Becoming the Observer: Part 2

And, we're back. 

Welcome to the second video in the 6-part video series that outlines the process I learned, practiced, and teach on how to go from "never enough" to "always okay." 

If you missed the first video, you can watch it here.

In today's video, we are going to explore the second part of becoming the observer which helps us to answer the question: "So, now that I know what my judgments are, how do I practice more non-judgmental awareness?"

Great question.

Watch today's video to learn more about what this means and just how to do it.

“Ask yourself if you are judging the moment or outcome as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and challenge yourself to accept it ‘as is’—neither good nor bad, right nor wrong—we never know the purpose of a moment until the moment has passed.” ~ Gay Hendricks

I'm curious how it goes for you. Once you watch the video, let me know in the comments below or over on my Facebook page!

See you in the next video where we will explore the second stage to the SOAR framework and learn how to accept what is. You won't want to miss this one!

Are You Taking a Vacation or a Suitcase Full of "Shoulds"?

Ah, summer vacation. 

Each year, I take a trip to northern Minnesota and spend a week at a lake cabin with my family.

Sometimes vacations stump me a little. Rather than feeling peaceful and relaxed, I feel conflicted and a little on edge.

This year, I mentioned something to my mother and she asked me a very insightful question that immediately helped me change the way I was viewing my time away.

Do you ever feel like your vacations are just another opportunity to “should” all over yourself or live up to yet another set of expectations?

In this video, I’m going to share with you the wise question my mother asked me and how it helped me go from conflicted to confident while on vacation. 

Just because we’re on vacation doesn’t mean we have to take a break from being true to ourselves. {Tweet that!}

Now it’s your turn! How do you stay true to yourself while taking time off?

Head on over to the blog or Facebook page to share your wisdom in the comments below this video. I would love to see what sort of conversation we can drum up.

So many of us look forward to what little vacation we usually take to begin with, yet how many of us actually spend that time without added pressure or expectations of what vacation “means”? Please pass this along to anyone you may know who could benefit from being reminded to stay true to themselves even when taking some much-needed time off.

With gratitude ...

PS If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up to receive my 10 dirty little secrets and be the first to hear about an exciting project I’m working on and excited to share with you soon!

What to Do When Someone (Who Isn't a Disney Princess) Says, “Let it Go"

“Let it go! Let it go!!"

Not just the lyrics to any current 5-8 year old girl’s favorite Disney song. This is also a mantra of sorts for most adults. 

The intention is all good, but sometimes the phrase itself can seem dismissive, flippant, or full-on aggravating.

I know for me, when someone says, “Just let it go,” I want to punch them in the face.

Okay. No, not really. That’s not at all my style. But you get my point. It can seem WAY easier said than done.

So, what does “let go” really mean and how do we go about doing it?

The question of learning to let go came up as a response to my survey and is a very common question as we are on this journey of awareness and awakening. (If you are curious to which survey I’m referencing, check it out here.)

In this video, I share my perspective on what “letting go” means to me and just how to go about doing it in a way that keeps most punching unnecessary. (Watch the video if you want to know why I didn’t say “all!”)

By redefining what “letting go” means we can redefine our relationship and experience with it. {Tweet that!}

Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite thing to do when you feel the need to "let it go?"

Hop on over to the blog to share your wisdom in the comments below this video! I absolutely love learning what works for others and your tip might be just the thing someone needs to hear today.

So many of us hear the phrase "let it go" so often—yet how many of us actually practice this in a way that is healthy and supports our expansion into deeper awareness? Please pass this along to anyone who rolls their eyes at or feels disenchanted when they hear "Let it go!" or who might benefit from learning just how to experience less frustration and more ease.

With gratitude ...

PS If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up here to receive my dirty little secrets to loving the life I have AND be the first to find out about an exciting announcement I’ll be making soon! 

How to Have Your Ego and Beat It, Too

A recurring thought of mine as I’ve been on this journey and started my own business has been: “How do I operate from a place with no ego while building a business centered around letting go of ego?"

First of all, for those of you asking yourselves, “What in the world is she talking about? What is this ‘ego’ she keeps referring to?”

Much of how I think about the ego and what I mean when I talk about the ego is based on Eckhart Tolle’s definition of ego: "Ego is the unobserved mind that runs your life when you are not present as the witnessing consciousness, the watcher."

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What I've Learned about Contradictions

The other day I found myself reading something that completely contradicted something else I had read just a few weeks earlier. And I noticed that I started to feel almost indignant.

Which one am I supposed to believe? How can I learn from two opposing viewpoints?!

Then, I heard this voice in my head say, "Wait a minute, Amanda.

What if it's not about which one is "right" and which one is "wrong" but rather what is the lesson here for me to take away?"

If you're anything like me you might sometimes find it difficult or even frustrating to hear opposing or paradoxical statements—especially as we are learning how to expand ourselves into our highest version of ourselves.

In this video, I'm going to share with you how when we are aware enough to receive, it's less about what one person or authority says on a matter and more about what message we are meant to learn from these seemingly contradictory claims.

It's not "either/or;" it's "both/and what's the lesson I'm meant to learn in this moment?" {Tweet that!}

Now, I'd love to hear from you.

What lesson have you recently learned when you came up against something that at first seemed either paradoxical or downright contradictory?

I'd love to see what lessons you have learned so please take a moment and share with us in the comments below this post. What you share might be just the lesson someone else needs to learn today.

As we continue to expand into our awareness and start to put our parts back together to recreate the whole, sometimes we can get derailed by seemingly contradictory claims instead of remaining in our awareness and growth. So please pass this along to anyone in your life who you think might benefit from being reminded of how we can learn from these contradictions in order to have more of the life we want!

If you want more support in learning to listen to that part of you who is tired of getting derailed by contradictions and who knows the lesson to be learned, I invite you to sign up for one of my complimentary discovery sessions and sign up to receive more tips, tricks, and insights directly to your inbox.

P.S. I'm getting giddy with excitement to tell you more about a program I will be launching soon that helps people learn how to become more aware of their own goodness and begin to SOAR! (And if you are just dying to find out what it means to "SOAR" be sure to sign up and find out when I reveal it to the world!)

With gratitude...

How to Stay in Compassion and Out of Obligation

Recently, I've been struggling—or shall I say "dancing"—with this idea of how I can continue to "work on myself" and do it in a way that reflects my deepest belief that I am good just the way I am and there is nothing that needs to be fixed. That sounds kind of paradoxical, doesn't it?

How can I work on something without believing it needs to be fixed?

Sometimes being on a spiritual path can feel paradoxical ... and even a little frustrating.

It can feel like I'm beating myself up all the time while trying out new tools and practices (which kind of defeats the purpose).

What I'm learning is that it is possible to expand ourselves and adopt new practices without beating ourselves up.

In this video, I'm going to share with you three questions we can use to see if what we are doing is coming from a place of love and compassion or from a place of judgment and obligation.

Expansion and growth don't have to come from judgment and obligation. {Tweet that!}

Now, I'd love to hear from you.

How do you know that what you are doing is coming from a place of compassion or coming from a place of judgment?

I'd love to see what works best for you so please take a moment and share with us in the comments below this post. What you share might be just the thing someone else needs to hear today.

As we expand and grow into our deepest level of awareness, we can sometimes fall back into being critical and forcing ourselves to do things that just don't serve us. So please pass this along to anyone in your life who you think might benefit from being reminded of how we can be loving and compassionate with ourselves while on this lifelong journey!

If you want more support in staying out of judgment and truly loving the life you have, I invite you to sign up for one of my complimentary discovery sessions and sign up to receive more tips, tricks, and updates directly to your inbox.

P.S. I'm getting giddy with excitement to tell you more about a program I will be launching soon that helps people learn how to stay out of judgment and begin to SOAR!

With gratitude...

How to Have Less Stress by Cleaning up Your Beliefs: Part 3

Have you ever had that thought "Why does this keep happening to me?" I just experienced this again recently when I had the thought "I do the work; why am I still struggling with this?"

Then I remembered that, unlike my closet, I need to clean out my beliefs on a regular (maybe even daily) basis in order to experience the life I want.

If you've ever struggled with those pesky beliefs that just don't seem to budge, then this video is for you. We'll explore the final step in cleaning up our beliefs and some useful resources and tools for doing so on an ongoing basis.

Often it is not our circumstances that need to change but rather our relationship with our beliefs. {Tweet that!}

Now, I'd love to hear from you.

What do you want to experience more of in life? And, what beliefs are keeping you from experiencing that?

I’d love to see what you come up with so please take a moment and share in as much detail as possible in the comments below this post. Your story may be just what someone else needs to hear to have a breakthrough.

Spring cleaning our homes might happen once a year but taking stock, going through, and getting rid of disempowering beliefs occurs daily. So please pass this along to anyone in your life who you think might benefit from getting rid of some unnecessary beliefs and experience more peace and ease in life!

Did you enjoy this video series? Then be sure to sign up to receive more weekly videos and updates on my upcoming virtual program, 66 Days to Love the Life You Have, or go ahead and confirm your spot today.

With gratitude...

How to Have Less Stress by Cleaning up Your Beliefs: Part 2

I have often been tormented by the questions: Do I keep it? Do I throw it out? What if I need it later? As I started cleaning up my beliefs the same way I clean out my closet, the same questions started to come up. Our beliefs, much like our closets, can easily get overtaken by years and years of ignoring the build up and not taking time to pause and question what is really going on.

If you've ever wondered how to start sifting through your beliefs and learn once and for all how to begin to turn them around, then this video is a must watch! You'll learn a simple tool to take charge over your beliefs once again and start making a little more space for the ones you really want.

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How to Have Less Stress by Cleaning up Your Beliefs: Part 1

The other day I found myself feeling a little out of sorts and kind of cranky. Then I noticed that my apartment was starting to get messy—piles of papers were forming all over my small space and dust bunnies were gathering under my book cases.

So I took some time to straighten things up and put things away and it was incredible what a difference that made!

Then it dawned on me. Just like how we need to spring clean our living spaces to feel a sense of renewal and less stress, we need to do the same thing with our beliefs from time-to-time.

Just like papers, clothes, or boxes that sit untouched for months (or years) start piling up and can add to our feeling of heaviness and dissatisfaction, our beliefs (when gone unexamined) can have the same effect.

And I started by pulling out and looking at some of my beliefs about what it means to put something out into the world that may not be "perfect." So I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and created my first video series to walk through how I see decluttering our beliefs is a lot like decluttering our closets and it begins with pulling everything out so we can take stock of what we have.

In this first video of my 3-part series, I'll share the 3 things to remember when starting the process of cleaning out our old beliefs so we can have less stress and more peace.

Now for this week’s challenge.

I want you to begin taking stock of your thoughts, noticing how they’re showing up and how they affect your life. Ask yourself, “What happens in my body when I believe this thought? How do I act and what are the outcomes or results of that thought?” I am fascinated to find out what you learn through this process, so please take the moment and share some of your discoveries in the comments below.

This week's "tweetable:" We are not our thoughts, just like we are not the box of yearbooks or pairs of shoes in our closet. {Tweet that!}

Want to receive next week's video directly to your inbox? Be sure to sign up so as to not miss out on what we do with our beliefs once we have pulled them all out!

How Learning This One Thing Changed My Life

Why is life so f*cking hard sometimes? Up until a couple of years ago, this was a recurring question for me. My life was filled with stress, worry, never being good enough, always wanting something more, never knowing what that something was.

My critic ran the show.

I was depressed, moody, uncertain of what to do with my life. I felt like I was going nowhere. And I was so tired of feeling that way.

Then I finally woke up and I started asking a different question.

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Three Familiar Symptoms of Not Being Good Enough

Launching a new business really brings up a bunch of sh*t. The amount of self-doubt and insecurity this brings up for me is pretty incredible. My inner critic just loves itself a new opportunity to get into my head.

It challenges me each and every day to remember that I am good enough.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here. Most of us walk around each day and, one way or another, think we’re not good enough.

Whether or not we acknowledge it to others—or even to ourselves—I have started to notice a few common symptoms that crop up when we live a life apologizing for who we are.

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What I've Learned from Breaking up with My Ego

Have you ever been in that situation when it came time to “have the talk” or DTR (Define the Relationship)?

I’ve had it a few times in my life. It’s not a comfy thing for me to do. But in each situation, I’m glad I did. It helped me get clearer on who I am and what I want and how this other person plays into that (or not).

A couple of years ago, I realized that I needed to have this conversation with someone who I had known for a very long time and who had been with me through thick and thin — my ego.

And I can tell you, it’s not easy. But having a clearer understanding of our dynamic has made my life so much easier.

We all have an ego.

And our ego has played an important role since a very young age. It  helped protect us from this big, bad world when we were at a place in our development when we needed it most.

And like with any relationship, there comes a time when we need to take a closer look at it.
a-closer-look

We get to a point when we realize the ego no longer serves us.

So how do we let the ego down easy and reclaim our relationship with our self?

Recognize its individuality.

The ego loves to talk. A lot. The first place we can notice our ego is in our thoughts. And by the very nature of observation, when we can observe our thoughts (our ego) then we can be confident that we are separate from it.

When we recognize that we are not our ego, the conversation gets a whole lot easier.

Give it some love.

The ego just wants to be seen and heard. It wants to be acknowledged. So go ahead and give it what it wants. Say “thank you for sharing” when it butts in and gives advice on how to respond to that text message or comments on that woman’s attitude.

The ego isn’t trying to be a jerk — it just doesn’t know any better.

Next time the ego interferes, give it a wink and a smile.

Learn what matters to it most.

The ego gets its sense of self by identifying with all sorts of things — thoughts, labels, roles, material possessions. Remember, it is trying to protect us and is doing the best job it can to make sure we are okay. So it latches on to anything it thinks will make life better. Sadly, it doesn’t know that we are already okay. Take note of what it identifies with most — the car, the role as leader, the label of “shy,” the thought “I could never do that."

Trying to force the ego to let go of attachments is impossible — but as awareness grows, the attachments will begin to drop away because we start to notice that we are separate from all these things.

Get to know its patterns.

The ego uses some incredible strategies to help us out in situations that seem scary or uncomfortable. Maybe the ego withdraws each time it finds itself feeling attacked. Or perhaps the ego puffs up its chest and yells at someone who confronts it.

Take note of these tendencies — they are just a way for the ego to help make sure we feel okay.

The next time the ego wants to crack a joke in a stressful situation, don’t say anything and notice what happens. I can pretty much guarantee that you will still be standing and completely unharmed.

Once we understand that we are okay without the ego’s help, then we are stepping into our truly awakened self.

Now the ego is pretty tenacious. (Some women wish more men were this way.) And just because we have this conversation once doesn’t mean it’s going to go away.

Having an ego is a part of life. Redefining the relationship with the ego is enlightenment. {Tweet That!}

What is one pattern you observe your ego doing in moments of stress or conflict? Share in the comments below and serve as an inspiration of self-observation to others.

When Trying to Figure It out No Longer Works, Try Asking Different Questions

I’m not sure if it’s something that I ate or something going on in the stratosphere but I have been riddled with self-doubt and anxiety lately. And, for some reason, there seems to be a lot of this going around right now. I really wanted to try to solve this mystery and provide some answers to why this is happening and what I can do about it. In my process to do so and in preparation to share my findings with others, a couple of timely things occurred.

First, I happened to pick up a book (which I highly recommend anyone interested in this topic read immediately) that I read a couple of years ago and was reminded that I do not need to try and fix anything or even figure it out. As Michael Singer says in his book, “When a problem is disturbing you, don’t ask, ‘What should I do about it?’ Ask, ‘What part of me is being disturbed by this?’"

Secondly, I spoke with my father who shared some beautiful — and very vulnerable — wisdom with me. He said that possibly the greatest thing he has learned in his life is that he doesn’t have the answers — just lots of questions. And I think there is a lot to learn from this little gem.

These insights helped me shift away from trying to figure it out to asking different questions.

When we think we should have the answer or know what is going to happen, we simply create more stress and anxiety in our life. Which I’m pretty sure is the exact thing we are trying to escape by “knowing."

manMeditatingSunset

In those moments of anxiety, self-doubt and uncertainty it’s not about having the answer, it’s about asking different questions.

What’s going on inside right now?

Check in. Like Michael Singer says, notice what part is being disturbed. What is happening in the body? What is happening in the mind? What sensations do I notice? Simply observe. It is not about judging it or changing it. Just tuning in.

Who is it that notices this going on?

Ever wondered who it was that was observing all the various thoughts and sensations going on in the body? That is the observer. The consciousness. The true self.

My guided meditation today used a brilliant metaphor for the mind being the clear blue skies. Our thoughts and feelings are the passing clouds. And sometimes they are dark thunderclouds and it can seem difficult to think about anything else. But the clear blue skies are always there — just think about an airplane going above the clouds. And it is from these clear blue skies that we observe the thoughts and feelings. It is from these clear blue skies that we find our self. We are not the clouds below — our thoughts and feelings — we are that which observes.

Is anything wrong in this moment?

This one can be tricky because we sometimes like to think that certain feelings are “wrong” or that the thought that we are having is “wrong” but if we get really honest with ourselves and remember that no feeling or thought is neither wrong nor right — it just is — then we can more often than not answer this question with a resounding “no.”

Most times we can take comfort in the fact that we have our health and our safety. We are not in immediate danger. Just because we feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean something is wrong — it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. That is part of human existence.

Now, if you’re still wondering what to do when feeling a surge of self-doubt or anxiety, all I can say is that I don’t have the answer nor do I think I need to.

See what happens if instead of tasking our minds to trying to figure it out we simply observe what is going on, sit with the discomfort and ask who is it that notices all of this from those clear blue skies?

What one or two things can you start doing when experiencing feelings of self-doubt or anxiety? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear what resonates most with you!

The Only “What If” Question We Ever Need to Ask Again

I cannot count how many times I wonder things like, “what if this happens” or “what if that happens” and “oh my god, but what if…?!” These questions and focusing on the future are not nearly as helpful as I want them to be. Instead of getting answers and feeling better about things, I often end up with more questions and feeling a lot worse.

So … I’ve decided that I’m going to do my best to refrain from asking any “what if” question EXCEPT for the only one that actually helps me experience more peace, ease and flow in my life. One that actually provides me with more answers and feeling better than before I asked it.

Wanna know what the one “what if” question is ….?

i-believe-i-think1

WHAT IF IT ISN’T TRUE?

I imagine many of us have stories that we tell ourselves on a daily (if not hourly) basis that limit us or hold us back. These stories usually aren’t fairytales or even awesomely powerful “I can do it” stories.

They are more often than not stories that tell us how we aren’t good enough or why things don’t work out for us or why we could never do this or that.

It is these stories that make up our belief system — about ourselves and about the world around us.

And it is our beliefs that beget our actions and behaviors. So … if we want to change a behavior, the first place to look is at the stories we tell ourselves and what beliefs we carry.

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

If we want to start moving the needle in the direction towards global sanity, we need to start by looking within at the beliefs we each hold that are driving the same ol’ behavior over and over again.

Here are a few suggestions on how to start this process.

Acknowledge that a story and belief even exist.

Before we can change anything, we must first admit it exists. We need to admit that the beliefs we hold to be absolute truth are just based on stories that we have been telling ourselves for as long as we can remember. And while these stories are based on our personal experiences or the experiences others have shared with us, they are still our creative interpretation of reality which started to form our view of ourselves and the world. Before we can do anything else, we need to take the first step (albeit possibly the hardest) and say, “This is a story I keep telling myself."

Question the belief.

Now that we have acknowledged that our beliefs are nothing more than stories we made up and reinforced time and time again, we can begin to question them. We can start to ask ourselves, “what if this isn’t true?” Another way to do this is to question what other possibilities exist? And one of my favorite ways to reframe our beliefs is to ask “who would I be without this story?” This helps us take more responsibility in how we are behaving based on the story or thought we choose to believe. The more often we can put ourselves in the driver’s seat and make powerful, conscious choices on what we believe and how we act, the more often we will experience peace, ease and flow in the world.

Replace your stories with new ones.

Once we start shifting our perspective and see that there are other stories that are equally as valid and probably even serve us better, then we can start to form new beliefs. This can be done by establishing some positive habits and rituals like gratitude, affirmations, setting soulful intentions and focusing on that which we want to bring more of into our lives.

The great thing about stories is that they can be rewritten.

I get it — we like our stories. We think they are who we are. They are comfortable and we know them all by heart!

But when they hold us back and limit us from being our best authentic self, then it is time to get out the red pen and start making some edits. It might even mean scrapping the whole story altogether and starting over from scratch.

What is one story you keep telling yourself over and over again that you are willing to acknowledge, question and possibly even replace? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

3 Paths to Get What We Want — Which One Do You Choose?

A few months ago, I challenged myself to eliminate caffeine from my diet for 2 weeks. The 2 weeks turned into almost 2 months. Initially, I started exploring alternatives like herbal teas and even decaf espresso at times. Then, I started to notice how in my search to expand my possibilities and remove my need for something I actually started to institute a new limitation. All of sudden, I couldn’tdrink caffeine. I was afraid to drink it as it might reignite my addiction. This became its own limitation. Just another extreme. When I noticed this, I consciously ordered a cup of coffee. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as I used to, I appreciated the fact that I permitted myself to know what I do and do not want at any given time.

When we are about to do something or not do something it is because we are going for something we want in life — to relax, fit into our jeans or just feel better.

This may come in the form of making resolutions and choosing to restrict certain things from our lives. Or perhaps by indulging in anything and everything that we want.

Either way, these both limit us from making mindful, purposeful choices in each moment.

There is a third — and much more empowering — way to get what we want in life.

The Buddha once said that “a path of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification … was the path of wisdom."

When we are about to do something to get closer to what we want, there are three ways we typically come to this conclusion.

"I can’t, so I guess I won’t"

When I eliminated caffeine from my diet, I initially did so from a conscious place — choosing not to drink it mainly for health reasons. Then, it became an “I can’t so I guess I won’t” decision which was very limiting and no longer based on the few specific reasons I had originally identified.

When we make decisions based out of self-denial, we lose an opportunity to get to know ourselves and get really clear on why we choose not to do something. We also end up making decisions out of fear, judgment, resistance or attachment.

"I can, so of course I will "

Before I gave up caffeine for those few weeks, I had gotten into a habit of having one or two cups of coffee each morning not because I actually wanted it but because I could … and I always had. It had become just as limiting because I was no longer checking in and making a conscious decision to have it.

When we permit ourselves to indulge in whatever we want just because we can, we miss an opportunity to really check in and see if that is what we want in this moment. We become a slave to ourselves and lose a chance to actively guide our life in the direction we want it to go.

"I can, and I choose …"

… to do it or not. In either case, I empower myself to choose what serves me best in that moment. We can still choose not to do something, in which case it is done from a place of knowledge and acceptance of oneself and not out of fear, laziness or greed.

When we realize we can do something and choose not to, we demonstrate our strength and power in the world. When we realize we can do something and choose to do it, we honor ourselves and have a chance to practice acceptance and letting go.

Living at the extremes of life can ultimately be quite limiting. The joy comes when we live somewhere in the balance of it all.

Striving to live a life in moderation is more than saying “yes” to some things and “no” to others — it is about getting quiet and making mindful decisions in each moment that reflect and uphold our values and principles in the world.

That is how we can ultimately get what we want out of life.

Think of one thing you consistently deny yourself of or indulge in. Is that based in a value or principle and, if so, what is it? If not, think about what it would feel like to empower yourself to no longer live by this limitation and instead consciously choose in each moment what you want to do.

How to Live a Soulful Existence by Setting Intentions for the New Year

On the last day of the year, it is a great opportunity to set aside some time and come up with our intentions for the year to come.

Resolutions are the more common list we each make as we approach the first of the year. However, these firm decisions do not seem to support a mindful existence as well as an intention which allows for the ebb and flow that life most certainly will bring.

As we embark on a new year — another 365 days of possibility — let’s do so in an intentional way, creating a guide from which we can make mindful, soulful decisions in each and every moment that support and uphold the life we want.

embracing the ocean

I have tried many things in the past from resolutions to goals to simply remaining open to what life may bring — each with varying levels of success. This year I wanted to try something new.

A friend of mine challenged me to come up with my intentions for 2015. It was a beautiful exercise of sitting with myself and getting in touch with not just what I want to do next year but how I want to live.

With her challenge in mind, I sat down and thought about how a person might identify one’s intentions. These are more than just a list of goals or a list of things to start or stop doing. They are how we want to experience life in each moment. They serve as a guide that directs each of our decisions and helps us manifest that which we want to see more of in the world.

To identify one's intentions — and not just a list of resolutions — I suggest trying the following things:

Get quiet

Whether this is through meditation or simply observing the thoughts in our head and letting them be, getting quiet allows us to get in touch with our deeper, inner self — the wisdom within.

Reflect on the past year

When we make a list of our accomplishments, we can celebrate all that we already possess and how powerful we can be. To do this, a mentor of mine encourages us to close our eyes and visualize the person we were on January 1, 2014 (physically, emotionally, spiritually). Then, step out of that person and take a “mental walk” towards the person we are today (physically, emotionally, spiritually), identifying all of the accomplishments along the way.

It is equally important to identify any areas where we didn’t necessarily hit the mark — not so that we can judge or experience any self-hate (see #3) but rather so that we can realistically accept where we are currently.

Avoid judgement of self, others and situations

It is inevitable that things on our to-do list never got checked off or we didn’t reach some of our goals. That is okay. It is important to remember that life is a journey, not a destination. Instead of judging our current situation, simply observe it. Equally it is helpful not to compare ourselves with others. We are all on our own path and are exactly where we need to be at this very moment.

Get in touch with what we want to have more of in life

Once we have identified what we experienced as accomplishments and areas where we still want to improve, we can ask ourselves what feeling or experience we want to have more of in life. These will most likely start showing up as themes as we look at each accomplishment and ask “what was I going for here?” or “what did I experience/feel when I accomplished this?” We can ask the same of those areas where we want to improve by asking ourselves “if I did (more of) this, what do I expect to feel/experience?” These feelings or experiences can serve as our intentions — our inner wisdom and guide — from which we hang everything else.

We can still set goals that uphold our intentions and are illustrative of what we plan to experience. Just remember that goals — like life — change and need to be continuously reexamined and modified to fit current situations. So long as our decisions uphold and illustrate our intentions, we can live a mindful, soulful, intentional existence.

When you think about what you have accomplished and what you still want to improve upon, what feeling or experience are you looking to have more of in your life? 

’Tis the Season to Unwrap Your Inner Wisdom

As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time for self-reflection and looking ahead — a time to acknowledge all of our accomplishments and any areas where we have more room to grow. So many of us spend a lot of time and energy looking outside of ourselves for permission or "the answer.” And there is benefit to doing this. There is a lot to learn from others and from the wealth of human experience.

However, sometimes this can go too far and beyond supporting ourselves to do and be what we want in the world.

If, like me, you find yourself more often than not seeking the advice or expertise of others, take some time to tap into that source of wisdom and experience that each and every one of us possess.

Each of us can find an infinite source of wisdom to make our dreams come true by looking within.

gift

For me, this year has been filled with taking time to discover, learn and grow and it has been an incredible journey. And with the help of many mentors and teachers, one of my greatest accomplishments was getting a clearer sense of who I am and what I want.

I learned (over and over again) that happiness is not found anywhere but within and that we possess all that we can ever imagine or desire.

It is time to put to use all of the amazing tools and lessons I have received over the past year.

As we look ahead at our goals and intentions, consider this: the main difference between people who are living out their goals and people who wish they were is those who are living them are doing it. It’s that simple.

They aren’t sitting around saying “I don’t possibly have what it takes” or “Others obviously know better than I do” or any other reason or excuse not to do it.

Now I’m not saying there is no value in learning from others. This is part of the process. However, sometimes this can become an excuse to hold back from offering one’s unique gifts and talents to the world.

We are all on a journey and continuously growing and learning and becoming more of an expert in whatever it is we do. But all of that requires doing the very thing we want to get better at.

After all, the best way to learn is by doing.

As we enter the New Year, it is a great time to think about where we held ourselves back this year and our intentions for the next. If there is something you have wanted to do but find yourself making excuses or putting it off, ask yourself:

“Do I currently have the skills or abilities?”

If the answer is no, find a class or work with a mentor or read a book that can help you with this. If the answer is yes (and be honest with yourself here), ask yourself:

“How can I tap into what I already possess and apply it towards reaching my goal?"

You may find that there are a number of things you can do right now by tapping into your inner wisdom and experience.

Remember that reaching out to others and receiving support is part of the process. Just be mindful that it is used to support that which we already possess and not because everyone else knows better.

We all have our own unique gifts and it is through the exchange of giving to and receiving these from others where we can build and accomplish beautiful things in this world.

Improving oneself is a lifelong journey and something I am extremely passionate about. And, it is good to remain aware that sometimes even this can become an excuse or hindrance if it keeps us from applying all that we have learned and relying on the wisdom within.

What is one thing you have been wanting to do but fear you don’t have enough knowledge or skill? What abilities or experience do you have that can move you towards this goal right now?

Join the conversation by commenting below or take some time to reflect on your own.

3 Ways to Live a More Fearless Existence

Ah, fear.

That sickening feeling of not knowing what could happen. The paralysis of the body and mind. That which keeps us from exploring the unknown or living a fuller existence. We all experience this very primal sensation. It is a biological firing of nerves and adrenaline we experience when our fight-or-flight goes off. Then, we get in our heads and label it “fear.” We allow this fear to limit us, make decisions for us and, more often than not, add an extreme amount of stress to our lives.

The good news? We don’t have to turn this biological sensation into anything more than an awareness to what is happening in the present moment. We can all live a more fearless existence by keeping a few things in mind.

Swing

Part of being present is to remain non-judgmentally aware of one's mind, body and life situation without attaching to any specific outcome. This can prove quite challenging when entering unchartered waters.

This year has been full of entering the unknown for me. First, I decided to quit my day job without any "plan B." Then, I recently attended a development program in a different state from where I live and, while there, decided to return one week later to take another 10-week training program. This felt quite uncomfortable. I was relocating temporarily with very little time to plan or even think about what I was getting myself into.

I can definitely say that many times during this year I have experienced a sensation that I label as “fear."

So, how do I practice presence in the face of all of this uncertainty and discomfort?

First of all, sometimes I don’t. But, I have noticed a significant increase in my ability to live with the discomfort and the fear. It helps me in these moments to keep a few things in mind.

Remember that fear is not reality-based.

The sensation we often label as “fear” is more often than not a lack of information. We then find ourselves feeling anxious about what might or might not happen in the future which keeps us out of reality. Everything happens in the present moment — nothing happens in the past or future.

"The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.”

It’s helpful to take the time to shift our focus to remain open and take in as much information as possible in each moment instead of worrying about the non-reality of the future.

Ask: What’s the worst thing that can happen?

"The reason why you don’t put your hand in the fire is not because of fear, it’s because you know that you’ll get burned. You don’t need fear to avoid unnecessary danger — just a minimum of intelligence and common sense.” - Eckhart Tolle

When we are faced with something that we are unfamiliar with or do not know which way to go, we can ask ourselves, “what is the worst thing that can happen?” This helps ground us and bring us back to the reality of the situation and not get caught up in the endless scenarios of the mind.

Sometimes we may even be surprised that the worst thing isn’t really that bad after all.

Move through the fear.

Courage is not about doing something with the absence of fear but rather moving through it. Sometimes we experience a sensation in our bodies when we do not have enough information or a similar experience to draw upon from our past. But this is just a bodily sensation.

Moving through the fear means that we experience the physical sensation without labeling it or creating additional emotions or stressful thoughts around it. As Eckhart Tolle says, “You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection — you cannot cope with the future."

When we let fear drive our decision-making, we are putting our life in the hands of a non-reality based emotion that restricts us rather than expands us.

We limit ourselves when we allow our fears to go beyond the initial reaction. This can happen a lot when we are going to make decisions. And when we make fear-based decisions, we are saying “no” to life rather than “yes” to possibilities.

How do you let fear limit you? What are other ways you practice presence in the face of fear? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Presence Matters Has Been Published Again on Elephant Journal

I am excited to share that Presence Matters has once again been accepted to publish articles on elephant journal! This is a really important step for spreading the message of having peace and ease in life.

I invite each of you—my supportive readers—to take a moment to check out my latest article, Improve Your Relationships by Remembering These 3 Things.

Have you ever struggled with maintaining a centered sense of self whilst in an intimate relationship?

Maintaining this more enlightened state seems to get harder the closer we get to people.

In the hopes of making this a bit easier, I started to pay attention and discovered that we can all experience more conscious relationships by remembering three important things.

You can help out greatly by clicking this link and, if the article inspires or resonates with you, re-share it on your personal social media pages.

Thank you for seeking and spreading the art of improving the experience of life!

With gratitude ...

Improve Your Relationships by Remembering These 3 Things

Have you ever struggled with maintaining a centered sense of self whilst in an intimate relationship? Maintaining this more enlightened state seems to get harder the closer we get to people. Relationships offer a number of challenges including how they seem to make this whole “presence thing” more difficult.

In the hopes to make this a bit easier, I started to pay attention to when I felt further from my centered self and what seems to help put me back on the more mindful path.

Through this exploration, I discovered that we can all experience more conscious relationships by remembering three important things.

couple-cover-image-holding-hands

I’ve recently taken a lot of time to get to know myself and work on me. I began to notice that I am making some significant strides in terms of how I interact with myself, how I interact with my friends and how I move through the world as a more present, mindful human.

Then … I got into a romantic relationship.

This was my first serious relationship in two years. And, with my new sense of self, I started to think that maybe I had figured out this whole relationship thing after all.

Then it started to become obvious to me that the work I did with myself didn’t necessarily translate seamlessly to being with another person.

I was reminded that there are still deeper, darker areas I have yet to explore and work on in order to be more mindful and conscious when with another person and not simply moving through life alone.

Strive to be wrong

Going with the flow can come quite naturally to us. Humans are great at enduring change. We are highly adaptive. And, yet, have you noticed how ironclad fisted we can get about being “right”? It can cause so much unnecessary pain and suffering — specifically in close relationships. Not only can it harm the other person at the receiving end of our righteousness, it also hinders us from growing.

In order to learn and grow, we must be wrong. Think about it, if we know everything already then there is nothing left we can learn. If we are not learning, we cannot grow.

It is only when we release our hold on being “right” that we can truly be open and enjoy the beauty of a close relationship.

Take responsibility for our emotions

“He just makes me so mad.” “She ruined the whole evening.” “He really gets under my skin.”

When we say things like this we are immediately casting blame outside ourselves for how we feel and react in this world. Sometimes it might seem like the actions of others cause our reactions or feelings — but this is not the case. The actions of others do have effects in the world just as our actions have effects. However, our emotions and thoughts are purely the effect of our own causes.

The more we can take responsibility for our inner state of being and release the need to be responsible for someone else's, the easier and more peaceful life becomes.

Notice what the other person exposes in us

When we see something we like, it’s a projection of what we like within ourselves. When we think someone is angry, it’s a projection of what we know anger to look like based on how we react when we’re angry. When we allow ourselves to get irritated with something (or someone), it is because that thing reminds us of a trait we have and don’t like.

It is through this exposure that we can choose to either get angry and push people away or expect them to change, or we can use this as an opportunity to more deeply explore ourselves and better understand what it is we are uncomfortable having exposed.

It is by exploring the parts of ourselves that we don’t like — not changing others — that we can experience happier and healthier relationships with ourselves and with others.

When we are wiling to be wrong, take responsibility for our emotions and examine the dark corners of ourselves, we can experience empowering, sustainable relationships — whether they are with the stranger in the supermarket or with our lifelong partner.

What tips do you have for being more mindful in relationships? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.