10 Ways to Align with Your Purpose or Dharma

10 Ways to Align with Your Purpose or Dharma

By Nicolette Stinson

What would happen if you stopped trying to “find your purpose” and instead started vulnerably showing up as you are, ready to be of service?

The spiritual Law of Dharma states that for every special talent, the world has a unique need that can only be filled by the expression of that talent. You can make the fullest use of the Law of Dharma by committing to serve others through your unique creative expression, in whatever form that takes.

Dee:

Before getting sober I had no purpose. I oftentimes “thought” that I was a waste of space on the planet. Of course, drinking every day, having to drink every day, and living in that negative so-called life, didn’t help me get more positive nor purposeful.

 

Once you get out of your head and stop pondering what you are meant to do with your life and instead take action to serve others in any way you can, you begin to align with purpose. What gets in the way of most people taking action in this way is the courage to go for what they truly want, take chances, and be fully seen.

Dee:

I know, I feel, today that finding my purpose was no coincidence. I really believe

that everything happens for a reason and that at any given moment everything is perfect. Of course, I didn’t see nor feel that in my disease of alcoholism. I didn’t realize that that was my necessary journey to bring me to where I am today. Purposeful. To share my experience, strength and hope with that one person who needs a glimmer of hope at this moment.

Aligning with your purpose in life requires visibility and vulnerability. It requires pouring your heart into something that means the world to you with detachment and expressing yourself without expectation of outcome.

Dee:

I am so passionate about my sobriety, my recovery, my journey. Today I live, breathe, and bleed this gift and sharing it with you. My life, my relationships, my work, my everything comes from my sobriety.

I would not be so passionate about it if it weren’t good. But it’s awesome! To have a sense of purpose, gratitude and humility was so unfamiliar to me before getting sober. Today I have choices. I have a choice to not drink or drug which I truly did not have before surrendering and asking for help. But unless I give it away…this sobriety, these choices, this hope and compassion…I cannot keep it. I must give away what was so freely given me when I needed it most in order to keep it. I don’t want to let this go.

Aligning with my purpose of sharing my journey…my experience, strength and hope…did not come easy. It did require visibility and vulnerability. I was most uncomfortable sharing my rigorous honesty on social media. But in order to keep this gift I had to crawl out of my comfort zone and be ready for bigger and better gifts. I listened to my heart, quieted the fear in my head, and just did it.

But I did it in a roundabout kind of way. Having just taken an early retirement from the grocery business to go full-throttle as an artist, it was suggested I use social media to promote my business. Not knowing at the time intending to

promote my art I was really promoting recovery. That was my life. My everything. I continue promoting that message today. The art and business comes later.

Researcher Brene Brown, in her research on vulnerability, found that letting yourself be seen as well as loving and serving without expectation is key to living life with a deep sense of worthiness or purpose.

Dee:

When I first got sober back in 1998 I had such guilt, remorse and shame. I was so blessed to get sober in a treatment facility that taught me about the disease of alcoholism. I did not choose to be an alcoholic any more than I chose to be a female or of Chinese descent. I was born this way and had to not only accept these facts, but embrace them and love them which eventually led me to being able to accept, embrace and love my disease…and myself.

I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous (for which I am NOT a representative nor spokesperson, but a true believer!) which gave me a toolbox for living. I learned about me, Dee, and what makes me tick. I got to choose a Power Greater Than Myself over to whom I could turn my will and my life. I got to stop living from my head and enjoy and be comfortable living from my heart. Things started to look positive, hopeful, to make sense. The puzzle pieces really started to fit together.

I began to realize the fellowship in AA loved and served me without expectation which only strengthened my purpose and gave me confidence. I also realized that I was not unique, nor alone on this journey. What a comfort and a weight lifted from my shoulders! Today I can serve without expectation. No expectations, no disappointments.

If your purpose ultimately blossoms through your willingness to show up, be seen, and be of service, then perhaps the important question is not “How do I find my purpose?”, but is instead, “How can I authentically show up in service for those who need me most today?”

Dee:

The first half of my first 13-1/2 years of sobriety I suited up, showed up, and did everything AA suggested I do to have a better life and stay sober. But, one day at a time, I found myself in complacency and busy-ness enjoying the gifts of

sobriety. I stopped giving away what was so freely given me when I needed it most. I stopped connecting with newcomers and forgot my journey. I drank.

But even though I spewed out the words, “No, thank you, I haven’t had a drink in 13-1/2 years”, I drank that shot of tequila that yelled at me and that was left for me in case I changed my mind. I was weak, complacent, selfish. My insurance policy had lapsed by ceasing going to meetings and sharing my recovery. My Higher Power has such a sense of humor…and such a plan for me. With that first shot came an immediate urge for more…along with the guilt, shame, hiding, lying, and all the negativity that comes with being active in any disease.

I want to spend my energy in positive ways today, not searching for the next high, then hiding it. It’s way too exhausting for me living that way. Today, once again in recovery, one day at a time, I am happy, joyous and free! and careful to stick close to the fellowship of AA.

Below are 10 ways you can discover your own answers to that important question and align yourself with your purpose or dharma:

1. Be Yourself

Here is the chance to use that timeless advice from your mother, “Just be yourself, honey, and everyone will love you.” The more authentically YOU that you are, the better chance you have of connecting with the people who need you most. Plus, it’s so much easier than trying to be someone you aren’t. Don’t put on an act or try to be someone else, be yourself and share where you are NOW in your journey with others.

Dee:

Wow! This says it all! Before getting sober I was so fear-based. All of me was about winning your approval as I had no self-confidence nor self-worth. I sacrificed everything to look good for you on the outside until I had nothing left to give.

AA’s Twelve Steps have changed my life. It just happened to work out this way on my journey through life. By working the 4th, 5th and 6th Steps I could finally understand why I was the way I was. So freeing it’s magical!

Today I can love myself for who I am with all my flaws and imperfections. I no longer worry about whether or not you will like me. If you don’t, you don’t. I don’t take it personally. You and the rest of the world are on your own journeys. I

just have to take care of me and answer to that Power Greater Than Myself. If We are on good terms, if I’m doing and being the best I can, then We’re good.

If I stay in the moment, in the present, in the space in front of my nose, then I shall give you my full attention, respect and compassion that you deserve. You were also not put in “my bubble” at random; there are no coincidences. And sharing myself with you in a rigorously honest way might just give you that glimmer of hope you didn’t have before we met. I can go to sleep thankful.

BUT…there are those other kind of people out in the world who don’t live in the sunlight of the spirit. Their words and actions can hurt. But only if we let them and have not yet reached that place of self-worth and self-love. Again, everyone is on their own journeys, some not so pretty, some brought up in negativity and hatred. You know, we ALL have our “diseases”. Just offer compassion and respect.

2. Be Consistent

You will create an impact with your efforts to live inside your purpose when you keep showing up even when it feels like you aren’t creating any real results. When you keep putting yourself out there in the same consistent way every day eventually you will hit a tipping point and your efforts will bear fruit. Be consistent in not only how often you put yourself out there, but also in the way you show up. People trust and respond to consistent efforts.

Dee:

For me that means I have to walk my talk. I can write these blogs and pitch sermons until I’m blue in the face, buy my actions speak louder than words! I wouldn’t be fooling anyone but myself. My head would start running the show again. I would distance myself from my Higher Power. Gratitude and humility would disappear.

I’m not going there. Not today anyway. From past experiences, at least with alcohol addiction, not walking my talk wasn’t so apparent while my head told me everything was peachy until I picked up that shot of tequila. Then I realized that was my head, and my disease, talking, telling me everything was just fine. Cunning. Baffling. Powerful.

 

3. Be Bold

Stay in action and don’t be afraid to say what you think and what is really happening with you behind the scenes. Authenticity and vulnerability are bold, and they will help you align with your true purpose.

Dee:

There’s that Rigorous Honesty I’ve learned about in AA. If I lay the cards out on the table for you at the onset, I don’t have to spend energy later wondering what I said or how I behaved later. I’ve lived through many a black-out and never want to go there again.

I trust my gut to pick up on your vibe whether or not you are receptive to my journey. My gut has never lied to me and no one has ever walked away disgruntled or in disbelief. I have only received hugs and words of kindness for sharing my true self and my life with you.

4. Be Helpful

Show up with value and solutions. People will notice you and respect you if you help them solve a legitimate problem they are facing or fulfill a desire they have. Being genuinely helpful will help to attract people and opportunities into your life. Give to others without expectation of anything in return.

Dee:

This is like being an AA sponsor. Being in the moment. Attentive. Respectful. Listening. Anonymous! Noticing tone and body language. Making sure they truly want my rigorous honesty (which sometimes is not what they want to hear) and knowing what comes from me is only my opinion or suggestion. And being thankful to the recipient for trusting me and allowing me to share my experience, strength and hope. Keeps me humble. Keeps me grateful. Keeps me sober.

5. Be Choosy

Don’t dilute your energies. Being specific with the way you want to serve will help you align with your purpose. You won’t find fulfillment in trying to be everything to everyone. Determine what specific kind of effect you want to have in your service to others. Choosing your “signature” style doesn’t limit who and when you serve, it simply focuses your energy to the impact you want to create.

 

Dee:

2017 has been year of growing my art business. 2016 was a year of growing my recovery service. 2018 will be a year of happy mediums. All I know is that no matter which direction my Higher Power drives me in the new year, I shall enjoy the ride and continue the excitement of learning, growing, and sharing. My gut (no pun intended) is also pulling me in the direction of more Dee time (nature, quiet time, meditation, exercise, and FUN)!

6. Be Friendly

Being kind and showing up as a friendly face will do wonders for you in aligning with your purpose and make you happier while you do it! Spread joy always.

Dee:

Being friendly for me means I’ve got to stay in the moment…grateful and humble. I remember being a grocery checker with customers always saying, “Why are you so happy?” I would reply, “Sure beats the alternative.” And that is how I try to live my life. In the positive. My head, but especially today my heart, can turn any negative into a positive. Any glass half empty to half full. Such an awesome way to live!

Also when a grocery checker my boss would ask if I wanted to go into management. Although I tactfully didn’t say this, “Hell, no, I’m happy. Why would I want to be like you?”, I would reply, “Thank you for asking, but ‘No”, I’m happy right where I am.”

Although I don’t feel I have a mean bone in my body, I can so easily think nasty thoughts and have fun with them. However, I do remember when making amends to my kids they told me how mean I was when I was drinking. Today, one day at a time, I choose to not become that person. Today I am truly happy, joyous and free!

7. Be Imaginative

Try new things, let your mind and imagination wander. If you are feeling burnt out or like you have plateaued, try to implement something new that you never even thought about doing. Adding creativity and variety to your life will allow you to open up to new possibilities and opportunities that may bring you into deeper alignment with your purpose.

 

Dee:

I have such the imagination, and a sick one at that. I love horror flicks. I love living in a make-believe world. I’m kinda Disney. I don’t wanna grow up…I’m a Toys’R’Us kid. And that is me. And I thrive on being me, in my honesty.

I wake up each morning excited to take on the day. The day in which my Higher Power drives me around in our pink convertible Cadillac and I go along for the ride learning and experiencing what I need to experience, growing to the next level, and then sharing that. It’s like a magic carpet ride!

8. Be Vulnerable

Be willing to be imperfect. The only way to move forward is to take action and get feedback. Sometimes this requires you to be vulnerable and jump before you are totally “ready.” As mentioned in the introduction, being willing to be vulnerable dramatically increases your alignment with purpose.

Dee:

Back in the day I was afraid to get negative feedback or make an ass of myself, because I had no self-worth. Today I’m okay with that. I learn from every experience. I get better with every experience. I grow with every experience. I am not perfection; I am progress. And I love the journey I’m on being a human being with a positive outlook. One day at a time I leave my comfort zone. Tiny baby steps. If I don’t like it, I go back. Learning. Growing.

9. Be Savvy

Stay on top of the trends that are happening in the world. Keep yourself educated and find new and creative ways to serve others and the planet. Life as you know it is currently changing at a faster pace than ever before, so being savvy and resourceful will allow you to be of service in a way that is innovative and transformational and aligns with the collective purpose of the planet.

Dee:

I’m a news junkie. I told you I had a sick imagination, but I have a sick sense of humor as well. Although the news is fully inundated with negative shit, I realize that that is what sells news. I know that there are those out in the real world who live and feel like me. We’re good people. And from our actions we start that ripple effect of positivity and hope, love and kindness. Tiny baby steps.

 

10. Be a Star

Don’t be afraid to claim your gifts, get out there, work, and create meaningful relationships. Let your light shine and be a light for others!

Dee:

I am not asking for kudos, money, notoriety, none of that. I write because it makes me feel good. I go to meetings because it makes me feel good. If somethings is ailing me, I put it in the God Box, write or share it in one way or another, and take the power out of it. Sharing my experience, strength and hope is my way of giving thanks for this awesome life with which I’ve been blessed. If I don’t give it away, I cannot keep it!

When I was leaving the treatment center for alcoholism I remember (and copping a resentment as well) my counselor saying to me going back to real life as a mom, a wife, and a grocery checker, that what I was doing was such a waste. I was proud of what I was doing and I did it well What did she mean? Today I understand my purpose, coming only from this journey of mine through life. The pieces of the puzzle are all starting to come together, to make sense. Dang exciting!

Wishing you all a “glass half full” New Year! With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in checking out my Art with a Message of Inspiration (the reason I started this blog three years ago), please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and enjoy!

Get the resources you need to gain a clear sense of direction and purpose in your life with The Chopra Center’s Discover Your Purpose Toolkit, which includes a free e-book, worksheet, 1:1 discovery session, and guided meditation. Get your free toolkit now.

About the Author

Nicolette Stinson

Certified Coach, Yoga Instructor and Perfect Health Instructor

Nicolette is an online personal brand strategist for coaches and wellness professionals. She is also a Certified Coach, Chopra Center Perfect Health Instructor, and Yoga Teacher as well as an avid student of mindfulness, creativity, personal development, and spirituality. Visit http://www.nicolettestinson.com to learn more.

From The Chopra Center.

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3 Common Holiday Stressors—and How to Cope

3 Common Holiday Stressors—and How to Cope

By Tris Thorp

Holidays are a time for coming together with loved ones to celebrate seasonal festivities. And yet, the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of year for many people. Pressure to spend money, time, and energy on things that society deems important can leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and fearful of what may happen if you don’t keep up with the Joneses.

Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sang Andy Williams originally in 1963. As children, it’s likely that the holidays were a time of excitement, anticipation, wonder, and cookies! Things were so much simpler when you didn’t have to work long hours and worry about being spread thin from the cost of gifts, décor, and travel. You were free from planning the guest list and the menus, and you didn’t have to fret about challenging family dynamics.

Stressors Increase During the Holidays

As adults—both young and seasoned—you’re now aware of all that goes into holiday expectations and the guilt associated with not following through with what society has deemed appropriate. As if life hasn’t become busy enough, you’re now faced with how we’re going to manage everything from our finances to finding extra time to plan, shop and entertain, and the ensuing exhaustion. For some, the holidays may bring up emotions of sadness or loneliness from the loss of a loved one or not having that special someone to share them with. Regardless of your individual stressors there is a percentage of people who would rather pull the covers over their head for two months and sleep through all of the end-of-year celebrations.

Dee:

“What society has deemed appropriate”.  Key words for me and from which I try to stay away.  Lived there most of my life, trying to be what society deemed appropriate.  I lived in fear that I wasn’t performing well enough.  My expectations were so high and I could never achieve what I thought was good enough.

I turned to substances when stressed by not living up to expectations of society (really my expectations).  I was so worried about impressing you and not feeling good about myself that I was an absolute mess.

After many decades of living this way I hit my bottom.  I found myself in a treatment center for alcoholism and that’s where I slowly began to understand and eventually love myself.  It’s been a long yet rewarding journey to not turn to substances and away from life.  Today I get to go to bed being thankful for being the best I can be, for doing the best I could, for being me, and loving me.  And if that’s not good enough for Society, that’s okay; it’s good enough for me and my Higher Power of My Own Understanding.  Period.

According to a 2015 survey conducted by Healthline, a consumer health information site, 62 percent of respondents described their stress level as “very or somewhat” elevated during the holidays, while only 10 percent reported no stress during the season. Three of the biggest holiday stressors are finances, time, and energy. Let’s explore how the effects of stress in these three areas can show up.

Stressor: Money and Finances

It should come as no surprise that money tops the list of holiday stressors. According to a 2012 Holiday Stress Report from the American Psychological Association, stress has a major impact on lower middle class citizens who feel “the weight of stress from work plus the seasonal rush to find time to get everything done. In addition, their worries about money are heightened by the commercialism of the season and the pressure to spend a lot of money.” Commercialism plays a huge role in holiday stress with in-your-face pressure to spend, spend, spend!

Dee:

A big change I’ve made is no holiday gift-giving.  My husband is anti-“Hallmark” holidays and the commercialism that comes from them.  I now agree and do my gift-giving when I find something that touches my heart for that special someone all throughout the year.  So that special someone receives a gift “just because I’m thinking of you and love you” that is not crunched underneath a stack of boxes under the Christmas tree or on the birthday table.  A gift that is special and alone and can be appreciated all by itself on a “nothing” day.  And no standing in long lines at the post office or fighting the crowds in department stores.  This has worked beautifully for me.

Stressor: Time

The holidays can increase your stress when it comes to your time and how it’s spent. Some people get generous holiday leave from their careers while others find themselves working up to the last minute and having to return again the day after.

Another big consideration is managing the expectations of others when it comes to how you choose to spend your time. Or the expectations may be self-imposed: “I should go see my family but I’d rather sit on my couch and watch all seven seasons of Game of Thrones than travel 2,500 miles.” Or, “I’m supposed to go to the company holiday party but I have no time to shop for a new dress and shoes.”

Dee:

Go with what feels right in your heart, not your head.  My head rationalizes me into self-destruction.  I cannot afford to go there.  I have a God Box in which to put my problems, get a good night’s sleep, and get the answer I need when “I’m ready to hear it”.  We all have clouds in the sky.  Embrace your problems and dilemmas, being thankful for them, and then let them go into the clouds, being swooshed far, far away.  The answers will come if you have a Power Greater Than Yourself to run the show.  That Power is NOT you!  Have faith!

Stressor: Energy—Mental, Emotional, Physical

Another major player in holiday stress is the mental, emotional, and physical toll it takes on you. The misconception is that you can become drained of your energy. It’s impossible to be depleted of energy. Energy is something you have an endless supply of because it’s what you are made up of, at least from a quantum-physics perspective.

However, you can be mentally scattered and defocused. You can feel emotionally overwhelmed and experience physical exhaustion. Where you are putting your attention is where your energy will flow. If you’re not monitoring where you’re directing your energy, it is possible for you to feel the effects of being pushed and pulled in several directions, giving you the impression that you’re drained of energy.

Dee:

It’s so hard for this alcoholic in recovery to find that happy medium, that balance, that “everything in moderation”.  And I pay for it.  Daily.  Everything is so “common sense”, right in my face, yet I am an all-or-nothing personality.  I work hard to find that happy medium regarding my mental, emotional and physical well-being.  I’m a work in progress.  The seeds have been planted.  It’s up to me to nurture those seeds…and my well-being.

How to Cope: Find Your Place of Harmony

The biggest favor you can do for yourself and everyone around you is to find your place of harmony in the midst of all that is spiraling around you. Stress can be described as how you respond to life’s obstacles and challenges. Much of the stress you encounter during the holidays (or any other time of year) can be managed effectively by bringing your awareness to your:

1.Perception and interpretation of what’s happening

2.Highest possible intention or outcome

3.Decision about how you are going to proceed

Dee:

Again, the God Box, the faith, the knowing I am not in the driver’s seat, but along for the ride to learn and grow how God sees fit knowing what I can and cannot handle.  No reacting.  Just accepting that everything is perfect at this very moment in front of my face.  I’m right where I need to be.

How to Cope: How Are You Perceiving and Interpreting What’s Happening?

Everything you experience is run through your internal filtering system which is where you evaluate or analyze what happened and you try to make sense of it. Your rational mind is always trying to understand, distinguish, and categorize what you experience as good or bad, right or wrong, scary or safe.

With increased awareness, you can consciously begin to shift the way you are choosing to perceive and interpret your experiences. This puts you in a position to see what’s happening through a different lens and let go of your mental and emotional conviction of what you believe is the reality of the situation. For example, “I’m not in a financial position to afford gifts for my family and friends” could be your reality. Looking at from another perspective, however, you may not have extra money this year for gifts but you can still give people the gift of your attention, love, appreciation, and affection.

Dee:

And what better gift is there than mindfulness, being in the moment, giving the gift of respect and attention and true caring that each and every one of us deserves?  Eye contact.  Full attention.  A genuine hug of compassion.  Didn’t cost a penny.  And this is a gift I try to give everyone who enters my “Dee bubble” on a daily basis.  Again, this takes work and mindfulness, but is so worth the effort!

How to Cope: What Is Your Highest Intention in This Situation?

As you find yourself getting caught up in the melodrama of emotions, the frenzy of “will I get everything done in time?” and the stress of feeling spun out, stop and ask yourself “What is my ultimate highest intention in this situation?” What is it that you want and need to do with your time? Is your intention to have a calm, relaxing, and enjoyable evening with friends? Do you want to move through the situation with effortless ease and grace, while deciding how you will choose to spend your time?

Dee:

Just do your best and feel good and love yourself for that.  No expectations; no disappointments.  Easy.  It’s not all going to get done the way you “expect” but it will all get done the way it is supposed to.

How to Cope: How Do You Want to Proceed?

What do you really want? How would you love for things to turn out? Now it’s time to decide what action you need to take. This can be difficult for some people because it may involve enforcing boundaries with others.

Dee:

Boundaries are healthy, especially in this day and age in a society of go-getters.  Again, listen to your heart.  Know that YOU come first.  Try to get balanced and realize you are NOT in control.  Everything happens for a reason.  Everything will turn out perfectly.  YOU are perfect!  So don’t try to take it all on upon your shoulders.  That’s your head talking.  Breathe and do your best.  Say “no” when that feeling gnaws in your gut and be rigorously honest.  Much appreciation and respect will follow.

At the end of the day, keep your awareness on your perspective. Stress will always be a part of life, and at the same time, there is always something to be grateful for—whether it be the tray of fudge your mom left in the fridge or the quality time off with close friends and loved ones. If you can find and focus on something you appreciate about the holiday season, you’ll be well on your way to managing the stress of the holidays.

Dee:

Mele Kalikimaka!  Wishing you a calm and stress-free holiday.  You can do it!

Aloha, Dee

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

From the Chopra Center

How to Find Gratitude in Your Hardest Moments  

How to Find Gratitude in Your Hardest Moments  

By Tris Thorp

One of the main pillars of today’s mindfulness-based practices is the art of cultivating gratitude. You may hear it as a theme in yoga class, read about it in self-help books, hear about it in seminars and retreats, or see it every day in your social media feeds. Cultivating gratitude every day can be a powerful catalyst for creating a more positive mindset.

You may know from experience that steeping yourself in gratitude can be a feel-good practice of bringing to mind the things you feel blessed to have in your life. You may know that sharing your gratitude with others creates a ripple effect and has a positive impact on those around you. Meditating on or making daily lists of the things you are thankful for on a regular basis is a great way to focus on what is good in the world, especially during times when there is so much uncertainty, anger, and fear swirling about.

Gratitude comes in many forms and how you experience it can vary a great deal, depending on your intention. It’s easy to hone in on the things you are grateful for when life is going well. A good economy, a happy family, a loving relationship, a successful career, and good physical health are laced with blessings. Your happiness stems from positivity, and its usually times like these that you may take your success, your relationships, your happiness, and your health for granted. Things are going so well that you may forget you are invulnerable to disharmony, loss, poor health, pain, and suffering—until it’s knocking on your door. It’s in your not-so-wonderful times that you may lose sight of the good that still exists around you.

Just like acknowledging all the amazing things you are thankful for in your life, there can also be a great deal of insight and healing available (http://www.chopra.com/articles/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude) when you can feel gratitude in your hardest moments. Remembering how difficult things once were and how far you’ve come since then creates a significant contrast in your mindset that can be highly productive.

Can you remember a time in your life when you felt the heartache from a breakup with someone you cared for deeply? Now, all these years later, are you able to look back on the situation and be thankful in some way that things ended when they did? Maybe you wouldn’t be married to your current spouse or have the children you have today. Can you think of a time in your life when you were overlooked for a job promotion only to realize down the road that it would have been the worst job ever? Looking back on your life, you may find times when something happened that seemed awful in the moment and, had it not happened, you wouldn’t have something even better in its place today. There is so much to be learned from your past painful experiences and turned into gold if you’re willing to shift your perception just a bit.

Likewise, you may have something difficult happening in your life today—an important life decision, an impending breakup, confusion about what you’re supposed to be doing with your life—and if you settle into a space of being completely honest with yourself (even when it’s unpleasant), odds are that you know there is something bigger, better, grander awaiting you on the other end. This is where finding gratitude comes in. You may be thankful for your own courage and determination or appreciative of your health as you are healing from a physical, emotional, or mental challenge. Perhaps you can find gratitude for your humility and grace in how you handled a difficult conversation, or appreciation for the fact that you have a roof over your head.

Dee:

Ok, I need to lighten up, right here, right now.  Just because these last few weeks I’ve been thrown curve balls when I’m used to, and grateful, for a calm, peaceful, uneventful life.  Thank goodness I have tools such as these articles and my AA toolbox to get me through a bit of “real life”.

I’m gonna spew here for just a bit, to take the power out of what ails me, so bypass, here if it makes you nuts.  During the Thanksgiving holiday my family came to visit.  While brushing my teeth one morning my crown just fell out.  Negative Dee:  “Shit.  I’ve had nothing but problems with my teeth.  More money.  More time.  More pain.  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  Call the dentist.  He gets me in right away.  Ok.  Not just the crown fell out but my tooth was still in it.  Extraction.  Not a big deal.  I’ve had plenty.  The offer of pain meds.  NO.  I can’t go there.  Not again.  Remember, Dee, that you have a high tolerance to pain and, PLEASE, remember the relapse that came from pain meds a few years ago.  Gratefully since then, I’ve stayed close to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and didn’t allow myself to get complacent…again.

On my way home from the dentist I stop to visit a friend.  When I go to leave the car doesn’t start.  I’m told the starter motor is faulty.  Negative Dee:  “Damn.  We just replaced the starter a few warranty months ago.  More money.  More time.  More pain.  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  We’ll order another starter motor because we can.  We have the money.  We’ll get the car in up and running properly again.  Not a big deal.  I wasn’t stuck in the middle of commuter traffic during rush hour.  And even if, I’ve got AAA.

I’m gonna pick these papayas before the birds and geckos eat them all.  I’ll just step on this branch like I’ve done many times (not realizing how big the fruit now is, and how plentiful).  “Down will go baby, cradle and all.”  The branch breaks off.  I’m about 10 feet above the ground, lava rock.  I stop.  Upright.  I gather my thoughts.  The barbed-wire fence next to the tree has stopped me from breaking any bones had I hit the ground.  Negative Dee:  “I hurt.  I’m stuck down here in lava rock and tall California grass bare-foot.  How am I going to get back up to the house?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  I’ll climb up the rock wall up to the house like American Ninja Warrior.  Hey, Dee, that barbed-wire fence saved you from breaking your bones.  And when your foot stopped you at the bottom of the fence, it stopped you just in time so the barbs didn’t rip into your cherished private parts.  Ok.  So a few scratches and just five stitches.  Get over it.  You know you’ll climb that tree again.  It’s fun.”

This past weekend was crazy crunch time for this stained glass/mosaic artist.  More shows and more work than what I’m used to.  I get to the art fair, set up my display, and realize I’ve set it up back to front.  Stupid.  Negative Dee:  Why would everyone else around me have their displays set up toward the grass while I thought setting up toward the parking lot made sense?  Really?  I’ve got to take everything down and start over when this is the one time I had it together to be set up on time?  Why am I never set up on time?  Why am I always the last one to tear down and go home?  Why do I always have some much breakage of stained glass and mosaic pieces?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  What a beautiful place at this old Hawaiian Church to get to turn my display around (and my attitude).  You know, Dee, being a little more mindful and in the moment wouldn’t hurt you a bit.  You know, everything is perfect right here, right now.”

Yesterday’s show “I“planned to go smoothly.  After the back-assward show the day before I strived to be totally prepared to get the day off on the right foot.  Premade my lunch.  Car with new starter was loaded up.  Clothes were laid out.  Went to bed early.  Set the alarm so I could even have some quiet time before going to the show.  When I awaken my alarm hadn’t gone off.  My phone, my alarm, had powered itself off even though it was 100% charged.  I should be at the show setting up right now and I’m just getting out of bed.  Negative Dee:  For real, God?  I’m doing my best to turn my will and my life over to you.  You know I hate surprises and do my best to avoid them.  I’m going to call in and say I’m not going to make the show.  But some of the people I met at yesterday’s show are expecting me to be there today.  And yesterday was a profitable show and today could be the same.  What am I going to do?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  Shut up and suit up.  Everything happens for a reason.  Be grateful.  You’re never set up on time anyway.  Just get your tent up, take your time, enjoy the moment.  I pray a a lot while driving to the show.  The radio is not working and just works when it wants.  I sing.  I pray to get out of self-will.  My car veers to the side of the road to pick up a hitchhiker and her dog, “Toto”.  I never pick up hitchhikers.  What gives?  But she and Toto got me out of my stinking thinking.  We had a mellow enjoyable ride to the green market where I set up, or tried to, and made plenty of sales.  I turned my attitude around, or my Higher Power did.

As human beings, we all run into various situations and circumstances that range from slight annoyances to overwhelming tragedies. Even in the most difficult times, if you can slow things down in your mind just long enough to connect with your heart, you will be able to find something, even if it’s just a small shred of appreciation, that will pull you through.

Gratitude is a practice of creating a state of emotional prosperity. It’s about focusing on the good things you have. It is as relevant to be grateful for the positive outcomes from your past negative experiences as it is to be thankful for the amazing things in your life. It’s not about pretending that things were okay when they weren’t, and it’s not about ignoring the way you’re feeling when things aren’t good. Rather, it’s a practice for reevaluating what is important for you to focus on at the end of the day to help you stay positive, calm, centered, and balanced.

Dee:

Gratitude.  Humility.  Sobriety.  Recovery.  When I allow them to, when I shut off my head and live from my heart, when I remember I am not in control and turn my will and my life and me over to the care of God as I understand God, I’m in a good, loving, compassionate and peaceful place.  Being a recovering alcoholic has given me this gift.  Alcoholics Anonymous has given me this gift.  The fellowship has given me this gift.  Most importantly, my Higher Power has given me this gift.  To share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my “Dee Bubble”.  To make positive out of negative.  To have hope.  To know we’re not in this alone.  And then to have icing on the cake with articles and various tools such as this to help guide us and take us to the next level.  Pretty sweet, yeah?

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Aloha, Recovery, Inspiration, of “good stuff”, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

Use this guided visualization to journey through an upsetting time, find something positive that came about as a result of what happened (or what’s happening), and cultivate gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/free- programs/attitude-of-gratitude) for it.

Find a nice, quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.
Silence your phone, close the door, and settle into a comfortable seat in your favorite spot.
With your eyes closed, begin to breathe slowly and deeply.
Feel your body begin to relax from the top of your head down through your shoulders, arms, torso, hips, and finally down through your legs.
Bring to mind a time in your life when things were not going so well—a time when something happened that caused you confusion, pain, or suffering of some kind.
As you think back on this time, take in what happened during this experience.
Now begin to travel forward in your mind observing as you navigated through this situation.

Put your awareness on the person you were then—doing the best you knew how at that time.
Next, notice that where you are currently at in your life is a very different time, space, and experience. See how far you have come and become aware of the different person you are today.
As you reflect back on what happened, ask yourself, “What is the gift, positive lesson, or wisdom I received from having had this experience?” This difficult time that happened has somehow provided you with insight or knowledge that it happened for some reason that you weren’t able to see at the time.
Ask yourself, “What are you grateful for now as a result of what happened back in your hardest moments?” When you’re ready, take a few more deep breaths and open your eyes.
Do some journaling if it calls to you.

If you’re new to personal growth and things aren’t exactly spectacular in your life, it’s sometimes easier to begin by focusing on the positive things you have to be thankful for—and why you’re grateful. When you’re down in the dumps it can be a real mood-killer to try finding the silver lining in a situation that just plain stinks.  As things improve in your life and you’re feeling stronger (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically), looking back on the less-than-positive experiences you’ve had and finding the gifts from those times will become easier. The biggest thing to remember when practicing gratitude is to meet yourself where you are in the moment and work with what is most readily available to you while you journey on toward greater happiness and healing.

Get the resources you need to create positivity and fulfillment each day – no matter what is going on in your life – with The Chopra Center’s Discover Your Purpose Toolkit, which includes a free e-book, worksheet, 1:1 discovery session, and guided meditation. Get your free toolkit now. (https://www.chopra.com/free- programs/discover-your-purpose-toolkit).

About the Author

Tris Thorp
Vedic Educator and Lifestyle & Leadership Coach

Tris Thorp is one of today’s leading experts in the field of emotional healing. Having spent the last decade traveling the world, being trained by and sharing the stage with Dr. Deepak Chopra in the field of consciousness and mindfulness-based practices, Tris has a real gift for integrating the ancient spiritual teachings with modern-day mindfulness to help people all over the world let go of their past and create an empowered new future. You can learn more about Tris’s work at http://www.tristhorp.com (http://tristhorp.com). Tris is Board Certified by the Association of Integrative Psychology as a Trainer of NLP, Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis,… Read more (/bios/tris-thorp)

The Chopra Center

My Time, Your Time, and Our Time

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.” – Maya Angelou
Today’s meditation shows us that we all live our lives according to our own tempo, rhythm, and flow of time. Our bodies and minds thrive when we follow the daily rhythms of sleep and activity that work best for us. Difficulties arise when we try to impose our style of personal time on others. Our meditation practice helps us listen and tune in to our own unique approach to personal time, and that teaches us to respect everyone else’s approach as well.

I’m doing it for us…

Oprah:

Welcome to Day 12 where we’ll gain fresh perspective on the importance of integrating my time, your time, and our time, within the construct of your own relationships.  Whenever I sense dissidence between coworkers, audience members, viewers, family or friends, I like to use the phrase, “Meet them where they are.”  That means in order to better align what matters most to you with what matters most to the people in your life, you need to have knowledge of their core belief systems, their needs, their priorities and their lifestyle.  Not everyone sees life the way you do.

Fixating on your own ideal personality traits is not only destructive to you, it excludes your partner from revealing his or her true self, and that is a recipe for dysfunction.    There are people who find time management restrictive.  They like to leave things loose

and spontaneous.  A more structured person might interpret this as flighty or flaky or even rude.

Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements, once told me, “At the root of any personal drama lies assumptions.”  Without allowing yourself to be taken advantage of work to find common ground, assume nothing, examine why schedules put your partner or coworker on edge and further excavate why you take planning and punctuality so personally.  When you meet people where they are you love them at a level where they can receive it.  In return they love you with their fullest heart.

Dee:

This time scheduling reminds me so much of a trip I made to Australia with my family.  When I think about how this all happened I am reminded that I had stopped going to AA meetings, stopped giving what was so freely given me when I needed it most, stopped letting my Higher Power run the show, etc.; in other words, I was back in my diseased stinking-thinking but just hadn’t drank…yet.

Anyway, we all agreed on what we wanted to get accomplished during our visit Down Under.  We had x amount of days, x amount of time, and x amount of miles (or kilometers) to cover.  I did the spreadsheet thing and put together an itinerary.  It was horrendous.  Everybody hated me and we were so stressed out sticking to the game plan that no one was having a good time.

So the next year when my husband and I made the trip back Down Under to once again visit his family and friends, I let my husband know he got to come up with the game plan.  He didn’t.  Everyday was spontaneous.  It was awesome.  We did everything and visited with everyone we wanted to.  No stress.  No time line.  With plenty of time to enjoy the moment.

Moral of the story, at least for me, is not to get complacent with my recovery.  Everyday I must remember that I am an alcoholic with an alcoholic way of thinking.  I must remember that my Higher Power has everything in control and is doing the driving; I am just along for the ride of my life!  So today, staying close to the fellowship of A.A., I go with the flow, live in the moment, and am spontaneous.  I am happy, joyous and free once again.  I have contentment and peace beyond my wildest dreams!

Let’s listen to Deepak and then we’ll meditate together.

Deepak:

In family and relationships there’s no single time management that fits every person’s needs.  All of us are biologically programmed to have our own daily rhythms of sleep and activity, hormones and brain responses.  From childhood, minds and bodies naturally find their own time frame.  Sleep research shows some people are early risers while others are late risers.  This pattern holds for life if the person is allowed to observe their own circadian rhythm.

Problems arise when we expect others to adhere to our own personal time frame.  To someone used to rushing a relaxed approach to time is wasteful, lazy, impolite and the other person’s fault.  To someone used to letting things happen in their own fashion a precisely organized sense of time feels pressured, controlling, overly anxious and, perhaps, a sign of insecurity in the other person.

This is the clash between my time and your time, which we’ve all experienced.  From the ego’s viewpoint, my time is better than changing to accommodate your time can be irritating and frustrating.  In reality any style or personal time is just that; it’s personal.  There is no workable way to handle time until two people decide to mesh.  They begin to respect and accommodate the other person’s different style.

This creates an opening for something new…our time.  Our time is mutually agreed upon.  One partner can rush around all day while the other doesn’t.  But when they come together such differences are forgotten.  Our time is open, honest and considerate.  People are quick to say, “I don’t have time for this,” or “Why are we arguing about the same thing over and over?”  But the real meaning behind these words isn’t about time but space.  “I don’t have space for you means that the other person isn’t given openness and emotional access.

When you create our time you also give the other person space.  Our time means going beyond ego limitations whether relationship itself is given to grow.  That won’t happen just by making time to be in the same room together.  Your intention must shift from me to us.  There should be a place for close physical contact and emotional bonding.  Our time can’t be taken for granted.  A living relationship has needs that arise every day.  When two people agree on a simple fact it becomes natural to respond to those needs the way you tend to your own.

Dee:

Deepak’s words of wisdom remind me so much of the relationship my husband and I have.  We are both busy doing our own things.  We are blessed to wake up and go to bed together, eat our meals together, and share daily tidbits of life together.

We used to spend one day a week traveling and exploring around the Big Island of Hawaii where we live.  But we stopped.  We got busy.  When I suggest we take a day trip he tells me he is busy with this project or that.  When he suggests I do something with or for him, I deliver the “I am busy with the business and I’m doing it for us” bullshit.  Today I know better.  I stop and realize how blessed I am to have him here in my life.

Earlier this year my husband was care-flighted to Oahu for triple-bypass surgery.  This was very sudden following a cardiologist consultation.  All we had were the clothes on our backs.  I am ever so grateful to have been rigorously committed to my recovery at this time or I would have drank.

As he was under the knife the hours seemed like an eternity.  I found a Pandanus tree on the hospital grounds which kept me busy weaving lauhala bracelets.  It also kept me connected not only to my Higher Power but to the spirit of Hawaii.  When the stinky thoughts of gloom and doom and hearing the doctor tell me he didn’t make it and flying home alone snuck into my head, I embraced those thoughts and then let them go in the clouds that so beautifully surround our islands.

I’m happy to say my husband pulled through his surgery and has a clean slate of health.  I’m also happy to say that his snoring no longer annoys me nor keeps me awake.  I think of it as the ocean, sometimes calm, sometimes tsunami strength.  But if I think of my life in quiet without my husband…   I won’t go there.  And when I get cranky because of the whiskers in the sink after he shaves, or the food on the kitchen floor when he cooks, I’ll miss all that when he’s gone.

Valuable, valuable lessons my Higher Power has given me to help me to a higher level of greatness and compassion.  Today I get to love my life, love myself, and everything in between.  This I owe to a Power Greater Than Myself and to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Aloha, please visit my website at DeesignsByHarris.com.  Or to subscribe to my email list for updates of inspirational art in my line, stories behind the art and me, the artist, and for occasional discount offers, please subscribe at https://mailchi.mp/f96bf32af105/welcome.  Mahalo and have a spontaneous day!

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I cherish our time together.  I cherish our time together.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”  This mantra means “My true nature is endless in time and space.”  This mantra helps you recognize yourself as infinite unbounded awareness.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises, or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

I cherish our time together.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Ananta Swa Bhava
My true self has no limits or boundaries.

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

Where Does the Time Go?

WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?

“Consciousness is beyond time, consciousness is timelessness.” – Osho

Over these next three weeks, we will explore that state of awareness in which every moment matters. The pressures of our family, jobs, and relationships can make us feel that we don’t have enough time to do the things that are important to us, sometimes leading to a sense of being unfulfilled.

Together we will discover that we don’t get true fulfillment through time management, but rather by living in the here and now. Wisdom traditions tell us that the present moment is outside of clock time; it is the eternal now. This Meditation Experience will show you how to thrive in the world of time when you live from your timeless self.  In the following weeks, we will learn how to embrace time as the realm of self-awareness, self-unfolding, and total inner fulfillment.

In today’s meditation, we learn that time is really about fulfillment. Using your time well comes down to how fulfilled you are in the present moment. When we feel content and centered inside, everything we do is more effective, efficient, and satisfying. On our meditation journey together, we will experience and understand that when we manage the time demands of our life from our timeless self, then every moment of life matters.

Dee:

Right here, right now, is perfect.  I sit listening to this meditation.  Typing it really solidifies it for me.  And then I get to share it.  I feel content.  I feel light.  The to-do list of my day pops in and out of my head, but this is what is in front of me right here, right now.  Taking some time for Dee will make a Dee a better person today.

Oprah:

Deepak and I welcome you to our 21-Day Meditation Experience…Making Every Moment Matter.  Like so many of you I, too, have struggled with time management.  How to honor my own time as well as the time that belongs to the people in my life.

In the coming weeks we’ll look beyond how we perceive the limitations of time.  We’ll learn how to release the power of the almighty “to do” list, reframe the constant state of “busy”, and replace those stress points with life-changing lessons in how to make every moment count.

In week one we will gain a new understanding of the principles of time in order to relieve the all too familiar anxiety of racing against the clock.  In week two we’ll explore how our perception of time is deeply affected by the wounds of our past.  By learning to let go of that angst we’ll experience how living in the moment can bring an entirely new meaning to the hours, minutes, and seconds of the day.

And finally in week three time is expanded as we understand how breathing in the depth of each moment sharpens our experience until the pressure of time is lifted all while our productivity increases.

Welcome to Day 1, “Where Does the Time Go?”  Let’s begin our first day answering the age-old question, “Where does the time go?”.  I’ve come to believe that busyness is the catch phrase, in fact a trap for all of us in these times.  Some people are so weighed down by the pressure to finish tasks, to meet goals, and check off the box that they’re folding into themselves.  Others wear their overwhelming schedule like a beleaguered badge of honor, and still more allow resentment to take hold until all those “to do’s” start to feel like “have to’s” and life quickly, as we know, spins out of control.

I remember talking with Tina Turner after she retired from her legendary music career.  She was newly married to her long time love and living in Switzerland.  She told me that despite all of the rock star attention, the awards and accolades her life onstage brought her, it also could be depleting.  Tina told me her last tour took every ounce of energy out of her but she stayed focused on the greater purpose; she knew eventually that life on the road would lead her home.  Not just to her house, but the place where she decided she wanted to be.

This was a great lesson for me.  At the time I was traveling over two-hundred days out of the year for interviews, a movie I was filming, for meetings to support the O Network.  And, like Tina, I was exhausted.  But I had not yet decided for myself what was worthy of my time.  Instead of listening to the signs along the way I started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated until finally I was no longer able to fully focus on all there was to do.

I made a proclamation to myself, finally, and to those around me that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  I knew I was the one who had to determine what mattered most, create a different relationship with the time in my day, and allow for space in every day to restore myself.   By doing that I found freedom and maybe a few extra moments.

Dee:

In 1998 I realized that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  It wasn’t about time or busyness.  Is was about my alcoholism.  Every moment of everyday during this part of my journey through life was focused only on the next drink.  When can I have it (is right now appropriate or will I be found out)?  Where can I buy it (did I buy there yesterday and what will they think)?  Do I have responsibilities that will be affected if I drink now (will I be fired if a co-worker smells alcohol on my breath)?

I was forced into a proclamation to myself when I didn’t show up for work.  Too drunk.  I was found out.  That was the life-changing moment for me, my bottom, when I finally had to ask for help.  My life has continued to improve since that day…

Today I feel exactly as Tina did during our conversation.  These are my glory days, this moment, this one, right now.  Your journey to make peace with time also begins now.  Let’s listen to Deepak and then we will meditate together.

Deepak:

What was the best time of your life?  If you can say, “Right now is the best time of my life” you are saying something that comes naturally to everyone when their inner life is fulfilled.  Fulfillment is what time is all about because fulfillment is what life is about.  Without inner fulfillment time isn’t on your side.

Dee: 

I really can say that right now is the best time of my life.  I wouldn’t go back one day, one minute.  I have a contentment in recovery that I never had before.  I am freer and finally comfortable in my own skin.

But that does not mean I am not going crazy right now running my own business, getting ready for the holiday selling, cleaning the house for holiday visitors, trying to get everything done so that I can enjoy my company and be my best when I’m out selling.  

I’ve been working around the clock taking time only for sleep and a bit of eating.  This is not how I usually fly.  Taking time out to listen to this meditation series and writing this blog is exactly what I need to get me back centered before getting back to a long night of work.

This redefines time management.  Instead of being about scheduling, being on time, meeting deadlines, and getting everything you want to do for yourself and with your family and friends, time management is about how you feel inside.  It’s about a state of awareness that has made time an ally on your personal path to fulfillment.

When we look at the clock and say with exasperation, “Where did the time go?”, the real question should be, “Where did the opportunities go?”  When you manage time from the inside opportunities aren’t missed.  You are less frustrated and frantic.  But when you manage time poorly every day is a race against the clock.  This, too, is an inner choice, not the fault of time running out.  At any time of the day you can feel stressed or relaxed.  Like you’re standing still or moving forward.

Dee:

Tonight when I go to bed I know I can be proud that I did the best I could.  I will never be perfect, but doing the best I can is always reassuring.  And being humbled and grateful for these accomplishments really gets me back in the moment.  I am not in control.  I have a Power Greater Than Myself to guide me and watch over me letting me know that everything is going just the way it’s supposed to.

Most people don’t recognize this choice and, therefore, let the rush of daily events dictate their mood and behavior.  Of course there are external stresses and unexpected setbacks, but really the difference between a good day and a bad day is the inner world of the person who’s having it.

We must first address some basic issues about time so that you can feel on top of things instead of never knowing where time goes.  We all heard the adage about taking time to stop and smell the roses.  Good advice.  But it would be far better to be the gardener who grows the roses and lives with them constantly.

The Worlds Wisdom Traditions have pondered and taught the mystery of time for centuries.  The first teaching was presented today.  Look inward.  What’s important isn’t the hours and minutes of the clock, but your experience.  How you relate to the passage of time makes all the difference and, ultimately, it will define how well you live in the present moment, how you age, your sense of fulfillment, and the satisfaction of a life well spent.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “The best time of my life is now.”  “The best time of my life is now.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe slowly and deeply.  Within yourself allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  This mantra means “I am” and connects our awareness to the timeless simplicity of our true self.  Pure awareness.  Repeat it silently to yourself.  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.

Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

The best time of my life is now.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

So Hum

I am.

Dee:

The best time of my life is now.  So Hum.  I am.  I am the best Dee I can be.  I am not alone.  I am a good person and a whole person (my affirmation I said every day in group while I was in a treatment program).  I surely am a good person and a whole person which is night and day of the person who entered rehab in 1998 and hated herself.  I have a purpose to share with you today that you are the best you can be right here, right now, and that is perfect!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational and Motivational Art with a Message, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com for great affirmations and quotes.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series “Making Every Moment Matter”, from the Chopra Center.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Tips and Tools  

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Tips and Tools  

By EmilyHolland

The neighbor with the perfect lawn. The friend with a successful, high-paying career. The stranger on social media that you’ve never met but assume, given their seemingly perfect photos, that they lead the perfect life.

In today’s world, where it has become the norm to spend countless hours scrolling through photos of friends, family, celebrities, and complete strangers, the temptation to compare ourselves to others is at a cultural high.

While competition has long been a basic function of the human condition, it would seem that the rise of the digital age over the past several years has put an unnecessary, and even harmful, precedence on who’s in the lead. As if it were possible to measure all human successes on a single scale (or worse, by number of ‘likes’).

But even before social media’s take over, the groundwork for social comparisons was already in place. Social norms have long been established along with the relentless reminders that we’ve yet to live up to all of them. A 30-something woman sees her friends getting married and panics that she’s still single. A hard-working employee watches his co-worker move up in the company, prompting him to ask, “Why him and not me?” These comparisons can become so habitual that often you may not even realize you are doing it.

Reasons to quit may go beyond the fact that they’re simply unproductive and leave you feeling poorly about yourself. Making these social comparisons can be damaging to your health, both physically and psychologically. Being aware of how harmful comparisons are could serve as great motivation to give them up.

Dee:

When in school from elementary to high school I remember wishing my family had more money, that I could be more popular, even be famous.  I wished I was prettier, smarter, more self-confident, yet I had everything I could ever want and need.  Where did all this self-lack come from?  Why could I not just be comfortable in my own skin and love who I was?

It wasn’t until decades later when I found my wish list changing to “I wish I wouldn’t drink today” or “I wish I would stop at just three” that I found myself in a treatment center for alcoholism.  Yes, “found myself”!  It was then and there that my wish list dramatically changed as did my self-worth and opinion of myself.

But this did not happen overnight.  I needed to undo the decades of “my” thinking which is an ongoing process.  One day at a time, yeah? just like not taking a drink today, maybe tomorrow.

Sobriety, recovery and solutions has changed my life…given me a life…given me purpose.  First I “got to” learn and understand what alcoholism is, a disease, not a self-control problem.  From there I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps and the Big Book.  I “got to” make up a Higher Power of My Own Understanding to whom I could turn my will and my life over to.  I “got to” switch my life from a thinking human being to a feeling human being.  Slowly.  One day at a time.

And the miracles, evolution, journey continues.  I have turned that fear-based waste-of-space-on-the-planet to one who is finally comfortable in my own skin and loves me for who and what I am!

Harmful Effects 

In 1954, social psychologist, Leon Festinger proposed the theory of social comparison (https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/social-comparison-theory), which argues that your own feelings of self-worth are dependent upon how you think you measure up to those around you. You may be constantly evaluating how you stack up to others, in turn creating our self-image. A self-image based on anything other than intrinsic factors is destined to have harmful effects.

For one, making social comparisons can have a devastating impact on your self-esteem, particularly when comparing something you are already insecure about or sensitive to. For example, if you suffer bodily insecurities and follow nothing but fitness accounts on social media, you are setting yourself up to make not only an unhealthy comparison but an unfair one at that.

The majority of social media users show only what they want the world to see. They are less likely to expose their own insecurities and overcompensate by pushing perfection instead. It essentially boils down to a comparison between one’s reality to another’s best attempt to portray perfection. Not only can this influence your self- esteem, but it also distorts your perception of reality.

The stress that results from constantly making social comparisons that deflate your self-esteem and hinder your self-image can harm your physical health as well. Chronic stress (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to- reverse-the-effects-of-chronic-stress) can lead to high-blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension, and a weakened immune system. Moreover, when left unchecked, which can easily occur when you are unaware of its cause, chronic stress can lead to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety attacks.

In addition, social comparisons can hold you back from reaching goals and pursuing what matters most. Accomplishments stem from self-confidence, motivation, and clarity—all three of which can be hindered by images of others who you think are already a few steps ahead of you. In short, making social comparisons can be paralyzing and leave you wondering, Why bother? 

(http://www.chopra.com/online-courses/the-quest/on-demand

Dee:

Because of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Steps, and my toolbox for living, I discovered how fear-based I was living my life.  How important your opinion of me mattered.  That was because I did not feel worthy of your opinions nor expectations.  I felt “less than”.  Today I realize that I have God-given gifts and talents.  I was chosen to get sober and share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my “bubble”.  And that is the purpose today.  It took me 48 years to realize this.

When I can be grateful for who and what I am today, for my journey and my story, I can share this and give hope to those who do not have “light at the end of the tunnel”.  When I can realize that if I do the best that I can at any given moment with any given talk, that I am progress not perfection, that everything is perfect at this moment in time, I can be okay with myself.  I can be light, grateful, humble and content.  

I know today that not everyone is going to like me.  And that’s okay.  There are those of you I would rather not be around.  But I don’t have to react nor prove myself nor take it personally.  You are who you are with your story, and I am who I am with mine.  Just perfect.  Right here.  Right now.  What a weight off my shoulders being able to live this way!

Tips to Stop Comparing 

It may sound simple to just suggest putting a stop to social comparisons—but the question is how do you actually stop? Here are some ways to help you stop making social comparisons.

1.Limit (or eliminate) time on social media. As mentioned, social media is often used as a place to share what you want people to see, not necessarily what’s closest to reality. Whether or not its content’s even accurate, at the very least it’s likely exaggerated. Cutting back on social media (http://www.chopra.com/articles/comparing-yourself-again-4-tips-to-survive-social-media-envy) or taking a break altogether can do wonders for your mental health. Spend the extra time understanding the triggers that lead you to making social comparisons so that when you log back into your accounts, you’re prepared to let those things go.

Dee:

What do we hear about on social media, the news and newspapers?  What sells the most, draws our attention and brings in the most money?  Negative news.  Tragic news.  Although most of life around us is good and positive, it does not sell news.  So one straw at a time we get weighted down with negativity.  If not careful, that negativity finally breaks our backs and we lower ourselves to that mentality.  Don’t do it!  Remember the 95% of the good things happening on our planet and with our humanity that does not sell news.  That’s our focus.

2.Make a list of accomplishments you’re proud of. The more confident you are in yourself, the less inclined you’ll be to evaluate how you stack up against others. Write a list of your proudest accomplishments, traits, strengths, and even things you’re grateful for. This will put you in a healthier mindset, making you less likely to engage in the comparison game.

Dee:

I am sober.  I have a Higher Power over to whom I can turn my will and my life.  I have a purpose.  I can be of service.

3. Become clear on what you want. When you’re unsure of what you want in life or how to go about achieving it, you can tend to feel unanchored. Become more grounded by gaining clarity as to the direction your life is going. Write out your short-term and long- term goals and steps necessary to accomplish them. Once you feel more secure in your own life, the temptation to over-invest in others will dissipate.

Dee: 

When things start to feel unclear, I HALT.  I check myself to see if I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  If so, I treat those symptoms.  I go to an AA meeting.  I get back in the moment.  I appreciate the here and now right in front of my nose.  I quiet my mind and open my heart.  I re-center.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you want to become your best self, making your mental and physical health top priority, you must choose joy and resist the urge to make unhealthy comparisons.

Become your best self with The Quest: Spiritual Solutions for Creating a Life You Love, our online course led by Deepak Chopra and Martha Beck. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/online-courses/the-quest/on- demand)

About the Author 

Emily Holland Certified Health Coach

Emily is a certified Health Coach and freelance writer with a focus on psychology, mental health, and optimal living. A combined interest in healthy living and human behavior led Emily to pursue a certification in health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a master’s degree in General Psychology. Her personal struggle with anxiety motivated her to research and implement a variety of holistic approaches into her lifestyle, such as changes in diet and the adoption of mindfulness meditation. She credits these lifestyle changes as well as many others with helping her better manage symptoms of anxiety and everyday stressors. She is most passionate about sharing what she has… Read more (/bios/emily-holland)

From The Chopra Center

Dee: 

I am not a representative of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I only know that when I could not stop drinking, the fellowship and the Big Book offered me solutions.  Today I am sober.  Today I am happy, joyous, and free!

Aloha, Dee

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

5 Things We Wish We Were Taught Growing Up

 

1. Independence:

This is one of the biggest issues that I’ve noticed as a college student among my peers. A lot of people become followers because they have no sense of direction. They’ve been sheltered and told what to do, their whole lives that they are more vulnerable to become followers. I had my first job at the age of 12 so I’ve always knew how to hold my own, but I realized that a lot of young adults struggle to stand alone. Teens must be taught how to own their individuality and have a strong sense of who they are. Nothing bothers me more to see a young adult with a high school mentality.

Dee:  

I found myself bouncing back and forth when young going from leader to follower to leader and so on.  I struggled with self-confidence.  Why was it so important that I gained your approval?  Why was it so important that I fit in?  Why when I was very young did I love ballet class and then one day I became so frightened and timid to that I threw a tantrum and clung to my mom until she took me home?  One day I’m the student body president and the next day the wall flower. 

Having found myself in a treatment program for alcoholism decades later I was fortunate enough to work through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous where I found many of these questions arising in my head.  Thoroughly working Step Four I learned so much about myself.  Many of the questions I asked myself are still puzzling, but I realized that most of my life I lived in fear.  Fear of not fitting in.  Fear of making an ass out of myself.

All I know today is that we all need to know have unique gifts.  We ARE unique and have so much to give to the world!  If we stop focussing on what we aren’t and start to focus on what WE ARE, everything is seen in a different perspective.  I AM worthy.  I AM a good person.  I DO love myself for who I am.  Let’s share this with our children and our fellows so that perhaps one day they can cease comparing themselves with others and stop trying to fit in and gain the approval of others who don’t give a shit.

2. Financial Stability:

When I first went away to college, I struggled budgeting my money. I found myself spending my money on things that I did not need. When I got a job while I was in college the issue became worst. I thought that it would be easier to budget if I had more money, but I had less money because I convinced myself that I needed things that I didn’t. Then when it came time for me to file my taxes I was lost. I was use to my mother doing all my paperwork that I didn’t even know where to start.

Dee:

I’m still not good at the money thing.  It’s not my passion but I know I have to be responsible enough to pay my bills in order to live a fairly comfortable existence.  I have always been strapped for cash and lived pretty frugally.  But today, again from working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have a Higher Power of My Own Understanding that helps guide me and teach me how to make right choices.  But the main lesson I’ve learned is to stop living in fear and to always stay in faith.  When the fear rears its ugly head my faith is shrinking.  When the faith is shrinking Dee is taking over and trying to control the show.  This doesn’t work for me; I’ve done it most of my life and I was exhausted and purposeless.  Weird how when I live more positively and hopefully, great things appear in my life.  We attract more of how we think and how we ARE!

And, by the way, it is important we teach our children how to budget, balance a check book, about credit card debt, etc.  And doing laundry, sewing on a button, and ironing a work shirt is pretty helpful, too.

3. Mental Awareness:

When I left for college I struggled with anxiety and stress because it was difficult for me to deal with the new environment. I was never homesick, but the stress of managing classes, fighting insecurities and dealing with friendships was enough for me to mentally shut down. Growing up we don’t realize how easy we have it until we leave the nest. Instead of trying to keep us in the nest I wish parents taught us how to survive outside of the nest mentally. I wish someone told me that every challenge is not the end of the world, but an obstacle that comes along to make you stronger.

Dee:

Today running my own business I excitedly realize that the more “no’s” I get, the closer I am to achieving that awesome “yes”.  Whether the “no” is a rejection of my product or service, I get to learn and be open to the why.  I grow.  I get better.  I don’t react nor take it personally.  I survive and move forward to bigger and better things.  And I know that this is how my Higher Power works for and through me.  That everything is perfect at this very moment and I’m right where I need to be.  With that outlook, everything is positive and hopeful.  Way better than the other option of wallowing on the pity pot.

Another great gift I have today because of Alcoholics Anonymous is that I no longer have to do or think things through on my own.  I’m finally comfortable enough in my own skin to ask for help.  And I’m finally selfless enough (most of the time) to urge those in need of my help to please not deprive me of the gift of giving and service.  It’s a win-win.  Really.

Yep, because my Higher Power is always with me and has my back, I never again have to feel I am on my own.  I just have to remember to stay in the moment, stay out of my head, and all is well.

4. Confidence:

Confidence is something I had to build along the years, but not enough parents teach their children to love themselves. Neglecting this issue is like throwing your child out to the wolves and leaving them to fend for themselves. With media being a major influence on the development of children we have to plant a seed in their minds to give them a sense of direction. The media tell children that they must be a size two or have curves to die for, but what are you telling your child? We should be taught who we are when we are young, so we don’t have to find ourselves when we get older. I love when I see viral videos of parents making their child stand in the mirror and telling themselves how beautiful and valuable they are. Self-love starts when we are young because kids are like sponges.

The sponge thing didn’t happen to me until I was in treatment for my alcoholism.  For those 21+ days I got to concentrate only on me.  I was definitely a sponge.  It was a very exciting time for me and it changed my life.

I got to learn about the disease of alcoholism.  I got to let go of all the negative thoughts about myself, “You’re a loser, Dee.  You have no self-control.  You’re a waste of space on this planet”.

I got to work the Twelve Steps and get rid of that fear-based mentality.  I got to ask for help and be rigorously honest.  I got a toolbox that helps me live a life in recovery.  And I got a Power Greater Than Myself that walks me through life, that shows me how to love myself and you, and how to give back.

Yes, I wish I would have got this when I was a child.  But that wasn’t my calling.  I’m grateful it happened when and the way it did.  That I did not have to die.  And with this gift and what I’ve learned along the way, I diligently try to plant the seed in each and every one who enters my Dee Bubble how special they are, what unique gifts they hold, what an asset they are to the world and to mankind.  And this is all extra special when I can share this with our keiki, our children, our future!

5. Be Original:

Growing up I wanted the latest brands and products to make myself feel important. We all begged our parents for the coolest trends just to go to school and look like everyone else. I wish I was taught that those things does not define me. I wish I would have focused more on building my character than I did focusing on getting things that I can’t afford to impress people who I may never even see again. I wish I was taught to love myself without those labels and stand firm and be confident in my own skin.

Dee:

If only I had felt comfortable in my own skin when I was young…  Again, not my journey, not my calling, not my purpose.  But today I will impress upon you to please love the person you are today, right now, right here.  You ARE awesome!  You have a gift!  Share that gift and inspire.

Build self-confidence in yourself and with those around you, especially the children.  And let them know that there will always be Big Bad Wolves out there that will try to make you feel less than.  That is THEIR problem and not yours.  We all have our sicknesses so let them keep theirs and love the person you are.  You ARE worthy!  BeYOUtiful!

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

Aloha, Dee

From https://rayvensatterfield.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/5-things-we-wish-we-were-taught-growing-up/