Always Well Within

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

Month: June 2012

10 Lessons from a Decade of Challenge

Jungle - Metaphor for Lessons and ChangeThe last decade weighs in as one of the most difficult of my life.  Like being lost in a jungle after nightfall, threats seemed to lurk behind every tree.  I often wondered, “Will I ever get out alive?”

Moments of desperation, hopelessness, and despair punctuated my generally optimistic disposition.  At times, the breath of death rasped far too close, till I had to turn and look straight in its face.

Personal betrayal, loss and separation, nudged to let go of a dear career, mysterious illness, cross-country and cross-continental moves.  On a stress scale all that adds up to a very high score.  The stress then folds in on itself multiplying the angst even more.  Perhaps this is par for the course in the human realm, but it all seemed exceedingly difficult, overwhelming, and endless to me.

Yet, I endured.  I’m  stronger, more resilient, and clear as a shiny new pot.  At long last, the stars realigned in a more generous and friendly way, streaming the light of insight over all those dark years.  So I thought I would share a selection of the potent lessons learned to encourage and inspire those who may be struggling with their own specially tailored version of adversity.

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See Yourself through the Lens of Compassion

Do you find it hard to be gentle, loving and compassionate toward yourself?

Consider this reasoning for why you are fully deserving of your own love and compassion.

“We have every reason to feel compassionate toward ourselves. In the ordinary state of mind we are helplessly overtaken by selfish emotions; we lack the freedom to remain unaffected when these emotions occupy our mind. Swept away by feelings of attachment, anger, closed-mindedness, and so forth we lose control, and we suffer a great deal in this process. In such a state, we are unable to help ourselves, let alone others. We need to relate to our own suffering here with compassion in a balanced way, applying compassion toward ourselves just as we would do with others. In order to help others, we must first help ourselves, so that we can become capable of expanding our efforts further. But we shouldn’t get stuck in just helping ourselves. Our compassion must embrace all other beings as well, so that having freed ourselves of negative emotions we are moved by compassion to help all sentient beings.” – from Fearless Simplicity by Tsoknyi Rinpoche

One way to create a basis for compassion in your life is by establishing a regular practice of meditation. When the mind is settled, the heart naturally opens.  Through meditation, you will also develop a greater capacity for transforming whatever may block the natural expression of your innate love and compassion.

If you would like to learn to meditate, consider joining the next What Meditation Really Is online course, which is based on teachings given by Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the international bestseller  The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.  I will be your host and instructor for the upcoming course.  Here are the details:

What Meditation Really Is – Online Course

July 11 – August 22, 2012 (6 sessions)

“This course offers an introduction to methods of meditation practice that are simple, yet powerful and profound. These methods can be practiced by anyone and are extremely effective for bringing inner strength, peace, compassion and understanding into your life.”

Curious?  Learn more about and register for the What Meditation Really Is online meditation course.

Do you hesitate to give yourself the same warmth, love, and compassion that you would naturally extend to others in distress?  Do you find self-judgment and self-criticism your unconscious partners?  Or have you learned to be cozy and with yourself?

Image:  Public Domain

This article is part of my series of Compelling Questions offered to stimulate inner reflection.  Thank you for reading and sharing!  If you enjoyed this article please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

Stay on Track with Daily Non-Negotiables

Is it hard for you to stay on track in these speedy times brimming with non-stop demands and endless distractions?

I completely understand because I face the exact same challenge.  That’s why I was delighted to discover the idea of “daily non-negotiables”.   Setting daily non-negotiables gives me the momentum I need to stay focused and accomplish my highest priorities.

Author Charlotte Rains Dixon shows writers how to keep moving toward their goals in her article What Are Your Writing Non-Negotiables?  However, non-negotiables can be created to enhance any aspect of your life:  work, health, creativity, fitness, housecleaning, relaxation, relationships, and others.

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What Do You Take Refuge In?

The word “refuge” is a noun, which has three meanings according to the online Meririam-Webster Dictionary

“Shelter or protection from danger or distress
A place that provides shelter or protection
Something to which one has recourse in difficulty”

The Encarta World Dictionary defines refuge as:

“A sheltered or protected state safe from something threatening, harmful, or unpleasant.
A place, or sometimes a person, offering protection or safe shelter from something.”

We’re all subject to vulnerability.  Sometimes, you actually need shelter from the storm.

But sometimes – or maybe many times – the “storm” is a misperception.  And the urge to seek protection becomes a deeply habituated response.  A way to avoid inner discomfort and distress.  Or, something you find “unpleasant” or a subtle threat.

Often, what appears “threatening or harmful” may actually be a mirror telling us to look within.  A call to untangle a deeply-seated misery.

Yet it may take many years and multiple ‘wrong’ turns before we are able to fully heed the plea.

Our choice of refuge may be a person, a place, a substance, a memory, an opinion, or a way of being.

It may buoy us up for awhile, validate our worthiness, confirm our right to existence, or numb the pain.  But let’s not mistake temporary solace for a permanent, reliable state of affairs.  It’s merely a stop gap measure that will eventually fall apart at the seams.

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The Power of “Yes, But…” to Catapult You to Clarity

Recently, Farnoosh Brock, the beautiful mind behind Prolific Living asked me about my blog, Always Well Within.  She inquired:

“Are you planning on turning it into a business or perhaps, you have already done so? I’d love to know what you have been exploring as of late.”

I silently observed a long list of “Yes, buts…” spring forth in my mind.  I have a proclivity for producing this entrancing term.  How about you?

On the downside, this tiny but recalcitrant phrase will keep you sitting on the fence, confused or even paralyzed for interminable periods of time.

But give it a twist – your full engagement – and “Yes, but…” has the power to catapult you to clarity, thus setting you free.

How to Use “Yes, but…” Prudently

Are there “Yes, buts…” dancing about in your mind?

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