COMPASSION CHANGES EVERYTHING

Day 11 – Compassion Changes Everything

 The gift we can offer others is so simple a thing as hope.” – Daniel Berrigan

Compassion is based on the truth that as humans we all have an intrinsic worth and share similar aspirations, fears, and struggles. When we feel compassion for one another, we honor and respect that truth. In today’s meditation, we discover that the openness and expansion of awareness in a compassionate heart helps to nourish the power of hope in our life.

OPRAH:

Today is Day 11 and we’re learning that compassion changes everything.  We all have moments of doubt and uncertainty, moments when patience with others wears thin.  Trying to manage issues of family or work, moments when people you rely on let you down.  Try to remember this the next time you feel that energy coming on.  If you take time to look at people in the light of compassion everything can change.

Powerful forces come into play when you stop and ask, “What do I really know about this person?  I may see them every day but do I know what makes them cry?  Do I know their home circumstances?  Do I know their suffering?”  If you begin to know that each person is a divine being worthy of hope and compassion, your perception of any situation will shift.

Best-selling author Karen Armstrong, a former nun who writes about the role of religion in the modern world says that all the world’s religions have one thing in common…compassion.  She says compassion can be summed up in the Golden Rule, “Never treat others the way you would not like to be treated yourself.”  It comes down to the simple act of listening and respecting others, with kindness.  Karen says, “We don’t have certainty in this life if you let it go and act in this compassionate way all day and every day, you begin to lose your fear.  When fear is removed, compassion flows.  And from that flow, we unleash the power of hope.  That is where our work begins today.  Open your heart.  You will find hope.

DEEPAK:

Compassion is another quality of our consciousness that gives hope its power.  Compassion creates an intimate bond from heart to heart by being open and accepting.  In everyday life when we meet someone who could become a close ally, friend or lover, the first steps usually feel uncertain and nervous.  It can feel vulnerable and when we really feel a strong attraction, that’s when we are most afraid.

Compassion, however, is not constrictive or selective. It radiates like light shining on everyone.  The ego, the part of ourselves always looking to protect itself, can only pretend to be compassionate.  Deep down it wants something in return such as admiration or submission.  We pick and choose who to be emotionally open with because we’re afraid we’ll be hurt if we choose wrong.  Yet the choice is being made from insecurity and distrust to begin with.  Therefore, it’s not reliable.

The alternative is simply to be open and caring without worrying that your love might end up in the wrong hands.  Openness is either with everyone or no one because openness is a quality of the true self.  If you have found this quality through meditation and expanded awareness, being open is simply who you are with everyone.  Openness leads to loss of defensiveness which leads to acceptance of others.  From this acceptance comes compassion because when you look inside anyone else’s heart, you feel your heart.

We tend to exalt unconditional compassion as a spiritual quality possessed only by saints.  But compassion is a shared inheritance that comes from inside.  You begin to grow in compassion by feeling empathy.  Empathy is like emotional merging, whether you cry at a romantic movie with a sad ending or feel joy at the marriage of a friend.  An ego barrier melts if only for a few moments and your empathy flows outward of its own accord.  When you are empathetic you feel what another feels; you are one in that moment, connected to your shared consciousness.

You can bring empathy into any situation overriding your ego and simply saying or doing something kind.  If you can accept that people are doing the best they can from their level of consciousness, you no longer need to judge.  You feel sympathy and compassion rises on its own from a flowing heart.

CENTERING THOUGHT

I meet any situation with loving kindness.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Karuna Hum

I am compassion.

DEE:

Before getting clean and sober I felt like a waste of space on this planet.  I had no purpose.  I had no worth.  Having been graced with recovery I feel I have found my purpose and that is to share my “experience, strength and hope”.

Sharing with others is not an easy feat.  It took a long time for me to build self-esteem and self-worth with the love and fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  But over time, one day at a time, I can finally say I am comfortable in my skin and I value and love myself for who and what I am.  When fear is removed, compassion flows.  And from that flow, we unleash the power of hope.

I have found practicing rigorous honesty with those who enter my “Dee bubble” is the easiest and most freeing way to sharing my experience, strength and hope.  I am no longer ashamed of being an alcoholic, nor am I hesitant to share that information.  For I am an alcoholic in recovery forever grateful and humbled for being chosen to carry this message.  My life is good today.  I have happiness and peace and freedom.  How can I not share this gift?

And when one enters my bubble I strive to not judge.  I strive to be compassionate and mindful and respectful.  Putting myself in others’ shoes is so much easier than copping resentments or being judgmental about them.  My growth is huge from this practice.  And the bonds I have made with complete strangers is priceless!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Art with a Message, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a peaceful day!

From Oprah Winfrey & Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Challenge “Hope in Uncertain Times”.

The Reality of Inner Strength

Day 10 – The Reality of Inner Strength 

“Hope is the sun. It is light. It is passion. It is the fundamental force for life’s blossoming.” – Daisaku Ikeda

Despite what modern cultural beliefs tell us, true personal strength is not about power, influence, or domination. Real strength comes from a sense of inner security, peace, and contentment. Our meditation today shows us that this real strength is available in the peaceful, contented consciousness of our true self.

OPRAH:

How do you define success?  For me success is getting to the point where you are absolutely comfortable with yourself.  It takes some work to get there.  Welcome to Day 10 – The Reality of Inner Strength.

For a long time at the beginning of each year I used to ask God through my resolutions to help me master a new virtue.  The year I requested strength I was confronted with one exhausting sole-sucking experience after another.  After that year I quit asking for what I thought I wanted.  Now I just take what comes.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  I can rely on the strength I inherited from those who came before me.  Each one of us has ancestors who were tested with unimaginable hardships; and they survived.  When I try something new or I’m faced with a challenge I bring all of my history with me, all of the people who paved the way for me.  Everything I’ve ever done in my life is a part of who I am.  I take my strength from their strength.

I’ve also come to realize where there is no struggle, there is no strength.  Inner strength comes from having been challenged, having adversity and often pain in the problems that make you want to throw your hands up and shout, “I give in”, and can also build your tenacity. courage and determination.

We all have the ability to stand up, face resistance and walk through it.  If you feel you’re walking into fear, know that you already have the enduring power that you’re asking for.  Then say thank you because you know at your truest core your greatest struggle will produce your deepest strength.

The mantra for today’s meditation rings true for me.  I know it’s ultimately true…being at peace is my greatest strength.  Let’s embrace that peace.

DEEPAK:

Generally speaking many people lead lives that seem stable and purposeful, but deep down they feel insecure and anxious.  We’ve been talking about trust and hope, and nothing destroys hope more than feeling insecure.

The opposite of insecurity is strength.  What does it mean to be strong?  Looking around we can see the strength of an authority figure like a boss who dominates others.  With or without consent they take charge and make it clear that only their will, their desires, and their emotions are important.  This is a sad distortion of true strength.

Society rewards this distorted strength by giving some people power and millions of others seem more than happy to give away their power to those who appear strong.  All of this comes about because we haven’t learned how to be strong inside ourselves.  Out of insecurity we build defenses to keep threats away and defenses like castle walls enclose a small protected area while shutting out the great wide world.

When you feel safe and secure inside yourself the world expands infinitely because consciousness is infinite.  When you feel strong inside you don’t feel afraid, anxious and isolated; you are open to life instead.  And in openness there is strength.

In meditation you experience the unchanging level of awareness that cannot be shaken.  This is permanent strength.  In practical terms becoming strong feels like a puppy who is safe only beside its mother until its curiosity lures it into the outside world.  At first the puppy rushes back to its mother’s side when it feels unsafe.  But over time standing on its own feels natural and right.  It has no more desire to be protected by another.

The self behaves the same way.  It starts out needing protection or the illusion of protection by clinging to externals like money, status, ego-strokes, the bonds of relationships, developing a fit body, etc.  These are good things on their own.  But they aren’t good if they reinforce the attitude of “me against the world” or “us versus them”…in other words, a defensive posture.

The secret is to experiment with standing up for yourself, speaking your truth, holding fast when you must, and always taking responsibility.  When your inner strength and hope gets activated you realized there was never a “you against the world” or “us versus them”.  There was only the power of hope in your consciousness and the reality it constructs.

CENTERING THOUGHT

Being at peace is my greatest strength.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Om Gum Namah

Expansive consciousness dissolves obstacles.

DEE:

As a younger human being I developed the notion that power and strength was external.  Probably too many cartoons.  But today I cherish the power and strength that is within me, not the forceful kind, but the calm and peaceful kind.

It has taken me many decades to finally be comfortable in my own skin and to actually love who I am.  And I owe that to finding and clinging to a Power Greater Than Myself.  I was awarded this Higher Power when I realized I’m a sick puppy, I cannot stop drinking.  I’m a loser.  I have no self-control.  What the hell is the matter with me?  An alcohol treatment program and Alcoholics Anonymous showed me that I can have a higher power of my own understanding and that I can turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him.

So I faked it ’til I maked it.  I made up my own higher power, turned myself over to its care, and my life has never been the same.  I was able to quiet my mind.  I was able to open my heart.  I was able to become rigorously honest.  I was able to shed the guilt and shame.  I was given a new lease on life that I never “thought” possible!

Today I allow my Higher Power to be in the driver’s seat of our pink convertible cadillac, drive me through life, and teach me the lessons I need to learn.  I can just go with the flow doing the best I know how.  And life today is good.  Life today is easy.  No expectations; no disappointments.

Yes, I’ve had my struggles.  I’ve battled my demons.  I surrendered.  I got sober.  My inner strength and hope got activated.  And from that journey I have been lead to a peaceful and contented life.  What is hope for me?  Hope is my Higher Power.  I know, I “feel” that everything is perfect at this very moment.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Art with a Message, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a peaceful day!

From Oprah Winfrey & Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Challenge “Hope in Uncertain Times”.

How to Truly Trust in Yourself

Day 9 – How to Truly Trust in Yourself

“Assurance of hope is more than life, it is health, strength… and beauty.” – John Charles Ryle

Today’s meditation is about finding a deeper understanding of the word “trust.” Typically, trust is something we have in other people or situations. But such a trust is as fragile as the next unexpected event that could change everything. But there is an unchanging, stable presence of awareness within, which is your true self. When you learn to center yourself in that awareness, you trust in your true self. From there you can never lose that inner trust regardless of what others may say or do.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Day 9 of our 21-day meditation experience.  Today is a big day.  You’re opening the door to trusting yourself, your deepest, most essential you.

At some point most of us have been betrayed, hurt or rejected making it difficult to trust other people.  And many times the real problem isn’t that we can’t trust other people it’s that we really can’t trust ourselves.

Best-selling author and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant says, “There’s no greater battle than the battle between the parts of you that want to be healed and the parts of you that are comfortable and content remaining broken.”

Are you in a fight with the world or are you in a fight with part of you that says, “You’re not good enough” or “You can’t do that.”  Well those battles are struggles of the ego.  When you trust your true self you listen and believe the part of you that knows, “You can.  You can do this.  You can do better.”

Iyanla says the key to trust is going within, following your intuition and facing the unknown.  Even though you can’t control the unknown you can control what you believe.  Your beliefs determine what you manifest in your life.  And when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you can trust that, no matter what happens, greater and grander possibilities will rise up in your life.

This meditation is about trusting yourself.  Let’s listen to Deepak and let the trust deepen.

DEEPAK:

When the realization dawns that inner awareness can take care of life, there is an end to struggle, self-doubt, pessimism, anxiety and lack of trust.  As real hope grows within

a sense of trust and self-assurance rises with it.  This kind of trust based on an unchanging core of consciousness is quite different than our conventional understanding of trust.

For almost everyone the feeling of trust depends on whether other people do and say what you expect of them.  But if you’ve had experiences where your trust was betrayed you know how fragile trust can be.  If our trust requires that other people in outside situations won’t change, then our trust will always be weak.

Because people’s life situations are always changing and unpredictable, basing trust on the expectation of permanence, is unrealistic and below the surface of that kind of trust.

There is doubt and fear.  Real trust must be based on something unchanging, permanent and, therefore, reliable.  That foundation is inside yourself and you have been experiencing it in mediation.

Trusting in the true self is the same as trusting in pure consciousness, the core of your being.  Trusting in yourself is the opposite of having a big ego.  It’s recognizing your true strength, value and ability for what is.  If you don’t look for this inner trust and strength in ourselves, we can mistakenly believe an outside authority can provide it to us.

There are authoritarian figures who may project supreme self-confidence and strength.  But this projection holds up only if others give their power to them.  Trusting in someone else who says they can protect or save you because they have the strength or intelligence you don’t have will only diminish your connection of your own strength, hope, and self-trust.  This is what it means to give your power away to someone.  But your hope, trust, love and creativity is your essence;  it’s your power, and your life.

When hope and trust are grounded in the true self you don’t need to look to others for direct or strength.  You’re confident in your ability to create your personal reality because your trust in yourself is unshakable.

CENTERING THOUGHT

I trust in life because I trust myself.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Om Eem Hreem

My reality is pure intelligence and wholeness.

DEE:

In order to trust in my true self I must first know who and what my true self is, right?  I have to say I was blessed in finding out who and what I am by being an alcoholic.  It wasn’t until I was in Alcoholics Anonymous that I was given a toolbox for living which included a lesson-plan in Step 4 of The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which lead me to discovering who I am and what makes me tick.  Exciting, yeah, that that foundation is inside yourself?

Now that I’ve finally discovered my true self, I can be comfortable in my own skin.  I can finally love the person that I am, defects and all.  I can realize that I am not just a barrel-full of defects, but that I also have my God-given gifts.  And one of these gifts is sobriety.  And in order for me to keep that gift (which I wouldn’t exchange for anything in the world!) I must give it away.  So now I have a purpose as well…to share my experience, strength and hope with all who enter my “Dee Bubble”.  I had none of this before surrendering to a Power Greater Than Myself (another huge gift of Alcoholics Anonymous) and being sick and tired of being sick and tired in my disease.

I can trust my thoughts and actions today because I have turned my will and life over to my Higher Power.  I’m just along for the ride of my life which is so much easier and lighter and fulfilling and pleasant since I have changed my thinking and myself!  Yes, I trust in life because I trust myself…and my Higher Power!

I am not a spokesperson nor representative of Alcoholics Anonymous, but I am a true believer of the Steps and Traditions.  If you find yourself needing to discover who you really are, there are a wealth of support groups to fit your needs.  I highly recommend taking some time to delve deep within yourself, to shed the shit that weighs you down, to focus on your gifts and to share those gifts!  Get out of your comfort zone (or shall I say “uncomfort zone”) and discover the gifts the Universe has waiting for you!

With much aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Art with a Message, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy the day!

Activating the Hope Inside You

Day 8Activating the Hope Inside You

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love.” – Bradley Whitford

In today’s meditation, we discover that to activate hope within we only need to bring attention to the presence of our awareness: the quiet consciousness that is having an experience of reading right now. Activated hope will then begin to gradually exert its transformative effect in our daily thoughts, feelings, and actions. Life becomes easier, more fluid, and more enjoyable.

OPRAH:

Welcome to Week 2 where we begin to explore where hope can take you.  The journey is transformative.  Today is Day 8 – Activating the Hope Inside You.  I believe hope flourishes when you are in the flow.

I remember a photo I pulled from O Magazine of a woman gliding through water.  It was such a striking image of freedom and possibility.  I put it on my vision board.  Some time later after a swimming lesson I passed by my vision board and I had an “ah ha moment”.  I had become that woman gliding through the water.  For years I’d been a challenged swimmer afraid of the water.  Fighting it I realized all I needed was to learn to move with the flow…literally.

This is one of the great metaphors of life, “Move with the flow.”  Don’t fight the current.  Resist nothing.  Let life carry you.  Don’t try to carry it.  Deepak tells us that if you get this idea, that this is the moment, the only moment you that have, then you live in the present and you move with the flow of that.  The point of arrival is “now”.

So many of us look to the future for our moment of happiness or contentment.  “I will be happy when…”  But when we get there we don’t recognize it because we are not present for “it”.  And that’s how many people lose hope.  They miss the moment.

I also believe that allowing the truth of who you are, your spiritual self to rule your life, gets you into a flow that activates hope and defeats the struggles that show up in life.  As Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth, “There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living.  The secret of all success and happiness.  ONE WITH LIFE.  Being one with life is being one with now.”  You then realize that you don’t live your life but your life lives “you”.  Life is the dancer and you are the dance.  The hope, joy and vitality that being committed that dance are unmatched by any pleasure you can imagine.  It takes being committed to experience life’s beautiful essence.  And that is the decision that you make daily.

Deepak is going to guide us to activate the hope inside.

DEEPAK:

By activating hope and awareness you bring new possibilities to light within yourself.  You do not have to force yourself to feel hope; you summon it as part of who you are, allowing your trust and optimism to arise naturally.  To activate hope we bring attention to our presence of awareness.  This awareness is like the screen on which our feelings, thoughts and sensations are projected.  Typically we only pay attention to these contents of the mind, but not the presence of awareness which makes all experience possible.

In meditation we experience that inner awareness which activates the qualities of consciousness, including hope.  And then what?  Daily life goes on as before except that a shift starts to occur.  We discover first in small ways that life can take care of itself.  This is the activation of hope and consciousness beginning to exert its organizing, harmonizing, and creative power in our life.  This is a transformative discovery.

Most of us are so used to the idea that we need to control our lives.  The notion that life can take care of itself from our awareness seems impossible.  But the infinite intelligence of consciousness has always been taking care of life.  Your body has always been functioning and thriving without your conscious direction or control.  Your heart beats without you choosing to make it happen.

The struggles and obstacles we encounter in daily life are the result of losing contact with the cosmic intelligence of our present awareness.  Hope becomes real when in any situation you trust that your awareness can lead you to a resolution.  However, this is not passively watching and waiting.  Awareness remains alert to the signals coming to you from inside at the level of insight and intuition and from outside.

In practical terms the process is quite simple.  You recognize an issue that needs attention.  You hold an open and neutral intention for a creative solution, then you let go and you allow the presence of your individual awareness to join universal awareness and show you what’s next.

This is the secret of creative living.  Living with hope and optimism.  When you notice hope arises naturally and effortlessly then you will also notice it is truly activated and supporting you.  Life takes care of itself more and more as awareness expands.

CENTERING THOUGHT

Today I activate my hope.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Om Shara Vana Ya

My awareness is aligned with the creative power of the universe.

DEE:

Before getting sober I had no hope.  I wasn’t in the flow.  The only feeling activated in me was one of feeling shitty.  I would open my eyes to blue-bird skies after an epic night of snowfall wishing I would have awakened earlier to make first tracks in the virgin snow.  I wish I would have awakened with clarity and purpose.  I wish I would have awakened rather than have “come to”.  I wish I would have felt energetic and joyful.

“Moving with the flow” is a treasured gift I have today.  It did not present itself overnight as living in the disease of alcoholism was a hell I lived through that went on “like forever”.  There are many gifts I have today that are the results of my being a work in progress.  Yes, progress not perfection.  Yes, progress…activation…movement…and purpose.

Allowing the truth of who I am and finding my spiritual self has brought me to a place today of being filled with great hope.  This did not happen by coincidence.  This didn’t happen by my own accord.  This happened because a Power Greater Than Myself knew that I was ready to move on, to fulfill my purpose.  “When the student is ready, the master appears.”

So through a series of incomprehensible and demoralizing events, I was able to admit I need help.  My HP (Higher Power) I didn’t even know yet brought me to a treatment facility where I learned the truth of who and what I am, where I began to find I had a spiritual self, where the beginning of my new life began.  And it was to this HP to whom I learned to turn my will and my life over.  So not easy.  So against every fiber of my being.  But that other way of life was apparently not working for me, so I would just “fake it ’til I make it”.  It worked!  My life got easier; my brain shut off; I got better!

Aloha, Dee

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

*From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Mediation Experience about Hope.