The thermostat of your soul

Your vibrational set point

It’s one of those days. You know the kind: when you wake up and from the get-go things just aren’t quite right. You try to brush off the feeling at first, assigning it to the “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed” category. You trudge on through your morning only to be bombarded by unexpected interruptions, negative emails and rude people wherever you turn.

We typically turn our heads to the universe in times like this and wonder aloud, “What the hell did I do to deserve this?” We look to reasons outside ourselves to understand why we are having these experiences. In essence, we’ve resigned ourselves to being victims of an uncaring universe.

The universe isn’t playing tricks on us. It’s giving us exactly what we’ve asked for, even if we’re not aware of it in the moment. The universe is reacting to our own energy field, utilizing the law of attraction to bring us more of what we’re putting out. And on a bad day, we’re giving out a lot of bad energy.

The universe responds to our Vibrational Set Point—the overall frequency of the energy present in our bodies and souls at any given time. That energy fluctuates throughout the day and throughout the week, but in totality, we tend to set a range of vibration that affects most of the things we experience.

Where does our energy come from?

Our outgoing energy comes in the form of thoughts and emotions. Each thought we have has an electromagnetic quality to it; the same holds true for emotions. And in the most basic of terms, the energy of our thoughts and emotions has a particular “weight” or “density” to it. Certain strong emotions and particular thoughts can have either a light or heavy density. Extreme anger, for example, has heavy density to it. Love, on the other hand, very light.

If science isn’t your thing, simply remember this: energy works on the premise of the law of attraction. So energy that you radiate goes out into the universe and seeks out similar types of energy. That energy comes back to you in the form of experience—situations and people that are carrying the same kind of energy.

Now, under normal circumstances, our thoughts and emotions tend to self-correct. That is, they ebb and flow through our awareness without much effort—the way it should be. People often get worried about their own negative thoughts or “bad” emotions, such as anger, sadness or jealousy. There is no general need for concern. Allowing emotions some freedom helps them move through the body and the mind quickly and (relatively) easily. So what trips us up?

The ego and energy

As is the usual case in self-development, the ego can really cause problems. When the ego tries to control thought and emotion, it acts like a damn, catching energy and holding it back until pressure begins to build. As this energy is pooled around us, it gets bigger and denser until we have a hard time clearing it. And when dense energy (read: negative thoughts or unwanted emotions) says with us, we continue to attract bad things into our lives.

Don’t blame the ego, per se. It feels as if it’s doing its duty by reminding us of how reality really is. It tries hard, really it does. Unfortunately, the ego’s reality is based solely on what it observes from the immediate environment. Sometimes it asks for help from the intellect, which tries to apply reasoning to explain why the world operates the way it does. This is a false premise and it’s where we get in trouble.

Let me give an example to illustrate this better. This morning, I received an email from a co-worker that set me off. Before I could even finish reading it, my blood started to boil and I was thinking of ways to respond, none of which were appropriate. I caught myself at first, trying to put the email out of my mind while I ate breakfast and got ready for the day. It didn’t work.

My ego became involved early in this case. I took the information in the email personally; I felt I was being wrongly blamed for a failed work project. Since the ego wants to protect the self (me), it took the information on face value. Certainly, the ego reasoned, the email was aimed specifically at me and I had better start preparing an appropriate response to it. In English terms, the ego said, “How dare she?!? How are we going to fight this?” The ego wouldn’t let my conscious mind look for contrary evidence; it had already made up its mind who was at fault.

Despite my best efforts to forget the whole thing, even for a few moments, my mind wandered back to the email repeatedly and I would get angry all over again. Once the ego got involved, it was almost impossible to let go of the thoughts and related emotions. It’s pretty easy to see what’s happening at this point: the ego was damming up negative energy and it was growing bigger and bigger by the minute.

As the day progressed, things just got worse. I found myself attracting negativity wherever I went. The line at the coffee shop was out the door; drivers were rude on the street; some jerk almost hit my car when he was parking next to me. The list went on and on. My overall energy had fallen into a dangerous zone and I was attracting more of the same (remember the law of attraction?) wherever I went.

Back to your Vibrational Set Point

We tend to only think about our own Vibrational Set Point when we’re dealing with so-called negative emotions and for good reason. It’s uncomfortable. It brings bad things into our lives. But the same holds true for the opposite. A higher Vibrational Set Point can also bring things into our lives, such as love, abundance, happiness, joy and serenity.

On an average day, your Vibrational Set Point will usually be set to a range that works best for you. Are you generally a happy person? Are you frequently sad? Are you prone to anger or jealousy? Or my personal favorite: are you always sarcastic? We each have tendencies that feed overall into our energy field. As we have experiences such as my bad day above, we move the needle of our Vibrational Set Point, inching it closer to negativity or positivity.

Your Vibrational Set Point sets the stage for future experiences. It’s important to remember that so that you can learn to attract what you want instead of what you don’t.

It’s a moment-by-moment job

So if the goal is to have a Vibrational Set Point that’s at the higher end of the scale, i.e. in the range of positivity and love, how do we get there? It starts with becoming aware of your thoughts, emotions and energy at multiple points throughout the day. And when you find yourself moving down the scale, it’s time for action.

As I said earlier, thoughts and emotions naturally move through the mind and body. Left alone, a good percentage of your thoughts and intense emotions will probably pass in a moment’s time. It’s when those thoughts and emotions get stuck that you’ll want to take notice.

If you find yourself ego-obsessed with a negative thought or emotion, rouse your consciousness to do something about it. This takes work and practice. It takes a commitment to self-development. I won’t lie to you: it can be hard. I spent the better part of the day purposely trying to change my Vibrational Set Point. After many attempts, I was finally able to pull my ego out and allow my vibration to rise.

On the other hand, if you find yourself dwelling on happy feelings and reliving say a wonderful call from a friend, stay with it. Look for other things that match the vibration, like petting your dog or taking a moment to appreciate the sunset. Enjoy the feeling; revel in it. Ride it like a wave.

Becoming aware of ego-bound thoughts and emotions is the first step in changing them. Sometimes, it may seem impossible to move higher up the scale when you’re faced with a difficult thought or emotion. Realize this is where you’re stuck and remind yourself that staying stuck will only bring you more of the same. This is the all-important “choice point.” You can stay stuck or you can move out of it. Be brave and set your intention to re-set your system.

Reality Challenge

To help become aware of your Vibrational Set Point and understand how it forms your future experiences, take the next two days to examine what you’re thinking and feeling. Combine this with short journal entries so you remember what you were doing at the time. Simply note how you’re feeling and where your mind is. For example:

Time               Activity           Thoughts                                            Emotions

12:15 p.m.      Gardening      Dreaming of new garden ideas       Good; happy; excited

3:00 p.m.        Lunch             Enjoying Mary’s company                Content

5:00 p.m.        Phone call      Repetitive thoughts about project  Angry, consumed

Try this exercise for two days. This way you can begin to see what kind of energy you are attracting to yourself. Of course, if you’re having a day like I did today, it will be pretty easy to see how a change in vibration can add up to a whole different day. If you find yourself becoming ego-bound in negative thought or emotion, stop and see if you can change course. Distract yourself, pamper yourself, do whatever it takes. If nothing else, realize you have a choice in how you feel and respond and then let it go.

With awareness and practice, you can learn to change your Vibrational Set Point. Learning to adjust your vibrational thermostat to a higher frequency will not only change your attitude but your future as well.

Stop feeding the bears (metaphysically speaking)

Stop putting energy into things that can harm your spirit

Some things seem like a good idea until we have more time, distance and understanding behind us. As in nature, we must stop feeding the things that unknowingly harm us so that we can grow and develop.

The photo above is one of my favorites from my dad. In the late 50s and early 60s, this was a common occurrence in Yellowstone National Park. Visitors would often stop along the road to gawk at the local brown bears and be amused at the way they begged for food. Not wanting to disappoint them, visitors would feed the bears anything handy: sandwiches, potato chips, cookies—you name it.

While this practice seems innocuous, it’s actually rather harmful to both the bears and to humans. The bears became dependent on the handouts from park visitors. They developed a hankering for human food and would flock to the roadways to wait for their next meal. They would go into campgrounds, searching for food left in coolers and on tables. In time, bears were getting killed on the roadways. Cars were broken into and destroyed. Some campers were even injured because of overzealous bears looking for food.

So what does all this have to do with spirituality and self-development?

We all have symbolic bears that we feed. Sometimes the bears are entertaining; sometimes they’re a little more ferocious. In either case, it’s important to recognize when we’re feeding something that doesn’t serve our higher purpose. It’s critical to withdraw the food source to help set us (and the bears) free.

I became sensitive to this topic recently by watching activity on Facebook. Since this is an election year, Facebook is often full of comments, links and commentary from both sides of the political fence. I’m happy to have friends who are passionate about politics; I feel we need activists to help advance certain causes and people. Make no mistake, it’s not my thing, but I’m glad they’re around nonetheless.

A number of friends and acquaintances, however, are feeding the political bears. Rather than promoting a favorite candidate or cause, they spend all of their time bashing the other side. They’re feeding the negativity around the other person or the other side of the issue and they’re causing it to come back again and again.

It’s not just my friends who do this; our media are to blame as well. All too often the media spend a disproportionate amount of time covering the negative characteristics of a candidate or issue rather than all of the glorious supporting evidence. The media—and my friends—are handing over their sandwiches to the bears and the bears are getting bigger and hungrier.

Some of these energy bears hide under the guise of entertainment. For example, a friend of mine likes to point out every news article highlighting the foibles of a particular political candidate. His comments to each story seem innocent enough: “Can you believe this guy?” “Wow, and I thought he couldn’t get any more stupid!” or “This has now become entertaining!” My friend thinks he’s sharing information that makes his chosen candidate look better by disparaging the opposition. But in reality, he’s giving energy to exactly what he does not want. His attention is locked on the opposing candidate and he’ll quickly find that there will be more irritating stories to post and laugh at.

When we feed anything with our thoughts, attention and energy, we’re giving life to it. The more we think about an issue, the bigger it becomes. The more we obsess about a person, the closer we draw them to us. The more we focus on the negative aspects of something, the more we create of those same annoying aspects.

Too many times, we’re purposely stopping the car on the roadway to gawk at the bears and give them something to eat. It’s time for a different approach.

Don’t stop the car

As amusing as those little energy bears can be, it’s best to keep on driving. The bears (opposing issues, candidates, causes) will continue to exist whether you stop the car or not. When you detach your attention to these things, they lessen their impact on you. By purposely deciding to keep moving forward, you acknowledge that the issues or people exist but you don’t need to give them your undivided attention. You are consciously withdrawing energy from them.

No sending postcards, either

Just because you don’t see the bear in person doesn’t mean you can’t feed it. Every time you see a story that you find amusing and want to send to your friends, think about what kind of energy you’re sending out into the world (and back to yourself). If your motivation is to pick out the stupidity of the story or attack the subject, you’re feeding the bears. Every time you find yourself relaying a story at the water cooler about these issues or people, you’re feeding the bears.

Becoming vigilant about your attention will help you realize when you’re venturing into bear feeding country. If you can catch yourself in time, don’t forward the story or continue to tell it. Or, look for something that glorifies the person or issue you support. Tell that story instead. Keep your focus on what you want rather than on what you don’t want.

Find something else to amuse you

If you’ve ever driven through Yellowstone, you know there is an abundance of beauty to hold your attention. The bears aren’t the only interesting things on the side of the road. Buffalo, Elk, wildflowers, majestic mountains, open meadows all vie for your attention. The same is true in life. When you open your eyes to the magic of the world, you’ll find plenty to smile about. You’ll find new things to ponder.

As you turn your attention toward these beautiful new things, those pesky energy bears will fade away into the background. You might catch a glimpse of them in the rearview mirror. Smile at them, release them from your attention and turn your head back to the road ahead. It’s glorious from the driver’s seat.




Stop turning to karma for revenge

According to many social media contributors, we can conveniently call upon karma to fix almost any nefarious act we choose. Your girlfriend cheated on you? That’s okay, karma will get her. Your boss demoted you? No worries, karma will step in and save the day. Karma has now become a catchall phrase that evokes the desire for retribution and revenge for anything from divorce to financial hardship to car accidents.

But what most people don’t see is their own role in the karmic process. They don’t understand that they are as much responsible for those acts as the person who committed them. Knowing this, karma really can be a bitch as well as a good friend.

In traditional Eastern cultures, karma was thought of in terms of reincarnation: “paying” in this life for “mistakes” made in the last. It was viewed as a balancing mechanism, giving individuals the chance to make good on wrongs committed in previous lifetimes. But in recent years, the concept of karma has taken on new meaning.

Today’s more popularized version of karma is also based on the theory of balance. Westerners treat karma as an unseen force that rights perceived wrongs by having someone else suffer in a like manner. For example, when someone has been the victim of a so-called egregious act, they call upon karma to fix the situation by having the perpetrator suffer the exact same act. They feel justified and vilified by having that person experience their own pain.

How often do we hear friends and family members shout to the universe, “karma’s a bitch!” and then patiently wait for the universe to impose a justified payback that looks just like the original crime?

If only it were that simple

In conscious creation terms, karma has a somewhat different meaning. Your emotions, thoughts, beliefs and actions all have an energetic basis. When that energy goes out into the universe, it seeks out like energy to create your everyday life. This “law of attraction” takes your energy and lines it up for you to experience life in matching terms. To most people, that sounds nice as long as they’re talking about “good” or “wanted” manifestations. But what about the bad?

How do “you” fit in with karma?

By the time you experience an event—any event—you are at the tail end of an energetic exchange. Your beliefs, thoughts and emotions have already been broadcast to the world and found like-minded energy to interact with. A physical manifestation occurs and sometimes you like the outcome and sometimes you don’t.

That means you are responsible for creating your world and the events within it. And when you experience something unwanted, you want someone to blame. You want someone else to pay for the pain and suffering you’re experiencing. You want your friends, your family and even the woman standing next to you to acknowledge that you were wronged. And the best way to get that affirmation is to see someone else get exactly what you did.

In these terms then, many people turn to karma to justify their own reaction. An example: Someone sideswipes your car and takes off without leaving contact information. You’re furious! You justify your reaction to a friend: “karma’s a bitch. He’ll get his!” In actuality, you’ve already received yours.

Unknowingly, you have broadcast some pretty powerful energy into the universe. In the example above, perhaps you’ve been thinking about how you can’t trust other people to treat your property with care and respect. Maybe you’ve been feeling unsafe and are thoroughly convinced that the rest of the world is out to get you. The possibilities are endless and usually complicated. You don’t consciously think, “I want my car sideswiped today,” but you’re definitely giving off signals that are pulling event toward you. Since you don’t understand why you’ve created such turmoil, you ask for help from outside yourself.

You think about karma. You start to feel better believing that the universe will take care of the wayward driver. Your focus is on him and the fact that you were wronged. In essence, you feel powerless in the situation and hope that praying to the karmic gods will make you feel better. You dream that some day, some how, the other driver will have his own car side swiped and equalize the situation.

Now, those thoughts of karma and retribution and the focus upon negative events do something even worse—they create more of the same. The energy you’re emitting is composed of several dastardly ingredients: anger, victimhood, revenge, powerlessness and more. And the result of all of those thoughts and feelings will be, you guessed it, more of the same…for you.

Knowing this doesn’t help most people feel better, but it can.

Using karma as an indicator of your thoughts

Being aware of your desire for karma to kick-in for others can be a big help to understanding your own thoughts and emotions. When you find yourself in an undesirable situation and start to turn your thoughts toward revenge, train your mind to recognize you have created something that you don’t want. From there, you can refocus your thoughts and energy into more constructive directions.

Take our car example above. Instead of turning to karma to rectify the situation, immediately recognize that you yourself have created the event. Something in your thoughts, feelings, or actions has caused you to send out a signal that manifested the event. Take it easy on yourself, since most of this has been unconscious on your part.

Next, start asking questions of yourself. Why do you feel anger? Was it respect for your property? Was it feeling helpless in the world? Be aware of the thoughts you are wishing toward another person and then turn them around on yourself. Start probing into your own beliefs about safety, respect and karma. The more you investigate your beliefs and thoughts, the further you’ll understand your own role in the situation.

Remember, taking responsibility for what you’ve created is the first step in realizing that you have the power to change it. Self-empowerment begins with self-awareness and responsibility. You’re learning (as we all are) to create with your beliefs, feelings and thoughts and it takes time and practice to master these creations.

But what about the other person?

The other person—the perpetrator—has also allowed his or her energy to match yours. They, too, have beliefs about reality and are learning to create as well, consciously or unconsciously. Try as you might, you can’t control another person, so focusing on yourself is the best starting place for your own growth and development.

Does having these experiences mean you shouldn’t get mad, angry or upset? Not by any means. It’s always appropriate to feel and allow your feelings to flow as they come up. Get angry, cry, stomp your feet, beat your fists against a pillow. Engage in healthy, non-harming forms of emotional release. Feel your emotions and then let them go. The trick is to not stay stuck in them and create more of the same. Allow yourself the time to experience the frustration then set it aside and learn more about yourself and how you can change reality for the better.

Karma really is about understanding the energy you’re putting out into the universe and seeing how it is manifested in your everyday experience. Understanding it, learning from it, and adjusting your thoughts accordingly is the best way to honor your spirit.

Put your heart in it

Things that sound silly

Many new age and spiritual concepts sound a little strange at times. For that matter, ice cream probably sounded strange when it was first served. But it’s that strangeness that keeps people from trying spiritual techniques and stumbling upon ideas that honor the spirit.

When I first heard the concept of “sending love to somebody,” I, too, thought the idea sounded a little crazy. I read about the technique in Cheryl Richardson and Louise Hay’s book, You Can Create An Exceptional Life. The idea is to send love to someone—anyone—in situations where a little extra love and energy are needed.

I’m not sure why the concept sounded silly to me. I’ve practiced Reiki for almost 10 years and regularly use it to send energy to love ones and others who need a little help. Using prayer is an accepted technique that millions around the world use everyday and it’s also a form of “sending love.” While the concepts certainly weren’t new to me, I realized why the contextual concept sounded strange.

When I deliberately send love or energy to someone, I’m usually at home, sitting on my meditation stool. If I see someone having a bad day, I may think about them later driving home and try to mentally give them a little boost. Or I’ll keep them in my thoughts as I drift off to sleep. It dawned on me that I had never used the technique in the immediate moment with the other person in the room. As if by magic, the universe delivered an opportunity for me to try it out last week.

Testing the concept

My boss came into my office about 4:45 p.m. on Friday to respond in person to an email I had sent earlier. One look at her face and I knew she was angry. She leaned over my desk and immediately began justifying her take on a particular issue. She was not only angry, but she was an angry at me. As I tried to gently respond to her without getting sucked into her energy stream, she began to reference another coworker and some other issues our department was facing.

On cue, the coworker appeared at my door and knew she was being drawn into the conversation. Her face flushed and I could feel her defensiveness radiating from several feet away. As my boss and coworker barbed, I realized that the email was just the tip of the iceberg. They were using the email as a starting point to release pent up energy on a variety of topics. At a quarter-to-five on Friday afternoon, there was much to be released.

Suddenly, I realized two things. First, I was no longer the object of hostility by my boss or the coworker. Second, this might be one of those times where sending energy may be a good idea. Once again the thought flashed through my head that this may be silly to even try but the pain and frustration of these two women moved me to do anything to help sooth the energy in the room.

Give it a “go”

Instead of closing my eyes, I enhanced my focus on each of the women. I placed my awareness on my chest and heart and visualized it opening up and exploding light outward from my body. As I did this, they both looked at me which temporarily shocked me into thinking the idea was silly. Still, I persisted and even meet both of their gazes as they continued to talk.

I felt and visualized light and energy flowing from my heart and surrounding each of them. Intuitively, I could feel my boss was requiring more of the energy so I allowed it to flow naturally to her. I alternated between feeling the energy and allowing my consciousness to return to each of them and meet their eyes back and forth. Since I was not being asked any questions, I was able to remain silent and really concentrate on the energy exchange.

But does it work?

After a few minutes I could sense a change. Each woman’s posture relaxed and I could tell they were allowing their defenses to fall away. I kept at my visualization for a few moments until the energy of the room—and the women—each felt different. I felt lighter yet perfectly grounded in my chair. I wasn’t even aware of the conversation between the two but could tell that some common ground had been reached. We agreed to meet on Monday and talk about the issue after we had more information.

To the casual observer, it may have looked as if the women simply talked things through. But knowing each of them well, I know that under normal circumstances, the conversation and the energy would have tipped the scales and exploded into a more serious event. I truly believed sending love and energy to them helped quell their anxiousness and negativity.

For my own benefit, I realized I wasn’t drawn into the negative energy vortex in the slightest. I became a detached observer even though I was technically part of the conversation. Since it was almost quitting time, I certainly didn’t want to start the weekend on a sour note.

Try it; you might like it

It takes courage to try new spiritual concepts especially if you have an audience while you’re doing it. That was the hardest part for me: overcoming my own resistance to look foolish during an act of kindness to someone else. Yet I’m glad I took the chance and was able to help ease a tense situation.

Silly or no, when the desire to help someone who’s hurting is strong enough, you’ll find a way to act. I’m glad I could overcome the strangeness of “sending love to someone” and now look forward to using the technique again. And hopefully I’ll be more open to other such strange suggestions in the future. But first, ice cream awaits.