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A Savasana Gift

If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal. ~ John Lennon

Yoga practitioners say that savasana, or corpse pose, is a favorite because it is a restorative pose that often concludes a yoga session.

I certainly look forward to the few moments of savasana that wrap up my Thursday night practice. Usually, I melt into relaxation after an hour of stretching and pushing my body to its physical limits. Last Thursday, however, I received an unexpected gift while “practicing” the corpse pose.

I had a vision.

I “saw” my abdomen as a smoothly hollowed out, bowl-like space, as if the edges dropped off below my sternum and rose again at my hips. Oddly enough, I didn’t freak out. I had the sense that all I was supposed to do in that moment was breathe into the space.

That’s it. Just breathe. I remember being vaguely curious about when I would fill the space and with what. Or even whether I would be the one to fill the bowl to its capacity again.

Weird, right?

Along with the mild curiosity, I remember telling myself that all was well. Nothing was unusual or off about having a bowl-gut.

I hadn’t told anyone about my vision until last night when my sweetie asked about my blog topic. Just speaking the words, “I had a vision” felt weird, like I’ve gone a little bit cuckoo, as my friend Helshi says.

When I remember what happened before yoga that night, things begin to add up.

Recently, the Interfaith Peace Chapel at my church–Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ–was tagged with some pretty hateful graffiti aimed presumably at our primarily LGBTQ congregation.

In addition, the Texas lieutenant governor, held a press conference announcing that a bill–turns out it’s SB6–would be introduced prohibiting transgender people from using restrooms reserved for the gender with which they identify. There is much idiocy and insanity in this bill, particularly the statement that it protect women and students.

Five people were killed and eight injured during the terrible tragedy at the Fort Lauderdale airport last week.

A hate-crime beating in Chicago was videoed and posted on Facebook.

A terrorist attack killed 39 in Istanbul on New Year’s.

Peace, where are you?

Give me an epiphany with a little e.

Last Thursday–the Day of Epiphany–while many Christians and others celebrated the manifestation of Jesus in their lives, I had my own little epiphany. My vision of the concave space represents filling myself with love and all its byproducts like generosity and kindness, peace and patience, gentleness and respect, trust and presence and so much more.

May my bowl, my vessel, be filled to overflowing so that none of the evil stays with me for long. Instead, let me be called to pray.

Let me be urged to focus on goodness.

Let me summon the belief–and hold it tightly–that God is working through even these evil times.

Let me continue to wait for moments to pour from my bowl of love, for God has chosen each of us to be his people and to spread one gospel.

It’s love. It’s always love. Now and forever more.

Peace be with you, my friends.

Les Brown, Master Motivator, Is The One

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Not many people know that I worked for The Secret’s Bob Proctor years ago when he owned a small company in Kansas City called Life Success Institute. Yep, I wrote promotional copy for his bestselling book, You Were Born Rich.

Back then I was familiar with the work of Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, John Assaraf, Jack Canfield, Joe Vitale and Michael Bernard Beckwith. They all had one common message spoken with different words and energy. I interpreted and internalized the message this way:

If you can visualize your dream and believe with pure conviction that the dream is coming to you, there is nothing that can stop it from arriving. 

Twenty years ago, while learning from guys like Jeff Smith and Jim Bunch who would go on to lead motivational companies and coach thousands of CEOs before it was cool to be a coach, there was one name I didn’t know: Les Brown.

Eventually I learned that Mr. Brown is considered by many to be the #1 motivational speaker in the world.

And we saw him speak this past Saturday night right here in Frisco, Tex. at Elevate Life Church.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so moved, both during the time we shared soaking up his wisdom and in the days to come as I re-examine my hopes and dreams and decide how to take action toward them.

Here’s a bit of what Mr. Brown shared, none of which is really new, but I heard the words in a new way:

Design a life rather than accept the life you’ve been given.

We have to train our minds to serve us.

Someone’s opinion of you doesn’t have to become your reality.

Leap–and grow your wings on your way down.

If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.

If you do what is easy, your life will be hard.

You will fail your way to success.

Ask for help–and don’t stop until you get it.

There’s a difference between delivering a message and being a message.

Live full. Die empty.

The future belongs to those who prepare for it.

It’s not over until you win.

There’s no way I can capture the energy with which Mr. Brown delivered his message. I can tell you he was real and sincere and captivating. I sat, spellbound, tears leaking from my eyes as he described being raised by an adopted mom after he and his twin brother were delivered in an abandoned building in Miami.

His young school years were grueling as he was tagged as a stupid kid, held back in two different grade years.

Les Brown said there is one of two words imprinted in our hearts somewhere between the ages of zero and five years. That word is either Yes or No.

His word was Yes and, as an adult, he burned with passion to speak up, to speak out, to change lives and to encourage others to do the same.

Les Brown leads with love of family and his God. His message of hope, determination and positivity resonated. He left us with this culminating thought:

You’ve got to be hungry. He will never forsake you or leave you but  . . . you must refuse to be denied.

And so it is.

Photo courtesy of BryanHanson

Simple Recovery Advice: Master Self-Acceptance Now

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I was well into my second decade of recovery before I really understood that a successful life is one where you accept pleasure and pain with equal measure.

Come on, who wants to willingly accept pain?

After all, repetitive advertising has us brainwashed into believing that a pill can help nearly every kind of physical, mental and emotional pain.

Medication is useful and helpful; please don’t think I’m anti-medicine. But medicine must partner with self-responsibility and ultimately, self-acceptance.

Letting go of blame and shame

People in recovery, especially women new to recovery, carry large bags of shame around with them. For some reason, I think women are hard-wired to cling to the messes in their past as they valiantly try to fix them. One of my guy friends told me it took him about 15 minutes to let go of his past!

But we gals seem to want to go to any lengths to right our wrongs! We put so much energy into should have, could have  and what if that we disregard the joy in our present circumstances.

Some of us spend countless hours obsessing over unintended words or even the tone of a conversation. There is just no point!

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” ~ Brene Brown

Please, God, let this good feeling last forever . . .

Conversely, when the good times roll around, don’t you just gush with excitement? It’s sooooo goooood. He’s so fabulous. She is the ult! OMG, you just wouldn’t believe how cool it was.

Damn, if we could only feel this way forever then life would be complete. I’ve been known to pray that a day never ends.

There are times when my unbalanced self wants to fiercely grasp the good times to my chest and push all that causes hurt as far away as possible. Just make it go away.

Letting myself sit with all those feelings, while shedding tears of grief or happiness, is where I’ll find my self-respect and self-compassion.

“As I accept my experiences with an open heart, I discover God in all of then, which brings me wisdom and peace of mind.” ~ The Daily Word

Now moments are so precious

When you accept yourself–all your past experiences–with love and compassion, you’ll find yourself much more present to this moment.

I learned a valuable lesson over the weekend. My sweetie and I missed a magical opportunity because we settled for a practical, even responsible, option instead of acting on an impulse. Later, we talked about how we both felt sad over our lost Now Moment.

But we accepted it and moved on. When a similar situation comes our way again, you can bet we’ll jump all over it! We will live the heck out of our future Now Moments . . . and then release them.

For right now, we accept that all is right . . . now.

Photo found on SearchQuotes.com

7 Ways to Grow an Attitude of Appreciation

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Ah, the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. Turkey, pumpkin pies, family gatherings (blood kin and the ones we create) and yesterday’s leftover sermons about gratitude.

Gratitude is incredibly easy to discuss and personalizes so well. “I am grateful for the sun warming my neck, the roof over my head, my family’s health and work that feeds my soul.”

The words swiftly roll off the tongue like a baseball released from a pitcher’s hand.

Not too long ago, one of my blogging colleagues posted an article about substituting the word appreciation for gratitude. I like Angela’s suggestion.

Angela Artemis believes that the words grateful and even thankful have a smidge of desperation and obligation to them. They can also invite feelings of guilt if you don’t repay your debt of gratitude. “The more I think about it, the more I feel that appreciation is a better word to ‘expand what we focus on,'” Angela explains.

What is an Attitude of Appreciation?

There is a spiritual axiom that says what we think about expands. If I’m thinking unkind things about myself, the chances are good that I will attract not-so-good things, and worse, behave with all the verve of someone wounded by her thoughts.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post called “Bringing Guilt to Forgiveness.” One of the things I wrote about was how past instances involving feelings of guilt can completely wreck a perfectly fine day today.

“When you think about it, any present guilt you feel is a byproduct of something that has happened in the past.  My ego loves guilt because it can keep a toe-hold on my past supposedly for my benefit.”

What does guilt have to do with appreciation? It’s a rotten juju attitude and it completely blocks the sunlight of appreciation!

An attitude of appreciation generates awe for the expected and unexpected details of your life. Done right and each day becomes one that cultivates hope and gladness no matter outward appearances.

People in my world talk about doing the right thing even if your ass is falling off. That comes from growing an attitude of appreciation.

Shall we move on?

7 Ways to Grow

1. Learn how to dig deep. Fran Sorin’s bestseller, Digging Deepturns acts of gardening into glorious moments of appreciation. “You tap into the flow of a garden by being fully present and completely immersing yourself to the act of tending. You don’t create flow; your surrender to it.”

2. Learn how to count. I’m reading Julia Cameron’s The Prosperous Heart, Creating a Life of Enough and one of her tenants to retraining the mind to believe in abundance is to count. Money in. Money out. Simple, effective and proven to grow appreciative powers.

3. Learn to lean in. We have a tendency to straighten our shoulders and pull back from challenging situations. People with an attitude of appreciation lean in as if to say, “Bring it on.”

4. Learn to see everything as an opportunity. I’ve heard my friend Tess Marshall say, after something goes wrong or simply doesn’t turn out the way she planned, “Oh well. Who cares? Next?”

5. Learn to let go of any fear you may have about money, or more specifically, not having enough. Yes, most of us are taught at a young age that we have to fight others for a very small portion of “IT,” whatever it is. Let that stuff go! We live in a universe of absolute abundance and if you believe nothing else, believe that truth.

6. Learn to respond with positivity. I just interviewed Justin Luke Riley, president and CEO of Young People in Recovery. When I asked how he was, you know what he said with complete conviction? Justin said, “I’m living the dream.”

7. Learn to be of service to others. Doesn’t matter who you serve or how. Just make sure, as Justin said when we talked, that you never think you’re too good to stack chairs (or empty trash or run a vacuum cleaner).

What are some other ways that you use to grow an attitude of appreciation? Please share in the comments below and if you like this article, I’d love it if you’d tell your Facebook and Twitter fans.

Photo courtesy of pippalou

Ugly the Cat: A Story About Unconditional Love

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There’s a story  circling the Internet that may be true or may be a terrific parable. Either way, it makes for a good lesson in unconditional love and acceptance.

The story of Ugly the Cat is not a new one; references date back to at least 2009. It is a heartbreakingly sad story about an unwanted and abused cat that does what feral animals do to survive. I’m sharing it because Ugly’s story still clings to me after reading it a few days ago.

Personally, I hope the story is cleverly disguised as a major life lesson about unconditional love and acceptance. My animal lover’s heart can’t bear to think of any creature enduring deliberate harm; I want to cover my ears and repeat the “la la la la” refrain.

And yet the story must be told.

Ugly’s story

(Warning: Contains graphic descriptions.)

Our stories

Here’s a question: Where do you see yourself in the story? Do you think you’re the guy who held Ugly at the end or are you one of the crowd that throws rocks? Maybe you feel like Ugly, like nobody really understands you.

Honestly, there are days when I feel like Ugly, days when all I want to do is curl up in someone’s arms and surrender. On those days, I’m trying my hardest to get someone–anyone!–to merely validate my existence.

Other days, I’m the person who becomes outraged over the injustice of treating a living being with such deplorable disregard.

There are times when I’m even part of the masses that commits the atrocities, or perhaps worse, looks on and says nothing while the inhumanity plays out in front of me. Thankfully, I haven’t been that person in a very long time.

Who do you want to be?

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

I don’t know about you, but I refuse to play it safe. So what if you get scarred and scabbed from living the adventures in your life, like Ugly did? Can you trust that someone will be there to make things better?

I believe in the inherent goodness in people.

I have faith in humanity. One day, we’ll stop hurting ourselves by with our proverbial hoses and rocks.

In the meantime, continue to give yourself permission to live joyously and with no boundaries.  Open wide to the idea that appearances are poor misperceptions of the way something or someone really is.

Unless you have the ability to slip behind another’s skin, then you don’t know what it’s like to be him or her.

Lighten up and love everyone! You don’t necessarily need to like them, but showing them respect and unconditional love will do you a world of good.

Become more like Ugly and watch your life change for the better!