole new me who I can finally love and be comfortable with in my own skin.

And I no longer have to live in self-will and “think” that I am in control of my destiny.  What a relief!  What a weight off my shoulders!  To turn my will and my life over and to have faith that everything is perfect at this very moment and all my needs will be taken care of.

 

I believe that I am finally walking in the light.  Yes, I still have my shadows, my defects of character, but were it not for the light, there would be no shadows!

I am not a religious person but have found a very spiritual presence that fills and feeds my soul.  Yes, the light is my source and I need to just remember who I really am.  I am a woman who is a recovering alcoholic who is grateful for every moment of every day who intends to share this message of hope and optimism and joy with everyone who is meant to hear my message.  Today I have a purpose to fill that empty void of uselessness and unworthiness.

And how do I share this message?  I share by being mindful and respectful of everyone and everything that purposefully comes into my bubble.  Whether it be at an AA meeting, a grocery store, on an airplane, anywhere.  My heart, my Higher Power, tells me whether and what to share.

I am grateful to earn a living sharing this message via my art.  I strive to create art that has meaning and hope and healing and love of self.  Art that brings out the emotion in you and connects our hearts.  Art that helps you to love yourself for who you are and helps you to be grateful for your journey through life and your assets.  Yes, we all do have defects of character, things we need to improve about ourselves that annoy us, but we all have special gifts as well!  Never let go of your special gifts!

Yes, exposing the mind to its source and the light of the self brings your existence into the light everyday.  The clouds begin to pass away and the sun begins to shine more brightly.

Self-Compassion Brings You into the Present

SELF-COMPASSION BRINGS YOU INTO THE PRESENT

(From Oprah and Deepak “Become What You Believe”- Day 13)

OPRAH:

Belief in the power of now, this present moment, is, as Eckart Tolle tells us, “The mightiest way to be alive.”  When we become an aware presence, when we inhabit space apart from past or future, we move into a dimension that is more compassionate and more beautiful, deeper than the ongoing stream of thoughts that are inside us.  Eckart called in “stillness; awakening”.  It’s a place beyond judgment and of freedom and a path to that place.

Life becomes so much more expansive when you release the past and open fully to each present moment.  Apart from the influences of the past and worries of the future you are your true self, open and filled with light.  Deepening your heart space for yourself and others brings you into the fullness of this moment.  Having kind thoughts, loving feelings, a sense of worth,  arise quite powerfully right here in this moment.  And in this present moment comes a sense of aliveness that is sacred…it’s life at its richest.

You do become what you believe, and when you believe in the power and presence that this moment brings, you are in the most joyful way linked to the divine.

DEE:

   Two weeks ago I tried to sit quietly while my husband was having open-heart surgery.  I tried so hard not to think, but to be quiet and in the moment and live from my heart.  Usually I can do this fairly easily…to be mindful of the here and now…what is perfectly right at this moment in front of me.  

   But during those endless hours I prepared for the worst.   I envisioned the doctor telling me my husband didn’t make it.  I envisioned getting on that plane alone and entering our home alone, without him forever.  I envisioned our sons coming to comfort me and to take care of what was to be attended to at that time.

   But being an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and a grateful recovering alcoholic, I quickly reminded myself that I have a Higher Power and that I am not in control.  Everything happens for a reason, with or without my consent or approval.  Get back in the moment, Dee, and enjoy the beautiful hospital grounds and appreciate the excellent staff who so graciously and compassionately embraced us and our situation.

   If there is a greater purpose for my husband off this earth, then be okay with that…embrace that.  If he makes it through the surgery, his life and purpose here is not complete.  But, dang, get back in the moment!

   My husband made it through the surgery.  He is recovering beautifully and I get to enjoy him, share my life with him, for awhile longer!

   And I can forgive myself for those fleeting thoughts and lack of faith that everything happens for a reason.  My faith has been strengthened! 

DEEPAK:

   Overcoming self-judgment is one of the most important ways to reach your true self.  When you no longer judge against yourself, you open a path to the four core beliefs we have been expanding…I am loving and lovable.  I am worthy.  I am safe and trusting.  I am fulfilled and whole.  This is known as the Path of Self-Compassion, the ability to be kind to oneself.  It’s strange to observe how much harder it is to be kind to oneself than to others.  Guilt and shame block our ability to care for ourselves, creating a reality where self-kindness is hard to reach.  But the path of self-compassion is always open.  Self-judgment is based on unreality.  Caring for yourself brings you into the present moment, which is real.  Judging against yourself on the other hand takes you out of the present moment by remembering old hurts, traumas and negative experiences in the past.  For everyone personal reality is a mixture of the present and the past.  When we care for ourselves in any way, kind thoughts bring feelings and a sense of worth arrives here and now.  So self-kindness in the moment comes naturally.  It isn’t necessary to fight against self-judgment.  All the fighting is taking place with memories of the past.  The present moment renews us without a debt to the past.  This is important because the pull of the past is quite strong.  The next time you find yourself feeling guilt or shame gently remind yourself, “That is NOT who I am.”

You are never defined by your thoughts, feelings or memories.  You are the true self renewing itself in every moment.  In everyone’s life there is a gap between the person we are at this moment and the many versions of ourselves we were in the past.  You have played the role of child, sibling, schoolmate, confused adolescent, young adult and many other roles that contribute to your life.  But they are not you real self, here and now.

Once the old conditioning of the past is diminished, it has no hold anymore.  Life becomes the joyful activity of living in the here and now.  You see yourself as the light of life.

The presence of myself is compassionate.

DEE:

Having worked the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous on a few different occasions has taught me how fear-based my life was before getting sober.  It also showed me how empty my life was without a Higher Power.  Today I don’t have to live fear-based nor without a Power Greater than Myself.

   I can overcome self-judgment and that comes with being able to love myself, in my own skin, at this present moment, for who I am and where I came for.  We all have our defects…our negativities.  But we all also have our gifts and uniqueness.  And sharing those gifts…and our experience, strength and hope…with one another I believe is our lifes’ purpose.  Wonderful how different our stories are and how yours enrich my life, and vice versa.

   Stay in the moment.  Love yourself for who you are.  I do!  And share yourself and your journeys with the world!

Dee Harris

DeesignsByHarris.com