Thought is at the heart of all emotion

Thought is at the heart of all emotion.

Thought is at the heart of all emotion.

Bad day? Stressed out? Depressed? Stop: What are you thinking about?

You can trace your emotions back to your thoughts. Sometimes they’re conscious thoughts; other times they’re subconscious thoughts or even simply daydreams sitting just outside your normal awareness. Thoughts direct your emotions, not the other way around like we normally believe.

So when you’re not pleased with your current emotional state, try changing your thoughts. Even small shifts can help bring you out of a funk. Focus your awareness on what’s right in the world. Focus on things that make you happy. It takes a conscious effort to do this but the effects are worth it.

Oh, and if you’re currently experiencing love, joy, happiness or elation, sit back and revel in your emotional state. Feel it in your body and enjoy it with your awareness. Imprint the emotion on your thoughts so that you have a point of reference for those times when you don’t feel as good.

Allow yourself to bloom

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Risk can be scary; it can also be rewarding. When you try something new–like thinking a new thought or expressing your true self–you run the risk of failing. You also run the risk of finding out how truly amazing you really are. You run the risk of allowing others to see your beautiful soul.  Go ahead, try something risky today and allow yourself to bloom in the process. 

Get better, not bitter.

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When you’re trying to shift to a more positive belief, don’t allow yourself to get discouraged when you automatically react with the same old defeating thoughts. Acknowledge them; feel them. Then, remind yourself that simply catching yourself in the middle of your same old-same old reaction is a step in the right direction. Then, hit the reset button and try again. You’re aiming for positive growth…no matter how small.

When you get discouraged and stay stuck in those thoughts, you take a step backward. You forget about the process and you end up bitter. Don’t get bitter…get better. One small thought at a time.

Consciousness is like a light

Consciousness is like a light

Use your consciousness to light up your dreams. Use it to illuminate the beauty that surrounds you. Turn your consciousness toward the things that you want and watch them appear. Shine on…

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Daily dose of “now”

Staying in the present moment by admiring a spectacular sunset

Staying in the present moment by admiring a spectacular sunset

I admit it: I take way too many sunset pictures. A lot of them. Of course, when you live in Colorado, there are frequent opportunities to immortalize a beautiful evening with a quick snap of my iPhone.

Those sunset pictures that I post to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (and now Medium), serve as a reminder to myself of the power of the present moment. They remind me of the state of mind I find myself in when I stop to bask in the beauty of nature.

We get spectacular sunsets in late fall and early spring here in Denver—the setting sun dropping below the Rocky Mountains catches the clouds at just the right angle to produce a canvas of vivid reds, oranges, yellows, pinks and purples. It doesn’t happen every single day, but frequent enough for most people to take notice.

On those evenings when the color is particularly vibrant or the clouds arrange themselves in just the perfect array, I always stop to marvel at the beauty of nature. Every time. A beautiful sunset literally stops me in my tracks.

When I admire a beautiful sunset, time stands still. My thoughts stand still. Gone are the worries about work; vanished are thoughts of politics; banished are cares and complaints. They are replaced with a quiet stillness that opens up space in my mind and spirit that is indescribable.

The feeling may last for two minutes or 20 but I do appreciate my special time with the Sun and consciously choose to honor it by pausing in quiet solitude and peaceful reflection.

And on those nights where the colors really speak to me, the phone comes out and I start shooting. I want to remember that peaceful space in my mind when I look at my photos at later times. I want others to understand what this type of experience means to me. I want to keep that feeling with me and be able to call upon it whenever I need a pick-me-up.

The photos remind me to stay in the “now,” that sublime place where action happens and magic is created. It’s a special place and I hope others take the time to appreciate it as much as I do.

For more on this topic, visit this post on sunsets in nature.

What are you resolving?

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Quitting smoking? That lasted a day. Exercising more? I made it a week. Resolving to cook at home more? I went out to dinner on Jan. 1.

Most people don’t even think about resolutions until Dec. 31. Suddenly, the urge to change your life becomes more real as the clock ticks toward midnight and you find yourself scrambling to make life-altering decisions on the fly. It’s no wonder we poke fun at resolutions and the people who let them slide just a few days later.

The desire to change your life is constant, whether you admit to it or not. You’re always looking for ways to make your life more pleasant and your experience more fulfilling. But New Year’s resolutions that focus solely on measureable outcomes—like exercising more and spending less—are oftentimes counter productive to living a better life.

The solution lies in a more subtle approach to self-care. This year, consider making some broad-based resolutions that direct your life rather than constrain it.

Resolve to be more gentle with yourself

At first blush, this sounds a lot like something you’d read in a typical self-help book. I know I’ve been one to roll my eyes at a suggestion such as this. However, the point is valid: we’re often too tough on ourselves. How often do you find yourself berating yourself for something you view as a “mistake” or getting angry with yourself for a decision you’ve made?

When you talk to yourself, think about what you’d like to hear from a trusted friend or family member. Would they yell at you or put you down? Hopefully not. Apply the same approach to yourself. Being gentle means reducing the amount of guilt or anger you direct at yourself. It means laughing at yourself more and realizing that you are in a constant state of learning.

You are always doing the best you can at any given point in time so stop getting angry if you don’t measure up to your goals. Most goals are simply ideals–desired outcomes. Being gentle with yourself allows you the freedom to reach those ideals in different and unexpected ways.

Resolve to love yourself more

Learning to love yourself is one of the most important lessons you will ever undertake yet many view it in a narcissistic light. Loving yourself isn’t vanity, it’s necessary for spiritual growth and prosperity. Loving yourself takes many forms, from caring for your body to making time for yourself. But the place to start is much more basic: declaring your love for yourself to yourself every day.

If you’re not in the practice of saying, “I love you” to yourself, this will sound and feel odd at first. That’s why it’s important to start small and build a solid foundation. When you stand in the mirror in the morning, simply say to yourself (out loud or with your thoughts), “I love you.” It’s that simple. As you go through your day, make a conscious decision to say, “I love myself,” as many times as you remember to do so. In the beginning, you’ll have to remind yourself to do this. As you keep at it, it will become more natural and you’ll start to actually feel love with the positive affirmation.

If you’re rolling your eyes at this resolution, you’re in need of more self-love. Keep at it every day.

Resolve to follow your impulses

Most people distrust their impulses. They’re often viewed as coming from an unsavory part of the subconscious. However, impulses are messages from the inner self that help guide us toward our best fulfillment. We’ve simply schooled ourselves into believing something bad will happen if we let go and follow those urges to action. (You can read more about impulses here).

Rather than making a full-scale resolution to follow every impulse that comes your way, again, start small. If the impulse to do something shoves its way into your conscious thoughts, stop and recognize it. Follow the thought: what would happen if you let yourself go with the impulse? Pausing and imagining the outcome of that impulse will help train your mind into seeing the benefit of it. Too often we simply block the impulse and discard it.

If you are able to do so, follow an impulse every day. It could be as simple as getting up from your desk to take a quick walk or writing an email to a friend if the thought arises. When an impulse seems to come out of nowhere, pay special attention. Your inner self is trying to get your attention. Honor yourself by seeing where the impulse will take you.

Resolve to follow your joy

Why is following your joy so difficult? Because we believe that it is. Following your joy doesn’t have to mean quitting your job and becoming a beachcomber. It doesn’t mean making huge life changes at every turn. It does mean making small, positive steps toward doing what you enjoy.

Start taking note of the things that bring you joy and satisfaction. Then, make a promise to yourself to do more of those things each day. Spending just a few minutes per day indulging in your joy will bring you more satisfaction than you can ever imagine. Give yourself the permission to do so.

New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be constrictive. Frame 2013 with some basic tenants toward living that will enhance your joy and allow you to Honor Your Spirit. Best wishes for a great year ahead!

Christopher

 

 

Life doesn’t always give you answers

In times of tragedy, it seems like all we have are questions, the most prevalent being simply: why?

In Colorado today, we’re finding ourselves burdened by that oppressive question as we come to terms with the details of a gunman who opened fire in a crowded movie theatre, killing 12 people and injuring more than 50. As the media dissect the story and as witnesses post to social media platforms, the images and emotions of the late night shooting are making their way outward into the world. And with every news story, every status update and every graphic image shared, the question arises again: why?

Why would someone kill innocent people? Why would this happen to innocent people? Why would the shooter booby trap his apartment knowing law enforcement would find it? Why? Why? Why? Like a song stuck in your head, the question of why is always just under the surface of your consciousness, poking its head up every so often, demanding to be heard and answered.

Faith often provides a framework for the question of “why?” but usually seems to only strengthen its hold on your awareness. For every rationalization and for every small bit of understanding gained, the “why monster” only gets bigger and hungrier. It wants more information, more clarity and more understanding. It doesn’t understand that no matter what your religion, your belief system, your view on life, some things in life simply are unanswerable on a level that makes any sense.

I firmly believe that All That Is (or whatever term you use for God) understands events like this and that ultimately there is a reason for them. But right here, right now, I’m locked into an ego-bound consciousness; and, that consciousness simply cannot process such tragedy. The ego interfaces with physical reality and therefore is subject to a limited range—that which it can see and hear and feel. The ego doesn’t have direct access to that part of me that’s connected with the divine and so it feels shut out and abandoned. What the ego cannot understand, it cannot accept.

So for the time being, I simply must rely on my faith in All That Is. I must trust that tragedies such as this morning’s shooting serve another purpose that I’m not yet privy to. I must trust that everyone involved directly with the tragedy is ultimately being led to something bigger and better, even if I can never see it in my lifetime. My own faith in All That Is tells me that my limited ego doesn’t need to know the answers. All of the “why’s” aren’t my concern and that by releasing my need to know why, I’ll actually feel more serenity.

To quell the “why? Monster,” I find I must turn my attention to the things that do make sense and that feel good. Already we’re seeing people come together in prayer for those affected by the shooting. I’ve witnessed parents hugging their kids and spouses reaffirming their love for one another. Like we had a few weeks ago with the forest fires that ravaged Colorado, there is an outpouring of love and concern for our state.

Narrowing our concentration to love and compassion for others and ourselves helps quiet the “Why? Monster.” It’s a monster that cannot be defeated during our time on earth so we must learn to work with it, to understand it, and release it when it gets too big.

For now, I hope you’ll join me in quiet reflection on those thoughts we can control: love for one another and compassion for those that were affected by the tragedy. Those actions and thoughts we can purposely direct and the intent to do so will be felt by everyone involved.

 

Chris

Denver, CO

7-20-12

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