One of the most confusing and conflicting truths that I’ve come across on my spiritual journey is the idea that we are all one while at the same time we are all individual souls that have come here to live a human life and experience humanity in this form.
Let me repeat that….
We are all one.
Our souls are individual in the sense that we’ve come here to learn/teach a specific lesson(s).
Carolyn Myss touches on this in her book, Sacred Contracts, and sure it makes sense, but it’s still confusing to the mind. I guess, that’s the problem – trying to use the mind to grasp something that can truly only be understood by stepping outside of the mind-chatter.
I work hard to do this; to step outside of myself and observe without judgment and labeling, but a learning obsession (even when it’s about spirituality!) is a learning obsession, and that uses the mind.
The mind wasn’t always the enemy it can be today, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about evolution. Modern evolution.
I mentioned to a friend this morning that I believe that our modern technology that has brought so much awareness to the global concerns occurring such as poverty and human rights is a part of our evolution. On a global scale many are growing more compassionate and striving for equality for all (in every sense of the word.) We are beginning to understand the true meaning of oneness and dissolve geographical boundaries.
The man-made environmental issues that plague us are another form of our evolution. As a species we’ve made some grave errors, and they need to be corrected if we are to sustain here on earth. The threats to our oceans and our food supplies are very real and I’ve heard the term “evolve or die” used many times before – harsh but many argue true.
Our health is making us evolve too. As humans we like to look outside of ourselves for the answer, and it’s hard to accept that we are alone responsible for our health. Our food choices, what we put on our skin, and how we nurture our spirits.
I’m really beginning to understand that our physical health is directly linked to our personal growth and the two go hand in hand. Sure one can exist independent of the other, but when the two meet magic can happen.
I’ve experienced it myself and am still going through it with my son. My health and spirit directly effect his health and spirit. He’s making me question, and challenge and ultimately, grow.
But right now I’m convinced that physical health is the new path of spiritual Evolution.
Last week I stumbled on an interview with Marianne Williamson and Marie Forleo and was once again, struck by how well-spoken and thoughtful Williamson is. Of the many spiritual authors out there Williamson is one of the very few who mash up Spirituality and Humanitarianism. Personally I believe the two go hand in hand, so I am always eager to hear her perspective and learn from her.
If this were three years ago, I may not have been as open to her work – she uses the Christian terminology that is rooted in the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles; namely, Miracles, Prayer and God, (not to mention the word Divine is in the title). This would have scared me off at one point, but I urge readers out there who are not used to using/hearing Christian terminology not to dismiss it because it has truly valuable lessons.
If there is one word I could use to describe this book, it would be this one: succinct.
Williamson utilizes every sentence to its maximum potential, and I love her for it. It’s right to the point, but at the same time it makes an impact.
This book is an important one that I wish was mandatory for all. I don’t know one person who doesn’t have some sort of money-related issue. Whether it is judgments of those who have money, fear of not having enough money, or uncertainty about how to make money, this book covers it all in perfectly built layers intertwined by prayer.
Williamson uses lesson from ACIM and real life situations as examples of how we hold ourselves back from abundance and how fear ultimately derails us from this path. As I listened to the audiobook (a short 3.5 hours), I found myself pausing frequently to take in her words. It’s been a long time since I’ve had this experience and it was exactly what I needed. In fact, I purchased a hard copy so I can highlight away and study further.
The Law of Divine Compensation is a gem, and we’d all be doing ourselves a favor if we picked up a copy, regardless of what our money situation or belief system is. And I love it so much I’ve decided to give away a copy.
Giveaway is now closed! Congrats to the winner Chris!
(Disclosure: All my thoughts & opinions, and giveaway provided by TCP)
I’ve been feeling it lately. The invisible pressure is there and it’s only a few months away.
What am I referring to?
My thirtieth birthday.
The lists are popping up all over the place; 30 things travelers should do before they turn 30, or 25 things to do under 25. It has seemed a bit daunting as I chose to have a family young (or, fill in the blank with your own experience) and didn’t have the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro yet.
Just this morning I came across an article about the Millennial/Gen Y obsession with Youth. So… I’m not alone. What a relief.
My main issue with all of this hype and all of these lists is that they are cementing in this idea that turning thirty is the end of our youth, and that’s bad.
But, I know a lot of thirty-somethings, and they seem pretty content. More free even? Definitely comfortable in their own skin.
So… instead of attaching ourselves to this idea of “lost youth”, I vote for embracing the new decade and welcoming it with open arms. I’ve come up with thirty helpful ideas on how we can make our thirties our best decade yet.
We can make it a decade of nourishment for our minds, bodies and spirits.
1. Question your Beliefs -Wayne Dyer said it best when he said, “A belief system is nothing more than a thought you’ve thought over and over again.” We become so attached to a certain way of thinking we close ourselves off to the wonders of open-mindedness. Start with your strongest beliefs, they may be the most rooted in fear.
2. Listen to Talk Radio – If you don’t already, spend a little time each day tuning in to NPR in the US or CBC Radio 1 in Canada. Empower yourself by learning about interesting people and important situations you may not otherwise hear of.
3 . Start getting regular therapeutic massages – Most of us sit with computers on our laps or in front of us, and spend just as much time looking down at our phones. We need to do ourselves a favor and prevent damage to our bodies now – a good therapeutic massage can help with this. I swear by them.
4. Eat Clean – I don’t have to tell you guys about the terrible food system. I know you’re conscious of it (and McDonald’s is shaking in their boots.) But – make a commitment – eat mostly clean if you can. Whole, fresh foods. (Click here for some suggestions.)
5. Start or Join a book club – Ask your friends and family if they know of one, and if you can’t find one to join, start one yourself. (And think outside the box. I just joined one on Instagram using a specific hashtag that we all follow. Love the medium!)
6. Become a better Listener – I recently shared 4 reasons why we should try to become better listeners. The reasons include raising others self-esteem, and becoming more present. Read them all over on Beliefnet.
7. Say Goodbye to Envy – I just wrote about envy yesterday and its relation to social media. But it doesn’t just end there. Read my friend Michelle’s take on Comparison which I believe is an extension of envy. It’s a “Thief of Joy.”
8. Keep Judgments at Bay – There are many reasons why judging others not only hurts them, but hurts us as well. Read more here about how (and why) you should try to stop judging others.
9. Get to know the Ocean – Nature has healing properties yes, and I’ve never met a problem that the ocean couldn’t help solve. This vast mass of water has an energy field that cleanses and heals. Make an effort to visit it as often as you can (which may be once every few years, but it’s better than nothing).
10. Get your Hands Dirty – A while back I wrote about the idea that when we grow plants, they have the exact nutrients and minerals in them that our specific bodies require, (this idea comes from Dr. Christiane Northrup). So – get your hands dirty and start planting some food. (Kale is one of the most popular veggies these days and so easy to grow!)
11. Act without Motive – When you choose to do something for someone else, NEVER expect anything in return. The same goes for work. It may seem unnatural when it comes to the work side – of course you want that raise, but don’t expect it.
12. Take walks without music – I love listening to music while I walk, but take a couple of days a week to just listen to silence. It’s an easy way to train your mind to quiet down if you are struggling with meditation or just beginning.
13. Read one of these books – Trust me on this.
14. Be the Change – Don’t let the passion you feel for a certain cause or social issue go to waste, turn it into action. Start by researching what is lacking and what is needed and go from there. You don’t have to be a billionaire to change the world.
15. Watch the sunrise once a week - this is a simple act that can help to ground you and serves to remind that we are, as Rumi said, a mighty ocean in a drop.
16. Eat dinner outdoors regularly - Mealtime has become something we “get through” during our otherwise busy lives. Eating outside slows things down and allows us to experience some presence in our day.
17. Take a solo trip - Have you taken a trip alone? If not, be sure to make some time to do so. You learn a lot about yourself when you do.
18. Make a vision board of your dreams – Turn your dreams into something concrete with a vision board. It can help you to become more clear on what you really want. Let your spirit take the lead on this one and you will be pleasantly surprised with how it turns out.
19. Question Your Definition of Success – I wrote about success recently and how you define it. Do you define it by your career? Read on…
20. Learn to Meditate – Or unlearn to think. Here is a great beginners guide… It all starts with a candle.
21. Close Your Eyes & Leap – Take a chance on a business, or relationship. Step out of your comfort zone. This is where the magic happens.
22. Merge Passion with Business – Make decisions in your career to get you to your dream – each move a step closer. The most successful businesses stem from passion. This simple choice will help you live a life of true happiness.
23. Let your Intuition Guide You – If you can become more familiar with the quiet side of life, you will also tap into your intuition. Decisions flow much more easily when they come from this space.
24. Embrace your uniqueness – I know, I know… this sounds like typical Gen Y jargon, but since we are coming of age in an era of narcissism – it’s important to address this. We’ve been masquerading as a group full of self-esteem that is actually quite insecure. Let’s truly embrace what makes us unique and run with it.
25. Put Grudges to Rest – Let the life-long (thus far) grudges fall silently to the wayside. High school, college, first jobs – they are far behind now. The ability to forgive is an important element to overall well-being. Start your thirties with a clean slate.
26. Let Go Of Broken Friendships – The ones that are hanging on by a thread. Just let it go. We are constantly evolving and sometimes those old friendships have served their purpose and are holding us back from our own growth. Silently wish them the best them and move forward.
27. Make Time For Quality Friendships – On the other end of the spectrum, we can get so caught up in our busy lives we often neglect our wonderful friendships. Our time together is precious, and we never know how long we have with this person, so make time.
28. Contemplate Life – If you haven’t already, spend some time reading the great philosophers of our day. Mix in some modern spiritual gurus.
29. Face your fears – I wrote about facing the fear of death at length with some tips on how to address it here. This goes for all fears.
Can I be honest here?
I’m an avid APP deleter.
I find that I’ve been scarred by so many imperfect Apps that I tend to shy away from adding too many to my phone – and much like the ability I have to determine whether or not I like a website within the first 10 seconds of landing on it – the same can be said with Apps.
Now that you know I’m a tough sell when it comes to Apps and my standards are (too) high, today I’ll be sharing my favorite personal growth, spiritual, and meditation Apps. They are good, I promise.
#1. Simply Being- FREE!
This is actually my favorite app! I use it every single day to put my son to sleep and leave it on during meditation or just while relaxing.
#2. The Power of Now Meditation Deck – $7.99
I love this deck as well. The cards are organized in an simple manner, there is a meditation timer, a place to make notes and I LOVE the random card feature. It always seems to know what I need.
If you’re a fan of Tolle, this is worth the $7.99.
I love Hay House Radio shows – and it’s nice to be able to tune in anytime, anywhere. Definitely recommend this one!
#4. Gratitude Journal – The Life Changing App – $3.99
My friend Alex opened my eyes to gratitude apps back in January – and since this time I’ve come to love one in particular; Gratitude Journal. I like this App because its visually pleasing (so many are not!), and it allows you to add pictures. It also has the option to password protect your app which I like. Two thumbs up here.
#5. Daily Deepak - FREE
There is always plenty happening at Deepak central. It’s a goodie at no charge to get the wheels churning in your head.
Editors Note: When I had the idea to discuss the topic of meditation this month, I immediately thought of the one person I know that has had a solid meditation practice in place for years – by Brother-in-law Eric. Lucky for me, he just happens to be a writer as well. This post provides everything you need to know to get started with meditation. It’s the perfect beginners guide! Thanks Eric!
Technology is continually exploding the amount of information we process. The Internet has become a conduit for so much intelligence it is literally impossible to keep up. Businesses and social lives have been swept up in the momentum; the need to stay current, perform jobs, raise kids, and maintain a social lives means that we have to be thinking, communicating, remembering things all the time.
When we spend most of our time in our heads we run the risk of identifying ourselves with the contents of our knowledge.
We can get so caught up in accomplishing things and remembering dates and processing ideas that we never stop thinking. Even when we’re not purposefully thinking, our minds wander to ideas and objects, memories and daydreams, perpetually.
When the brain is overtaxed our whole self pays the cost with anxiety and illness.
Meditation aims to give our minds a break from thinking, if only for a moment. The beautiful side effect of the practice is that minor successes or even failures can still help to tone down our mental noise. When the noise is reduced we can begin to unwind ourselves from the web of language and thought and realize that we are more than this. We have higher faculties like love and inspiration to attend to.
How do I meditate?
When I first sat down to meditate I was stumped. My brain had always been thinking, so not-thinking seemed very strange. I enjoyed reading books about meditating, which of course filled my mind with concepts and terms and goals and confusion.
I started by putting on very sedate music and stared at a candle. This got my brain used to intentional down time and gave my mind something to focus on. I realized my mind wanders because it has been consistently inundated with words and thoughts since birth. Our minds, being brought up in the culture they have, don’t know anything else.
Getting the mind to relax is tricky. The brain is connected by the central nervous system to our entire bodies. If there is any agitation or tension then our minds aren’t working at full capacity. This is why the physical side of yoga is effective. Hatha yoga is meant to gently open and awaken our nervous system, and to circulate the natural energies (be they blood, electrolytes, oxygen, prana, whatever you like). It can be hard to find the time, but physical relaxation is a crucial preparation for meditation.
Get into a comfortable position, one that lets you sit still for a long time. Stillness is the best situation to be in for meditation. If you can relax enough to essentially ‘forget’ your body, you’ll be able to pay greater attention to your mind. Make sure you aren’t going to fall asleep. Just sit quietly and pay attention to your thoughts as they arise. New thoughts will probably bubble up from your subconscious mind. That’s okay.
Notice though that if you intentionally think about a subject, you can move your mind forward along that train of thought without getting too distracted.
An active attention tends to block out the rising of subconscious thoughts. But an active attention finds correspondences in memory and can digress and ramble on ineffectually.
To avoid this we focus attention on our breathing. Without straining, we want to relax into slow, full breaths while keeping our mind trained on the gentle flux of breathing. Subconscious thoughts will still bubble up. That’s totally natural. When you catch yourself thinking about something, understand that it’s just a subconscious bubble.
Let the bubble burst, let the thought go, and ease your attention back onto the breath. Guess what…more thoughts arise. That’s fine. The more we do it, the better we get (like everything), so there is no need for frustration at these thoughts.
Soon you’ll find that you’re catching the thoughts at finer and finer stages. Eventually you might find your attention is completely absorbed in breathing and very few thoughts arise, or the thoughts that arise are quieter, less defined. When your mind slows its thought-generating process, it gets used to the idea that it doesn’t have to constantly whirl like a top to stay up.
You might find a moment of silence. This generally comes with a feeling of bliss.
If you can get that far, you might just meditate for the rest of your life. It worked for me. I meditate at least twice a day and have not missed a single session in many years. It is not a chore; it is something I look forward to every day.
Meditation practice is very personal, and we each develop our own way in our own time.
If you’re looking for more information on meditation techniques, the following books are a beautiful bridge from an ancient Indian tradition to today:
Eric R. Schiller writes and makes movies and music in Toronto. A self-guided veteran of inner exploration, Eric blogs weekly at EricRSchiller.com about spirituality, philosophy, culture, and art. Follow him on Twitter @EricRSchiller.
I have reviewed a few cookbooks on this blog – most recently Kris Carr’s Crazy, Sexy, Kitchen – and I didn’t anticipate featuring another anytime soon. Then, I ended up with a copy of Dr. Mark Hyman‘s newest effort, The Blood-Sugar Solution Cookbookand I had a change of heart.
Why? Because this book transcends generations.
I found it informative for myself and my own family, and it allowed me to spark a conversation with my Baby Boomer parents about their health as well.
Until I received a copy of this book I didn’t know much about Dr. Hyman, nor did I know a thing about The Blood Sugar Solution, his New York Times #1 Bestseller. Dr. Hyman gets down to business immediately in the Introduction, sharing eye-opening statistics (“in 1900 only 2% of meals were eaten outside of the home; today that number is over 50%”), and stating his thoughts about our need for a “Cooking Revolution.”
Thus far – the BSSC was unfolding like a compelling documentary. (Note: I found it VERY interesting that Europeans spend 20% of their incomes on food, while Americans spend only 9%! I am sure that Canada’s numbers are similar, and we all complain about high prices.)
As I continued on with the book, I began to wonder if it would be relevant to my personal situation. After all, I’m 29 – no diabetes, no high blood pressure, a pretty good diet – but Dr. Hyman summed it up best when he said, “The Blood Sugar Solution is all about the root cause of chronic disease…” And the reality is, now is the time for prevention.
The book covers a wide range of important subjects – how to stock your fridge and pantry, how to eat mindfully, details about the Glycemic Index, why you should cut out gluten and dairy. A very comprehensive guide to making a major lifestyle change.
When I hit the recipe section I was excited (and relieved) to see that generally, I cook my meals aligned with the principles he discusses in the book – meaning that my family is on a good path of prevention.
I cooked up Dr. Hymans Chinese Fried Quinoa and the Lemony Greek Pan-Roasted Chickpeas the first night I received the book, and as suspected, they were a hit. Super easy, super healthy, and super affordable.
I’m looking forward to diving in to The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook further, and believe this is a truly good option for any age group. As I mentioned, I was able to speak with my parents about their health thanks to this book, and I’m sure it would help you do the same if you have some concerns.
Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the cookbook from Dr. Hyman, and as always, the thoughts and opinions shared on this post are my own.