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How often during your daily activities do you find your thoughts concerned with all the things you must get done before the end of the day?

Or, are you still going over something that happened earlier in the day or the day before.

Have you noticed what happens inside your body when your mind is wandering into the future or the past?

As I began paying attention to my body throughout the day I noticed my heart rate increased.  My shoulders and other muscles became tense.  My energy level dropped.

It is no wonder at the end of the day we are all so tired.  We have been acting as if we were in a life threatening situation and our body is responding to the messages we are sending it.

I invite you to try a new practice.  After all, what I just described is something we have been in the habit of doing for who knows how long.  So, all we have to do is practice a new behavior long enough to create a new habit.

Throughout your day begin to pay attention to the signals your body sends to you.  If your shoulders are tight take a deep breath and focus all your attention on the task you are performing at this exact moment.  Notice how your body begins to relax and how much better your feel.

The more often you do this throughout your day the more energy you will have at the end of the day and the better you will feel.  It is amazing how a simple shift in focus can make such a big change in our life.

Let me know how it goes.  For me it is taking a lot of practice but I am noticing some improvements.  I think I am going to like this new habit.  I just need a little more practice.  Well, maybe a lot more practice….

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Change The Conversation

What is your relationship with yourself like?

When you talk to yourself, what are your conversations like?

Are you kind or judgmental?

Do you criticize or encourage yourself?

Do you give yourself time to do the things you love?

How often do you tell yourself how much you love and appreciate who you are and what you do?

Are you uplifted or depressed by the thoughts in your head?

If the conversations you are having with yourself are bringing you down, I encourage you to practice the art of changing the conversation.  When you notice you are feeling bad, pay attention to what you are telling yourself.  Then begin to consciously change those words by stating their opposite.

Here is an example from my own life.  I have always expected way to much of myself.  I have a tendency to say to myself things like this:

You did not get that done.  You should have done this.  What have you been doing?

Here is how I learned to change those thoughts:

Look how much I got done today.  I know I did not get everything accomplished that I had hoped but it was a good day.

Although I still have moments when those old thoughts rush in I catch them sooner and turn them around.  I tell myself daily how much I love and appreciate who I am and all I do.  I take time at the end of the day to honor myself.

It is easy to change the conversation.  You just have to practice…a lot!

It’s been a while since I took the time to write about my journey.  I have been using my day-to-day experiences to bring my focus totally into the present moment where all of life is lived.  So rather than spend as much time writing I have been  totally immersed in the process of change.

Monitoring my thoughts has become a priority as well as noticing how my body responds to them.  At the same time I observe the emotions that surface in response to what I am thinking.

When I am aware of stress or discomfort in my body I gently shift my thoughts in a direction that relieves the stress. My body then returns to a relaxed state as a result of my new-found peace.

I express the emotions that surface as soon as possible.  This helps release the trapped energy they represent.  As soon as I feel the energy of that emotion has passed through I imagine a time when I felt total love.  My goal is to spend more time feeling the love than I did expressing the emotion that just passed through.

This process has been especially helpful when I observe the way my body responds to the conversations I have with myself.  When I judge and scold myself my energy drops and I feel tightness in my body.

It requires intense focus on my part to gently redirect my thoughts to words of encouragement, appreciation, and loving care.  After all, I allowed my thoughts to play more in the past and future almost my entire life.  Forming new habits of thought is taking more time and effort than I expected.

The good news is that if we practice something long enough we begin to do it automatically.  It becomes a new habit.

That is what I am noticing for me.  The more I listen to the messages my body sends me the easier it is to quickly and gently redirect my thoughts to noticing the present moment.  I embrace what is happening right this moment.  I find something about the present moment for which I am grateful.

In this precious moment all is good.  I am living in a state of grace.  When I focus totally in this moment I find peace.

Shifting my focus from what is happening in the world around me to what is taking place in universe inside my body is changing me and my life from the inside out.  The result of this moment by moment practice is a complete change in the inner landscape of my presence in physical form.

I am practicing the art of being.  I invite you to join me.  It is an amazing journey and the reward is inner peace.

What Motivates You?

Have you ever considered what motivates you to take action in your life?

A friend of mine uses fear.  She takes action from a place of fear.  Fear of what will happen if she does not force herself to do something she thinks she should be doing.

Unwilling to force myself into action from a place of fear I examined my behavior which results in no action at all.  I talk a lot about what I will do but never seem to take the leap into total action.

I discovered I was talking about it and not doing it partly because I had not really made a commitment to love and support myself.  On some level I was still questioning whether it was right, would I do it right, what would happen if…you get the picture.

I was judging myself and my motives and they did not match up to who I really am.

Then I began to ask myself what it would be like if I made the choice to take action from a place of love.

What if I took the action I wanted to take because I knew without question it was the most loving thing I could do for myself.

What if by making that commitment and following through with a consistent shift in behavior I would be proving I loved myself enough to give myself what I truly wanted.

So, I decided  to take action in the direction of what I wanted without being afraid of what might happen.

I decided to stop judging myself.  I began to praise myself for each tiny step I was making in the direction of my dreams.

I decided to begin to show myself how much I value my relationship with myself.

I decided to provide myself with the love, respect and support I always looked for outside myself but discovered lived inside me all the time.

Now I am focusing on the love within instead of trying to find it somewhere outside myself.

 

 

 

 

Clear The Way

One Spring we decided we wanted to use the irrigation ditch to water our garden.  The ditch had been neglected for a few years.

In order to allow the water to flow freely we first had to clear the debris.   This required following the ditch from the source of the water to the outlet into the garden and pulling out leaves, branches, twigs and stuff that would block or slow the water.

When we thought the way was clear we turned on the water only to discover there were spots where the ditch was washed out. The water had to be stopped and the holes shored up.  This took a lot of time and hard work to complete but the long-term benefits were worth the effort.

When we got the water flowing freely, all the holes plugged and directed into our garden the results were marvelous.  Our garden was nourished and fed and in turn it flourished and fed us.

The same thing happens in life when we decide we want something to be different from it is right now.  The first thing we discover is everything that stands between where we are and where we want to be.

Often blocks show up in the form of old thoughts that do not support our new direction.  Listening to and believing those thoughts causes emotional upheavals that can stop us in our tracks if we let them.

It takes courage to pause in the midst of the perceived turmoil and follow the emotions to the thoughts that created them.

It requires time, patience and strength to stop and question our beliefs about those thoughts and find the truth that lies within.

Once we find the truth we are free.

One of my favorite tools to help me examine my thoughts is The Work of Byron Katie.  She encourages us to question our thoughts and find the truth that sets us free.

I had to laugh at myself today.  I actually wanted to return to the peaceful solitude of winter!

This past winter I made great progress staying in the present moment.  Those delicious times of peace and joy felt so wonderful.

Unable to locate work outside my home I focused all my energy on creating art and letting go of all those things inside me that kept me from living a life of peace, love and joy.  I dug deep, learned some new ways of letting go and even shared them with my friends and those who read these posts.

I thought I was ready to face anything and still remain in a state of peace, love and joy.  As usual, my expectations were a little too high.

Now that Spring is here I find myself juggling more part-time jobs than ever in addition to building two businesses.  The madness in my head is keeping me from sleeping and slowing down my ability to deal with the tasks at hand.

They say we teach what we most want to learn.  I feel like I just entered graduate school and forgot everything I ever learned.

So, today I am returning to the basics I have been teaching and applying them to my new situation.

Pay attention to the emotions first.  When I feel uncomfortable instead of allowing my mind to keep thinking thoughts that are causing these unwanted feelings I give it a new job to do.  I ask it to help me identify what I am feeling.

Once I know what I am feeling I sit with it and allow myself plenty of time to feel it intensely.  Emotions are energy passing through and I know if I do not let them out they will make me miserable, my body sick and prevent me from finding that place of love, peace and joy.

When the intensity is gone, which only takes a few moments, I imagine myself offering love and compassion to a child or a pet that is hurt or crying.  I hold those thoughts until I begin to feel the love flowing in and through my body.  That allows me to experience the love my emotions were blocking.

Then I offer prayers of thanksgiving for this experience.  I know its purpose was to help me see a part of myself that needed to be healed in order for me to live the loving, peaceful joyful life I desire.

Next I focus my thoughts on gratitude for everything I can think of in my life now.  I am grateful for the chair I sit in, the desk that holds my computer, the computer, the internet that connects me to you.

Ah, now I am feeling better.

It looks like I have a lot to learn this season.  At least with my new tools I can make it an adventure to discover what else needs to go so I can free myself of past behaviors that no longer serve me.

I will keep you posted on my progress.  Who knows, I might learn something that will help you as well.

There is a great classic comedy skit where the therapist tells the client he can solve any issue in five minutes.  When the client begins to describe the problem and all the fear that surrounds it the therapist stops the client.

He then proceeds to tell the client to listen carefully to his advice.  If the advice is followed the client will be cured for life.  The advice is simply two words.  “Stop It!”

Although we may find this funny there is truth in the advice.  If we know something we are doing hurts then in order to feel better we must  stop doing it.

It is easy to see this in physical actions like putting your hand on something hot.  If you touch something that is hot and you get burned you tend to stop intentionally putting your hand on something hot.

What about the times we allow our mind to keep telling us the same story over and over that results in emotional pain?  Rather than stop the mind from running wild we continue to feel bad as it tells us the same story a thousand times.  And, with each telling we feel worse and worse.

We even begin telling others the story.  Maybe we think if someone agrees with us it won’t feel so bad.  At least we will have proof from someone else that we are somehow justified to believe this story that makes us feel so bad.

Then we get to listen to that person’s story that our story reminded them of and we can share in our mutual misery.  If others are in earshot they can join the party and soon we are all feeling hurt, pain and sadness.

We have within us the power to stop it.  We can stop allowing our mind to tell the same stories over and over.  And, we can stop telling that same story to others.

If you are just beginning to learn how to stop your mind it might help to simply give your mind a new job. Give it something else to look for and focus on.

I use gratitude to help change the focus of my mind.  Focusing on something in this present moment for which I am grateful gives my mind the task of looking for something I feel good about.  After continuing to give my mind this same job each time it tries to take me back to the old story I eventually begin to feel peaceful.  In time I find myself able to experience love and joy.

What is your favorite method of changing your thoughts?