Friday, February 27, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Courage and Fear - part II

I knew there was a reason I was actually watching TV last night, surfing through the channels. I stopped for awhile on the movie The Princess Diaries, long enough to hear the character Mia (aka, the princess) reading a letter from her father. In it was this wonderful quote, quite similar to the one from Sally Kempton I posted several days ago.

"Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.
The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all."
~Ambrose Redmoon

It is true that the work we are doing in finding our joy isn't about completely eliminating the negative in our lives. We can diminish our exposure as much as possible, which definitely helps. Things will happen that hurt us and that we don't like. It is in how we deal with them that we find that greater joy.
Fear is something that we all have at some point or another. It hurts us, and scares us, and holds us back. It keeps you where you are at and prevents you from finding more joy. It can be scary to face those fears or to act when you feel the grip of fear holding you. Just remember, everyone has fear, it is the courageous who do things anyway. And having courage doesn't mean we are without fear. It means we have found something more important than the fear and we have moved through it. More joy awaits you on the other side.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Courage and fearlessness are not the same

"...courage and fearlessness are not the same - in fact, if we didn't have fears, we wouldn't need courage. Courage implies moving through fear."
~ Sally Kempton

Reading this really did cause me to stop and think. Images of courage often bring to mind big strong people, drill sargeants and people who are fighting cancer. But I imagine that even they have fear. We may not always see the fear in others but that does not mean they are unafraid.

So what is courage? I love the statement above "Courage implies moving through fear." It means we have fear, we acknowledge it and we keep moving on. Maybe it means we unearth the root of the fear and make whatever we are fearful of less scary. If you are scared of speaking in public, you practice with a friend, then go to Toastmasters or take a class. You keep practicing and the more you learn and experience, the fear diminishes.

Maybe we don't know the depths of our own courage. We fear things because we've never had to face them. Then we are forced to face them and realize they aren't really that scary. Or we realize that we have the strength and power and fortitude to endure. That we are bigger and braver than we ever imagined.

For each of us it is different. For me, doing a marathon is scary. For others it is exhilarating. I find speaking in front of people exciting and fun. For you it may be terrifying. It's up to each of us to explore these fears, to find out what is really behind it and to move through it.

By the way, my marathon is September 19. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fear and Unmet Needs

We are on to another topic - Fear and Unmet Needs. I love the quote Laura used in this week's inspirational e-newsletter:

"We are all familiar with the Golden Rule: 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.' But if you do not love yourself as much as your neighbor, you are not living the principle. If you were as kind to yourself as you are to others, you would find great peace and release."
~ Alan Cohen

I think it's no coincidence that we study Fear and Needs in the month we celebrate Valentine's Day, the day devoted to Love. Love is the opposite of Fear. And if we Love ourselves, we meet our own Needs. And we all want Love, right?

This most especially applies to ourselves. As the quote above says, "If you were as kind to yourself as you are to others, you would find great peace and release." Can you imagine what it's like to show love to yourself? Think about how you really would like people to treat you, then can you do it for yourself? If you are not taking care of yourself or meeting your own needs, why not? In honor of Valentine's Day, take time out to love yourself. Don't forget to share your ideas with us!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Never make a decision from fear...

...or anger. Both are paralyzing. And whether you can see it in the moment, they really are the same thing. In the Muselan Monday Morning Musing this week we discuss not making a decision when you are feeling fearful. But what about when you are angry?

Often times when things really tick us off, we run out and do something about it. We make a phone call, we write a letter, we get in our car and drive somewhere because, by gosh, we're going to do something about it. Or maybe we don't and we just take it out on the next person we come into contact with. Just as in making a decision from fear, making a decision from anger can cause us to act in ways we normally would not. And we often regret it later.

As I've grown more conscious I notice that when I'm angry I now have 2 paths I take in order to work it out without affecting others. #1 - I move. I go for a walk, I go do power yoga, I start cleaning like crazy. It's like the anger is a fuel and I just need to burn it off. The other way I work it out is to turn a little more introspective. The most basic way I do this is to write. I open up a new document or pull out a clean piece of paper and just write. I express all of my feelings and thoughts no matter what they are. Then I delete or throw it away. If I truly feel called to action or to make a decision, I will do it later. Sleep is always good for changing my perspective too.

What do you do to deal with your anger? How can you avoid acting or making decisions in anger?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Angry Whopper?

Today I passed a Burger King. Have you seen that they are now selling something called the "Angry Whopper"? As if our food needed to be any angrier. I've seen the commercial too. Farmers shout and yell and spit at the onion while it's growing to try to get it angry. Are we that out of new ideas?

This may deserve another discussion in the Eating module but for now I'd just like to know why our food needs to be called "Angry"? Is it a case of mistaken identity? Are the marketers trying to convey a sense of strength, or power, or spiciness or toughness? My guess is that someone thought it was funny or cute and would get attention in an attention starved world. True, it did. But not for long.

Can we please resist this new and different spin and stop this idea now before we start selling the "Angry Blackberry", the "Angry Legos", the "Angry Cola", or God forbid, the "Angry Airbus"? Let's give anger its due justice. It belongs in the heart with the other emotions. It belongs as a response to injustice. It belongs in people wanting something more and better. It belongs somewhere. Just not in a burger.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inspirational Quote

"Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness
forces you to grow beyond what you were."

~ Cherie Carter-Scott ~

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Anger - the heart of the matter

I can definitely tell Anger has been on my mind lately. As I type, Dr. Phil is talking with some people who have some real anger issues. He wants to know what gives them the right to talk to another human being that way. The woman's answer? "I'm pissed off!" It seems to me like people are still not really getting to the heart of the matter. I really want to know what she's so mad about - deep down. She feels like a bully and said she was bullied in High School. That could be it, but I still feel like it's bigger than that.

There was a time when I was really ticked off too. Then I realized why (read more about it here.)
Anger, like our other emotions, comes in a spectrum. We have times we are in touch with it, times when we're not. We have times when we express and times when we don't. Then there are times when we express and it's extreme. Anger can be particularly disconcerting because it has the potential to create such harm, both to ourselves and to others. That is why the work we are doing here is so important.

Emotions can run amok and then we become slaves to them. We feel out of control. The answer lies not in getting in control but in getting in touch. Get to the heart of the matter, get into the depths. Find that emotion and name it. Is it anger? Outrage? Frustration? Fear? Often times it might not even be what you think it is. Then find out why. Keep asking yourself the question until you can't think of any more answers. Then, in a safe environment, let yourself feel it - really feel it. Laugh, cry, scream if you must, just as long as you feel it. You may just find that you start to become old friends with it. The kind of friend that you don't get nervous about seeing, that you welcome because you know it won't throw off your routine, and that comes and goes relatively quickly because you know you'll see her again soon. Make her a cup of tea, chat a bit, give her a hug and then say "See you later". You will and it gets easier each time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Passion through Anger?

Is anger something that always breeds negativity and aggression or can it be fuel for creativity?

"Anger can be an expression of egoic frustration, but that same anger can give you energy in your practice." - Sally Kempton

I read this quote recently, along with a similar thought elsewhere, and it prompted a discussion with Laura. Can anger ever be good or beneficial?

It was an interesting discussion. Initially we thought, no, anger can't necessarily fuel positive things. But what about certain musicians, actors and actresses, artists of all ilk? Sometimes a great rage can produce some of the greatest works of art. And what about activists? Sometimes the greatest change can occur when someone just plain gets good and angry about injustice and decides to do something about it.

Of course, I had an incidence just today when I read something online that brought up some good old fashioned injustice kind of anger. I read something I disagreed with personally and responded to it. I tried, however, to make it a point to say my opinion and feelings without condemning another. I made points and counterpoints. Hopefully, the tone expressed some of my confusion and frustration without projecting hate or hurt.

The difference for me is in how you feel overall. If the anger consumes you, if you can't see beyond it, if it hurts or condemns others, then regardless of what great work of art it produces you may be missing the greatest work of art of all - your life.

Let the anger create a desire, a passion within you. Be conscious of your emotions and let them move you to action in a positive way.

Focus area and feelings

Hi Everyone! Happy New Year! I have been contemplating since I received the first module morsel this year on what my focus can be. I have for the last several years, (more than a several for those who know me!) been focused on my career. Well, with all the focus and manifesting I do, it is well on its way to developing and it is quite pleasing to be seeing it unfold. So as for my focus, I am making it my immediate family-my husband and son. I have never done this before, and already I have noticed shifts since deciding. One being my method of communication with my husband. This does seem big in many ways, my goal is to develop even better balanced energy in our home. I also think as a parent I want to be a good example to my son.

Marya, thank you for your comments on feelings and especially on Anger. It is amazing to be okay with these feelings in particular. It is a difficult feeling to be comfortable with and to give yourself permission to experience. I know I was taught to stuff it, and disregard it as it was inappropriate to have or show. The pinnacle for me was Thich Nhat Hanhs book on Anger, this brought me into peace with this emotion. Light and Love, Denise

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Witness your Anger

I recently sat down and picked up an old copy of Yoga Journal magazine. I opened up to a random page and started reading. I was not surprised that it opened to an article by Sally Kempton, called Essence of Life. The "essence" of the article was regarding freedom in emotion, an ability to fully connect with and express all levels of emotions without being attached to, and controlled by, your emotions.

We have discussed an awareness of feelings - that is a big part of what this program is about. When we become aware we can identify the feeling and if desired, choose a different path. Sometimes even just being aware can change the reaction and behaviors in a positive way. There are times when you need to feel a feeling and just live with it awhile. When I first started this program I did have a lot of anger. I think that, maybe, for years I didn't express anger enough or at all. I think I needed to be angry - really angry - for awhile, before I could move beyond it. I'm just grateful I had help so that I could recognize what was going on and move through this phase respectfully.

Sally Kempton in her article tells of a practice she has used for cultivating a state of witness for her emotions. A way of not just observing but being open to your emotions - all of them. "Instead of being simply the observer of thoughts and feelings, you consciously welcome them... Anger comes up and you think, 'I welcome you.'" Can you welcome your emotions?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Our Focus Areas for the Year

Here is a 7-min podcast of Laura, Marya and Karen discussing our Focus Areas for the year. Karen and Marya have very unique ideas for their year! You know what Karen has chosen (if not, read it here)...but do you know why? Very interesting process she went through. Listen and be inspired for your own Focus Area...

Focus on Me

This is my 3rd year going through the Awaken To Joy program. For sure it is going to be the best because I have chosen MYSELF as the focus! It took a little time to come to this conclusion. My original thought was to have everyone be my focus but that did not feel right. Then Laura and Marya suggested I focus on myself - brilliant! Thank you both. The Year of Me has officially commenced!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Ripple Effect

In the inspirational e-newsletter this week, Laura included the following quote:

"We are responsible for all the ripples created in others by our anger, as well as the ripples they in turn pass along to the next group." - Sri Harold Klemp

I know we've all felt it. It's kind of like pay-it-forward, except with a bad check. Just recently I came across an article in TIME magazine, titled "The Happiness Effect". The article sites a 20-year long study, the results of which were recently published in the British Medical Journal, that says that happiness is contagious. We knew that!

It says that "...emotions can pass among a network of people up to three degrees of separation away, so your joy may, to a larger extent than you realize, be determined by how cheerful your friends' friends' friends are, even if some of the people in this chain are total strangers to you." And likewise, the friends' friends' friends are affected by how cheerful, or angry, you are.

Now, we know that it happens, what are we going to do about it? Join us in studying anger and what we can all do to change the ripples from negative to positive.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

We Begin Again...

It is time to renew the year for the program. I am so excited to do it again. I am amazed at how, year after year, I find I can refine my work even more and with each refinement, more joy. Really. I am going to keep my focus on my relationship with my kids because I am pushed to be more conscious with them more than in any other area of my life. I am looking forward to bringing even more compassion to our relationship.

Here's to another year!