Your Last Bad Day…

By Emil Nazaryan

When we start flowing with the river of life, we realize we are an integral and inseparable part of the interconnected opposites that make up our world.

Recently I was invited to speak on the topic of staying positive and helping clients do the same. At one point the moderator said the following phrase when he was describing me: “I’m not sure how the man never has a bad day, but I’ve never seen him without a smile on his face.” This description got me thinking…

Do I really never have bad days? Does nothing bad ever happen to me or my loved ones? Do I not have any problems? Do I not live in the same world as everyone else? Am I indeed so lucky? Is that kind of luck even possible?

Then the answer just dawned on me like an ultra bright light! It’s not what you would expect. This answer is also the key to living a happy and peaceful life. I promise, we will return to the key, but for now let’s see why most people are so unhappy, stressed and struggle all the time.

Imagine life as being the most powerful river you have ever seen. It flows constantly with a high speed and pressure that would make Niagara Falls look like a leaking sink faucet. This river of life is all there is, and we are all in it. It is the sum total of all “goods and bads”, “beautifuls and uglies”, “pleasure and pain”. All of these opposites exist together as different sides of the same coin. They can’t be separated. If you remove pain, pleasure will go with it. If you remove the ugly, the beautiful will vanish. Sounds odd and unfair? Think about it for a moment. Can you describe anything if an opposite of that thing doesn’t exist?

If there was only the “good” in the world, how would you even know that it’s good? That would have been the only thing you ever experienced, and, as such, you wouldn’t know anything different. You wouldn’t know that it was good. You would just know it as the only thing there was. The sense of pleasure associated with “the good” would vanish, wouldn’t it? How couldn’t it vanish if “the good” was the only thing you ever knew and you never experienced its opposite?

Ha! Did something just click within you? Do you now see some value in the experience of the bad, the ugly and the pain? Life, this river of life, is a sum total of interconnected opposites and that’s what makes it so colorful, vibrant, exhilarating and interesting.

Let’s turn to the suffering of people and see what causes unhappiness and stress. Is the description of the river’s power still fresh in your memory? If not, read it above again. Now consider how absurd it would be if a small pebble decided to stick its head out of the river and to oppose it, resist it and fight it. You are laughing now, aren’t you? Imagine the sight of a brave pebble standing up to the mighty river, taking a beating every single second, getting hit by crushing-force waves and believing it would win. Let me know how that works out for the poor pebble; I can only imagine all the dings, scars and bruises. In fact, I don’t have to imagine it. I know it, because I was that pebble!

Are you starting to see where this is going? We are like those tiny pebbles trying to fight the mighty river of life. Well, that sounds depressing! How are we going to win? That’s the thing: We’re not. We can’t. But what we can do is stop taking a beating, stop getting bruised, stop the suffering. And how do we do that? You guessed it: Start flowing with the river!

Oh, what a serene sight! What peace! What beauty! What perfection in all the imperfections! What relief that you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders anymore. What liberation, when you see that the river knows what it’s doing and why, even when you don’t. You start flowing downstream with the river, and on the way you see so many other pebbles still standing up, taking a beating, thinking that they are heroically fighting life. And you feel pain for them. You want to tell them that it’s much lighter, easier and happier riding the beautiful waves of the mighty river. You want to tell them that all is well, even when it doesn’t seem to be. You want them to see that they are not separate pieces of rock existing on their own as they think they are, but they are an inseparable part of the whole river of life. As such, nothing can hurt them because there is nothing else but them, only not as separate pebbles, but as an integral and inseparable part of the whole river.

So, do I really never have bad days? Does nothing bad ever happen to me or my loved ones? Am I free from all problems? Do I not live in the same world as everyone else? Am I so lucky? Is that kind of luck even possible?

Indeed, I am lucky—but not because the same problems that happen to everyone else don’t happen to me. They most certainly do and more than you might imagine. But I’m the luckiest, because by the grace of God I became aware that I’m not the pebble I thought I was. I know that I am the pebble in the river, one with the river. I don’t fight life any more. I embrace it the way it comes. I don’t wish it was otherwise. I don’t carry guilt. I don’t carry resentment. I forgive. I love. I live.

I do my best and accept what is as it is, knowing full well that what happens is not in my control, but trusting the river completely, unconditionally and without any reservations.

Is it a surprise then, that “The man doesn’t have a bad day?” And from today on, you don’t have to have a bad day either. In the last 5 minutes you have had a peek into the true lasting happiness and all the suffering from this point forward is only optional. It’s no accident you are reading this article today. It’s no coincidence that today this pebble, you, maybe for the first time, are given the window to see the whole picture.

Now, go and flow, little pebble! Enjoy the ride!

Emil Nazaryan is a motivational writer and a contributor to the monthly Motivational Corner column of HR Realtor Magazine. He has undergone a spiritual transformation which has led the way to sharing the insights he has experienced with the others. He is well acquainted with all major spiritual traditions of the world, but it is the direct experience of the essence of these teachings that is responsible for the altered life outlook and the motivational articles that stem this. In his daily life Emil is a successful REALTOR and he resides in Norfolk, VA, with his wife and two children. Contact him by email at emil.rw@gmail.com.

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Yoga? It Depends

By Jo Mooy

For those who find sun salutations and downward dog beyond their range of motion, Yoga Nidra might be the answer.

I’m not a Yoga fan. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s wildly popular because estimates say 300 million practice it worldwide. I’m happy for everyone who loves Hatha Yoga and does it religiously. I also respect the teachers who get certified in dozens of different Yoga practices. But for me? Hatha Yoga is a nonstarter.

Now, let me explain…My father’s people come from southern Italy. We’re short and stocky. Our bodies are comfortably close to the ground. If we fall down it’s not far to go. We also don’t have long, lithe bodies that can easily adapt to the many twisting pretzel varieties of Yoga postures. So it’s not a very natural state for me. I just don’t like it!

The fact is, I’ve tried to do Hatha Yoga many times over the years. I went to local classes. I tried to do the postures at Ashrams. I went to the Edgar Cayce Foundation hoping to overcome the blockages. I even thought maybe I was too uptight about it, so did “Lilias Yoga and You!” on PBS from the comfort of home. No matter what I did, each session was a disaster.

More worrisome, a lifelong inner-ear imbalance causes vertigo whenever I put my head lower than my waist. Though a teacher at the Edgar Cayce Foundation showed me a modified version of the sun salutation where, though my rendition wasn’t perfectly attuned to the correct postures, it was doable. Nonetheless, I took the hint about Hatha Yoga and instead focused on Jnana and Raja Yoga.

Twenty years later, I gave Hatha Yoga another go at a well-known Sarasota, FL, yoga studio offering an open house, billed as “for beginners to experts and children to seniors.” Maybe things had changed, I thought. So, I went with friends and joined the crowded demonstrations led by a twenty-something “perky” teacher.

“Perky” thought all levels, including the seniors, should begin with downward dog. I saw where this was going so tried to adapt it with my Cayce Foundation modified version. “Perky” came up behind me and said, “Your head needs to go down lower.” Without asking, she pushed my head to the floor and held it there. I collapsed into a fetal heap with a major case of vertigo. I’d done my last asana! Until ….

Several years ago a friend said, “I have a great yoga for you!” I replied, “There is NO great Yoga for me anywhere!” She knew my horror stories about Hatha Yoga so inquired, “Didn’t you tell me your favorite asana was the corpse pose?” It was. But expecting a trick of some sort (she’d been with me at the downward dog fiasco,) I said, “Yessssssssss! Corpse pose is my favorite because I don’t have to do anything but lie down, breathe and be still.” Pouncing and sounding suspiciously like “Perky” she said, “Then, you’ll love this one!”

She explained what we were going to do. I would lie down on my back on the carpeted floor and she would put a bolster under my knees and a feather pillow under the head. (How did she know it was my perfect vision of a heavenly corpse pose?) Then she explained she would lead me into the deep sleep of a guided Yoga Nidra meditation. At the time, I’d never heard of Yoga Nidra, but it sounded too good to be true.

She led my first experience with Yoga Nidra—and she was right. I’ve been a fan ever since. Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep. It’s an acute state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep where the body appears to be “asleep” while the mind is awake. It’s induced by a teacher who guides a meditation of awareness through the entire body. The participant focuses on different body parts, keeping the mind active and the body still. A complete state of relaxation occurs as the participant, if they remain awake, can go past the dream state and become aware of different states of consciousness.

Yoga is a spiritual discipline that harmonizes the mind and body. The term Yoga in Sanskrit means to unite. There are physical yoga postures (the ones I don’t care for,) and the Yoga of meditation, mind and breath control practices, which are my go-to Yoga practices. Yoga Nidra uses the complete relaxation of the physical body in the corpse pose and blends breath and guided meditation to achieve altered states of consciousness. First mentioned in the Upanishads around 300 BC, Swami Satyananda Saraswati in Rishikesh developed his own style of Yoga Nidra, where it was taught and became popular.

What did I learn from Yoga Nidra? I learned that I could do my favorite dead body asana quite well. That I could easily slow down my heartrate and breathing by following the teacher’s voice. And that I could not only enter a state of deep relaxation, but could also go into other states of consciousness beyond normal awareness.

Yoga Nidra has many benefits. If you have difficulty falling asleep, Insomnia Yoga Nidra is the tonic needed. I guarantee the practice will put you out before the end of the first body pass. If you’re in need of specific healing, there’s a Healing Yoga Nidra that can help restore the body’s natural state. It’s a genuinely therapeutic practice that induces deep meditation, awakens consciousness and renews the physical body.

There are many different guided Yoga Nidras on YouTube. The link below will take you to one I use if I can’t sleep: Insomnia Yoga Nidra: https://www.starsoundings.com/uploads/3/7/5/4/37548755/yoga_nidra_insomnia_final_9_4_2014.mp3.

Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to http://www.starsoundings.com or email jomooy@gmail.com.

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Cover

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Body Language Tips For Leaders

By Stéphane Narcis

How to use nonverbal cues to make the right impression on others.

One may think that the most critical aspect of being a leader is communicating effectively. However, most people miss that it’s not just words that are categorized as communication. From hand gestures to eye contact, body language for leadership is necessary to consider. These nonverbal cues decide what impression you make and what impact you have on others.

Never underestimate the importance of first impressions. You can either come off as aggressive and rude or so excessively warm that you fail to make yourself look authoritative. The goal here is to have a balance. You need to be sure that you get perceived as credible while projecting openness and warmth.

You get to choose what sort of leader you want to be…Have you chosen yet?

Here are some of the best body language tips and tricks for leaders to make you stand out.

Think about what you want to convey: Your first impression.

The first thing is to be crystal clear on what you want to communicate. Do you want to make others comfortable when talking to you? Or are you trying to come off as an authoritative figure?

Whatever you are trying to do, remember to have a picture in your head so that you can adjust your gestures and posture accordingly. Talking without thinking and miscommunicating will make you lose confidence and, as a result, people won’t have interest in listening.

Focus on your posture.

Your posture is the first thing a person will notice when they look at you. If you are standing straight with your shoulders pulled backward, you can make yourself look confident. Similarly, if you’re slouching, the other person will think that you are uninterested and unprofessional. It’s best to have an erect posture or stand in a way that maximizes the space your body takes up.

You want others to see you as a leader, so sit without crossing your legs, keep your feet firmly on the floor (make sure they’re not close), and bring your elbows away from your torso.

Posture is an especially crucial part of body language for female leaders, who need to come off as confident and not get intimidated by others. Having a good posture can make you feel confident. Once you feel powerful, the rest gets easier. 

Smile more.

If you want effective two-way communication, frowning isn’t the way to go. You may want to look assertive, but this can lead to others being uncomfortable talking openly to you. If you’re wondering how to have approachable body language, try smiling. Keep in mind that communication goes two ways. When you seem approachable, others will be able to express themselves without getting nervous or intimidated by you. You immediately remove a communication barrier by smiling and even develop a better relationship.

Lean in when listening.

If you have your arms folded in front of you or sitting backward, you can be intimidating. If this is not the impression you are intentionally going for, people can get convinced that you’re not open to ideas. Try to lean in when someone is talking to you to remove this barrier. A slight leaning position is enough, but don’t go too forward or you risk making them uncomfortable. With this approach, you seem interested and make a good impression.

Who knows, it might help you become a better listener! 

Make appropriate eye contact.

Eye contact is a vital feature of the body language of influential leaders. Verbal communication needs nonverbal cues along the way to effectively convey a message. You can get fully invested in someone’s words when you make eye contact. However, don’t start staring now. You’ll make others uncomfortable. And don’t constantly look around, as it makes you seem nervous or uninterested, and resist the urge to glance at the time because it projects impatience and disrespect. The right amount of eye contact will ensure you have a substantial impact.

Make appropriate hand movements.

Hand movements can help you as you talk by enhancing the impact of what you say. If you avoid hand movements and keep your arms in one place, you can seem awkward and nervous. Exaggerated gestures can also have a similar effect. If your gestures are longer or faster, others may think you’re stretching the truth. You can lose credibility and power this way.

If you want to project yourself as an influential leader, use big but not exaggerated gestures. To show up as understanding and open, use minor gestures that don’t take up as much space. Ensure that your hand movements are smooth and controlled. They should stay between your waist and shoulders. 

Consider keeping your arms away from the front of your torso to be perceived as open and sincere. If you keep your arms in front of you, it can give the impression that you need to defend yourself. This includes clasping your hands in front of your lower body.

You can show authority by rotating your palms downward or slowly rotating them upwards. Use them when you are trying to emphasize something.

Stay consistent.

Becoming inconsistent between your gestures and words can confuse others regarding the emotions you are trying to express. This will take away the power of your words, and you can lose credibility. To stay authoritative and trustworthy, become stern when you need to come off as intimidating, and put on a smile when you want to be seen as an open person. If you have trouble with consistency, try to keep a neutral expression.

 

Make sure you’re present.

Besides maintaining eye contact, cues such as nodding at the correct times and blinking less can make you look more attentive. Looking present will help you engage in conversation and leave an outstanding impression. It is a crucial aspect of body language for leaders. 

Final Words

It is easy to get intimidated and discouraged by others when feeling unconfident and nervous. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t master all these cues at once. Keep practicing, and you’ll have a leader’s body language in no time!

Stéphane Narcis is the founder and CEO of Stéphane NARCIS™. She is an online course creator, teacher of modern foreign languages, body language and lie detection expert from Réunion Island. His mission is to help leaders, teachers, and professionals in all industries to achieve their goals. Stéphane has always been a dreamer and an achiever. He understands that purpose exists in everything, and he believes you have two choices: to allow any unexpected or negative aspect of life to be a curse, or to turn it into a blessing. Stéphane’s philosophy can be summarized in a few words: Be your true self. Be whom you want to be. Never let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough because, in actual fact, they project all their insecurities on you. Connect to Stéphane at https://www.facebook.com/narcisstephane or https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanenarcis/

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Get Off the Carousel

By Linda Commito

“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.”—Eckhart Tölle

Do you sometimes feel like you are on a Merry-Go-Round, going past the gold ring over and over, not realizing that it is already in your hand?

Does TOMORROW seem to be getting here sooner and sooner? Do you find yourself saying, “I can’t believe another day, week, year . . . has gone by so quickly?”

And yet, it’s not only possible, but probable, that we will let large chunks of our day and of our lives pass by without acknowledgment and appreciation, unless we stop and pay attention to the precious moment that we are experiencing right now.

Where did all that time go? There is no time bank that is storing those hours and days that disappeared unawares. So, it seems like they are lost forever.

Most of us, when we’re not immersed on our cell phones, computers, or TVs, spend time worrying about the future or reliving the past—neither of which are giving us the sense of peace that one gets from being in the NOW.What a waste of our precious days, our once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to truly live in the moment, to totally appreciate each person and experience. What if we could allow ourselves the free time to create, to learn, to explore, and perhaps, as importantly, to just BE.

While there are times when it’s important to think about the future, we should always be cognizant that the present is all that we truly have.

What can we do to make sure that we give the PRESENT moment the attention that it deserves?Let’s be fully conscious of this moment, to discover the joy and to express gratitude for this gift of lifeand those who are sharing it with you.

Don’t spend today worrying about tomorrow. It will come soon enough—or not at all—and at least you will not have lost the last day of your life thinking about the next.

Make today your best day!

Linda Commito, author, speaker, entrepreneur, consultant and teacher, is passionate about her vision to leave this world a kinder, more loving, and interconnected place. Linda’s award-winning book of inspirational stories, Love Is the New Currency, demonstrates how we can each make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others through simple acts of love and kindness. Her latest project, the card game Just Ask 1 2 3, was inspired by a desire to connect people of all different ages, beliefs and lifestyles to share our individuality and find commonality. Linda also created “Kindness Starts with Me,” a program, book and website for children. For more information visit http://www.LoveistheNewCurrency.com or visit the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Justask123game.

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Who Needs Need? The Eleventh Pathway

By Gregg Sanderson

“I am constantly aware of which of the Seven Centers of Consciousness I am using, and I feel my energy, perceptiveness, love, and inner peace growing as I open all of the Centers of Consciousness.”

According to the Handbook to Higher Consciousnessby Ken Keyes, Jr.,The Centers of Consciousness are different ways we experience Life. From the bottom up, they are Security, Sensation, Power, and Love. We’re happier when we use the higher centers. There are three more beyond the Love Center, and also beyond the scope of this article.

Suffering—the unpleasant emotions—are in the lower three, and the goal is to live as much as possible in the Love Center. Unconscious beliefs (Programming) of what you need to be happy trigger them.

Think of the “Centers” as lenses in front of the telescope of your consciousness. You can mentally change them when you change the unconscious belief.

The dominant emotion in the Security Center is fear whenever you feel insecure. The Sensation Center is a place of “never enough” and anxiety in the search for gratification. In the Power Center, anger rules when faced with a threat to control, power, or prestige.

None are pleasant places to be, and you can view any situation from all three. Generally fear is underneath. From Security, move to Sensation to try to escape the fear. Move to Power to mask it. Fear dissipates when you view it from Love—the unconditional acceptance of “what is.”

At the risk of over-simplification, you move to the Love Center by means of what you tell yourself when you’re emotional. Emotions are the power that makes the change, whether positive or negative.

When you perceive a situation your programming tells you if it’s OK or not OK. If it’s OK, you feel fine. If not OK, you suffer.

Since, at any moment, you can’t change the situation, your only alternative to “not OK” is to change the programming. When you “make it OK” you don’t suffer.

I know this seems abstract—It IS abstract, so let’s take an example of a scene experienced in the different Centers. Here is what your programming might tell you, and how you can counter it.

The scene: Bernice ate the last piece of cake.

From the Security Center: Fear. “OMG, Bernice ate the cake. She doesn’t love me. She’s going to leave me. What did I do to make her hate me? I’m gonna die without her.” Counter with, “I’m OK—even if Bernice finished the cake.”

From the Sensation Center: Anxiety. “The cake is all gone. How can I get more? That wasn’t enough. I gotta have more cake” Counter with, “It’s OK if Bernice finished the cake.”

From the Power Center: Anger. “Bernice doesn’t respect me. How dare she eat that cake! She’s out of control. I have to get even. After all, I’m the boss.” Counter with, “It’s OK if Bernice finished the cake.”

From the Love Center: “Oh, I see Bernice finished the cake.” You have no negative emotional reaction.

“But what if it really is not OK?” you ask. The beauty of this system is that it doesn’t make any difference. We’re about changing reaction, not reality.

The subconscious mind has no critical faculty, and accepts anything you tell it. You might as well tell it something that feels good. Since you want to view the scene from the Love Center, “It’s OK if…” and “I’m OK even if…” will do the job.

Repeat those mantras with emotion, and you’ll feel your “…energy, perceptiveness, love, and inner peace growing…” Move into your Love Center, then if you don’t like the situation, you can take action to change it. Everything works better when you feel good.

Remember, The cake doesn’t care who eats it.

Gregg Sanderson, one of our long-time contributors, passed to spirit in September 2021, and we are continuing the 12 Pathways Series in his honor. He also authored Spirit with a Smile and The World According to BOB. During his life, he was a licensed practitioner in the Centers for Spiritual Living and a Certified Trainer for Infinite Possibilities. His earlier books include What Ever Happened to Happily Ever After? and Split Happens—Easing the Pain of Divorce.

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Happy Without a Reason!

By Arielle Giordano

Focus on finding joy in simple, everyday activities.

When you are in pain, upset, frustrated or annoyed, you are making it all about yourself—and this is a signal you are living from a place of self-importance. Maybe you expected an outcome to look a different way, or perhaps you experienced discomfort from a relationship breakup or the loss of money, a house or a job?

When life is not going our way, we experience negative emotions towards ourselves and others. Self-hatred and self-doubt are indicators of negative self-importance, and the root of this feeling is a core belief that keeps telling us that we are really something or somebody. We believe that we are more important than others and more important than everything else.

A gentle way to move out of pain regarding self-importance is to shift into your heart and let what is bothering you drift away sweetly. Rather than thinking about yourself, enjoy the simple things in your life, such as getting dressed in the morning or even brushing your teeth. Get clarity on what is more meaningful than negative feelings about yourself. Focus on something that you know is good, such as how you feel when you mindfully perform simple tasks or experience nature.

Work on enjoying and liking everything you do in your life. When there is a genuineness to performing everyday tasks and engaging in simple pleasures, you come back into your innocence. You become happy without a reason!

Transformational Life Coach Award-Winning Author & Speaker, Professional Dancer. Arielle’s Award-Winning book for Best Self-Help Award: Dancing With Your Story From The Inside is available on http://www.Amazon.com. Her professional career includes the Lead Faculty Area Chairperson and Professor for the College of Humanities, History and the Arts at the University of Phoenix. She is a published co-author of Transform Your Life Books 1 & 2 and author for Tampa Bay Wellness, Conscious Shift & Transformation magazine. She has published her 4th book, an Instructor’s Manual for Barlow Abnormal Psychology 4th ed. and authored Psychology, A Journey 3rd.ed. Study Guide published by Nelson Education, Toronto, ON. She has also studied philosophy at the College of Integrated Philosophy with John DeRuiter for twenty years. Arielle has been a featured guest on radio and television, in newspapers, and the media across the US and Canada. She is a certified Essentrics Stretch and Dance Instructor. Arielle offers coaching sessions, classes and workshops and a free 30-minute Consultation. Arielle’s new book Dancing with Your Story from the Inside Out is now available on http://www.Amazon.com. Websites: http://www.dancingfromtheinsideout.com, http://www.ariellegiordano.com. Email: agbeautifuldance@gmail.com

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One Day at a Time

By Mary Boutieller

When we pause from our daily lives, we can find some joy amid the chaos.

Sometimes, when we’ve experienced enough grief, pain or discord in our lives, and we feel as though our hearts might break if we read the news one more time, it is then that we pause from our daily lives to reexamine who we are and why we are here. We ponder what to do with all the emotions we are feeling or trying to stuff away.

These past two-plus years have been like that for me. Covid, Ukraine, abortion and voting rights, shootings, children dying, Monkey Pox, politicians, racism…the list goes on. Yet the more I think about what is happening in the world, the more I need reminding of the good, the butterfly, the smiling stranger, the joy hidden inside.

This dichotomy, this not knowing how to feel in a world tilted upside down, is challenging for me. And although my mother passed away over 10 years ago, I came home the other day and thought to myself, “I should call my mom.” Because that would bring me comfort.

There are many things that bring comfort, of course, and yet in our grief we can forget to seek those things out—friends, family, nature, breath, music, and the nurturing, healing balm of reaching out to someone else.

Oren Jay Sofer said, “The contrast between the beauty and love in my life and the deep human suffering in our world is hard to hold.” For me, this pull between sadness at the state of things and gratitude at my own good luck, although seemingly opposite, is in reality the whole of life as we experience it day by day.

What is our proper response? How can we be an ever-growing part of the solutions we seek, so that we remain hopeful?

In 2013, I wrote a poem that somehow feels appropriate again today. Here it is:

The Parts and the Whole

Seems we spend so much of our time

separating the parts from the whole;

the individual from the group;

the body from the emotion;

Confident in our assertion

that one does not affect the other,

that we can do as we please and do no harm.

We think our disparate thoughts

and ignore the yearning call for communion.

We sense the discord in our waking lives

yet turn a blind eye to our innermost dreams.

We forget that our individual thoughts

become words…

that become actions…

that change our world…

for better or for worse.

How long shall we play the parts against the whole,

believing that the hairs rising on the back of our necks

are not a sign to pay attention;

that the tug of our hearts is not a wake-up call;

or that the pain experienced by another is not our own?

When will we see that we are not merely people

enveloped in a cocoon of loneliness,

but travelers on the same path,

the borders of our bodies a mirage

against the landscape of our souls?

It is my hope that this month’s writing inspires you to feel your feelings—all of them—to find some joy amidst the chaos, that you hold your heart and still allow it to be seen, that you live your life with both awareness and gratitude.  

One day, one breath at a time.

Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.

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Are You Waiting By the Pool of Bethesda?

By Noelle Sterne

The universal law of healing knows no calendar; it is available anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances, situations, or conditions.

Maybe you know the story, recounted in the New Testament, John 5: 1-9. A man crippled for 38 years lay by the natural pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. The waters were believed to heal when they churned, and he was waiting for the waters to stir so he could be cured. Jesus approached him but didn’t touch him, as with others He healed. Instead, Jesus asked the man a question. It was crucial.

“Do you want to get well?”

Rather than answering directly, the man responded that he needed someone to lower him into the pool at the right time. Others, he added, always got in ahead of him. Jesus seemed to ignore this explanation. In reply, he said, equally crucially, “Pick up your mat and walk.”

And the man did. He was healed.

Lessons from the Pool

This dialogue is not only surprising; it has many lessons. The applications to our lives may make us squirm, but we can learn a lot.

First, Jesus qualified the man: “Do you want to get well?”

Are we the waiter by the pool? Do we really want to do what we protest we can’t? Or do we love our deprivation and misery? Do we complain the world is against us, that others have all the luck? Does our poor-me status make us feel special? Do we hug it to us like a comforter?

Second, the man did not reply to Jesus’ question but looked to the water, believing its apparently magical movement was the only means of healing him. And us? What are our excuses for not looking into ourselves for the power to get well, to remedy our ills? No or little time-money, too old-young-poor-stupid-unschooled-ugly-fat-guilty-ashamed?

And what’s the “water” we look to? Pills, diets, fasts, juices, funds, education, a lower number on the scale? Do we look to if-onlys and when-thens? Only then, we think, after all these remedies or changes finally take place, will we be healed, feel good, be happy, finally be able to do what we say we really want to.

But have you noticed? Another when-then always pops up.

Third, the cripple continued to put the blame on others. He said no one would help him into the pool and others always got there before him. Are we putting the blame and responsibility on others to “save” us? Are we waiting for someone somehow to push us, move us even a few inches? Are we waiting for the right time, responses, physical look, bank account, permission, weather, confluence of planets?

Or do we feel we have to make a pilgrimage to our version of the pool—Jerusalem, Mecca, or a church full of saintly relics? Do we think we have to travel to a center or hospital, professional, specialist, spiritual retreat, holy man, holy mountain?

Such beliefs are what keep us crippled, sidelined, and mired in our continued misery or frustration. Most of us are waiting in some way, giving ourselves all those excuses that sound so sane, reasonable, and irreproachable. That’s why we remain at the side of our own pool of Bethesda.

Jesus Ignored His Excuses

But Jesus didn’t listen to any of the excuses. He didn’t even address the “reality” of the cripple’s situation—that no one would lower him into the pool, or indeed that he was even crippled. Instead, Jesus looked past all the apparent circumstances.

He saw only the man’s innate wholeness, the wholeness he deserved. And, as if he were whole, Jesus commanded him to get up and walk.

When, Oh, When

Look too at when Jesus healed the man—on the Sabbath (and it wasn’t the first time). The Jewish law decreed that any kind of “work” was forbidden on this day. Jesus’ act was one of several that helped build the Jewish leaders’ case against him, and eventually led to His persecution.

What’s the import for us? Jesus didn’t let a man-made rule stop or deter him. He said that His “Father” was always working, as he was (John 5: 17). Jesus knew that the universal law of healing knows no calendar. As we recognize and invoke it, it is available anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances, situations, or conditions.

Nor do you have to wait for any special event, hour, day, or place. You aren’t constrained by any human law or belief.

We Can Look Beyond

So, like Jesus, think of how you most want to get up and walk. What excuses have you been making for what you crave? Heal a chronic condition? Boost your finances? Go back to school? Take steps toward a new job? Clear out the spare room for a painting studio? Resume yoga? Learn Norwegian? Try your hand, or mike, at standup comedy? Write a poem, or a novel? Resolve your important relationship? Spend more special time with your children?

Like Jesus, look past any supposed obstacles and impossibilities, or better, ignore them entirely. See and consistently visualize yourself “walking” in the ways you most desire. See yourself doing and being what you most want.

You don’t need to concern yourself with the details. Jesus didn’t tell the man to rub salve on his legs, wrap them in pressure bandages, or even get a cane. Jesus saw and affirmed only the completed whole. As you do likewise, the means will come forth to start you in your own “walking.”

As Jesus did, you too can see beyond the appearance of what is plaguing you. He commanded, “Pick up your mat and walk.” Not only walk but more—“pick up your mat.”

This command shows Jesus’ complete faith in the process—and His belief in the crippled man’s ability. Despite lying almost immobile for 38 years, when it could be assumed the man was very weak, Jesus had none of it. He saw the man not only as whole but as wholly strong and capable. And the cripple, feeling the force of Jesus’ conviction and love, obeyed.

As can we. When we see and act beyond our present appearances and state of affairs, whatever they are, to wholeness, we too are on our way to healing. As we feel, believe, picture the wholeness, so it will come into being.

Why keep waiting? It may not be as long as 38 years, but you don’t have to wait any amount of time. Who is your savior? Only you.

Affirmations for Not Waiting

Now is the time.

Now is the only time.

Now is the moment.

Now you deserve.

Now all is available.

Now all is waiting for you to claim it.

So what’s keeping you hunched up by the pool, clutching your old blanket of excuses, pitiably watching life parade by?

Whatever it is, it’s false.

Do you feel like a lowly wretch? You are the most high.

Do you feel separated? Claim your union with your Father.

Do you feel “sinful”? Your only sin is thinking you are sinful.

Do you feel powerless? You have all power from the All Powerful.

Do you feel you cannot control your life? You are the creator and fashioner of your life by Divine Right.

Do you feel impoverished in some way? Not a chance. Look at the banquet of life, the banquet of all good that is already here for you.

Do you feel non-deserving? You deserve all good, all that you truly desire, all that makes your heart sing and soar.

So, pick up your own mat. You don’t need to wait any longer by your version of the pool of Bethesda. Right now, you can walk and run and skip and hop—and claim your healing and your never-ending good.

Author, editor, writing coach, workshop leader, and academic mentor, Noelle Sterne has published over 700 stories, essays, writing craft articles, spiritual pieces, and occasional poems in literary and academic print and online venues. Publications have appeared in Author Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul (six volumes), Inspire Me Today, LiveWriteThrive, MindBodySpirit, Journal of Expressive Writing, Life and Everything After, Mused, Pen and Prosper, Romance Writers Report, Ruminate, Sasee, Textbook and Academic Authors Association blog (monthly), Thesis Whisperer, Transformation Coaching, Two Drops of Ink (monthly), Unity Daily Word, Unity Magazine, WE Magazine for Women, Women in Higher Education, Women on Writing, Writing and Wellness, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. Eons ago, she published a children’s book of original dinosaur riddles (HarperCollins), in print for 18 years. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, for 30 years Noelle has assisted doctoral candidates in completing their dissertations (finally). Her published handbook to assist doctoral candidates is based on her professional academic practice: Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Psychological Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015). In Noelle’s spiritual self-help book, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), she draws examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to support readers in reaching their lifelong yearnings. Continuing with her own, she is draft-deep in her third novel. Her webinar about Trust Your Life can be seen on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95EeqllONIQ&feature=youtu.be Visit Noelle at her website: http://www.trustyourlifenow.com © 2021 Noelle Sterne

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Spruce Up Your Life

By Darrel L. Hammon

Fixing up our yards parallels with shaping up our lives.

Don’t you just love sprucing up your yard so that it looks great to anyone who happens to walk or drive by? The challenge is that many of our yards have become a bit archaic, debris-filled, and plain, with more than a few weeds cropping up in places they should not be. People do not take a second look. In fact, they do not even look at all. There is nothing that makes our yards stand out.

Many of us have lost our pizazz to keep our yards looking nice, presentable, and colorfully breathtaking. What’s exciting is to take a plain old yard and turn it into something incredible so that when the neighbors walk by they come to an abrupt halt so they can admire it with that phenomenal-can’t-take-my-eyes-off-your-yard look. Some even ask to use your backyard for family gatherings and weddings.

Our lives, like our yards, need a bit—and sometimes a lot—of sprucing up. Over time, we have neglected various parts of our lives, and personal weeds spring up in places they should not be. So, what will it take to make our lives a showcase, perhaps not necessarily to others but, more importantly, to ourselves and our families?

How does sprucing up our lives compare with sprucing up our yards? And what are some of the best ways to jazz up our lives? Let’s compare, using garden language.

Digging About

Digging about basically means you have to find the spot around the trees, dig around it to loosen the soil so water has a way to seep into the roots, remove any of the weeds that might be there, or ready the soil in a place you want to plant something. In our lives, our digging about is similar. We must find those patches in our lives that need space to grow and develop, perhaps areas that need renovation or enhancement and, in some cases, complete removal.

Pruning and Clipping

Often, pruning and clipping become challenging things to do. It is not easy to lop off a branch that needs it or clip a tree or a bush way back so the new growth can come and the old parts are removed. Sometimes, when we are done with the pruning and the clipping, we think that we have killed the plant. Amazingly, in the spring or sooner, plants begin to grow in ways that they would not have if we had not pruned and clipped the old, dying, and decaying pieces off. So, too, it is with our own lives. We need to prune and clip those parts that are decaying or holding us back from achieving our goals. You may have to step back and truly contemplate those areas that need some help. Someone you trust may be able to offer some suggestions.

Planning and Organizing

Planning is essential to having an incredible yard or garden. You should develop a blueprint that shows where the plants are going to go, which plants need the sun or those that need shade, to create a sense of artistic beauty everywhere. The same occurs in our own lives. We should develop a plan of where we want to go, why we want to go there, and how we are going to get there. Being strategic with your life and how you want it to go is important and imperative; it will help you develop a sense of accomplishment. My suggestion is to always develop a personal strategic plan of what components you need to have in your life to achieve your goals and objectives. When you write them down, you are committed to completing them and feel more accountable for your actions.

Planting

For the most part, I know what I want to plant in our flower beds or in our garden. Over years of trial and error and living in different parts of the world with varying climates and rainfall, we have discovered you have to plan on planting the right seeds and plants to be successful gardeners. If not, you will have a disaster. Our lives are the same. We all come from different backgrounds, we have different experiences, we possess different skills and talents, and we understand things differently. The “plantings” in our lives need to have some semblance of what we want to do. Often, the planting of seeds takes time. They just do not spout overnight—although some weeds do! All of us have to ask: “What seeds should I be planting in my life that will help me obtain my goals and propel me to be a healthy and successful person?” Once we know that, then we plan on what needs to be planted or changed.

Nurturing and Nourishing

Nurturing and nourishing plants and trees takes time and energy. You do not want to drown them, and you definitely do not want to kill them because they do not have enough to drink. You have to love your plants and trees enough to know what they need and when they need it. Does that sound familiar to you about your life? With frequency, we can over nurture and nourish ourselves in our lives and even the lives of our children. We want to grow and develop and become stronger, and we also want to pull out and delete the weeds of our lives that have impeded our growth and development along the way. It is only through nurturing and nourishing that we enhance our lives and live them the way we want to.

Fertilizing

I grew up in the country, so our fertilizer was manure from our animals—pigs, chickens, cows, horses, etc. The key was to allow the manure to mature before using it. Chicken manure is high in nitrogen. Manure has to be “composted” so it has the right materials to boost the growth of plants. Fertilizer is imperative for things to grow. Some people pile on the Miracle Grow or some facsimile of it. The key hinges on mixing the right amount of fertilizer into the dirt and plants to allow the roots to mature and grow and become strong, which in turn allows the green growth on top to do the same. Similarly, we have to add the right nutrients and fertilizers into our lives. Often, we also need to eliminate those things that jeopardize our goals and our growth. What may seem good to add to our lives may not be what it needs at the exact moment of our growth cycle—physical, mental, spiritual, etc. Be cautious and fertilize only those components that will help you achieve your goals. Eliminate the rest.

Having Hope for Growth

Farmers are some of the most hopeful people on the planet. They prepare the soil, plant their crops, pray they have enough rain, and then work hard. They go out every single day, no matter the weather, no matter what needs to be done, no matter the challenges seem to mount for them. They just go and do and hope—hope that everything they planted will grow, hope that the markets will treat them fairly, and hope that they will survive another year. Yes, they have good years and bad years, but they continue to plow forward. Our lives should be filled with hope, too! Hope that what we are doing will propel us forward with our goals. Hope gives us more light and happiness. The more light we receive, the better we will feel. We need to hope that something good will occur in our lives.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

With anything, it is good to see the larger picture before beginning the pruning, digging, and fertilizing. You have to picture in your mind’s eye what it is that you want to achieve in your yard and in your life. The adage, “If you can see it, you can achieve it,” is relevant. Our planning will help us see what we want to achieve. Everything is on paper. We know what we want our yards to look like. When organizing and planning our lives, we also need to see the larger picture. What is it we want to become? Granted, some things change along the way. Sometimes, we have to regroup or replan some aspect of our lives. No matter the situation, we still need to see and focus on the bigger picture. Often, though, we place the minutia of our lives so close in our line of vision as to obstruct the bigger picture. That is where the digging, pruning, and clipping come in. We need to use those components in order to clean the debris from our lives so we can see the path we have set for ourselves.

Now, the sprucing can begin because you know the path and the tools to do it. Happy gardening!

Darrel L. Hammon has been dabbling in writing in a variety of genres since his college days, having published poetry, academic and personal articles/essays, a book titled Completing Graduate School Long Distance (Sage Publications), and a picture book, The Adventures of Bob the Bullfrog: Christmas Beneath a Frozen Lake (Outskirts Press). He also was the editor of the Journal of Adult Education (Mountain Plains Adult Education Association). Most of his essay/article writing has focused on topics about growing up, leadership, self-awareness, motivation, marriage/dating, and educational topics. Some of these articles/essays are in Spanish because Darrel is bilingual in Spanish/English, having lived in Chile, Dominican Republic, and southern California, and having worked with Latino youth and families all of his professional life in higher education. He has two blogs, one for personal writing at http://www.darrelhammon.blogspot.com/ and one for his consulting/life coaching business (http://www.hammonconsults.blogspot.com/). You can listen to a poem titled “Sprucing Up” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihTmuOUIAEI.

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