Take your mind on vacation

Take your mind on a vacation

Take your mind on a vacation

Have you ever taken one of those vacations where you feel like you become a new person? The kind where your body relaxes, your mind frees itself and you are, well, happier?

In those instances, you haven’t become a new person; instead, you have shed layers of egotistical crap from your psyche and become the person you really are. The vacation isn’t changing you per se, it’s allowing you to become who you really are. Yes, deep down inside you really are a happy and joyful person.

This thought came about as I walked down the street today, frantically running late to a meeting. Most of the people I passed were either hurriedly walking somewhere purposely or had their head buried in a smartphone. But one young woman stood out from everyone else. She was walking a bit slower than others, her posture was relaxed and I saw that she looked around her with a sense of wonder. As I passed her, she beamed out a warm, inviting smile at me that was impossible not to feel physically. I smiled back and instantly felt less stressed.

The scene reminded me of one of my favorite vacations in Hawai’i years ago. After dinner, a friend and I were walking one of the busiest streets in Honolulu near the marketplace where street vendors vie for the attention—and money—of tourists. But on this splendidly warm evening, everyone on the street was relaxed. Soft Hawaiian music played in the background and tourists languished on the street, taking in the sights and sounds of the tropical paradise.

That night I became aware of the friendly atmosphere of Hawai’i. No one was rushing to get anywhere. No one appeared angry. In fact, almost everyone we passed looked us in the eyes and smiled as they strolled down the street. We didn’t feel pressured to be anywhere or to do anything and in fact the biggest decision was where to stop and have a glass of wine. Sounds pretty nice, huh?

Family vacations notwithstanding, this kind of reaction is common when we go on holiday. We literally feel stress sink into the sand on some exotic beach, allow our troubles to float away while on a canoe in a mountain lake or let our enthusiasm rise in a crowded European marketplace. So why the hell can’t we do this at home?

We can.

During vacation, we purposely turn our attention and awareness in new directions. We notice our surroundings (which are generally new and exciting to the senses) and become emerged in the present moment. Most astonishingly, we feel that it’s okay to relax and quite proper to simply forget our problems for the time being. It’s a trick of the mind.

I’m not saying that vacations aren’t a wonderful thing. I’m certainly not saying that we shouldn’t allow ourselves the pleasure of going on vacation, quite the opposite in fact. I’m a big advocate for getting out of Dodge whenever possible.

I am, however, saying that it’s possible to bring vacation-type awareness back to the regular work-a-day world where it can really do us a lot of good. It starts with conscious choices of where we place our thoughts and emotions.

My interaction with the young woman on the street is a great example. Her smile and the subsequent reminder of vacation made me realize that I have a choice in how I approach each moment. So for the rest of the walk to my meeting, I slowed down and took note of my surroundings. I purposely felt the sun on my face and the slight breeze blowing around me. I made a point to look at everyone I passed and smile at them whether they noticed or not.

I remembered how great it felt to walk down the street in Honolulu and held that image and awareness for the rest of my walk. I wasn’t really on the island but my thoughts were and that allowed me to bring a piece of heaven back home to Colorado.

Bring the beach back with you (or the Eiffel Tower)

When you’re feeling stressed out, over burdened or just plain wiped out, try using some of these simple techniques to adjust your thinking:

  • Stop and remind yourself that you have a choice in each moment. You can feel stressed out or you can allow yourself to feel calm. This is a hard one to do in certain situations, but give it a whirl.
  • Immerse yourself in the present moment. Stop talking, slow your thoughts, and look carefully at the world around you. Take note of small details wherever you are—anything from the bright orange of a pencil on your desk to the coffee cup on the floor of the subway. Investigate with your eyes, your ears and your sense of touch, smell and taste. Engage your senses so that your mind can take a mini-vacation. Above all, breathe deep as you check out your surroundings.
  • Refuse to worry. Even if it’s only for five minutes, tell yourself that you won’t worry and won’t concentrate on problems, challenges, negative people or unwanted shit. Give yourself a break. You can always pick up those thoughts in a while but for now, they’re banished.
  • Change a pattern. Take a new way home from work. Put your pants on the opposite leg first. Order a cheeseburger if you normally get a chicken sandwich. The point here is to engage your mind from a different perspective, much like you’d have to do on a vacation in an unfamiliar place.
  • Send your mind to the beach (or wherever makes you happy). Sit and close your eyes and remember one of your favorite vacations (or people or places). Remember as vividly as possible what you were doing, how you felt, what you wore, what it smelled like and what the temperature was. What did the ground feel like under your feet? Were you in the water? How did it feel against your skin? The trick here is to remember as much detail as possible (happy details!) and keep your mind engaged for several minutes to allow your nervous system to reset itself.

You don’t have to go to the beach to take a vacation. All you need is a purposeful intent, some creativity and a willingness to bring the beach home with you. Change your focus by pretending what it’s like to be on vacation—even if it’s in the middle of a busy day.

Aloha.

 

 

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This ego needs a laxative

Constipated energy causes problems.

I can’t lay claim to that wonderful observation, it came from my dear friend Allison as she tried to reassure me after a not-so-pleasant confrontation with my roommate this past weekend. The analogy couldn’t be more accurate.

I made what I thought was a reasonable request of my roommate: to move some boxes from the living room to a storage room. Sounds simple, right? The problem, however, isn’t so much the request, but the fact that the boxes had been sitting there for months and months, a fact I chose to ignore time and time again.

Each time I entered the living room, I saw the boxes and would get upset with them being there. But each time I purposely ignored the little voice inside my head that said to confront him. That voice was a clear impulse to action, urging me to address the issue before it became a real problem.

I wanted to keep the peace, so each time I turned a deaf ear to the impulse and hoped the situation would resolve itself. I didn’t stop there, however. I talked to my friends and family about it, I thought about it frequently and had a steady stream of daydreams about it. In turn, I was letting my negative reaction to the boxes become a big energy block.

I reached my limit when I discovered the boxes had multiplied in the past several weeks. Instantly, I felt energy draw up into my body, surging its way through my system as if I stuck my finger in a light socket. My face flushed and my heart raced. It was strong enough that I had to close my eyes for a moment before I could even think about my next move.

Thankfully, I was able to regain my senses and contain my anger long enough to finally talk to my roommate directly in a tactful and careful manner. I immediately felt better although I was a bit shaky. Without getting into detail, let’s just say that the situation went downhill from there.

The take away from this story is this: how unnatural and odd it felt to honor myself by taking action. It seemed as if I was taking back my power by standing up for myself, yet I felt worse than I had before the confrontation. Why?

Allison’s reassuring words put me at ease.

“Saying something, I think, is way better than saying nothing. It lets energy out, lets steam out. Constipated energy causes problems, so way to go,” she wrote in an email.

She is right, of course, and while I felt better about honoring myself, I had a new enemy to fight: my ego. For the next several hours, I was embroiled in a full-on battle with my thoughts and imaginations. I remained conscious enough to attempt—many, many times—to direct my thoughts in a more positive direction but each time my ego emerged the victor. Even when I was lucky enough to distract myself for a few moments by taking a walk or doing chores, I caught my imagination replaying the confrontation or dreaming up future arguments, none of which were honoring to my roommate or myself.

The challenge, of course, is that I didn’t act on the original impulse—the one that said, “You should talk to him about this before it gets out of hand.” Instead of taking action, I chose to internalize the problem, which my ego was then only too happy to grab a hold of and not let go. Each time I chose inaction, my ego became further attached and the problem (as well as my ego) got bigger and stronger.

Ignoring impulses leads to a degradation of spirit. Impulses come from deep within the inner self, pointing the way to effective outcomes. So when we choose to ignore the directions from the inner self, we trap constructive energy within the psyche where it leads to problems.

Damming up energy, such as emotions, can only go on for so long. Energy always seeks movement and release, so bottling it up causes pressure to build, stagnate and eventually erupt. As the energy builds, we may not always see it directly or acknowledge it, but it’s there, waiting for us to do something with it.

No prescription needed

As a result of all this, I’m proposing a slightly offbeat solution: an ego laxative. You don’t need a prescription and there are no pesky side effects. In fact, your spirit will actually be strengthened. You will, however, need to follow directions.

When presented with an impulse, honor it as much as possible. Impulses may appear strange, often presenting a confusing or undesirable path of action. But the action only appears undesirable because we’re conditioned to not trust our impulses. Or, we let our ego and intellect interfere and come up with a whole list of reasons why we shouldn’t act on the impulse.

Acting on impulses is honoring to the spirit, even if you don’t act on the first one, or second, or third. Those impulses are your soul’s way of saying “this is a good move for you” and it’s your job to take notice and do something with the information. When my roommate situation came to a head, I had the impulse to finally assert myself and take action. It was loud and clear. It may have taken some time for me to act, but I finally did and in the end was the best solution.

When we get in the habit of honoring our impulses, the ego relaxes. It comes to accept those messages form the inner self and in time begins to understand that they represent trusted, quality information. A soft, flexible ego is the goal and impulses are a way to get there.

Give yourself an ego laxative when you’re presented with an opportunity to act on an impulse even if it feels strange to do so. It takes practice but is very worthwhile in the end.

 

 

 

 

 

The Little River Band, Tom Petty and the Expectations

You’d think for someone who wrote an entire blog post about “signs from the universe,” that I’d be happily navigating my days in constant communication with the big U. You might think I’ve become quite adept at asking questions and receiving answers from the great unknown, but sometimes when you’re looking for signs, you simply don’t see them.

That’s the way the past few weeks have been for me as I’ve searched for answers. I’ve asked the universe for direction on a great number of things, from “what shall I do with my life?” to “what shall I have for dinner?” Perhaps the most frustrating set of questions arose from a book I’m reviewing for Hay House. In E-Squared, author Pam Grout has her readers perform “scientific experiments” to test (and ultimately believe) the theory that we do create our own universe with our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and expectations.

The book seemed a natural for me, having studied the material for several years. But when I set out to start the first experiment, I failed miserably. Grout asks her readers to set an intention and a timeline for a response. In this case, it was asking the universe for some kind of blessing that proves—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that the universe exists and is predisposed in my direction. The time limit: 48 hours. After 96 hours, I was still waiting for that blessing.

I’ll share more of my experience with the book in a future review, but the entire set of experiments set off a new chapter in my own learning. I was disappointed and frustrated in my attempts at affecting the universe on a small scale, which made my big-ticket goals feel even further out of reach.  For example, I couldn’t seem to manifest orange cars. That is, I set an intention to see orange cars for a 24-hour period. I waited and waited and after three days, I saw none.

How in the world could I manifest a new career if I couldn’t find any orange cars in a city with more than three million of them?

While the experience frustrated me, it didn’t change my views on conscious creation. I still DO believe that we form our own lives through our thoughts. I still DO believe that our emotions and expectations can bring us some pretty amazing things. Unfortunately, I also felt like these abilities were out of my reach and I would have to settle for my uncanny ability to manifest negative events and circumstances. I’m damn good at that.

I did not, however, allow myself to be swayed long by my frustration. Part of the rules of the road when you’re on the spiritual path is to see how quickly you can get back on the path when you’ve wandered off. I put my frustration aside and kept going with my other projects (the science experiments would have to wait).

This morning, the desire to receive answers about my life was again with me, as it is most mornings. But today instead of dwelling on the questions, I simply acknowledged them and sent them on their way. I went to work and put my concentration on some projects that needed my attention. At lunchtime I decided to walk down the street for some fast food and casually thought to myself, “when’s it going to happen?”

The question itself encompassed many other questions, but it was a silent and powerful plea to the universe that I was ready for information. Unlike other attempts at communicating with the universe, however, I didn’t stand and wait for any kind of answer. I simply placed my attention back into the present moment and enjoyed the sunshine and walk to the restaurant.

As I swung open the restaurant door, a song from my youth greeted me. The song was in mid-chorus but I recognized it immediately.

Hang on

Help is on its way

I’ll be there as fast as I can

Hang on

The tiny voice did say

From somewhere deep inside the inner man

I’d be pretty dense not to recognize the message. For at that point in time, the Little River Band decided to give me some much-needed TLC. They quickly reminded me that the universe is answering my questions and I need to be in the right frame-of-mind to hear it.

The musical interlude also reminded me of a similar experience just a week prior. I was on the same street, at lunchtime, and I distinctly remember asking the universe, “When are things going to change in my favor?”

As I prepared to cross the street, a car sped up and blazed past me fast enough to make me step back to the curb. As the car passed, I could hear another familiar song blaring from the open windows:

The waiting is the hardest part

Every day you get one more yard

You take it on faith; you take it to the heart

The waiting is the hardest part

In this instance, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers decided to play the role of the universe in the play that is my life. They spoke directly to me, answering the question that I had just posed. I interpreted the event as meaning my time was coming and that I needed to be patient.

So two musical notes from the universe were swirling in my head as I waited for my food. Both events helped me feel at ease with life and allowed me to see clearly that I had forgotten one of the most important parts of conscious creation: being nonchalant with expectation.

When approaching a change in beliefs or purposely outlining a goal, it is important to remember the role of expectation. Expectation works with your thoughts and emotions to affect the universe and set into motion all of the millions of little details that will end up working in your favor. Expectation means you believe it will happen. But when you’re wandering into uncharted territory, how do you know for sure that it will work out?

You don’t.  That’s where faith an a nonchalant attitude come in.

Expectation is a hard skill to learn and even folks who are pretty good at it still must flex their expectation muscles on a regular basis. But the key is to remember to use expectation nonchalantly. It’s almost as if you’re saying to the world, “It’s no big deal, it will happen.” Or, “Hey, I know it’s going to happen, so much so that I won’t even bother giving it a second thought.”

When you want to reach across the table to grab a cup of coffee, you expect your body to perform accordingly. You expect your arm to move, your hand to grasp the cup and your mind to coordinate the entire process so that soon the cup is at your mouth and you’re taking a sip. That kind of expectation is what you’re aiming for when it comes to conscious creation. You don’t think about it; you expect it and let the universe (or your body in this case), work out the details.

It’s a small point but one I needed desperately to hear and remember.

The universe is answering my questions and the universe is pointing me in the right direction. For now, I’m adopting an attitude of nonchalentness when it comes to my expectations, especially with the expectation that I’ll receive answers from the universe. Just to be sure, I’m going to turn on the radio right now.