Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Freedom Through Forgiveness

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. Lewis B Smedes

For years I carried anger and resentment toward someone who had caused emotional pain in my life. When I felt I'd had enough, I decided to work on forgiveness and release. It was work, and it took time, but one day I examined my feelings and realized I was free. I still occasionally see this person on the street somewhere, but when I look inside at what I'm feeling, I smile. Even in his presence, I'm free. And that feels good.

When another person has done something to hurt you, you can't go back and change that person, but you can change your feelings that hold you captive. You may feel right and justified, and maybe you are, but would you rather be right or happy? You can't always be both, so choose happy and let go of right and justified. Do this for yourself, and grab hold of freedom.

When we think of forgiveness, we usually think of forgiving someone else. But what about forgiving yourself? Think about how you feel when you hurt someone, or when you do something you wish you hadn't, or you feel you don't measure up. The same feelings of regret, guilt, or self-reproach are there inside no matter who or what the situation. We hang on, justify our feelings, get sick, and wish it would all go away. What a waste of body and soul when we have this great tool for freedom within our power. To quote a friend, we do the best we can according to our growing ability. And learning to use forgiveness is an important part of our growth. So while you can't go back and change something, you can love and forgive yourself for being imperfect. You are worth love and forgiveness. Set yourself free to grow and become more of what you envision for yourself.

While we need to forgive ourself and others, we also need to forgive situations in order to transform our painful responses to them. Forgive your car for breaking down, forgive those times when Aunt Susie gets on your nerves, forgive your body for getting sick, and so on. It's all a crappy part of life, and it will nag at you until you forgive it for being crappy and then release those painful responses to it.

Let nothing painful in life sit with you without expressing your love and forgiveness to yourself, others, or a situation. Every painful emotion can be an opportunity for growth, but only if we answer and grow with it. Choose your freedom every day, and the rocks in the road won't seem so big.

I wish you a smoother road ahead.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Assume Your True Nature

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Teresa.

When was the last time you spoke with a neighbor, exchanged smiles with a stranger, listened to another's pain, or simply sent love into the world and felt it come back? For many people actions such as this are not a natural part of daily life. We live in a world motivated by an individualistic, competitive, what's in it for me mind-set with ultimate separation from others. And we take for granted things like illness, stress, conflict, anger, loneliness, confusion, etc. We say, "That's life", and we continue this path without question. But is this the way we're meant to live?

Recently, I listened to an interview of Lynne McTaggart, author of the book, The Bond, in which she discusses how we live today vs how we're meant to live. Years of research have shown there's a connection between all people that is so profound that it runs through our total structure on a sub-atomic, cellular level. Nature designed us to connect, to belong. And living against our nature creates a world of physical, mental and emotional pain--the world in which we find ourselves today. So how did we get here?

Many years ago the cultural norm was a sense of community with others. Yes, there were individual differences, just as there are today. But differences were accepted without conflict. When I was a child in the Great Depression years, we lived in an apartment building in Detroit with people of different nationalities, but we shared our food, our time and our love. With a sense of connection and community, all the maladies we suffer today were minimal. Then as industrialization spread, people changed. We forgot who we are. Now when I sit in my back yard, I look at my neighbor's privacy fences that were not there a few yeas ago. I hear their voices and their dogs barking, but I'm not a part of them. And I feel the separation.

Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something that needs our love. Rainer Maria Rilke.

McTaggart offers several steps to restore love, peace and harmony in our world, to live according to our true nature.
1. Change your vision. Notice the differences in people, but accept your connection, and share without intention to change another. You can accept a person without accepting their views. This doesn't make you weak. It makes you stronger.
2. Work with others toward a common goal. In collective efforts, differences disappear. Share the problems, pain and joy.
3. Don't stay isolated from others. Join groups. Take a class. Volunteer. Attend a church. Reach out and hold another's hand.
4. Change your life purpose, and rethink the meaning of your life. With intention, be a spiritual activist, and send love to pain and suffering you see in the world. The love will come back to you.

We are all cells in the cell of humanity. Choose to be a part of the whole creation, and use connection and community to create love, health, peace, and harmony within yourself and your world. We need each other.

I wish you hands to hold.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lonely vs Alone

To transform the emptiness of loneliness to the fullness of aloneness, ah, that is the secret of life. Sunita Khosla

We all know what loneliness feels like. But each of us perceives this emotion and feelings that go with it in our own unique way. Some even equate being alone with loneliness. But the two are different. Loneliness is suffering, while solitude of itself is simply being alone and need not create loneliness. It may sound strange, but both can offer opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth.

Loneliness involves a sense of loss and/or separation, and may come from many sources: loss of a loved one, divorce, the empty nest, illness, isolation, rejection, loss of a job, retirement, etc. Maybe you've always been lonely, and you don't know why. It just feels like a piece of your heart is missing. For some people, loneliness is the result of childhood experiences that left them feeling unloved and alone.

If you feel lonely, have you ever asked yourself why? What is there in your life, even on the deepest level, that you've never resolved? When you miss someone or something that's no longer in your life, it's normal to go through the painful separation, but the need is there to eventually pass through this time and open your heart to newness in your life.

We live in two worlds, the inner and the outer, and we were created to experience both in our human condition. But we need awareness and understanding to grow and find peace in both areas. The human spirit needs something greater than self. Our life must be meaningful and count for something. And that life is ever moving and changing. We need to know our oneness with all others and that we belong, not to serve as crutches, but to bless each other.

Change must come from within. Accept your loneliness and where you are now. Then it's no longer your enemy, but a possible step to something new and wonderful. Loneliness can bring a letting go of old ways and limiting beliefs. It can lead to freedom and purpose. It can transform your life. You are not that wounded child you feel inside. Understanding what a glorious creation you are, in spite of your losses, can leave you free to experience the love, joy and peace that have always been yours to claim.

With great intention, create and use time alone to go within and communicate with Spirit--you have never been separated from this inner love and comfort. Then reach out to others with love from your heart. Loneliness will have nowhere to live, and will leave you.

I wish you a peaceful heart.