Our Children Are Our Change

For the past ten days I have been traveling outside of the United States. We had a packed itinerary and my intention was to disconnect and just be where I was with the person I was with. Halfway into my trip, the Parkland shooting occurred. Since these horrific acts of mass violence have unfortunately become part of our daily life, I realize that I've actually developed a pattern of how I digest these heartbreaking events. I tend to watch hour after hour of commentary, making sure I check in from the morning shows to Jimmy Kimmel Live’s opening monologue. Since Parkland is less than an hour drive from where I live and I know people who live there, I am sure that had I been home, I would have been that much more fixated on learning more. Being in Europe, I actually felt a bit guilty about not being more on top of the subject. Yet every time I entered a designer store in Paris, I was consistently struck by the lack of gun control and safety precautions in our schools. How was it that to enter a designer store my bag would be searched and in some cases an armed guard would stand at the door, but in most schools in the U.S., people can walk in carrying anything? 
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How can we positively embrace change in our future?

It’s interesting to observe your own reaction when change presents itself in life.


It may be economic change in your circumstances, it may be a change in the way you spend your life. A lot of people, as their children grow, have an opportunity to change their lives, but they have such strong habits in how they’ve always done things and who they’ve always been, that they get frightened at the freedom to change when an opportunity presents itself.

Up until now, they justified their existence by what their karma commitments are; “I have to be this way,” and I would say that doesn’t have to be the case. They don’t have to wait for their kids to grow up, because that waiting becomes their daily routine.

How much of who I was yesterday is defining who I am today? How much can I allow who I am today to be totally open and tuning and responding to the situation, which includes everything I was yesterday, but also all that I will be tomorrow?

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Start Your Day Off Right With The Hour of Power

The morning is the most important time of the day. If you spend an hour a day to do these three things you will be happier in life, healthier, and more motivated than you’ve ever felt.

I call this my hour of power. Every morning I wake up and I spend 60 minutes doing three things. They've helped contribute to a lot of my success.

So what is this Hour of Power exactly?

It’s a full hour that is broken up into three 20-minute sessions:

  • 20 minutes of exercise
  • 20 minutes of meditation
  • 20 minutes of reading (positive, uplifting material)


The benefits of doing just these 3 things are great.


The Benefits of the Hour of Power

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Time to Regroup and Dream

Life at the beginning of the New Year is such a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s like we’re split in two. There is one side of us which is aware that we’ve set intentions and made resolutions and we feel driven to get things done in order to prove to the world we’re going to change! We think to ourselves; life in this New Year is magical and filled with P*R*O*M*I*S*E ! Now is NOT the time to waste!


Then there’s this other inconvenient self that wants to curl up and rest and dream and perhaps not move so fast too soon. That part of us can seem lazy, and not at all in alignment with our highest intentions!


Or, is there wisdom in this self? Maybe we need to listen to this need to regroup and dream?


The tension between these two selves, two perspectives, creates a kind of guilt for some of us.  We start thinking that we better get off our butts and prove that we mean business! The treadmill calleth! We have dutifully thrown away the leftover holiday sweets and have begun a new and healthy plan.


Regrouping and dreaming can seem like a waste of time at the beginning of a new year when we put pressure on ourselves to perform miracles right out of the gate. The truth, however, is that taking time is exactly what we should be doing. Whether you are in the dead of winter like we are in the Northern Hemisphere or midsummer Down Under both these seasons ask us to stand still and contemplate what we’ve set in motion and refine our intentions slowly and honestly.

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How can we can stay open to both the suffering and the joy of life?

You and I are in training to be free. We’re in training to be so present, so spacious, so embracing, we’re in training to not look away, deny or close our hearts when we can’t bear something. The statement, “I can’t bear it,” is what burns you out in social action. When you’re in the presence of suffering and contracting, it’s the contraction that starves you to death.

When you close your heart down to protect yourself from suffering, you also close yourself off from being fed by that same life situation.

If you can stay open to both the suffering and the joys and the stuff of life, all of it, then it’s like a living spirit. It just connects to your living spirit and there’s a tremendous feeding going on.

Once you see all this, what else is there to do but keep working on becoming conscious? You’d be a fool not to. You’re only going to perpetuate your misery and suffering and everybody else’s if you don’t. I’ll give it one year, I’ll settle for two, for you to live on two planes of consciousness simultaneously. The other thing is to do it joyfully! When you meet somebody that’s suffering, what do you have to offer them? You could offer them your empathy. That’s a good thing to offer because they feel somebody else is listening to them. The other thing you can offer them is your joy, your presence, and your ‘not getting caught in it all.’

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Ram Dass Explores the Illusion of Time Passage and Aging

Now, when you get older one of the things that happens is the change of the meaning of time, in a whole raft of ways. First of all, time gets short before you get ready to leave your body, and that has a certain way of ‘making it all more significant.’ Not that this is the last picnic, but I mean you just start to feel it differently. There’s this agitation and there’s a whole chemical thing in it that makes you experience time as moving faster. When you’re a child spring is a big thing, and summer is ‘summer’ and then, I mean, you know, the feeling of each season is really present. Autumn is going back to school, at least it was in my day, and for adults, it runs a pace.


We seem not to have enough time for anything, and then we get older, the years go by very quickly, and that’s one dimension of time.


Then there’s another interesting dimension of time when you say to friends, “How old do you experience yourself being?” instead of, “How old are you chronologically?” or, “How old is your body,” it’s, “How old do you experience yourself being?”


There are different kinds of responses. People like me would say, “No age at all, I don’t experience myself as age.” Some people would say,” I have always felt like I was 14 years old. I’ve always felt like a little girl up in a tree.” I think for the first 35-40 years of my life, I felt like I was a precocious child. I was a child who was living in over my head. This may be alien to all of you but bare with me. It’s just my pathology. Then I began to feel like I had gotten through puberty. I was about 40 and I started to experience this change in my psychological age. There were a lot of things that occurred in those years, of course, and I got up to the point where I started to feel that I was just who I was. I mean, I was this age at that time, 50-55, and it felt fine and comfortable. Then I went deeper, and I started to feel no age.

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How to Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever

Regardless of how you ring in the New Year (with lively parties and fireworks or cozy celebrations at home), there is a recurring theme at every New Year’s celebration: to the make this year the best year ever.

“If you get clear on the what, the how will be taken care of.” - Jack Canfield


Here are a few things you can do to make 2018 your best year yet.


1. Review Last Year


First, take inventory of last year. By reviewing last year and all the ups and downs of 2017, we are provided with the map to moving forward into 2018. Reflecting deeply on last year can highlight your successes and – more importantly – the areas most in need of improvement.


Find a quiet room in your house and carve out a bit of meditation time. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions; the answers to the hardest of questions will only help you grow. Use a journal to collect your thoughts so that you can refer back to your answers.

  • What were the biggest accomplishments of 2017?
  • Why were those accomplishments meaningful for you? What did they signify?
  • Did you have any regrets? What were they?
  • What obstacles did you face?
  • What goals did you reach?
  • What goals did you not meet?
  • What are you not happy with in your life right now? This could be personal, professional, spiritual. Identify the areas that you want to improve, and be as specific as you can be.
  • And finally, what was the overall recurring theme of 2017?


By taking the time to review the events of the previous year, you not only have the opportunity to be grateful for all the good moments, but you also gain the knowledge of where and what to improve.


It is only when you know which areas truly need improving (and why), that you can work towards creating the best year ever.


Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever By Creating Your Extraordinary Life Plan.


2.  Try This Instead of Making New Year's Resolutions

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23 Questions to Celebrate Your Year & Set New Year Goals for 2018

As you set your new year goals for 2018, it's a good idea to take stock of the progress you've made toward your goals this year. For many people, this review is unpleasant and can even lead to a downward spiral.


If you didn't achieve all of the goals you set at the beginning of the year, you may feel like you have failed. Our self-esteem can take a hit, we can become disheartened and discouraged, and our motivation drops. Some people actually become depressed.


If this sounds familiar, it's time to reframe how you look at success. Zeroing in on accomplishments that didn't happen puts your focus on what you lack, rather than on what you have (the things you did experience and accomplish). This subtle mental trap leads to a host of negative consequences, which usually leads to attracting more lack.

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How to Be Good - A Very Tough Problem

At the turn of a new year it’s natural to be reflective about the state of the world, a gloomy process this year. The world is filled with bad actors, who are easy to condemn. But complaining about them does us very little good, while a great deal of good can be done by flipping the coin and asking what it takes to be good.

 

To have a grounded sense of self, it’s necessary to feel that you are a good person. People who consider themselves bad are generally defeated and abused, wracked with guilt and shame. So where does goodness come from? This turns out to be one of the toughest problems tackled by religion, philosophy, and now science. Finding a scientific way to make people act morally is a long-standing dream going back at least two centuries when Utilitarians tried to base morality on a calculus of pleasure and pain. The notion that making goodness a pleasant experience seemed fruitful, especially combined with painful punishments when someone disobeys the moral rules.

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As We Clean up the Dirt… Let There Be Light…

This week is an interesting one given that we begin with a serious New Moon on Monday, providing us an opportunity to make intentions for how to say goodbye to 2017, real and clear.


Then we close out the week with the Longest Night (in the northern Hemisphere/ opposite Down Under) followed by the Winter Solstice where we celebrate the rebirth of the Light.


Speaking of which I’m going to do a special Facebook Live on Friday the 22 at noon EST to celebrate- yes I am doing readings! You must come!


Symbolically this season is so rich with metaphor, that if you pay attention, you really can see the connections between all of it. Yes we’re still being invited to clean up the dirt in our lives in the last week of mercury retrograde, refusing, reassessing, re-calibrating, revisiting, repairing and reinforcing. Even though this is the symbolic time of greatest darkness there is so much Light being called into the world right now it’s amazing.

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What I’m Hoping to Do More of This Holiday Season

This week, I’ve been thinking, feeling, watching, listening, and taking stock of my life. It’s been hard not to do this, as I’ve spent time unpacking all of the items that I packed up while preparing to evacuate from the wildfires.


I’ve been taking stock not just of the “stuff” in my life, but of what’s really important to me these days. On Monday, I sat down with my friend Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, who has devoted his life to studying the places on earth where people are healthiest and happiest. Our conversation really got me thinking deeper about what I value and whether I’m really leading a life where my values line up with my actions. (You can watch our conversation below.)

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What Do You Need To Eliminate Before 2018?

As the holidays kick into high gear, I am thankful and a bit overwhelmed as I fill in my calendar. There are parties to attend, dinners to organize, presents to buy, decorations to hang, and visits from out-of-towners, friends, and family to prepare for. As I anticipate the month to come, it feels like my to-do list is infused with a sense of accumulation. Although I look forward to the abundance and merriment of delighting in the decadence of December, I also feel a strong sense of urgency to resolve and handle certain issues so I do not carry them forward into 2018. And the good news is there is still time. 

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A Year of Softer Living

Last January at the start of 2017 I stood around a fire pit with my Saturday morning yoga group. Each of us held a piece of paper. On these pieces of paper were things that we wanted to let go of for the new year: fear, discontent, self-deprecating behavior, unhealthy relationships, negative self-talk. Some of the women shared what they were ready to burn up and leave behind. Others kept their intentions to themselves. Only the fire would consume and know everyone’s hopes for how their life would look in 2017.

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Mad Kings, Court Jesters, and Public Insanity

For many people the current instability in Washington, coupled with a President who combines irrational whims, vindictiveness, and amorality, has become much more than alarming. A prominent figure from the Obama White House publicly mourned that we’ve gone from despair to disbelief. Something insane seems to be happening, and it’s happening in broad daylight while the keepers of sanity stand by helplessly.

 

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Embrace your Imperfection (video)

I had a project I was procrastinating that was long overdue. I kept waiting for everything to be exactly perfect before I started it, yet that time never came. The concern that people weren’t going to like it if it wasn’t top notch loomed over me for weeks. Yet the guilt for not completing it hung right next to it.

 

That started me wondering why I was so concerned about it being “perfect.” Then it hit me…that was what had been drilled into me. From the time we are a child in school through adulthood working in our career, we are “graded” on the quality of our work. This can cause fear, which leads to stress, which leads to the dragging of feet, which leads to more stress.

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How To Deal With Failure, Grow and Find the Gift

When things don’t go according to plan or work out how you intended, it can be a huge disappointment and let down, especially when you have invested so much time, energy, and money.


It’s easy to judge yourself as a failure and beat yourself up harshly. But this serves nothing.


When you try so hard and your dreams don’t happen, it’s easy to question yourself and even want to give up on the dream itself.


But what if there was no such thing as “failure”? 

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Waking, dreaming, and sleeping happen in you

Many years ago, Science magazine declared that one of the most important and unanswered questions in science is What is the universe made of? Today, we still don't know the answer.


Part of the problem is that we, as human beings, are part of the very universe we are trying to understand. Therefore, it goes without saying that if we don't understand our own nature, we are likely to misunderstand the nature of the universe.

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Butterfly Effects

The aptly named “butterfly effect” has become well known in recent years as people begin to take seriously the interconnectedness of all life on our planet, as well as the nature of energy itself. The name refers to the possibility that the movement of a butterfly’s wings affects the world around it in unforeseen ways. The greater truth of this idea resonates within my own life again and again, often quite literally.

 

Several weeks ago, I reread Sharon Salzberg’s book Faith, published in 2002. I had read it then, but I was moved to take it off the shelf again because its title called to me strongly. As my spiritual journey has deepened, I have found myself repeatedly stepping off the edge of certainty (or the illusion of it) into the unknown. Over the past two months, everything seemed to fall away until I realized that I was being asked to move forward completely on “faith.” Thus my reason for rereading Sharon’s book. With each chapter, I saw how much more deeply I connected with it than I had 15 years before.

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5 Tips to Stop Seeking Approval from Others

I spent 13 years as an actress and in that time I learned that it wasn’t my job to make sure the auditors or audience was loving my performance. My job was to live in the moment and focus on my craft.  

 

What did that mean?  

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Are You Highly Sensitive?

One of the biggest AHA moments of my life was when I discovered that I wasn’t crazy…. I found out that being super sensitive to loud noises and bright lights (and more) is actually a condition with a name – it’s called being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

What a relief it was to discover not only a name for my peculiar reactions to life, but that there are also solutions. (Some are below!)

About 20% of the population is born with heightened sensitivities. One definition of HSP is described as having hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity.

How do you know if you are an HSP?

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Already Here: A Doctor Discovers the Truth about Heaven

Already Here: A Doctor Discovers the Truth about Heaven

Already Here tells of the death of Leo Galland’s son, Christopher, at the age of 22; the direct visual evidence Christopher showed him that our souls do go on; and the communications he received from Christopher’s spirit that dramatically changed Leo’s understanding of life and its meaning.

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