To live from the heart means you need to get clear on what it is you want. Sounds easy enough, right? If you’re anything like me, it hasn’t been.
I’ve been encouraged to put others first. Often, I haven’t even put myself in the equation. Someone asks me to do something and the first thing I hear myself say is yes. Never mind that I don’t really want to, someone needs me and I’m there.
I am getting much better at saying no, but what I’m really getting better at is knowing what I want. My no is informed by my heart’s desire and so is my yes.
For the longest time I didn’t differentiate my wants from someone else’s. Being an empath can confuse things. But I also have codependent tendencies. I want to control my environment which includes people and their feelings. Not a good way to live so I’m working on it and knowing what’s in my heart has helped immensely.
Here are some ways you can get to know your heart better and disentangle your emotions from the wants and needs of others.
Even with all the work I’ve done on myself, I still find myself wanting to please others or control them. People don’t even have to ask me to do something before I’m jumping in to do it for them. Since this was such an automatic reaction, I found disentangling from my desire to help, please and control was the best place to begin.
Know Your Heart
Please join me over on my Facebook page aka the Live Life from the Heart Classroom. Every week we'll delve deeply into the current week's blog and build our lives from the heart.
Divine downloads, you’ve heard that term perhaps. It’s a rush of ideas that seem to come from on high. They are divine, but they come from deep within you. And you can access that place more often than you think. It’s not a rare occasion. It’s a continuous flow that you can step into at any time.
If you spend most of your time spinning your wheels, you aren’t in a receptive mode. You need to slow down and listen and then go out there and take inspired steps to bring the idea you receive to life.
How do you do this?
You need to get out of your own way. Step aside, turn your brain down and listen.
Here are some ways you can do this.
Watch Kitty TV - Stare out a Window
This stare-out-the-window method helps you get into observer mode. It's relaxing and opens up some space in your mind. Observing is akin to listening. We allow the world to pass by and so our minds loosen up. You can also do this outside in nature or at an outdoor cafe. Let yourself drift for a while and soon ideas will begin to float to the surface.
Dance with a Vacuum
You can also do the two-step with a broom, mop or sponge. The point is to engage in a task that takes no thought. Your mind is free to wander. Be careful to not let it wander into a highly focused state. If you do, bring your mind back to the task. Don’t make your focus rigid. Relax your mind and slowly let it drift again. The point is to keep a soft focus. You’ll know you’ve gone astray if your body tenses up. You can’t dance well by thinking too hard about the next step. Your body will tense up and the dance won’t be fluid. If you can maintain this gentle focus long enough, your mind will open up to ideas.
Sit Down and Shush – In Other Words Meditate
The point of mediation isn’t to receive divine downloads. Often it’s used to train your mind to come back to the present moment. Our minds like to zoom all over the place. It’s what they do, so we train it to stay in the now in order to have greater control of it. But mediation is about sitting in the silence and being open. In this receptive mode divine downloads often appear.
Envelop Yourself in Music
Put on your head phones and listen to some mood music. Find music that makes you float, and then do just that. Relax into it and see what comes to you.
Sometimes these methods don’t work in the moment, but if you stay in a relaxed state for a while afterwards, ideas will find you. Often we’re too busy, too tense, too stimulated to allow a divine download to come through. We always have the answers or ideas we need.
Give these a try or find other ways that you can suspend your conscious mind in order to receive some divine downloads. Become like a cat. The ancient Egyptians revered cats because they are so good at hovering at the edge of relaxation and alertness. It’s the state you need to be in to create, be open to ideas and allow all that you’ve dreamed into your experience.
I invite you to share some of your ways of opening up to receive in the comments. What you share can help someone else.
Too often we watch our friends who have found their soul mates or dream jobs and wish we could experience that as well.
I think us humans like to wish for things because we’re afraid we’ll never have them or that we don’t deserve them. If we took steps towards our dreams and things didn’t work out, then what? It’s too scary, so we simply wish and daydream our lives away.
But what if things do work out? Even if they don’t at first, you can try again. There is no failure really if you continue to do. The only real failure is in giving up altogether or never trying at all.
By doing, I don’t mean only actions in the world. Doing also includes inner actions like gratitude and envisioning. I talk more about these in my ebook Discover and Live Your Dreams, which you can get when you sign up on my list.
So here are some things you can do to have your dreams come true.
Whether you’re looking for love or to live your dream you need to know you are worthy. You can begin to do this by learning to love yourself just as you are. One way to do this is via mirror work as described by Louise Hay.
Become more aware of how you are by starting a mindfulness meditation practice. Also, you can ask yourself some questions. For example: What do I enjoy doing? What do I want out of life? How do I want to feel?
Really get to know yourself. These questions apply to both finding love and doing what you love.
Spend Time Communing with Spirit/Nature
Go to your favorite place in nature or spend some quiet time with Spirit via prayer. The relationship you build with Spirit or nature will help you know your worth and fill you with wonder and love. All things that will help you live your dreams.
I’m offering a Teaching and Soul Healing Session on finding the love of your life.
I know many of you have found love. It’s wonderful to share your life with someone, to grow and learn together. I didn’t so much find love as it found me. Looking back I can see how it came about. There were certain things I did to prepare that I didn’t even know were preparing me at the time. It’s about being as well as doing.
In this session you'll...
If this sounds like something you would like to experience, visit my Soul Healing Session page to learn more about those sessions and pricing. With the teaching aspect added payment will be needed. I do Soul Healing Sessions for free for those in need.
We can either clutter our life or cultivate it. And by cultivating it I don’t mean going to the symphony or reading great literature though those things can help. To cultivate our life is to spend time alone and discover what is there. What do we think and feel? What do we want from life? How do we affect life and how does it affect us?
The inner and outer worlds are not two separate things. They are intricately intertwined. As you spend time with yourself, your thoughts and feelings, you’ll come to see that this is true. It’s really just as important to cultivate relationships and work you love. To ignore one affects the other. Focus too much out there and you begin to lose yourself. Become too self-absorbed and your outer world shrinks. As materialism rose, the inner life got pushed to the side. We began to focus on immediate gratification without any self-reflection.
What happened is we began to clutter our lives, both inner and outer. Cultivation itself became ignored. We became consumers no longer the gardeners of our lives.
To live a mythopoeic life is to understand that everything matters. To leave materialism behind is to make matter matter from the inside out, and this takes cultivation. It takes time to see the essence of all things and beings, to realize we are all one as well as unique individuals. It is both inner and outer work. It takes no time at all to consume, but to cultivate our lives, it takes eternity. It is not something we ever finish. It is becoming, a flowering into an ever greater sense of being.
The ancients understood all is connected. The principle of correspondence in the hermetic tradition states, “As is above, so is below. As is below, so is above.” Hermes Trismegistus also stated “…as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…”
When we cultivate our inner and outer lives we are living by this principle. To live this way brings balance to our lives and so to the world around us. Cultivate a life that moves the world and you’ll find you are ever more moved by the world. You are a gardener not a blind consumer. Remove the clutter and unearth the rich soil of your soul, work and relationships. It is here you plant the seeds of a meaningful life. It is from here the world becomes a garden again.
“If we listen to the heartbeat of each other and humanity, we will hear the great rhythm of the Universe.”
~ Ernest Holmes
“Touch is the miracle.”
~ Walt Whitman
Our unfolding is the unfolding of the Universe. Our heartbeat is an echo of a greater rhythm and pulse that reverberates throughout creation. If we would only listen as Ernest Holmes writes, we could hear and know how connected we are to one another, and to the Universe itself. Its heart is our heart and our heart is its heart. The same is true for the stranger you pass on the street just as much as it is for you and a loved one.
Look into the eye of the sparrow perched on a tree and witness the life force reflected there. Touch the tree itself and feel it. Life vibrates quickly through the bird and slowly through the tree, but all is alive, all is the great rhythm of the Universe. Even the still stone resonates.
“Touch is the miracle,” says Whitman. That we are in form is a miracle. We can touch one another and feel our heartbeats, the rise and fall of our chests, the hum and hiss of Life moving through us, as us. Through touch we feel not only physically, but emotionally. Love is communicated through touch and we can touch a soul through a gentle gaze. Touch is tactile, but it is also ethereal, the other reachable on an emotional/spiritual level.
Holmes and Whitman were trying to tell us all is connected and to connect in a visceral as well as tangible way. They are voices from the past, but they saw we were heading into a world of disconnect. It seems we haven't taken their words to heart.
Disconnect is a word of our times. You can track its use over time via Google here. Since the mid-60s it has risen drastically. We talk a lot about it, but it seems we’ve done little to truly connect with one another, the environment or even ourselves. More than ever people seem to be afraid of the “other” as well as being in the quiet with themselves. We’ve lost touch. We’ve lost the ability to reach out and know Life as the person in the next car over, the person posting on Facebook, the person who looks different from us, the ancient tree in the dwindling forest, the Amur leopard who stares out from behind bars, one of less than 300 in the world, just 60 of her kind in the wild.
What if we listened? What if we touched? What if we got to know the world and ourselves again? The World Soul waits to be known again through the experience of each of us. Can we stand still for just a moment, look around, know Life again? Not life as a blur of tasks and forgotten moments, but Life as the pulse of all creation, the Life that beats our hearts, looks out at us through the eyes of another, touches us with the music of those now gone. Listen. Touch. Life waits for us. We never have to wait for It, for It is already here.
And this is what I learned: that the world’s otherness is antidote to confusion, that standing within this otherness–the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books–can re-dignify the worst-stung heart.
~ Mary Oliver
Bird song enters my home through two different windows. Their music-making reminds me of the world’s otherness that Mary Oliver speaks of. Even though I know at the very basic level all is one, it is in knowing that there are many that lights my soul and warms my heart.
There is a world out there to build a relationship with. And it can be a deep connection with everything or simply seeing everything as useful. Our modern world tends to see things, animals and even people in terms of their usefulness. But this is damaging to our soul.
To be immersed in nature or books allows us to connect to the other and therefore ourselves. Since all is connected there is no real difference. But sometimes it is easier to come into relationship with someone or something out there than it is to connect to ourselves.
We may have worst-stung hearts as Mary Oliver puts it. Pain can make us want to run from ourselves. Nature or books can provide the nourishment that makes us strong enough to look within. When we no longer feel alone, we are able to discover that we never were.
Take a few moments to commune with the flowers in your garden or the trees on your street. They know when we’re paying attention. They are alive and have a soul. We feed them with our attention and they feed us with their wisdom.
Or maybe books are more your thing. Spend some time between the pages of your favorite tales. Get inside a story or a poem and know its comfort. Books are our companions and gateways into relationship with the other. Once you spend enough time with one particular piece of writing, it becomes a part of you forever. And you have changed it by brining your own heart and soul to it.
There is power in connecting with the world around us. But sometimes we’ve been too hurt by people and so find it easier to begin with nature or books. Our lives are made richer by gathering otherness to us and becoming one with those words or that grand old oak. Their branches of meaning or leaves can reach into our soul if we let them.
To allow yourself to grieve is to invite grace into your life.
What once was can be no more. Everything is changing and ever becoming something else. We walk through a world in which the only constant is our need to hold on. And holding on to anything is what causes our suffering. All that is will slip through our fingers and linger as memory. If you learn to let go and simply be with what is in the moment, you’ll finally discover the richness that lives there.
Still, we miss what is no longer. A loved one who has died, a friend who has changed and moved on, an animal companion that has crossed over, a job we loved and lost, the person we used to be. Grief rises, fills us until the tears feel as though they will never end. As painful as it is we can’t resist it and expect to just get over the loss. As with every moment, it’s important to simply be in it no matter what, even if grief threatens to overwhelm you. It’s your resistance that makes it feel as though you’re drowning. Float.
The person who tries to climb out of deep water as if it were solid will drown. Emotions are a watery element. There is no solid ground, nowhere to get your footing. The only thing you can do is go with it and float. By faith grace enters your life. Let go. Feel and trust that you will move through it because nothing stays the same. That fact that caused you so much pain now brings hope.
Rest on the water of feeling for a while. You can’t drown if you let it buoy you. Soon peace will rise up, helping you float. In the dark night the sky will clear and the stars will shine down. You’ll discover that all was not lost. Your loved ones live on in you. The lost job becomes living wisdom. Even your old self has become integrated with who you are now.
There are some losses that you will never “get over” because you will always miss that person or animal companion. Over time, if you’ve let yourself grieve, the tears won’t burn quite so much and your heart won’t weigh you down. We can only continue to let go and feel into every moment. Remember, the stars are the light of suns that may no longer exist. That doesn’t make their light any less real. The sky is filled with memories of what once was and so are we. We contain worlds. Let them grace your life.
The Buddha’s last words instructed us to be heedful—to see our actions as important and to keep that importance in mind at all times.
~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
When you refuse to see and learn from what is going on in your life and the lives of those around you, life gets ever more confusing and complicated. As we lie to ourselves that we can do no wrong and life is great, we miss Life’s lessons and the wisdom we’d gain by paying attention to what is really going on.
This message came to me in the form of a talk by the American Buddhist monk Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu of the Thai Forest Tradition. He talked about how we gain self-esteem from this willingness to learn from everything.
The mythopoeic mindset is about taking the grist of life and turning it into meaning, giving all experience purpose, which allows wisdom to rise from its depths.
I have an avoidant personality. This way of being has indeed made my life more complicated at times. I used my imagination to escape any present situation I didn’t like. But the imagination can be used to help us face the truth of our situation by reframing it and envisioning a deeper meaning to enrich our life story.
These days I am more willing to be present in my life no matter what. But there are still times I wish to escape, and that’s okay as long as I’m aware of what I’m doing.
Are you willing to learn from everything? Are you willing to be fully present in your life? When you are, you’ll find everything you need to not only learn and gain wisdom but create a life of meaning and purpose.
It all begins with being willing.
Writing is a solitary vocation. We may have family and friends in our life, but we need time for our writing. That said we can’t ignore the important people in our life either. Time is needed to nourish our relationships as well. A balance must be struck.
I have a tendency to solitude. I need it as many introverts do. But I also have a need for connection, to feel as though I belong. Sometimes solitude wins out even if not much of the time alone is spent writing. I have a tendency to procrastinate. I’ll save that for another post.
What’s important to understand is that to develop our art and our relationships takes time. The idea of quality time isn’t valid.
A 20 minute focused writing session may move you along on a project if you do it every day. It may not be enough to make you a master writer. Well, maybe over a life time it would, but you need more time sitting at your computer or writing in your journal to become a master word weaver before you’re 80.
Words on the page are only part of the vocation. It also includes the dream time in between sessions, the reverie in which your ideas rise or begin to take shape. As a writer you may have noticed that you’re not really ever off duty. It becomes a way of life. You’ve heard the phrase pray without ceasing? For the writer the admonition is to create without ceasing. Even if you’re not putting words on a page, your subconscious is ceaselessly creative.
Our relationships take time, too. Intimacy grows in those silent moments together, in those hours of just being. Some of my deepest conversations rose out of the silence of just being with someone. Sometimes what needs to be said rises to the surface just as ideas do during reverie.
These longer stretches of time are reverent. They open us up so we can be filled. We don’t so much make art or relationships work as we give them the space and time to grow. In allowing, everything becomes possible and nothing is taken for granted.
How do you give time to your craft? Please share in the comments.
As much as we’d like to think we can make our bodies do what we want when we want, it has a different story to tell.
I’m embarking on another 10 day journey to write my next non-fiction book on writing. In August I joined Jennifer Blanchard for her 10 day challenge in which we wrote an e-book in 10 days. Well, it took a little longer than that for most of us, but we put our feet to the fire and wrote. This time, I’m ready to do it again.
In November, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I didn’t get very far. It seemed like every doctor’s appointment took days off my writing. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t make myself write on many of those days in November. I felt unsettled and when you feel that way, sometimes you just can’t find the words. And that’s okay.
There are certain times of the year as well as certain times and stages in our lives that leave us floundering or feeling so moved inward that writing can be difficult. Perhaps during those times we need to incubate our ideas or just let ourselves rest. The creative process is made up of the ebb and flow of internal processes and actions. I believe it’s important to honor those down times. It’s also important to make sure you’re not avoiding the work because you’re afraid to do it. Procrastination has cost me years of my writing life.
So, in this new book I’m going to explore the seasons of the year and rhythm of the creation process. There is a balance to be had in order for us to thrive as writers and artists. Really, in order to thrive as a human being, it’s important to follow the rhythm of life, both outer and inner. Listening to our souls can bring forth a bountiful harvest.
Learning to Live