Monthly Archives: June 2013

10 Steps on Your Journey to Personal Spiritual Growth

10 Steps on Your Journey to Personal Spiritual Growth

Spirituality is a belief system in which a person seeks to relate to the rest of existence (whether that is God, humanity, the universe, nature or life itself). It is a pursuit of peace, love and understanding. Many people want you to believe that the secret to spiritual growth and development can be found in a book, a lecture or some other product that will magically unlock the doors to happiness. But the truth about spiritual growth is that it comes from within. It is all about you and the way that you view the world. Here are 10 steps to help you on your journey of personal spiritual growth, and none of them cost a thing.

1.  Want Change
It may sounds silly, but the first and most important step toward personal spiritual growth is the desire to grow. All of the self-help classes, spiritual gurus and inspirational books in the world won’t make a lick of difference until you make a conscious decision to change. Spiritual growth and development is not a goal; it is a lifelong journey that requires time, energy and dedication. If you are looking for a quick fix or overnight results, you will be disappointed. When the novelty of your new spiritual growth technique wears off, you may be tempted to give up. It is much easier to let life carry you along as it pleases. The only difference between people who exist and people who really live is motivation. If you are properly motivated,2.  Start Small
There are many spiritual practices out there, and information is readily available over the Internet. But don’t make the mistake of trying to take on too much too soon. It is best to start with one new practice. Begin a meditation, prayer routine or yoga class at your gym. Attend a lecture on reiki at your local community college. Once you are comfortable with your new skill, add another element.

3.  New Adventures
One of the great joys in life lies in learning new skills. If you never tried anything new, your life would grow stagnant. Take up an activity that you are curious or passionate about, such as writing poetry, practicing yoga or painting water colors. Enjoy the process of learning and improving your new skills. By embracing people and things that are outside of your ordinary routine, you open yourself to personal and spiritual growth, and you diminish your fear of the unknown.

4.  Release the Past
The past is history, and there is nothing you can do to change it. Holding on to past events keeps you from experiencing new ones, and the emotional baggage will only weigh you down. Accept these past events, both good and bad, as learning experiences and move on with life.

5.  Take Responsibility
Sometimes you cannot control the events that happen to you or the people who do them. But you always have control over how you respond. Focusing your attention on what or who caused a problem does not offer any solutions. Instead, concentrate on your response and what you can do to improve the situation and prevent it from occurring again.

6.  Pause and Reflect
Life moves so fast that sometimes it is important to stop, take a step back and really examine yourself and what you are doing. You can do this by practicing meditation. Meditation allows you to quiet your mind and clear your thoughts. Through meditation, you can step outside yourself and observe your life. Are you using your time wisely? Are you taking proactive steps to reach your goals? Are you happy? These quiet moments of reflection, when performed regularly, can help you right yourself on your spiritual path.

7.  Stay Open
From a young age we are taught to judge and label actions, thoughts, words and people as “good,” “bad,” “right” or “wrong.” Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly judging others by how they look, what they say and more. But to feel connected to everything around you, first accept people and things as they are. It takes a conscious effort to stop looking through the lens of a critical eye, but if by looking for the possibilities and potential resources in life, you begin to grow spiritually.

Consider the difference between these two life philosophies: “Everyone is out to get me” and “Everyone is doing the best they can.” Imagine how much more stressful the first person’s life must be? Allow others to be themselves around you. Treat their uniqueness with respect rather than criticism. Remember, love is the heart of spirituality.

8.  Appreciate the Present
It is easy to get caught up in a materialistic mindset and focus on wants, needs and desires. When you begin pursuing possessions, you lose sight of what you already have. The world becomes an obstacle, standing between you and what you desire. Increase your personal spiritual growth by developing what you already have. When you do this, the world becomes an ally in helping you achieve your goal.

9.  Accept Unhappiness
We all know someone who seems perpetually happy. She is always smiling, and her can-do attitude never fails. You might envy this person or even resent her. You might think, She’s so lucky. I wish I could be that happy. In reality, happiness is not a personality trait. It is not a gene that some people are born with and others aren’t. Happiness is a choice. And unhappiness is a natural part of life.

Everyone has their good days and bad days. It is how you deal with those bad days when they come along that matter. You are quick to treat your physical ailments, so don’t hesitate to treat your emotional and spiritual ailments (such as depression, insecurity, fear, mood swings and bad tempers). Use meditation, yoga, prayer or relaxation techniques to soothe your soul when you find yourself unhappy.10. Don’t Fear MistakesMistakes and bad decisions are some of our greatest teachers. If you never did anything wrong, you would never learn anything new. Think of mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow, and give yourself full license to make them. We are all imperfect people. If you are able to embrace your imperfections and laugh at yourself, you will become more flexible and open-minded. Remember: We live in an imperfect world so that we can better understand perfection.Have patience on your quest for spiritual growth. The process toward enlightenment is slow and unnoticeable at first, and you may feel compelled to give up. Just keep in mind that spiritual growth is a lifelong commitment to love, peace and understanding, and it is meant to be taken one day at a time. Like so many other things in life, spirituality is about the journey, not the destination. To quote the Buddha, “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”


The Experience of Finding Balance

The Experience of Finding Balance

Written by Sen on May 5th, 2013

In a state of “low awareness” the tendency of a being is to be unconsciously imbalanced (in varying degrees), however, as one’s awareness starts growing/evolving the natural pull, or pressure, is towards finding conscious balance – it becomes inevitable. The state of low-awareness is also what I call the state of “unconsciousness” – which is similar to the state of being in sleep, where you are lost to the vagaries of any dream that you get involved with, in a completely reactive manner.

The state of higher-awareness is also what I call the state of being “conscious” where you are no longer lost to the dream, rather you understand what’s really going on – in this state you are involved with the dream but in a state of “aware intelligence”; the dream doesn’t stop but you are no longer lost to it, you are no longer in a state of delusion. Your higher-awareness brings an intelligence of its own, and this is what I call “aware intelligence”, which is also what allows you to no longer behave like a “reactive” being, rather you become a conscious being who now has the choice to stay in a state of balance and thus have a balanced experience of life.
What does “awareness” really mean?

Different teachings (spiritual or otherwise) use the term “awareness” in different contexts. I use the term “awareness” to imply the capacity for “observation” and sensitivity. So when I say “low awareness”, I mean a state where a being has a lower capacity to observe/introspect and a lower sensitivity. At a human-body level, you can imagine how a kid usually has “low awareness” and is mostly pre-occupied with his toys and candies, he’s not really bothered about what’s going on in the world, and he’s also not very sensitive towards how his behavior affects others (of course, there are some kids who are highly sensitive from the onset). As this kid starts aging his awareness also starts growing in many ways, this can be attributed to the growth in the brain’s capacity as well as more exposure to the outside world. So, the capacity for awareness can be defined purely at the “brain level”, however, that’s not the complete picture because awareness is also an attribute/capacity in you as being/soul, it’s not just an attribute of the body/brain alone.

A soul also has its “age”, starting from the time of its creation – infant soul, kid soul, young soul, mature soul and old soul, may be terms used to categorize some general phases of development of a soul. The infant soul has the lowest level of awareness, just birthed into life and hence low on experience and exploration (just like a new born human kid). An old soul has a very high level of awareness, and when an old soul incarnates into a human form, he/she has the tendency to be highly sensitive while also being highly wise/mature towards the worldly ways, along with a highly developed ability to sense non-physical aspects (like being a profound psychic).

The only reason why I mention “soul age” is to clarify that your level of awareness does not just depend on your human body/brain, but also depends on how old you are as a soul. Of course, if you are someone who doesn’t want to bother with concepts of soul/spirituality, then you don’t have “believe” in all this – it’s just that this understanding resonates with me, I am not trying to hold on to these understandings as a “belief”, I am okay with none of this being true. So, if you want to see yourself purely as a human body, and the idea of being a soul doesn’t really resonate with you, that’s fine too, as long as you understand that “awareness” is simply the capacity to observe, introspect and be sensitive – it’s a capacity which has the potential to keep growing as a part of your evolution.

For those who can resonate with the aspect of being a soul, in a human body, you can see your “awareness” as the capacity that you have developed through your life-time as a soul, along with the capacity in your current human brain. Usually souls choose compatible human bodies – so, if you are a soul with higher awareness you are likely to choose a human body which has a brain with a higher capacity for awareness. For example, if you are a mature soul you are less likely to choose a body which has a certain brain disability that incapacitates it to have a capacity for higher reasoning/introspection, you will choose a body with a brain that’s suited to your current level of awareness as a soul, so that you can live from your full potential and grow further from there. However, it’s also true that the level of awareness, in a soul, is the deciding factor – a soul with a higher awareness can bring this capacity into the human body/brain. This explains why some kids are highly mature, and display high sensitivity, from a very early age (even when the brain is yet to be fully developed).
Inner freedom is required to handle higher-awareness

When you start growing in awareness you are bound to feel dis-oriented, fearful and inundated by questions (about life or about yourself), for a while. In fact, the growth in awareness also causes you to become aware of all the suppressed emotions, become highly sensitive to outside reactions, become keenly aware of your mind/thinking (and the various movements of thought), become deeply aware of the imbalances around you (and in you), become aware of the nature of life (especially its dark aspects, which you were avoiding till now) and become aware of the “reality” in everything.

It can be quite a staggering process in itself, though it’s a positive process, and a natural process – it’s simply the natural growth/evolution in you as a being. The reason why people feel fearful, and confused, as they move into higher awareness, is because they lack an understanding of what’s really going on, and also because they are yet to develop the “space of inner freedom” to really allow all the past imbalances to be released for an alignment with balance. In this sense, one has to find inner freedom in order to handle the dynamics of higher-awareness living – without this space of inner freedom one is bound to have a hard time dealing with the flux instigated by this growth of awareness.

Inner freedom simply refers to the capacity, in you, to be “independent” of all influences. At a root level there are just two influences – emotions and thoughts. Of course, emotions are triggered by thoughts, and thoughts are triggered by certain emotions, and hence thoughts and emotions are simply inter-linked. In this sense, inner freedom is the capacity to be free of the “cyclic” influence of emotions and thoughts – it’s not about wanting to get rid of emotions/thoughts, it’s about having the freedom to allow them to “be”, without succumbing to the pressure of their influences, this is how you can “release” the past momentum. Eventually, in this state of openness, as the release keeps happening, you will observe that the emotions and mind-pull start losing their intensity, and thus their influence on you – you will experience that you can be “sensitive” without being pulled around by your sensitivity, you can be thoughtful without being pulled around by thoughts, and thus your motivations are rooted purely in “wisdom” rather than being rooted in the imbalanced pull of emotions/thoughts. You can imagine what a different state of living this is compared to the state of being at the mercy of emotions/mind.

Initially, the pursuit of inner freedom can feel like a real effort, it can feel like a huge challenge, because you are so mired in the pull of emotions/thoughts, and this pull has a strong momentum within you. For a while, you have to go through the “detox phase” (or phase of release) where you simply stay in a space of total allowing, or just a conscious openness, to everything that arises in you, in all its intensity, without trying to sort it out, without trying to find an escape, without trying to seek “relief” – it’s a challenge to be in this state of openness, but eventually this is what is required to really allow a full release of the past momentum of the accumulated imbalance. I talk about this is, in detail, in the post – The Phase of Release.
Higher-awareness gets you in touch with reality

In order to ride through the phase of release you need to have the “attitude” of inner freedom (read the post – The Attitude Required for Inner freedom). Quite simply, it’s about having the attitude of not wanting to cling to any form of assurance, or understanding, or belief, or trust, or hope, or certainty – the courage to simply allow everything that arises, without trying to sort it out through your “reasoning”. Once you develop the capacity for inner freedom you can use your “reasoning”, and introspection abilities, to resolve some inner conflicts, or confusions, gain a deeper understanding about life, develop the mindset of balance, and live from a place of objective/practical wisdom. When you seek understanding from a place of inner freedom you are more likely to find clear perspectives (or reality-oriented perspectives), rather than holding on to deluded perspectives, on life. This is why I would always emphasize on finding inner freedom first, before you venture into satiating your need for understanding aspects of life/living. Your reasoning abilities are highly balanced, and wisdom-based, when you are operating from the foundation of inner freedom.

When you lack inner freedom you are likely to keep looking for ways to satiate your need for “quick relief”, and thus would be wary of seeing “reality” in any situation, and would prefer holding on to certain delusions (like some blind belief that you find security in). Eventually, higher awareness is unavoidable, and hence seeing through all forms of delusions is unavoidable, no matter how desperately you try to cling to them – there is really no hiding, as your awareness keeps growing you can’t hold on to even a speck of delusion or imbalanced behavior. Everything, within you, get touched by this awareness and is brought to its state of balance, after which you start living the “expression” of your inner balance in your work, in your relationships and your life-style per se (of course, there is no universal standard for the life-style that a balanced person “should” lead – it’s a personal deal).

In the beginning of this post, I mentioned that if you don’t find resonance, with the discussion of soul/spirituality, it’s “fine”, but the truth is that you will, unavoidably, see yourself being moved towards understanding life more deeply – you can’t simply hold on to a narrow view, just because you find it convenient. You can’t avoid/ignore the push within you, triggered by your higher awareness, to understand life at a deeper level. It’s not my belief, it’s just my knowing, that who we are is “non-physical”, this physical body is simply a vehicle we are involved with to have the experience of physicality (for enjoyment and growth) – to understand the “spirit” nature (or non-physical nature) of who we are is what true spirituality is, and to understand the aspects of physicality is what objectivity/practicality is, one has to integrate the two in order to have a balanced physical life. Spirituality is not about living some idealized “spiritual lifestyle”, life-styles are individual choices, some prefer to be a hermit while some prefer to be a playboy model – spirituality is simply about understanding the non-physical aspect of you, to know yourself as deeper than just the body, it’s a part of self-realization. Of course, the foundation of inner freedom is primary, without this foundation one can easily make spirituality (or any understanding) into some form of a crutch to hold on to, which is no different from how a drug addict clings to his drugs.

If you are too attached to your physicality, and ignorant of your non-physical nature, you are bound to feel the suffering created by this lack of connection with the “reality” of who you are. Just because a teaching makes you feel “uncomfortable” doesn’t mean that you can simply discard it, you have to be open to sensing if your discomfort is coming from a place of “fear” where you afraid of facing a certain reality which something within you already “knows” to be true. Sometimes I get emails from people stating – “this concept of xyz, in your blog, doesn’t resonate with me, can I just let it go?” – and my answer would be – “Sure, but also remember that just because something doesn’t resonate with you doesn’t mean that it’s not true, it’s very possible that you are currently in a state of low-awareness/imbalance and hence the truth doesn’t resonate with you. You can try to let it go, but if it’s a part of reality it’s bound to keep coming up, until you are open to exploring it within you. You can’t escape reality”. The pointer of – “follow what resonates with you” – is only true for people who are willing to be authentic with themselves, who have a willingness to find truth (above just seeking a temporary relief), who have the inner freedom to align with reality instead of wanting a delusion. I cannot give the pointer of – “follow what resonates with you” – to a person who is imbalanced (with low-awareness), because such a person is not really in touch with his/her wisdom neither does he/she have the inner freedom to be willing to see reality in its true form.
When balance becomes a choice

Balance is not a choice in the state of low-awareness because there is no conscious freedom in such a state of living – one purely lives in a reactive manner, pulled around by the forces of influence, be it emotional or mental, be it from within or from outside. In order to find balance one needs to have a higher-awareness and a space of inner freedom. If you only have higher-awareness but lack “inner freedom”, you still lack a choice, you are still reactive, it’s just that you are highly aware of your reactions now. When you come to a place of inner freedom, you are no longer resisting the dark nature aspects of life and you are no longer overly clinging to the light nature aspects of life, and hence you have the perfect foundation to find balance, consciously.

To summarize, when you move from a state of low-awareness to a state of higher-awareness (usually triggered by sensitivity towards the suffering created by your inner imbalances), you will have a sense of “higher negativity” for a while (owing to your keen awareness of the imbalances – it feels like seeing everything through a magnifying glass) until you move towards finding inner freedom, and once you do that you can have the choice of working from a mindset of balance, mostly through becoming aligned with the reality of life (the reality that life has a light and dark nature, and both these aspects need to be accepted equally without resistance, or over-identification, with either). This mindset of balance constitutes the experience of inner wholeness. Without the space of inner freedom you don’t really have a choice towards exercising the mindset of balance. You can see how higher-awareness, inner freedom and inner/external balance are all inter-linked, and are all part of the required growth in a being towards higher maturity.

The experience of finding balance starts with the triggering of higher-awareness in you (through a wake-up call). After that, the journey is inevitable. Once higher awareness is triggered you can’t go back to the state of low-awareness, there is no possible way to “regress” – though some people do try their best to somehow go back to the old-state of low-awareness, by trying to numb themselves in some way (through food, alcohol, drugs, spiritual entertainment, material entertainment etc), it’s all eventually futile because it’s not possible to suppress your growing awareness.

Evolution is a forward movement, growth is a forward movement, life is a forward movement, there is no possibility of regression, there is only a possibility of temporary suppression which can at best cause some temporary delay, nothing more. Of course, it’s very normal to want to go back to the familiar domain of the old-state of low-awareness, because we find security in familiarity, and the state of higher-awareness feels like a highly unfamiliar domain. And it’s natural to keep fighting this growth of awareness, thinking it to be something “negative”, until you either get tired of fighting it, or you gain an understanding about what’s really going on and see that it’s not something negative, it’s just a part of normal/natural growth in you as a being.
Embracing your inner aloneness

Everyone eventually does need to go through this transition from low-awareness to higher-awareness, from unconscious imbalance to conscious balance – it’s just that each of us is an individual soul, and have individual journeys to ply. In one sense, you are totally alone in that no-one can live your journey, only you can. Also, no-one can completely understand what you are going through, not 100%, only you can. It’s important to embrace this reality of “inner aloneness”, even if it frightens you to sense this aloneness in you – once you embrace it, it becomes your strength, it becomes a part of your inner freedom, where you are no longer looking to the outside to act as a “crutch” for your balance.

Of course, you do need to work with the “outside”, your co-operation is required for the collective harmony, and you also need the co-operation of others in your life in order to function to your best potential – however, without having a space of inner freedom you can’t deal with the outside in an efficient and wise manner, you will either feel constantly threatened by the outside or feel overly dependent on the outside (making you feel helpless and also repulsive, to the outside, due to your dependent/needy behavior). Finding balance implies that you embrace the reality of your “inner aloneness” (the fact that you are an independent/individual being) along with the reality that you are part of the collective life – some people get too lost to the “outside”, while some people try to detach completely from the outside, both these states are rooted in imbalance.

A Fearless Self Discovery

A Fearless Self Discovery

A Fearless Self-discovery
Written by Sen on August 5th, 2012

If you are on this journey towards self-discovery, you are inevitably also on a journey towards a fearless expression, what I also call your natural expression unfolding. The mind immediately will associate something “spiritual” with these terms, basically because we always seem to associate this journey of self-discovery with some deluded notion of becoming unworldly – most of us have a very screwed up idea about what “spiritual” even means. Though a good part of self-discovery is about understanding your nature as the “spirit” (life-energy or stream of consciousness), that you are in your essence, this understanding is then used to burn through all the “hang ups” you have in your human nature, which you’ve created through holding on to fear-based/limiting thoughts, and thus realize your authentic expression – each of us is unique in our human nature, and so this discovery is very personal, and only you can explore this discovery in yourself, you can’t trust anyone else (not even your intimate spouse or your therapist of 10 years) with it because only you can meet yourself 100%, no-one else can do that for you.

The deal is that in order to discover yourself you have to be willing to be fearless of what you discover, and how your life will change with these discoveries; of course, the more you discover yourself the more aligned you feel, and the more abundant your experience of life is. It’s a fair warning that as you delve into this journey of self-discovery, you will reach a point (soon enough) where you realize there is no “U turn”; basically, when you see a truth about yourself, clearly enough, you can’t “un-know” it again, ever – it becomes a point of no return. Of course, there is nothing more liberating than the truth, and you will discover that the more you simply go with your truth the more interesting/enjoyable, and aligned, your life becomes – so this is not a “risk” rather it’s a path towards the freedom your being/heart desires so much. Basically there are two ways to live

1. You trade your inner freedom, or inner alignment, for a sense of pseudo-security

2. You don’t compromise on staying true to yourself

Both these choices are valid ways of living life, I am not saying one is higher than the other, it’s just a choice you are making based on your present state of understanding/awareness, and it’s where you are right now – of course, when you have a deeper awareness of your true nature as life-energy, you can’t help but make choice 2 as your default choice, and a conscious movement towards choice 2 is a natural path of growth. Also, when make the choice 2, long enough, choice 1 is no longer available to you because you lose the grip of your mind’s fear-based pull (which is required to live choice 1). Choice 2 also takes you into the realm of fearless expression, but by “fearless” I don’t mean “reckless”, a better way of putting it would be that you live an expression aligned with your true nature which includes operating from a place of inner wisdom.
Freedom from suppressing your natural expression

Basically, when you understand that what you call “your mind” contains a lot of thought patterns which are not really yours, rather they were fed externally by the outside influences or created through some misguided interpretation, you realize that you may be living a very disconnected life by following these conditioned patterns blindly. So many beliefs get seeded in the mind, and take roots because we don’t question them. Your journey of self-discovery will inevitably make you see all these unwanted weeds (some in the form of deeply rooted trees) growing in the space of your mind/being, and seeing them is a point of no-return, because when you see something false in you, you can’t go back to believing it fully.

When you make a commitment that you only want the truth, above anything else, this journey of self-discovery becomes a living movement in you. I can just give you an assurance that the truth is what really sets you free, the truth is what makes you feel liberated, it’s what makes you feel alive, makes you live what you desire to live in your heart. However, it’s very normal to have a strong fear towards discovering the truth, especially about yourself, about your human nature, about your non-physical nature, and about the reality of life in general. So how do you know what’s the truth? It’s quite simple, by it’s very nature, your being only finds interest/resonance in the truth, and the truth is what “sticks” when you let go of all forms of fear-based suppression – it’s only your fear-based grip that keeps you from seeing/discovering the truth on a constant basis.

A few ways in which you keep yourself from discovering/living from a place of truth, are as below

– You feel the need to keep convincing yourself about something. (truth doesn’t need convincing, it just sticks), for example, you may keep trying to convince yourself that you enjoy your job or that you need to be a millionaire

– You get scared if someone opposes a certain thought/belief in you (this fear just indicates doubt, and doubt indicates you are not clear about the truth).

– You find yourself “trying” to convince others about your beliefs (or your way of being), the inherent strategy being that the more people you can convince about your “beliefs” the stronger you will feel about the truth of it.

– You try to find groups who believe in the same things you do, and find security in this group. There is also fear about leaving a certain group that you associate your identity with.

– When you discover some truth about yourself, you try to “hold on” to it with all your might instead of being open to a constantly evolving expression. For example, you may discover that your expression is to be monogamous right now, but it’s possible that in a couple of years you may want to experience being polygamous – if you try to make “I am monogamous” as a conceptual truth about yourself which you hold onto, you end up creating resistance to what feels like a natural flow of inspiration.

– You are not flexible in incorporating new understandings. You don’t realize that the moment you try to hold on to a certain understanding, you’ve already missed the point of the process of awareness; it’s never about holding-on, it’s always about being open to discovery – anything that’s really true will remain true even if you don’t hold on to it.

– You give in to your fears and cling to what feels like “familiar” grounds, rather than develop the trust in your life-stream’s intelligence to fully take care of your well-being/abundance as you live your truth. You don’t realize that when you live your truth, you can’t help but feel abundant.

The primary step towards living your truth is to reduce your mind momentum. If you have a high mind momentum, there is a constant resistance, and emotional pressure, created by the negativity in the mind which keeps blurring out, and opposing, your movement towards self-discovery or your natural expression. Reducing the mind momentum takes time, and it’s very similar to a “detox” program, only here you are weaning off from your addiction towards your own mind – like any detox/rehabilitation period, it’s not very pleasant at-times, especially when there is an inner war between the mind’s fear-based pull and your space of being. The way you reduce the mind momentum is through coming to a state of inner allowing, where simply allow a free movement of mind/emotional-space in your open awareness, without attaching to these movements. (A lot of posts on this blog give a deeper understanding of the process of allowing – the practice of relaxed awareness, the state of total allowing, the space of being and reducing mind momentum are just some posts you may want to start with).
Beyond ideas of spirituality

Since Siddhartha Buddha became popular as someone who discovered his truth, the whole process of self-discovery has taken on a “sitting under a tree, in spiritual garments, with a divine smile and an angelic halo” tint, which is actually the reason for a lot of spiritual imagination around this process. It’s strange, but a lot of teachers who talk about self-discovery usually fit in (or try to fit in) with the “spiritual imagination” (the deal of a slow way of speaking, a sweet tone, a beatific smile, a larger than life charisma, slow gestures), mostly because this is the image of an “enlightened being” the masses associate with – I am not saying that these teachers are pretending/projecting, it could well be that this is their natural human personality, just like Siddhartha Buddha or Ramana were living their natural personality. It’s just that this type of “spiritual” personality can create a lot of false ideas in the minds of their students/seekers about how one would be after growing in awareness. These ideas can severely inhibit your process of self-discovery; always remember it’s a process of discovering who “you” are, not a process of making yourself into some image of who you think you should be.

Awareness is a process of “honest discovery”, the word “honest” is of essence here – if you don’t have the courage to be honest, within, you can’t really know yourself. It’s so easy to idolize personalities that we admire or feel in awe of, and it’s not long before we start trying to emulate this person’s way of being. If you truly want to grow in self-discovery you have to be willing to stand alone without holding anyone/anything as a model for your life – as long as you stay a “follower” you can never connect fully with yourself. It may seem easy to just stay a follower, and it’s totally fine if that’s what your present state of being is, but if you want to go on this journey of self-discovery you can’t hold on to the comfort of depending on the outside to tell you how to be.
The aloneness of self-discovery

A lot of people who get on this journey talk about feeling a sense of being alone, and of course you can’t help but feel this way because that’s the reality, life inherently is alone because it’s all there is, and you being the same life-energy are bound to sense this aloneness when you start sensing your reality/truth – once you embrace this feeling of aloneness you realize the freedom of it, it doesn’t mean you have to be alone and secluded on the outside, it’s just an inner feeling, it’s just a sense that you will always have your own individual journey to stay true to. This also means that you no longer cling to your “group” or even the sense of belonging to a certain ideology – only in this total inner aloneness can you really start seeing yourself clearly – it’s a total intimacy with yourself.

It’s mostly this sense of inner aloneness that people fear, and it’s one of the fears you need to transcend if you really wish to be true to the highly personal nature of self-discovery, especially in your human nature. If you fear being alone with your journey, you will eventually start making a fear-based choice towards clinging to a sense of belonging. This is definitely an initial challenge for many, but as you let go of this fear and continue on the journey you soon realize the sense of inner wholeness that lies beyond the feeling of aloneness – you stop feeling isolated, rather you feel fully connected with all there is, a sense of deep oneness, a state of real belonging, and this can reflect on the outside with you finding compatible relationships.

The fear of being alone is just one of the major fears you will contend with, as a human, as you venture on this journey of self-discovery, the other fears would be the fear of becoming dysfunctional, of being ridiculed/ostracized, of being different, of being financially un-supported, of becoming a failure/loser, of messing up your life, of becoming reckless, of becoming “bad”, of staying confused and unproductive, etc – you can imagine that it’s quite a challenge to move through these fears, but eventually you notice that these are just the fears of the mind based on its imagination; the process of self-discovery, of coming to your truth is nothing like what your mind fears, rather it brings you to living your true potential, and nature, in a fearless and abundant manner.

How to Attract People You Can Count On

How to Attract People You Can Count On

Article by

I aspire to be the kind of person that Mr. Rogers would be proud of.

The kind of person who gets dressed up — and shows up.
The kind of person that friends feel comfortable calling at 4am, with a genuine crisis.
The kind of person who never (ever!) cancels a commitment at the last minute via text message, without a trace of remorse.
I’m getting there.

I’ve noticed, though, that over the past couple of years, I’ve started to attract increasingly steady, sane & reliable people into my life. And (not surprisingly) this phenomenon is directly proportionate to my own ever-increasing steadiness, sanity & reliability.

Here’s how I’ve learned to attract people I can count on — including some of the language I use, to hold commitments in place.

❤ Lay down the law — with a dash of love.

It’s an unfortunate truth, but when you give people even a little bit of wiggle room — they usually take (advantage of) it. I know, because I’ve seen it. Annnd I’ve done it.

At the beginning of this year, I established a new policy for workshop registrations. It looks a little somethin’ like this:

Once you make your payment, your workshop registration is non-refundable.

If you are unable to come, you can absolutely give or sell your ticket to somebody else. If we have a waiting list for the event, I’ll do my best to help match you up with that ‘somebody’.

But, except for highly unusual circumstances (think: illness, divorce, heartbreaking catastrophe) I don’t offer straight-up refunds. Thank you for understanding.

It’s sensible, sane & humane. And, it helps me keep a rock-solid headcount for each workshop. WIN!

❤ Model the behavior you want to see.

Un-flaky people are attracted to their fellow un-flaky people. The easiest way to become … less flaky? Use resentment as a litmus test to guide you into projects & relationships that genuinely light you up.

When you commit to something you love, that’s a commitment you tend to keep.

❤ Use shame … sparingly.

Once upon a time, when I was a shamefully flaky 18 year old, my then-sister-in-law invited me over for dinner. In my spongy adolescent brain, this meant “come over, or not, it’s cool, whatever.” But to her, this meant, “buy a special organic Cornish Game Hen, lovingly roast it for hours, set out the nice china.”

When I texted (I know, I know, it’s heinous) to cancel a few hours before dinner, she was understandably upset. And she gave me a schoolin’ I will never forget. And you know what? Her shamestorm genuinely affected me. I resolved to grow up, on the spot.

❤ Trust the beginning.

Buddhists often say: “As in the beginning, so in the middle, so in the end.” Which basically means: if someone seems unreliable the first time you meet them, that’s probably how they’re going to be … for the duration of your relationship.

Of course, people do change — all the time. They change their minds. They change their jobs. They change their haircuts. But when it comes to deeply-embedded habits — chronic tardiness, disorganization, lying — people rarely change overnight. So the question becomes: how many nights are you willing to wait?

❤ Express your appreciation.

Mr. Rogers used to sign off his hand-written letters (and later, emails) with four simple words: “I’m Proud Of You.”

His friends, family & TV production staff completely adored him — and were deeply devoted to him, right through the end.

The lesson? Expressing your affection & gratitude inspires people to rise to the occasion, to stick by your side, and to bend over backwards for you.

I’m a big fan of tangible gifts (I’ve been sending out BirchBox subscriptions & Vosges chocolate, lately — people are rarely disappointed!). I’m also a staunch advocate for courageous compliments, unexpected love notes, and purposeful praise.

Try starting with: “I can always count on you to …” / “It’s so refreshing how you …” / “I really appreciate the way you …”

❤ Know what you want.

Is there anything sexier than clarity? Nope.

If you make precise declarations – “I’m looking for an assistant who knows more about WordPress than God himself, and can proofread like an English major hopped up on a gallon of green tea.” — then people have a chance to step up, and deliver.

If you’re vague & open-ended with your requests, well … that’s what you’re gonna get served.

❤ When all else fails: accept flaws & fold them into your rhythm.

Let’s say you’ve got an amazing friend who is chronically fifteen minutes late (to everything!) but incredible in every other way. You know what? You can probably handle it.

You can try giving her a deceptively-early arrive time (“Oh yes, it begins at 10:35am. Sharp.”) and then bring a nice book, just in case. She’s worth it. You’ll live.

How Much Do You Trust Yourself

How Much Do You Trust Yourself

How Much Do You Trust Yourself? by Cynthia Wall Please visit her website at

If you were frequently shamed, betrayed, or suffered significant loss as a child, you may have difficulty knowing when to trust your own feelings. This often causes simple misunderstandings to flood you with self-doubt. Changing old beliefs that undermine your self-confidence is a necessary step toward developing more self-trust.

Take the following quiz to find out how you balance self-doubt and self-trust. Give yourself a score of 0 to 5 for each statement. 0 means it doesn’t apply at all, and 5 reflects a thought or feeling that affects you often enough to be troublesome.

____ I often sacrifice my own needs for others.

____ I feel ashamed when I have strong reactions like anger, fear, and depression.

____ I worry there is something wrong with me, even if I don’t know what it is.

____ I am not as capable or “good” as others think I am.

____ I play down my mistakes, fearing others will think less of me.

____ I am out of control about food, spending, drugs, or alcohol, and too ashamed to seek help.

____ I often think I’m being selfish when I resent that others are not contributing what I think is their fair share of work or money.

____ I believe that others are more open and honest about what they think and feel.

____ I want to do something big, like write a book, go back to school, or relocate, but can’t speak of it or explore how to proceed.

____ I am afraid of failing this quiz.

Scoring: This quiz points to aspects of self-confidence you may want to strengthen or change in some way. It is not another means to fail! Wait a month and take it again. You will be surprised how much just taking this quiz can boost your self-trust. Here are what the numbers mean:

31-50 Distrust of yourself is destroying your self-confidence.
20-30 Indicates a level of honest self-doubt. More confidence would be nice.
0-19 You are independent and confident, but do you sometimes feel lonely?

Self Discovery Questions | The Process of Self Discovery

Self Discovery Questions | The Process of Self Discovery

Self Discovery Questions | The Process of Self Discovery.
Consider the following questions, one at a time, taking plenty of time to explore it fully. If the questions cause you to come up with more questions write those down as well so that you can go back and explore them. Use a journal to record your responses, feelings, thoughts, etc.

Questions for Self-Discovery:

Who am I? Outside of my role as parent/child/worker etc.
When I am alone all by myself, who am I?
What are my unique talents and traits I offer?
What am I afraid of and why?
Do I fear death? Avoid the thought? How do I handle the concept of Death?
What does it mean to be alive?
What person do I admire the most and why? Do I see these qualities within myself?
Which Person do I least admire and why? Do I see these qualities within myself?
What are my dreams? Do I actively pursue them?
What is my life purpose? Do I recognize my higher calling? If not why?
Create an image for your perfect inner sanctuary. Describe this place. What does it look like? Feel like? Etc. Bring it to perfect detail.

The above are just a small sampling of questions for self-discovery that can open up doors to new discoveries and inner peace. Work on these questions and see what other ideas/questions come up.

Self-Discovery Quotations


often say that this or that person has not yet found himself.  But the self is
not something one finds, it is something one creates.  ~Thomas Szasz, “Personal
Conduct,” The Second Sin, 1973

You have to leave the
city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you’ll
discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover is yourself.  ~Alan

Never mind searching for who you are.  Search for the person you
aspire to be.  ~Robert Brault,

Man cannot remake himself
without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.  ~Dr. Alexis

The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as
long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.  ~Julien Green

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the
bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  ~Anaïs

The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes
purpose.  ~Richard Grant
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the
questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very
foreign tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because
you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live
the questions now.  Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it,
and live along some distant day into the answer.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke,
Letters to a Young Poet

All men should strive
to learn
before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why.

I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I
am in search of.  ~Michel de Montaigne

If you don’t get lost, there’s
a chance you may never be found.  ~Author Unknown

I went to
the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential
facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when
I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  ~Henry David Thoreau,

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and
returns home to find it.  ~George Moore

It is good to feel
lost… because it proves you have a navigational sense of where “Home” is.  You
know that a place that feels like being found exists.  And maybe your
current location isn’t that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy
feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it.  ~Erika Harris,

in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or acquired a new
one, check your pulse.  You may be dead.  ~Gelett Burgess

is frequently a form of indecision.  ~Elizabeth Bibesco, Haven, 195

Man never knows what he wants; he aspires to penetrate
mysteries and as soon as he has, he wants to reestablish them.  Ignorance
irritates him and knowledge cloys.  ~Amiel, Journal,

The man who views the world at fifty the same as he
did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.  ~Muhammad

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.  ~Wallace

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is
more distant than any star.  ~G.K. Chesterton, “The Logic of Elfland,”
Orthodoxy, 1908

If you resist reading what you
disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe?
The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our
convictions.  ~Author Unknown

It is only when we silent the blaring
sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth
that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.
~K.T. Jong

I met a lot of people in Europe.  I even encountered
myself.  ~James Baldwin

There are chapters in every life which are
seldom read and certainly not aloud.  ~Carol Shields

To the question
of your life, you are the only answer.  To the problems of your life, you are
the only solution. ~Jo Coudert, Advice From A Failure  (Thanks,

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand
ourselves.  ~Henry David Thoreau

A single event can awaken within us
a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born. ~Antoine de
Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942, translated from

In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.  ~Alice

Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle?
A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.
~William Butler Yeats

If you haven’t had at least a slight poetic
crack in the heart, you have been cheated by nature.  ~Phyllis

Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time.
~Timothy Leary

I’ve left Bethlehem
and I feel free…
I’ve left
the girl I was supposed to be
and some day I’ll be born.

Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses
his misery.  ~Matthew Arnold, “Self-Dependence,” Empedocles on Etna, and
Other Poems
, 1852

To dare to live
alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their
bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet.  ~Charles
Caleb Colton, Lacon, 1825

No one remains quite
what he was when he recognizes himself.  ~Thomas Mann

one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character.  Blessed is he who
acts the Columbus to his own soul.  ~Author Unknown

a period of life when we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either
good or sour inside.  ~Pearl Bailey

I can teach anybody how to get what
they want out of life.  The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me
what they want.  ~Mark Twain

He who knows others is learned;
who knows himself is wise.
~Lao-tzu, Tao te

must learn what life is now, not from me, but from life itself; but, if you will
hear an old man’s opinion, I will give it you.  If you think you can temper
yourself into manliness by sitting here over your books, supposing you will grow
into it as a matter of course by a rule of necessity, in the same way as your
body grows old, it is the very silliest fancy that ever tempted a young man into
his ruin.  You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge
yourself one.  Go out into life, you will find your chance there, and only
there.  ~James Anthony Froude, The Nemesis of Faith, 1849, commonly
misattributed to Henry David Thoreau

How To Find Yourself


Finding the real you is an enlightening experience. You become self-sufficient and do things for yourself, for once. You are no longer needy and become utterly grateful for all the things people have done for you in the past. Finding yourself is a time of harmony because you develop the philosophy or belief system that will carry you throughout the rest of your life. How do you know you have found yourself? It is when you are able to help others find themselves. Finding yourself is not easy, but here are a few tips for how to start the process.

Create your own lifeline. Write down all of your major goals in your life that you feel you achieved and want to achieve. In turn, write down the events in your life that have already happened that you believe have affected you. When life hits with problems or misfortunes it shapes our belief system and makes us think differently. When you believe in something or see beauty in something, you should do it no matter what anyone else thinks. If you have found something that is worthy of your best efforts, sacrifice, and tears, then you have found the most important pursuit of your life.

  • This isn’t an exercise in wallowing. It’s about clarification and identification of issues. These issues might be keeping you from reaching your present potential and letting your true sense of self blossom.
  • Spend a little time writing with clarity about the past in your timeline. A timeline is an incredibly objective method for marking down past occurrences in your life that you consider to be major. You can look at them as formation blocks and as changing experiences along your timeline without imbuing them with too much emotion (as would occur within a diary account). Keep it simple, real, and condensed to the major effect or lesson learned from each past incident.
  • When analyzing negative past experiences, look to the positive learning message in it and don’t dwell on the mistakes or the negatives. Everyone has these blips in their timeline but pretending they are either worse than they were or non-existent won’t do you any favors. Instead, recognize that if it had not been for those past experiences you would not be where or who you are today.

Prepare to begin again with a clean slate. Develop your own moral conduct and practice sticking to it. Remove vice from your life; vices are any actions or habits that tie up your true self and let you escape having to think about the harder questions.

  • Stop smoking over-eating, and abusive drinking. These are examples of lapses or habits that will prevent you from functioning at your peak. They also let you “off the hook” by sidestepping the analysis of why you use these crutches instead of finding better ways to brighten your life.
  • This step may take some major rehabilitation for some individuals but putting it into the too-hard basket won’t make it go away. Remember, you can’t drive your life forward if you are always gazing through your rear-view mirror.

Sort out your career path. If you’re meandering all over the place looking for the right “fit,” chances are that you’re not happy inside. You could be using the job-changing as an excuse for not fully realizing your true potential. Finding yourself by really taking an interest in what you love to do. If money weren’t an issue, what would you spend your days doing? Is there any way you can monetize this activity/skill?

  • Spend some time free-associating. Think about what you like and don’t like; think beyond those things to other ideas that simply pop into your mind while you’re associating. Keep a record of these things. Then, come back to the career question and look at the free associations. What type of career seems to gel most with the things that excited, moved, and really energized you from the free-association exercise? As Alain de Botton says, this exercise is about looking for “beeps of joy” amid the cacophony of must-dos, shoulds, and expectations.[1]
  • Bear in mind, however, that work may not be where your “calling” is. If that is the case, you’ll need to work out a work-life balance that lets you pursue your “true self” more outside of the workplace, even if this means more hours and less income. It is all possible, especially if it’s in the pursuit of finding and sustaining your true sense of self.

Immerse yourself in solitude. Give yourself some time and space to get away from the expectations, the conversations, the noise, the media, and the pressure. Take some time each day to go for a long walk and think. Plant yourself on a park bench and look. Take a long, thoughtful road trip. Whatever you do, move away from anything that distracts you from contemplating your life and where you want it to go. In solitude, you should feel independent and self-sufficient, not lonely, needy or afraid.  Think about the hard questions.

  • “If I had all the resources in the world — if I didn’t need to make money — what would I be doing with my day to day life and why?” Perhaps you’d be painting, or writing, or farming, or exploring the Amazon rain forest. Don’t hold back.
  • “What do I want to look back on in my life and say that I never regretted. Would you regret never having traveled abroad? Would you regret never having asked that person out, even if it meant risking rejection? Would you regret not spending enough time with your family when you could? This question can be really difficult.
  • “If I had to choose three words to describe the kind of person I’d love to be, what would those words be?” Adventurous? Loving? Open?Honest? Hilarious? Optimistic? Don’t be afraid to choose words that are considered negative because that proves you’re a real person, and not a lopsided combination of parts other people want to be known for.

Act upon your newly discovered knowledge. Do the things that you want to do! Pick up those watercolors. Write a short story. Plan a trip to Mombasa. Have dinner with a family member. Start cracking up. Open up. Tell the truth. Whatever it is that you’ve decided you want to be or do, start being and doing it now.

Finding yourself is a journey, not a destination. A lot of it is trial and error. That’s the price you pay in return for the satisfaction you receive: More often than not, you hit a bump in the road, and sometimes you fall flat on your face. Be prepared to understand and accept that this is a part of the process, and commit to getting right back up and starting over.

Serve others. Mahatma Ghandi once said that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. All instrospection and no reaching out to others can cause you to navel-gaze and shut yourself off from others. Service to other people and to the community is the ultimate way to find purpose and a sense of your place in the world. When you get to see how hard life can be for those in greater need than you, it’s often a wake-up call that puts your own worries, concerns, and issues into perspective. It helps you to see what you do have and the opportunities you’ve been able to seize through life. That can fuel a great sense of self because suddenly everything can fall into place for you and you realize what matters most. Try it. You’ll like it.

For The Love of The Journey


For so many years, I lived a life without new experiences.  Not by choice, but by marriage.  My marriage, not all marriages.  I have been happily divorced for almost 20 years.  Almost as long as I was married.  I would change this quote slightly,  “Without new experiences, something inside of us dies.  The dead must arise” (Frank Herbert).  Now that I have arisen  life has been a true journey with the awe of new and great experiences and transformations.  This is how life should be.  To all who are sleeping or dead, I say to you “Awake”.