Are you ready (I mean REALLY ready) for change?

Prove it with the HYS Five-Day Reality Challenge ™ Contract

realitychallengecontract_photoIn grade school, my parents insisted I take violin lessons. I had no interest in the violin. The lessons were, shall we say, painful. I couldn’t produce one sound that even somewhat resembled a musical note. To be quite blunt, I sucked.

After several weeks of lessons, we finally discovered the biggest stumbling block to my lack of musical ability: I didn’t know how to read music. I panicked whenever the instructor asked me to play a note—I didn’t have a clue what I was looking at on the sheet music and would randomly place my hands on the instrument and hope for the best. After discovering my inability to read music, I was off the hook.

There is a point to this story, I promise. After I finally learned to read music and selected a different instrument—one I wanted to play–I became a better musician. As I progressed in school and joined the band and orchestra, I spent more and more time practicing my instrument, learning scales, challenging myself with new music and enjoying the process much more.

What’s this have to do with conscious creation?

Before I was exposed to spirituality and specifically the concept of conscious creation, I often wished for a better life. Overall my life was fine but, like everyone else, there were things I wanted to change. I yearned for a more fulfilling existence, great relationships and, of course, material things.

But without knowledge of spiritual principles, I was simply repeating those damn violin lessons. I hoped to make beautiful music with my life when all I was doing was annoying the hell out myself and everyone else. I didn’t have the tools I needed to change my life effectively; I was going about it the hard way.

Many years later, I would acquire the knowledge, skills and tools needed to help transform my life. I got excited about the prospect of change. I read a lot of books, studied the principles and talked about them with my friends. I was ready for a complete transformation of my life.

And so I waited. And waited. And waited. Why wasn’t my life changing in leaps and bounds?

The problem, of course, was that I wasn’t practicing. That’s like someone pointing out where to place your fingers on a saxophone and expecting you to immediately join a jazz ensemble. It takes more than reading music and understanding your instrument before you become adept at making beautiful music. Learning how to use conscious creation to your benefit requires practice, too.

Old habits die hard

The principles of conscious creation often sound really simple. Think about what you want and you can make it happen. Change your thoughts and change your life. Focus on the good things in life and you’ll get more of them. The list goes on and on. You can read a lot about these principles in the archives of the Honor Your Spirit blog.

However, reading about and understanding conscious creation is one thing, living it is another. When you set out to change your thoughts and beliefs, you’re pushing against a lifetime of learned and practiced behavior. Unbeknownst to you, you have practiced yourself right into the person you are today. So when you want to change that person, you’ll have to push through a lot of self-imposed resistance.

This is proven to me frequently whenever I talk to my best friend on the phone. Despite knowing and studying conscious creation, we often find ourselves replaying the same conversation over and over again. It goes something like this:

Me: You won’t believe what happened at work this week! It was such a bad week and I’m tired of all the bullshit that goes on there.

Bob: Oh I understand. I’ve had to work 14-hour days for the past six days in a row and I’m not convinced they’ll ever hire anyone to help alleviate the situation.

Me: I know I should be thinking positive thoughts but I’m really tired of living this way. Can’t I just win the lottery?

Bob: Oh I hear ya. Sometimes I wonder if this stuff works or not.

You can see how even well versed and well-intentioned spiritual seekers can get caught in the undertow of old habits and thought patterns. The moral of our phone conversations is this: we know better. We know how important it is to direct our thoughts toward what we want. We know it’s important to focus on solutions, not challenges. We know that staying stuck in complaining mode is disastrous to the spirit. We know those things and yet consciously choose to keep going down the familiar road.

After one such recent phone call, I decided a firm commitment to change was in order—real, honest, palpable change. I needed a change in my thoughts, actions, and beliefs. In short, I needed to walk the talk I espouse to on this blog.  Although I’ve made great strides in my own spiritual development in the past several years, I could see where my own blocks were staring me in the face and it was time to knock them down.

Guidelines to operate by

I decided I needed to write a contract with myself, one that would spell out some of the basic conscious creation principles I try to live by.  The contract would serve as a visual reminder of the basic things I feel are important to crating a better life. This will be fun, I told myself.

And then I started to panic.

There were an awful lot of things on the list, certainly too many to remember, let alone accomplish. I looked at what I had written and felt like it was too much to tackle all at once. Changing my life would have to wait. That’s when I realized what my ego was up to. It had already jumped ahead and decided the plan wasn’t going to work because it (my ego) didn’t want to change. It was comfortable where it was. It likes to complain and to gripe and keep me in the same thought patterns because it finds them comfortable. That’s when I knew I was on the right track.

To help appease my ego, I decided to put a time limit on the contract: five days. That way, if I gave my absolute best to the process and really worked hard, five days should show me that I’m either on the right track or I’m full of bunk. I know five days is barely scratching the surface when it comes to changing beliefs or behavior, but everyone has to start somewhere so I decided a full-on commitment to my spiritual principles for five days was the least I could do to honor myself.

Share the wealth

Why limit my excitement (or my fear, for that matter) to just myself when I can invite my blog readers to join along with me in changing their lives? Activities that are challenging to your body, mind or ego (like exercise or skydiving) seem to be a little easier when you have others joining you.

The Contract

If you think you’re up to the challenge, start by downloading and printing the form at the bottom of this post. You’re going to pick five consecutive days to start and end your Honor Your Spirit contract. You’ll see on the contract itself that there are two categories: things you WILL DO for the next five days and things that you WILL NOT DO for the next five days.

The items are relatively self-explanatory. In essence, you’re attempting to first observe and then adjust your thoughts accordingly. Some points may be easier than others. For example, I’ve become very good at following my impulses when I can recognize them but I find I still must consciously work on not complaining…that’s a skill I’ve honed over many, many years.

It’s important to remember that you won’t be 100 percent effective at your new thoughts and behaviors. You’re aiming for a noticeable change in your behavior/thoughts/beliefs. It won’t be easy but keep at it and if you fall off the horse, so to speak, get right back on and adjust accordingly. The willingness to undertake this challenge shows your inner self that you’re serious about making positive change.

In addition to the listed points, feel free to add one or two items of your own. These are things that honor your spirit, things that fuel you at a deep level.

They can be spiritual, physical or mental items—whatever helps accelerate your own spiritual development. For example, I’ve decided to make breakfast for the week since I usually don’t eat until lunch or dinnertime. You may wish to include things like exercising, stretching or calling your siblings.

Paging Mr. Power, Mr. Will Power

Let’s be honest. If it were really, really easy to change your life by changing your thoughts, you would have done it a long time ago, right? Even with the best intentions to change deeply ingrained thoughts and beliefs, you will most likely find yourself struggling with some of the ideas presented here.

It’s hard to break old habits like complaining, ruminating and focusing on problems. They are simply old habits. They need to be kicked to the curb and out of your life so you can make room for more positive arrivals. Because of this, you may have to search deep inside for willpower. Your will is your intent—you want to change your life. Use some power with your intent to try these activities for five days. Reason with your ego and/or your conscious mind. Remind yourself how much you will gain from doing this exercise. And, remind yourself that if you don’t see the slightest bit of change in five days, you can chuck the whole thing.

And remember the biggest conscious creation lesson from our friend Seth: “You get what you concentrate upon. There is no other main rule.” That means if you keep telling yourself over and over how hard it is to do these things, you’ll get more hard work coming your way. If you exclaim to everyone that you can’t do these things, you indeed will not be able to do them.

It’s time to write a new script for your life and the next five days can provide the space and time to write your first draft.

Share your experiences

If you decide to participate in the HYS Five-Day Reality Challenge, I’d love to hear from you. Simply use the “reply” button on this post and let me know how things worked or didn’t work for you. You can also chime in on my Facebook page.

Download the contract below

HYS_fivedaychallengeform

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Your impulses guide the way

Your impulses guide your soul toward fulfillment. Follow them.

Your impulses guide your soul toward fulfillment. Follow them.

In the Shadow Of A Badge (Book Review)

Book jacket for "In the Shadow Of A Badge" by  Lillie Leonardi

Book jacket for “In the Shadow Of A Badge” by Lillie Leonardi

Editor’s note: From time to time I will review books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note when the book was purchased by myself or obtained as a free review copy from the publisher.

It took an act of unspeakable tragedy to force Lillie Leonardi to stop living a double life. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 and specifically the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 helped crack open Leonardi’s tough cop-turned-FBI agent exterior, exposing her raw and vulnerable spiritual center.

Standing amid the wreckage of that downed plane in Shanksville, PA, she experienced a religious awakening that caused her to rethink her entire life for the next decade. From that day forward, she would no longer be able to choose between being a law enforcement agent or a spiritual pilgrim; instead, the event forced her to address the two separate sides to her life and make them whole.

In her memoir, In the Shadow of a Badge, Leonardi describes seeing angels at the crash site in Shanksville. Her interpretation of this event was that the angels were helping transition the passengers and crew of the plane to heaven and that they were also watching over the hundreds of law enforcement personnel who had arrived to investigate the scene.

Having experienced other angel sightings throughout her life, Leonardi was comforted by the sight. Yet working in a male-dominated field for her adult life led her to hide her spiritual self with her coworkers and most of the world. Only her immediate family and friends understood her devotion to the Catholic faith and how she reveled in it during quiet moments.

To her coworkers and to the outside world, she was simply a “Robocop,” and acted on calculated, intellectual reasoning alone, leaving little room for spiritual or emotional reactions. That tough-guy exterior may have helped her deal with the 12 days she worked at the crash site as a liaison with United Airlines and government agencies but it also forced her to stuff her emotions deep within.

Energy always seeks expansion so when you try holding back extreme emotion for too long, it will eventually cause havoc with the personality. In Leonardi’s case, the stifling of emotions both as a cop and as a first responder on 9/11 finally caused her to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That diagnosis (and her final acceptance of it) started her on a journey of self-discovery and healing that could help her finally quantify the two very distinctive sides of her personality.

Leonardi details her struggles with therapies to help manage her PTSD as well as her spiritual “coming out,” where she finally decides to publically share her experience in Shanksville. As part of that process, she began to allow herself to feel and act upon her intuitive/feminine persona which she had carefully controlled during her law enforcement tenure.

Personal thoughts

I am not Catholic and usually shut down mentally when I’m presented with too much religious dogma. Still, I selected In the Shadow of a Badge because I was interested in Leonardi’s experiences on 9/11. Like many Americans, the wounds inflicted on our country that warm fall day still feel fresh and raw even a decade later. I’ve read other firsthand accounts of supernatural events by first responders and wanted to see how Leonardi’s compared.

I’m also not a big believer in angels–the concept seems too Christian to me. So after I read a few pages into the book, I reminded myself that there is always something to learn and kept going to see what I could glean from the manuscript. Rather than discard the author’s message altogether, I instead went into an introspective state to clarify my own beliefs about angels and the afterlife. I have a way to go on that discovery.

I did pick out several important themes which are applicable to anyone who reads the book, whether they come from a religious background or not.

First, as I write a lot about in my blog, our world is created through beliefs. This fact is not lost on Leonardi as she deconstructed her experience in Shanksville. Universally, she understands that her beliefs are the most important thing in her life, which to her includes her deep Catholic faith. She sums it up this way:

“Our beliefs matter the most. If we accept our own inner strength, we can take the right action on behalf of ourselves and others. Our beliefs teach us to trust, and this trust guides our path.”

Another important lesson Leonardi learns through her post-9/11 life is that of safety and trust. Trust is a spiritual imperative and is the basis for living safely. The author brings up several examples of her deep trust and how it helped keep her safe during 25 years of police service. Calling on that trust became more important as she battled her PTSD. Her stories of trust and the help she received from the spiritual realm are inspirational and help others learn to trust their basic being.

Spiritual views aside, readers should take particular note of the author’s experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The disorder is a horrible residue of violent acts like 9/11, the wars in the Middle East and the recent shootings in Newtown. The general public needs to know about and understand the disorder which is beginning to affect larger numbers of people each year. I’m pleased the author shared so much of her journey with PTSD as it helps break down some of the stigma about the disorder.

Importantly, she shows that PTSD can sometimes be hard to recognize and slow to emerge as it can come about from stifling emotions for too long.  Leonardi also talks about some of the current treatments for PTSD and discloses what worked and didn’t work for her.

What strikes me most with this book, however, is how difficult it appears to be to live a life that includes public spirituality. Many people sometimes feel it’s inappropriate to talk about–let alone display–a spiritual self. It feels too risky to share with others. We worry what others will think of us if we talk about our own spiritual selves outside of a church or the privacy of our homes.

When we ignore that part of ourselves that is connected to the divine, the divine will make itself known eventually. The energy allotted to spirituality, if not given an outlet, will seek expression, even if the means seem questionable as it did with Leonardi’s PTSD. A quick read of the author’s synchronistic events as she accepted both her PTSD diagnosis and her true spiritual self is inspiring.

In the Shadow of a Badge may not be for everyone. There is heavy dose of Catholicism intertwined within the pages and the author takes readers through some very personal and sometimes trivial details of her recovery. Still, if you’ve ever tried to hide your religious or spiritual beliefs in public, this may be a good read and reminder of the amazing things that can happen when you integrate spirituality into your daily existence.

FTC Disclosure notice

I received this copy of the book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

This book available through these booksellers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Hay House

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