Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Month: December 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

Best of Always Well Within – 2010

Exceptional blog posts

“Dig within. Within is the wellspring of good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

I believe wholeheartedly that every single one of us can learn how to be Always Well Within.

With encouragement, insight, and dedication, we can reconnect with our own inner spring of lasting happiness and profound well-being.

Never doubt the goodness that lies within you.  At times, it may seem like a buried treasure, but it’s always there to be found.

This is the underlying message of every post at Always Well Within, and the driving force behind this blog.

Thank you for reading my blog. I genuinely hope that my articles have influenced your life in a positive way, bringing more meaning, perspective, inspiration, and happiness to you.

I’m enormously grateful for all the joy, love, and insight you have given to me!   Your comments are truly remarkable in their depth of feeling, profound perspective, creative ideas, and uplifting spirit.  You enrich my life each and every day.  Regardless of whether you’ve ever left a comment or not, I appreciate your readership and support.  If you have a moment, I have some questions for you at the end of this post.

Exceptional Posts from Always Well Within 2010

Over the last 9 months, I’ve published 142 posts.  These are the ones that shine the brightest in your eyes and mine.

Top 20 posts based on the number of views:

  1. 100 Inspirational Quotes to Celebrate 100 Blog Posts
  2. High Oxalate Foods Can Trigger Pain and Inflammation
  3. Retraining the Brain for CFS, FMS, MCS, PTSD, GWS
  4. The Low Oxalate Diet
  5. 11 Ways to Reduce Your Oil Use
  6. The Health Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths
  7. Timeless Blogging Advice: 12 Great Links
  8. Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?
  9. One Powerful Word: A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions
  10. Bird Safety, Teflon, and a Teflon-free Rice Cooker
  11. 5 Steps to Diffusing Anger
  12. 21 Ways to Simply Be
  13. Low Oxalate Greens
  14. Expert Advice on Writing Faster Blog Posts
  15. Are Hidden Food Sensitivities Making You Miserable?
  16. The Revolution Begins Within
  17. Is Attachment Destroying Your Happiness?
  18. Energy Medicine for a Wacky Immune System
  19. How to Meditate: Eight Simple Steps
  20. Happiness Is An Inside Job

Special Series

Mini-Mind Challenges

In September, I began a weekly series of reflective exercises – Mini-Mind Challenges – to help us uproot our limiting thoughts, emotions, views, and habits.   Here are a few favorites:

Guest Posts, Collaborations, Special Mentions

I enjoy being part of a vibrant community of personal development bloggers.  These are some of the special interactions I’ve been honored to be a part of in 2010.

My Guest Articles

Guest Posts at Always Well Within


Special Mentions

Do You Have Any Suggestions ?

If you have a few moments, I would love to hear any feedback you have about the content offered at Always Well Within.  I’m not seeking compliments!  I’m just curious to know more about your interests and how my writing can better serve you.  Here are some questions that have been floating around in my mind.  Don’t feel you need to answer them all.

  1. What brings you to Always Well Within?
  2. What would you like me to focus on in 2011?
  3. Which are your favorite topics?
  4. Which topics interest you the least?
  5. Do you think I focus on too many different topics?
  6. Do you like the word “mini-mind challenge”.  If not, do you have a better suggestion.
  7. Any other suggestions?

Thank you so much for your input.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year! May all your dreams come to fruition in 2011.  May you always be well, happy, and safe.

If you liked this post please share the link with others.  Thanks so much.  Sandra

Blogging: Passion or Obsession?

The mirror of blogging

I’ve been reading too many stories of bloggers dropping in exhaustion, suffering from serious eye-strain, or blogging all hours of the day and night.

Doesn’t that sound more like obsession than passion?

“Passion” is a frequently used word in the blogosphere. It dots the bios of untold numbers of bloggers.  The pros strongly encourage passion. They say passion magnetizes new readers and sets your blog apart.

All well and good, but what happens when passion blossoms into obsession and begins to intrude into other areas of your life?

Katie Tallo shares the impact of passionate blogging gone wild on her life:

“I am done with being hooked up to my laptop like it’s life support. I am done with getting the slow drip of injections from my social network feeds and riding the euphoric waves of rising feedburner counts. That’s not breathing fully and being alive. That’s actually me gasping for breath because I’ve jumped on some virtual bandwagon that’s headed somewhere I don’t want to go.”

Do you ever feel that way?  Keep reading, help is on the way.

The Fine Line Between Passion and Obsession

The New Oxford American Dictionary is a good starting point for distinguishing between passion and obsession.

Passion: “An intense desire or enthusiasm for something.”

Obsession: “The state of being obsessed with someone or something. An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind [to a troubling extent].

Obsess: Origin: “late Middle English (in the sense ‘haunt or possess’, referring to an evil spirit): from Latin obsess; ‘besieged.'”

Do you sometimes feel overly preoccupied with or besieged by blogging?  Or, even haunted or possessed by a blogging demon?  Here’s a little quiz to elucidate the the possibilities along the obsession spectrum:

  1. Is your blog the first thought that arises in your mind when you wake?
  2. Is blogging the last thought as you retire for the night?
  3. Do you dream of blogging?
  4. Is your mind so active with blogging ideas and fantastic plans you have trouble falling asleep?
  5. Do you wake in the night with a blog puzzle to solve?
  6. Has the time you spend on blogging doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled in size?
  7. Do you work on your blog and its related activities each and every day of the week?
  8. Does blogging take time away time from your family or friends?
  9. Are you cutting short your exercise, relaxation, and fun to meet your blog deadlines?
  10. Do you blog in the evening? On weekends?
  11. Do you read blogs or about blogging while eating your meals?
  12. Is blogging all you talk about?
  13. Are you setting your schedule or is the blogging phantom calling the shots?

Blogging is like a mirror.  It shows you precisely where you need to work on your own personal development. If you tend to be obsessive, it will show you obsession. If your style is to be a perfectionist, it will mirror that back. If you have trouble staying in-balance, that’s the picture you’ll see.

What’s blogging showing to you?

I love blogging. I could blog endlessly. But I know that’s not necessarily good. I need balance in my life. How about you?

I don’t like the way blogging sneakily intrudes into every nook and cranny of your life just like The Blob from outer space. First, you innocently fall in love with blogging. Then, the honeymoon’s over and there’s blog promotion, social media, tutorials, networking, commenting, article marketing, writing every day, reading widely, guest posting, blogging clubs, webinars, podcasts, and the list goes on.

Ah, the lure of obsession truly abounds!  You can easily become overwhelmed – frazzled, fried, and fit to be tied.  But all this doing too much and striving to do even more just leads to constant stimulation, which is so very bad for you.

Another danger is thinking too much. Blogging is like a full-time thought-promulgator.  That’s why blogging pros recommend carrying a small notebook with you at all times to capture all those marvelous post ideas constantly popping in your head.

But personally, I don’t like endless thoughts about blogging – or anything else – cluttering the clear space of my mind.  Too  much thinking disconnects you from so many of the simple joys that surround you in life.

The Solution:  Creating Boundaries and Letting Go

The solution is to create boundaries and then let go. Boundaries can be determined by quantity or time.  For example, set a a limit on:

  • The number of posts you write each week.
  • The word count for each post.
  • The amount of time you give to writing, editing, and preparing a post.
  • The amount of total time you blog each week.
  • The days that you blog.  Sunday or weekends off, for example.
  • The amount of time you spend on social media.
  • The number of guest posts you write. 

Use your imagination to create any type of boundary that will serve you best.  Just try one boundary at a time and see how it goes.  When it’s well established, add another.

Of course, once you establish  boundaries, you have to be willing to respect them and let go. Yes, that means standing firm and refusing to do more.  Something only you can do.

I Love Blogging, I Don’t Love Obsession

In recent months, I’ve weathered periods when I’ve felt compelled – almost driven – to blog beyond my limits.  There’s no obvious reason for this as I’m not dependent on blogging for a livelihood.  I can resist.  It’s simply old pesky obsessive habits trying to get the best of me.

Gradually, I am learning to set healthy limits in blogging and all areas of my life.  Smart boundaries preserve the joy of blogging and will save your own health and sanity too.

I’ve now settled into a comfortable rhythm of posting twice a week.  I try to give my all in each post, focusing on quality rather than numbers for numbers’ sake.  I love blogging because it allows me to share, serve, connect, and express.  But, I especially love blogging in a balanced way that leaves ample time for other important and special activities – meditation, nature, gardening, reading, gentle exercise and the great guy in my life.

Has blogging intruded into other areas of your life? How have you set limits?

Image from  funchey

If you enjoyed this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much! Sandra

Is a Lack of Forgiveness Holding You Back?

Pu'uhonua, The Place of Refuge and Forgiveness

Pu'uhonua, The Place of Refuge

Whether you are unforgiving or the unforgiven, a sense of peace will prove elusive as long as bitterness or unrelenting guilt resides in your heart.

The same applies when you are unable to forgive yourself for a past transgression.

I know all too well – from my own personal experience – that it’s not always easy to forgive.  Perhaps this explains the tremendous power in forgiveness to fully free your spirit.

I usually don’t hold onto grudges.  But, one time, I felt so deeply betrayed that it seemed almost impossible to forgive.  I wanted to forgive, but the sense of betrayal seemed embedded in my body. I could hardly think of the person, see their photo, or be in their presence without a visceral reaction. Of course, that visceral reaction only harmed me, but logic would not prevail.

It took time. In the end, what worked for me was making an aspiration – a prayer – to be able to forgive. Simply wishing again and again to have the capacity to forgive magically opened the way for me.

Reflection:  The Place of Refuge

To inspire today’s reflection, I’ve selected this description of the “Place of Refuge” on the Big Island of Hawai’i, a monument to forgiveness and peace.

“In the Hawaiian world order, there was always room for forgiveness. Transgressors of the strict and sacred laws of the land could always find redemption and a second chance waiting if they could make it to the Pu’uhonua, Place of Refuge. Those who persevered, overcoming all obstacles and their pursuant, surely must have felt the grace of the gods.

The Hawaiin kapu system was a strict and severe codification of sacred laws. The chiefs ruled with a heavy hand. A transgression could mean punishment by death. However, if you could make it to the Pu’uhonua you could receive absolution and prayers form the kahuna before returning to your family and community to start anew.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, known to be the largest Place of Refuge, stands as a monument of peace and forgiveness, a sacred ground where life can begin again.”

– from Keola Magazine, November -December 2010

As the old year comes to a close and the new year presents an opportunity for a fresh start, you might want to take a moment to reflect on whether a lack of forgiveness is tainting your life in any way.  Even holding onto a small grievance can get in your way.

  • Is there someone you need to forgive?
  • Do you need to make amends and ask for forgiveness?
  • Do you need to forgive yourself?  Have you been overly harsh with yourself?

I’ve learned that forgiveness begins when we make the wish to forgive or to be forgiven.

The true place of refuge is not external – it exists within your own heart.

While you too may encounter many obstacles on your way to this inner place of sanctuary, never give up. True forgiveness will indeed occur once you set your heart on it. It just may take a little time.  Forgiveness is a process, but you can start in any moment.  As the saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

What has helped you to forgive and forget?

Photo: The National Park Service

This article is part of a weekly series of reflective exercises to help you uproot limiting thoughts, emotions, views, and habits. See more mini-mind challenges.

If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much!  Sandra

When to Make a Change, When to Let Go?

Eileen Flanagan

Eileen Flanagan is a leader in the Quaker community

When to change, when to let go?

It’s a profound question that each of us will be faced with countless times throughout our life.  Whether the question pertains to leaving a job, receiving cancer treatment, or another challenging decision, the best choice is not always clear.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference, When to Change – and When to Let Go, written by Eileen Flanagan – a leader in the Quaker community – explores this fundamental question from a diversity of angles.

This enlightening read is a rich guide to the essence of both personal growth and spiritual evolution, which – in a nutshell – is the magical dance between wholehearted surrender or full force change.

The Serenity Prayer

The Wisdom to Know the Difference is inspired by the deeply meaningful Serenity Prayer, which has been a source of refuge to millions during times of personal upheaval.  At the same time, the book draws upon the teachings of many faith traditions including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.  It also includes knowledge garnered from the field of psychology and programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Here is the most famous version of the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can change
And wisdom to know the difference.”

People often feel stuck with their lot in life.  Flanagan argues that it’s crucial to distinguish between letter go and giving up.  She says:

“On the one hand, this book rejects the idea that God decided your lot in life long ago, so if your are poor, or sick, or in a bad marriage, it is because ‘you were put on this earth to suffer’… That theology may lead to surrender, but not serenity.”

“On the other hand, this book also rejects the recently popular pseudo-spirituality that claims that the universe is a vending machine at your command and you can have whatever you want if you just visualize it, an approach that tends to focus people on their material wants rather than on wisdom.”

7 Spiritual Principles to Help You Live Fearlessly

Change?  Surrender?  What to do?  How do you know?

The Wisdom to Know the Difference offers 7 different but interconnected approaches to help you decided, each one the focus for a full chapter.  Flanagan calls them  “7 spiritual lessons to help you live fearlessly.”

  1. The Courage to Question
  2. Knowing Yourself
  3. Seeking Divine Wisdom
  4. Shifting Your Perspective
  5. Practicing Loving Acceptance
  6. Letting Go of Outcomes
  7. Finding Wisdom in Community

The book offers a wealth of personal stories to illustrate how real people – like you and me – employed these seven strategies to find clarity in the midst of difficult.  At the same time, it draws upon the spiritual wisdom of the ages.  Each chapter ends with a series of “queries” – thought-provoking reflections – to help you access your own inner spring of wisdom.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference is truly a treasure trove of deep and transformative wisdom. Chances are you will want to sip and savor each chapter to allow its clarity, beauty, and wisdom to deeply penetrate your mind, heart, and soul.  On the other hand, a particular theme might just call to you and be your perfect starting part.

I know you will find so much courage and guidance in the many real-life stories contained in this book.  They are like blueprints for navigating change and surrender.  Witnessing someone else’s courage can give you exactly the impetus you need to change or surrender yourself.

A Taste of Wisdom

This book is so replete with inspiration, ideas,  stories, and practical wisdom that I find it impossible to cover the full territory in a short book review.  So, I thought I would share 12 inspirational quotes gathered from among the pages to give you a taste of The Wisdom to Know the Difference.

  • “When I talk about changing your mind, it is not to become someone different from who you really are.  It is to strip away the socially conditioned, limited thoughts of the False Self to discover the person you were made to be, focusing on your deep joy instead of your superficial wants or fears.”
  • “Accepting yourself, faults included, is a pre-requisite to wisdom.”
  • “Self-discovery is a life-long process.”
  • “Listening within is crucial to accessing wisdom.”
  • “Excessive business can also lead to stress and anxiety, known to make inward listening more difficult.”
  • “Our thoughts are powerful, but part of the reason they are so powerful is that they often determine our actions.”
  • “The people in our lives can often help us develop self-knowledge, reflecting our strengths and weaknesses to us like a mirror.  We do not need to believe everything everyone tells us, but we should be open to the possibility that others see things about us that we don’t.”
  • “Divine guidance is not always so rapid or clear.  Many people experience it as more of a gradual dawning, like a sunrise rather than a lightening bolt.”
  • “There are some things that should be changed, only not by us.  Part of wisdom is figuring out which problems are ours to solve.”
  • “Whenever God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.”  (from the Sound of Music)
  • “The trick is to acknowledge anger, without getting stuck in blame, which is disempowering, rather than empowering.  Only when you have acknowledged your anger can you discern whether it is a sign that you need to change something or accept what cannot be changed.”
  • “So how do you let go of fear and cultivate trust?  Trust does not always come in a dramatic spiritual insight.  Sometimes it grows gradually, as we nervously take each step.”

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading The Wisdom to Know the Difference. Eileen Flanagan clearly has a huge heart and a profoundly reflective mind.  This is a book I will want to return to again and again. I see how it could easily become a wise spiritual companion for an entire lifetime.

You can learn more about Eileen Flanagan by visiting Eileen Flanagan (dot) com.

Thank you to  TLC Book Tours for the invitation to write this review.  Note:  None of the links in this article is an affiliate link.

How do you discern when to make a change, when to surrender?

Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, please share the link with your friends.  Thanks so much! Sandra

Capture Your 2010 Life Lessons

Life Lessons from 2010The idea of choosing One Powerful Word for the New Year sparked tremendous interest.

The perfect word seemed to pop into place for many of you.  Others are letting the idea germinate, allowing the right word to emerge in its own time.

With all this enthusiasm, it might be easy to forget to close the outgoing year in a meaningful way.

To get the most from 2010, take some time  to recall and consolidate the most important insights and lessons from the year.

As we all know, insights are fabulous in the moment.  Yet they are all too fleeting.  Even the most profound insights will be of little use, unless you capture them and keep them alive in your heart.

How to Capture Your 2010 Life Lessons

Here are two excellent ways to capture the lessons and highlights from the outgoing year.

1. In her article Word of the Year, Galen Pearl shares her ritual of writing a letter to the old year, reflecting on what she’s learning and experienced.  At the end, she thanks the year. She also shares how she selects her special word for the coming year.

2. Reverb 10 is:

“…an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what’s happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead. With Reverb 10 – and the 31 prompts our authors have created for you – you’ll have support on your journey.”

Here’s the Reverb 10 prompt for December 15 – “5 Minutes” – which connects beautifully to today’s reflective exercise:

“Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.”

Reflection:  Capture Your 2010 Life Lessons

As you might guess, this week’s reflection is all about reflecting upon your 2010 life lessons and capturing them in a memorable way.

You could use either of the methods described above.  Or, you can create your own method.

You could write a letter to the old year like Galen, record your reflections in your journal, or write a blog post that expresses your journey through the year.  For the artistically inclined, you might create a collage, paint a picture, or assemble a collection of memorable photos.

Whatever method you chose, I hope it will be a meaningful process for you.  Letting go of the past is a terrific way to springboard into the future.

I had many lessons in 2010. The two that standout for me are committing to positivity, and understanding and taking responsibility for my stress response.

Please share a highlight or lesson from 2010 with us!

Not sure what One Powerful Word is?

Read the post One Powerful Word:  A Simple Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.  Then check back on January 5th, when my 2011 word will be revealed!

Photo Credit: e_walk

Thanks for reading. If you like this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much!  Sandra

The Most Important VISA to Put to Use this Holiday Season

This is a special guest post from Evita Ochel at Evolving Beings.

The winter holidays are right around the corner, and this can leave many of us scrambling and rushing, emotionally exhausted, experiencing more stress than perhaps at any other time of the year.

One of the main reasons that this happens, is that modern society has carved out a very particular “pattern” of what the holidays are supposed to be all about. Mainly shopping, eating, drinking and more shopping.

While some may find this cycle amusing, most move through it unconsciously, fulfilling surface level desires, rather than attaining a deeper meaning and inner peace from their thoughts, words and actions.

The Buddha taught the Eightfold Path for releasing oneself from misery, suffering or dissatisfaction. Out of the 8 tenets, there are 4 that I find can be especially helpful to be extra conscious of around the holidays.

They are, having the right View, Intention, Speech and Action.

And thus this Holiday Season, I invite you to put a different kind of VISA to use – the most important VISA.

V – View

Take time this holiday season, to reflect on your views about this holiday. Our views, are shaped by our beliefs. Our beliefs are shaped by our past experiences, which were shaped by the thoughts and views we chose to have about them – consciously or unconsciously.

Allow yourself this holiday season to birth new views. Start with all the things that surround the holidays, like your views on gift giving, shopping, the meals you will make or eat, the company you will be with, the traditions you have always held, religious beliefs, and the list goes on.

Give yourself this holiday season, perhaps the best gift ever, by freeing yourself from unconscious, conditioned views that are holding you back today and limiting your true happiness. This can help set you free from doing things simply out of obligation or expectation. It can also expand your being, and broaden your views and understanding of yourself.

I – Intention

When it comes to intention, while this is normally the major piece of how we attract things into our life, there is a deeper role for it in our lives.

What is the intention behind everything that you do during the holidays?

Why do you buy gifts? Is it because that is what everyone else seems to be doing? Is it to be nice? To fit in? To have people like you?

Asking ourselves questions like that about each aspect of the holidays, begins to help us understand why we do what we do, and understand ourselves better. When we leave the unconscious habits behind, we begin to operate on a more conscious, peace and happiness filled level.

Thus, be honest with yourself and find out what your true intention is behind all the aspects of the holidays, and at the same time, set new, conscious intentions for each of your words and actions that truly come from the heart.

S – Speech

The holidays see many of us gather with family, friends and coworkers. And while this can be a great delight and joyous part of the season, it can also be a very stressful and emotionally draining time. Why is that?

The main reason is, what people choose to talk about. At family gatherings, all too often old hurts are brought up, family members pick on each other or criticize the way holiday traditions are handled. With friends or coworkers, talk can center around gossip.

This holiday season, be mindful of all that you choose to say. The holidays can be a beautiful time to share stories, memories and feelings about each other. But we have to make sure that all those are rooted in love, compassion and kindness. If not, may we remember the wise saying, that if we have nothing good to say, let us not speak at all.

A – Action

Finally, aside from putting the right views, intention and speech to use, may we also not forget about all of our actions.

So many people in our world today, still make the holidays all about the actions of shopping and cooking, generating a lot of stress for both themselves and their loved ones.

Consciously re-examine your actions this holiday season. Ask yourself what really matters. We shop aimlessly, often out of obligation, trying to fill deeper voids within, only to be confronted with the consequences when the bills come to get paid.

This holiday season, release yourself from pain and suffering, by taking time and investing in conscious, heart-centered actions that really matter.

Instead of exchanging gifts, consider volunteering as a family at a homeless shelter. Instead of overeating, consider giving away some of the food to someone else in need. Instead of drinking alcohol, consider engaging in conversations with others, that are deep and meaningful for expanding the soul.


In the end, only you know best what the holidays are all about for you and how you would like to spend them. Let us just remember that the holidays have as their foundation love, compassion, kindness, relaxation and fun.

If your holidays have lost any of that, or have added in things like stress, worry, anxiety or fear, I invite you this holiday season to re-examine this time of year and your approach to it. Use the VISA that really matters where deep peace, meaning and happiness are concerned, paying it forward to others, with no bills in return.


About the author: Evita Ochel, B.Sc., B.Ed., CHN – is the founder and editor of – an online publication featuring various topics on spirituality and metaphysics.

She teaches consciousness expansion and heart-centered living to help people attain deep meaning, peace and happiness in their life. You can sign up for her RSS feed or follow Evita Ochel on Twitter.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, please share the links with others.  Thanks so much!  Sandra

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