Reading the Tea Leaves (Pay Attention to Your Signs)

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“Not everything has meaning!”
(my college fencing coach Roxanne, en route to a competition in NYC)

Later, to myself: “No, but anything can!”

I am a huge believer in using outer signs for listening to and following inner guidance. I have found through long experience that so long as I reflect deeply and act in a balanced way in response to ‘waking dreams’ that catch my attention while I am mulling over some question or pursuing some meaningful goal, good things follow.

Responding to outer signs can help to keep the flow of communication open between Spirit or the Universe, Inner Guides or whatever you prefer to acknowledge, and your own higher awareness. The more you can progress in tandem with your inner nudges or guidance, the easier it becomes over time to wend your way through challenging situations and key decisions; and, life is more fun!

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So what are your ‘tea leaves’ telling you this month about some meaningful question you are pondering? Pay attention to the slightest waking dreams or outer signs: random seeming thoughts or insights you may have; statements that stand out to you from a passerby or on tv or in your reading; roadside messages on signs that you pass, or even bumper stickers that catch your eye… Any of these or several taken together could offer you a breakthrough insight on your problem or query.

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Some people like to set up an image or a specific object that they will see if their potential decision is correct.

If you want to try this, you can set up a sign of affirmation for your question that would not be common or likely for you to see, and you can set a time frame as well for encountering your sign. When I was working on my final book proposal for Your Life Path (see right panel), I set up the sign of a blue butterfly if I was going to be able to find a publisher. Right around the time my wonderful literary agent began circulating the book proposal, I started seeing blue butterflies everywhere. This encouraged me with every step of the proposal and publishing process. Now I have several items in my home with blue butterflies on them to remind me that this book process has initiated a longterm project, with much yet to come for me to fully realize its potentials in terms of writing and service.

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images are from pixabay.com

What are you asking to better understand or what decision are you weighing? Pay attention to YOUR outer signs; they are all around!

Turning Points — A Birthday Post

 

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My Colorado friends. Photo by Diane Launsby.

Today on my 64th Birthday (June 26th) I have been feeling like Dr. Beverly Crusher in the Star Trek NG episode when she felt that the universe was collapsing all about her, and truly it was! She was caught in a Warp Bubble while the rest of the crew was one by one popping into another dimension. The metaphor is apt as my social universe of colleagues, students, and Colorado friends is dropping away as I prepare for relocating Back East in late July.

Turning Points are momentous shifts in life experience such that you might feel you were “a different person before and after that event occurred” (Your Life Path; also see side panel).

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To go through a Turning Point mindfully, with awareness of that turning as a momentous shift, is a great gift.  Many Turning Points appear to happen to us unwittingly; we do not consciously seek to bring them about.  Those we look back at later to see how momentous they were and we may need to make major adjustments to adapt to those changes. But those we manifest consciously are huge leaps of faith, quantum leaps so to speak even, as they can launch us intentionally into a whole new Life Chapter with a golden new set of life’s possibilities. Such is the Big Move I shall be embarking upon at the end of July!

What about you? Are you ready to plan for and execute the turning of another Life Chapter page? What is next then? What might you resolve soon so you can bring about a Turning Point sort of shift that aims you truly in the direction of fulfilling your deepest life aspiration, your Life Dream?

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Almost forty years ago I went West  (now I return Back East). When I left Buffalo in 1979 to go off to graduate school in Phoenix, Arizona, I woke one morning in the year I was planning that Big Move with a song ditty on my mind that stayed with me the rest of that year:

I’m leaving,

But there are a few doors left to close

Before I get over there.

For the next several months I consciously sought to close those doors, to tie up loose ends so I would be free to experience my new life after closure and with fresh ambitions.  Now I find life is again providing opportunities for a meaningful closure of some relations and continuation of others from here as I am ready to launch into a whole universe of new potentials.

I thank all who have been part of my life in Colorado and Zuni, New Mexico and Arizona before that. I love each and every one of you and wish you well on your own continuing Soul Journey.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Set Your Travel Goals (or, Happiness is a Choice)

When I prepare for a major travel excursion, I set a spiritual goal for the trip. That means I contemplate what I am ready or aiming to learn, about life or about my own potentials for self improvement. This is especially true with relocation; such an amazing opportunity to push the reset button involving any life conditions upon which you might wish to improve.

As I approach relocating Back East at the end of July, I find myself contemplating Happiness. At an Asian buffet the other night my fortune cookie stated:

“Happiness is a choice.”

That is precisely the message I needed to receive. As I contemplate the next Life Chapter of my own Dream Come True (for all of life is that, when you think about it), I realize it will be what I choose it to be with regard to the attitudes and viewpoints I exercise. Partly this means acting in ways that serve the greatest good and that may facilitate happiness and well-being for those in my immediate family and social circles. Smiling while engaging with people in public contexts can help me develop the habit of carrying happiness in my heart, coupled with acceptance and contentment.

Of course it is understood that any less than ideal conditions one experiences in one location are very likely to manifest again in a new location, so long as one carries those conditions forward within them. So contemplating current conditions is imperative for considering how to tweak the attitudes you choose to carry forward.

To me, this Travel Goal Setting for relocation goes way back in this lifetime (at least!). As my father was transferred several times to different states while I was young, I learned that in looking ahead to the next Big Move, I could use it as an opportunity to transform or tweak the life I had been living. When I was around 12, for instance, Dad told us the family would be moving around one year later from our home in Pennsylvania to New York state, near Niagara Falls.

Since at 12 I had become somewhat of an awkward, nerdy girl, I looked ahead to transforming my outer persona image in New York. I consciously changed up my wardrobe that next year, aiming to become a more “popular,” mainstream sort of teenager. When I got to my new school in New York then, I purposely sought to “get in” with what I conceived of as a more popular circle of friends. Well, it worked; however, very quickly that year I came to realize that the popular crowd I was courting really wasn’t who I am in the sense that my interests were far different from theirs. So after pretending for a short while to have a long distance boyfriend (wearing a ring from my mother’s jewelry case), pretty soon I figured out I wanted to be more authentic. I stopped sitting with this group of new friends at lunch time, even hiding in a lavatory the entire lunch period to do that. Then I joined a drama club and orchestra and started hanging out with new friends, more nerdy or artistic; people I really enjoyed being with!

The process I had undertaken to transform my life in the future from Pennsylvania to New York had succeeded, more than I could have anticipated.  I have been more mindful from that point forward of who I am (or am becoming) internally, and more appreciative of authenticity itself. I enjoyed my high school years immensely. The choices I made then were formative of the person I am today in very positive ways; no wonder then that at 64 as I have just retired, my immediate plan is to return to New York, to my family and even to be nearer to some of the deep friendships I shared there.

So, this time, I choose Happiness! 

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

Create a Totem of Your Goal Achieved

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An elixir is a potion or aid you receive from achieving some degree of fulfillment along the path to attain your highest goal.  The elixir is like an alchemical agent in that it raises your energy levels, your awareness, to a higher plane that you have attained with your accomplishment. So you come away from the ordeal you have successfully met with a greater power of insight or a force of greater love that you can carry forward with you on the next leg of your Journey.

A Totem is an image or object you can literally plant in your ‘growing space’ or carry with you as a reminder of the qualities you have gained and of your higher Goal.  It could be something as simple as a talisman, like a necklace amulet, pin, or charm bracelet representing the qualities or goal you wish to focus upon.  It could also be a collage of images you compose and place in a highly visible personal space to serve as a Vision board. (I do these often and pin them on my office bulletin board).

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Totems are anchors that “ground” your vision and amplify your intentions like a magnifying glass that concentrates the rays of the Sun.

To create a personal Totem of your goal or aspiration, whether that be a concrete objective or a value you wish to strengthen day to day, find or create an object, or create a collage of images that will remind you to center your attention on your ideal.

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With online imagery such as at pixabay.com or with clipart, it is easy to find images to represent your goal or the values you aim to strengthen.  I recommend placing an image or photograph of the goal or value itself, or of yourself having achieved this goal, in the center of the page to form a mandala composition.  You can surround that central image with additional images that represent how you are to attain this level of fulfillment and what will be the outcomes when you do!

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Place your collage or object somewhere that you will see it often. It could be at your office or in your bedroom or kitchen, somewhere you spend a lot of time thinking about your goal and actively pursuing that.  Or you could wear your totem talisman close to your heart or on your person. It could be private, like a special stone that you carry in your pocket, or even a personal mantra or prayer or poem that you repeat inwardly as you move through the day or before sleeping at night.

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Your totem can be any means of focusing your intentions deeply. This plants your intention in the loam of your everyday life, infusing your activities with a greater sense of mission, of value and purpose, and of unconditional love.  For no one but you can fulfill your deepest Soul objectives, which enhance not only your own capacity to live but your determination to serve Life Itself.

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images are from pixabay.com

I value your Comments and stories!

Checking In With Your-Selves!

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Are you engaged in some process that takes a long time yet brings a personal goal to fruition?  School can be like that, or now for me, writing for mainstream publication. I find this activity proceeds necessarily sometimes in fits and starts. During the fits or slow slog periods of editing yet one more time, I find it helpful to check in with my internal selves: those archetypal persona character modes that each have their own perspectives on our shared as well as their distinctive goals with regard to the project at hand. For it may be one or more of these Archetype Allies that has slowed the progress as a way to call attention to an opportunity for improvement before I can move forward more productively again.

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Mindfulness is a popular term these days for this sort of checking in with your Self–or, more accurately for my purposes, your selves!  I like using an Archetype Dialogue Practice to help integrate conflicting internal viewpoints. I use an active imagination technique, such as Jung recommended, to “sink” into a subconscious level of awareness where I can make contact with my internally diverse viewpoints or parts of Self.

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You can think of these archetypal personas as being associated with the various roles (or, masks) you occupy in life, as all of us develop somewhat distinctive points of view from the perspectives of each of our role types (e.g. Parent, Teacher, Lover, Nourisher, Idealist, etcetera).   You can have a conversation inwardly and/or journal a dialogue while you are imagining connecting with these internal parts of Self.  Just allow the interaction or conversation to proceed naturally. This is actually a level of subconscious interaction we take part in unconsciously much of the time, as we weigh a decision or an action.

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Below is an excerpt from a journaling form of Archetype Dialogue I engaged with just a few days ago about the slow process of editing for publication:

ELDER LEADER     You need to finish the edit and begin taping for the webinar. Time is waning on our sabbatical.

NOURISHER.     Let her be, Marshall. She knows what she needs to be doing.

 LW:  Well I could use all of your input, actually. The editing feels too mechanical now. Taking stuff out is not so much fun as putting ideas into the book. It pains me to have to be removing the lined journaling pages, stripping down to only providing the instructions for library readers to do the techniques externally.

ELDER LEADER.    Yes we understand but that is what you need to do, so library readers will not be tempted to write in the books. That’s the editor’s decision. Why are you balking so much?

ARTIST    I know what you really want to be doing…and it is what I want to help you with… to redesign the Toolkit as a separate aid that readers will be able to download or receive directly as a workbook companion to the book.  The cover art your cousin has provided will fit beautifully with the Toolkit.

LW: Yes but then I also need to get rolling with the webinar production. And a larger than usual docket of classes looms just around the corner in August. Argh!

TEACHER.    One step at a time, dear. That is the best way forward. What is the ONE THING, as you tell people to consider with their own life mapping, that YOU need to be doing, Now?

MYSTIC.   Yes, dear Soul, what is your ONE THING, NOW?

LW:  Well, I want to have a clearer overview of the Whole–of where all this is heading, really. So much work for so many years, and yes we have a publication date, but the whole process feels like it is starting to get away from me, you know? Master, can you help me to re-center, to regain a stronger focus at this interval as I need to deliver these products in full strength and beauty, to best serve the Whole?

MYSTIC    Go within to find your answer, dear. What is your ONE THING, Now?

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As I continued with this internal musing (a fine expression, by the way!), I did arrive at answers. My new process is to produce both the edit my publisher needs and, concurrently, I will generate the Toolkit from the extracted material. So I do not have to lose any of the vitality I want for the book to contain. As well, this contemplation led me to write a full draft script of the opening webinar sessions, so I feel back on track now!

I invite you to develop your own Archetype Dialogue Practice.  I will be sharing a full process for this approach with my upcoming book (March 2018), Your Life Path.

What are some of your own archetypal “parts of Self”? Allow them to present themselves to you. Just offer them a safe, open space for communicating with you. Keep in mind that these are not external “voices” or entities, at all. (If they feel as such ever, then it could be helpful for you to discontinue the exchange! ) These are simply your own INTERNAL points of view that much too often we tend to ignore. So, lend an ear!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

(The Sublime Art of) Listening to Your Self

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Meditation, contemplation, active imagination, walking solo in Nature, non-directive prayer: all of these are excellent modalities for tuning in to your own inner guidance and for tapping your feelings and insights about life events and decisions. Some form of listening to your Self—in all its archetypal complexity and integration—is absolutely necessary if you desire to go “forward” in a mindful, conscious direction.

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Is this different from “going with the Flow”? Not at all, so long as the Flow is an internal one, springing up from your deep inner resources rather than being primarily reacting or responding to external stimuli.

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Maybee Alley

Just after writing the above paragraph, I took my dog Sophie for a walk. We are visiting at my sister’s in rural New York state and it is such a beautiful area for walking.  While meandering in the neighborhood of a Catholic church we like to walk around, I noticed a road sign for the first time. “Maybee Alley” was the name of the little pathway leading toward the Church property.

It was interesting that this sign caught my attention today. It was a “waking dream,” a significant outer confirmation about a decision I was posed with last night via email. Maybe this or maybe something else instead if something even better comes along (re. potential publishers for my book that is currently circulating for review).

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So I guess I am meandering in MAYBE ALLEY right now. I would sure like to turn the bend to CERTAINTY (A)VENUE!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Celebrating St. Francis, A Mystic Healer  

 

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Prayer is in practice a means of seeking Better Endings. Whether in the form of a petition or surrender, asking for Divine intervention or giving love, or receptively by listening to or connecting with attributes of the Divine in meditative or active contemplation, we pray to focus our human consciousness on Higher Wisdom, to give and or to receive Divine (impersonal, detached) love. And this may indeed foster Better Endings for all concerned, even in the mindful experience of an illuminated consciousness itself.  Singing a mantra, practicing true contemplation, outer prayer, or even prayerful artistic engagement such as creating a mandala or Sufi whirling dervish dancing all can create conditions conducive to healing and Higher Awareness and hence may enhance positive health effects such as lower blood pressure, more serenity and lower stress.

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We may not all agree as to the best form of prayer based on our individual preferences and religious traditions, but tuning in to Higher Wisdom, love, protection and awareness is in itself a positive action of the human will and Soul that can bring benefits beyond the seeking of assistance or intervention.

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The prayer-poem famously attributed to Saint Francis is a prayer of exquisite quality that anyone can use as a template or matrix around which to ground and Center their consciousness.  This is a poem that fosters Healing and Better Endings in all respects:

St. Francis’s Prayer

Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace

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This week I invite you to bring St. Francis’s prayer with you in your heart as you go about your day to day affairs. You may wish to print and cut out the prayer poem and place it in visible locations at your office, car or home. At night as you prepare for sleep, you might wish to read the prayer aloud and gently contemplate its relevance to your current life conditions and attitudes.

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Better Endings to You!

I invite your insights and stories.

Life is… a Bowl of Cherries!

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Live Your Dream, Now! is the throughline to Life Paths, a handbook for life mapping which should be forthcoming within the next year. This credo of “Live your dream, now!” highlights how important it is not to put off your Life Dream or future aspirations into a nebulous future but, rather, to live NOW according to the values and intent of your Life Dream, Here and Now. You can live INTO your future as a dream fulfilled by focussing on developing your current Strengths and being mindful “every day in every way” about who you are choosing to be, expressing from your core identity and nature.

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Along with the metaphor of Life is a Bowl of Cherries, this month we will pair the archetypal Ally persona of the Golden Child, which is the universal archetype class associated with the sign of Leo and the month of July.  What an aprt conjunction this one is! The GOLDEN CHILD is a part of Self who knows whom s/he IS and may express itself forcefully or in a charismatic manner based on a positive self-knowledge amd capability, with great competence. Who better to assert Life to be a Bowl of Cherries than this, yourself as a Leonine Golden Child?

Life is a Bowl of Cherries as a life metaphor reminds us to embrace and to enjoy who we ARE and what we HAVE, right here and now. Yet I expect some readers–including myself in some respects this week as I am involved in a struggle currently to help my ailing elderly mother to cope with painful, life threatening effects from late stage Parkinsons–might appropriately question the sheer optimisim of such a credo. Is it then a mere platitude to declare life to be cheery, always positive, like “a bowl of cherries” even while facing the most dire of circumstances? What of all those well meaning people and animals for whom, indeed, life appears to be anything but happy, abundant or carefree? Is holding to such an optimistic mantra no more than a Polyannish attitude requiring one to “bury their head in the sand” or, worse, to DENY the more bitter realities of life in the “Real World”?

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That is a vital question, and one I have similarly heard from people who question Joseph Campbell’s parallel credo of “Follow Your Bliss!” Again, what of those for whom the chance of “attaining Bliss” of any sort seems remote?

I must answer for myself that while the world as a whole will always remain a harsh training ground at every stage of life, even for those with the highest achievements or wearing the most rose colored glasses; nevertheless it can be helpful to focus on the positive. Life metaphors can serve as positive affirmations that orient our outlook to look for the GOOD in life–to see the BEST in ourselves and in others–and when necessary, to see the silver lining beyond the clouds.

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I believe that human beings–perhaps all Beings–are wired to pursue and when possible to manifest “self-transcendence,” even in the most dire conditions. I recall a TV drama with Dick Van Dyke (check out his recent https://www.youtube.com/embed/hoPugqYMISM“>dance videos at 89!) portraying a homeless man in a big city. This character was a man of the deepest character: kind, gentle, self-sacrificing and ultimately happy in his life. He embraced a life of service and gratitude and he focussed on the positive potentials of every state of being, every condition, every relationship in his life.

So, life CAN be a bowl of cherries, if you CHOOSE for it to be so. And you can discover your Bliss anywhere, as everywhere you stand is Holy Ground as long as you stand mindfully and take in the bounty of the moment.

I welcome your insights and stories!

 

Show Me a Sign!

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It is the final scene in Castaway. Chuck Noland, finally back to civilization after being marooned alone on an island for five years, has returned to find his erst fiancé married and with a family.

Chuck is once again cast away, adrift on a sea of possibilities. Where to go next? He delivers a UPS package that indirectly had saved his life, hoping to thank the sender, but he or she is not at home. He is at a standstill then, literally stopped at a barren crossroads, trying to decide what direction to take to proceed into his uncertain future.  North, South, East, West: all seem equally empty.

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A woman driving up to make a turn at the rural crossroads slows to see if she might be able to assist the apparently stranded man who stands outside his Jeep with a road map, looking aimless and lost. She explains his options in terms of destination points in all directions, then she leaves. But as her pickup truck steams off down from the direction in which he had made his delivery, Chuck sees a sign: angel wings painted on the back of the truck—the same angel wings that were on the package he had delivered; a symbol that had served to keep him sane and brought him home from his isolation on the island.

The movie ends, but we know where Chuck will go next, in what direction his future lies. He will follow those angel wings and forge a new Life Chapter.

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Is this a story about synchronicity, when just the right sign appears in your life at just the right time? Chuck was asking for direction, studying a road map, and that is precisely when he received his Sign. How Mystic-al! And yet, improbable synchronicity like this happens for most of us when we most need it, especially when we remember to ask—and then, to pay attention so to recognize the answer!

How about in your life? Can you think of a time when you asked for a sign and one appeared to help guide you to your next step with some situation or decision? Did you follow that sign then, or did you continue asking and looking, just accepting the sign as partial guidance for a question of bigger proportions?

Some people are able to take quite successful ‘quantum leaps,’ as it were, responding to signs they receive, while others are more circumspect and prefer to proceed in smaller steps. I am—with some significant exceptions in my life—most often one of the latter. Signs are still important to this second kind of seeker, though, as each sign might reveal a significant piece of the puzzle.

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“Ask and you shall receive!” is the postulate we are looking at with this post. To assimilate this principle more deeply within your mindful awareness, I invite you to write about a time when you did recognize and when you ACTED upon a clear sign you received, whether the sign came through a dream, a contemplative vision, or outwardly as a “waking dream” or as “golden tongued wisdom” (if it came as a direct answer to a question you were pondering as an unlikely statement from a friend or stranger). What were the results?

Secondly, I invite you to contemplate a question for which you would like to receive a sign in your life Now.  Pose the question in direct, simple terms. Ask to receive a clear sign.

I welcome your insights and stories!

Future Casting

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I would like to introduce the notion of Future Casting as a mode of creative visualization. Consider you stand before a blank canvas that represents your future. In fact, imagine you have a stack of empty canvasses, of various sizes, available to you. Take one and put it on an easel; this represents the blank screen of your mind (unless you prefer a physical canvas and paint or other artistic media).

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Now then, focus inwardly on a desirable future scenario. Represent that scenario on your empty canvas or blank page.  Draw, paint, place text, finger paint, place collage images, or do anything to ENVISION your future scenario. Consider this is but one of several possible futures.  Complete one and put it to the side (so you can see it, though). Now, start another.

Your Alternate Future-scapes can be similar to one another, with tweaks or special features with each one; or, they can be very different, representing radically different future conditions or options. The only guideline is to allow yourself TOTAL FREEDOM in your imagining. This is a FANTASY adventure, not necessarily a practical one at this stage.

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After casting two or more of these Alternate Future-scapes, review them, one at a time. Contemplate their message to you. Then, take a walk! Or, do something you enjoy to relax and allow these ideas to percolate or to “incubate” in your consciousness. When you come back, try writing about (or simply use active imagination/ contemplate) any of these alternative futures. You can journal about this over several days, refining ideas, and you can ask yourself what kernel of future reality have you implanted here.

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Be mindful with this practice. Intend to clarify some aspects of the direction you may go in order to realize your Best Case future scenario. Nothing is written in stone nor should it be. Allow Your future envisioning to remain flexible, yet allow some coherent ideas to form around which the rest may flow.

I did this a few months ago and the results were profound. I now know where I am likely to retire and what that will be about.  Having a clear idea of where I am heading helps me to now prepare in that direction, always remaining open to further information.

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 Quantum physicists like Brian Greene now tell us that the future may reach back to us as we reach back to the past; that is, there may be “waves” of probability coming to us in the Present from the Future as there are also memory waves to and from the past.

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Future casting, then, is a matter of perceptual exploration.  If the future is an array of unlimited possibilities more narrowly framed as a set of probabilities connected to present conditions, we can project a future in keeping with our creative intention to move in a direction of our choice. To move beyond the threshold of the Present leading inexorably into consequences or a chain of events outside our control, we only need to stop, look, and Imagine!

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So I encourage you to go Future Casting!

I welcome your Comments and Stories.

How to Build Your Strengths

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When I was an undergraduate at SUNY College at Buffalo (1972-1976), I majored in English and minored in Philosophy and Creative Studies. Creative Studies was unique to this college, with faculty led by Sidney J. Parnes and Ruth Noller, pioneering experts in the creativity field.  Dr. Parnes (Sid) went on to later co-found the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Center at Buffalo.

Every summer the Center for Creativity Studies at Buffalo State College held a Creative Studies Conference, inviting the brightest innovators in this field to present their study findings and to present workshops about the creative process. I attended one in 1974 that I shall never forget, as I acquired a simple tool there which I have always remembered and still utilize and about which I share with my own university students—and now, you!—to this day. It was offered in a workshop titled something like “Strength Building: A Creative Process.” Unfortunately I do not recall the name of the presenter. I believe he was a CEO of a creative corporate consulting firm.

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“Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Now I would like for you to write down 10 of what you consider to be your Greatest Weaknesses.”

That is how the workshop began. The workshop presenter, a well groomed man in his early 40’s, gave us around ten minutes to compile our list of weaknesses. I don’t recall at all what I wrote down then; which is good, according to the insights he shared over the rest of this exercise.

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“Now then, on a separate piece of paper, please write down a list of what you perceive to be your 10 Greatest Strengths. I’d like for you to rank order these strengths of yours from one to ten, with ten being your highest, greatest strength of all.”

I seem to recall a few of these even today, forty years later. “A good listener” was on the list (I don’t think at the top); “persistent” was probably there, too; “a Friend” I am guessing I would also have included on my self-perceived list of strengths at that time.

“Now then, please take out your page with the list of your perceived weaknesses. I would like for you to TEAR THIS UP.  Please throw the paper scraps away in the waste basket that I will now pass around the room.”

Hmm! I was surprised. I thought for sure we would be focusing on those weaknesses to learn how to “build our strengths.”

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“Never focus on your weaknesses,” the creativity consultant stated. “If you were ready to deal with them, they probably wouldn’t  be on your list of weaknesses anyway.  Instead,” he invited, “ ALWAYS CONCENTRATE ON DEVELOPING WHAT YOU ALREADY FIND TO BE YOUR STRENGTHS.  IF YOU DEVELOP YOUR STRENGTHS FURTHER, SOME DAY YOU WILL LOOK BACK TO FIND THAT SOME OF WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE COUNTED AS WEAKNESSES ARE NOW AMONG YOUR STRENGTHS, TOO!”

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This man explained about how developing our greatest strengths has benefits that expand all of our skills or talents along the way. I could relate this to fencing at the time, as I was on an intercollegiate fencing squad that placed within the top 10 in the nation at the the following year’s national tournament.

I applied the workshop KEY to fencing all that next year. ACCENTUATE STRENGTHS! Develop those skills or fencing moves and attacks that I liked most and could do the best. Don’t dwell on weaknesses, and all will improve. I must say, he was so right! They did! I learned that when I focused on a weakness in fencing, a move or skill I had not yet been able to master, I became self-conscious on the fencing strip, and any athlete knows that is never a good thing! When instead I focused mainly in practice and coaching lessons on honing particular moves and attacks I already felt naturally good at, I developed a portfolio of strengths, a repertoire of successful strategies which I found I could rely on “without thinking” during a bout. That is what fencing absolutely requires is the fluid capacity to ACT and to CREATE strategy in the immediacy of the Moment. This approach was highly successful. That next year I defeated many of the best fencers from the best university teams throughout the country. I was focussed on what I COULD do, and DID that!

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So, I invite YOU to write down a list of what you perceive to be your ten greatest weaknesses. Put that aside and on another sheet of paper, write down what you perceive to be your ten greatest strengths. Rank order those strengths to compile a final list of your strengths. Now then, please tear up your list of weaknesses and throw that away. What you are left with is the list of Your Greatest STRENGTHS! Place that list somewhere so you will see it often. Contemplate your strengths. DEVELOP them. Then go about your business, whatever it might be, and APPLY these Strengths mindfully. This is a win-win scenario for all!

I welcome your Comments, Your Insights and Your Stories to Share !

A Dragon Tale: Love Conquers Fear

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Odile is a friend who lives in the mountains of Colorado. She is 87 and lives with her son and granddaughter in a double-wide mobile home. When Odile was 16, living in the Great Smokies of West Virginia—Appalachian country—her father died of Black Lung disease and Odile was diagnosed with the same disease. Doctors told her she must leave West Virginia and they sent her to Colorado for better air quality in the higher altitude region. She married at 16 and her husband and she moved to the same land she is on today. They started with a small trailer on one plot of land. Odile fell in love with Colorado and this land. After a divorce and remarriage, her second husband built onto the trailer and she lived there with him and raised three children for around 60 years before her husband passed away from cancer. Meanwhile, Odile came to see herself as a protector of the pristine quality of this land, which lies adjacent to a National Forest. Over the years she purchased twenty additional lots of this pristine wilderness, just in order to preserve the forest and to prevent development in the immediate area. Many potential developers have sought her out to offer even higher than current prices for this land, but Odile is resolute; she will protect the purity of the forest.

Harz Mountains, Germany

Around ten years ago, a Dragon of sorts appeared in Odile’s otherwise settled life.  A minister for a religion that represented a survivalist approach purchased land adjacent to Odile’s sacred grounds. About a hundred followers of this minister followed after him from California to Colorado. Reports revealed that this group was storing guns and other weapons at the house the minister had purchased just a mile or so from Odile’s trailer. The minister himself started appearing at Odile’s door, asking to buy up her lots to add to his survivalist base.

Military target on vehicles

Now you have to understand, Odile has a strong spiritual focus of her own that it is definitely not of a survivalist bent. She had built the largest spiritual library I have ever seen, representing all sorts of spiritual, religious and metaphysical traditions. People would come to Odile’s trailer from far and wide just by word of mouth to borrow books from her library. She herself hardly ever leaves her trailer home; she has an aversion to towns or cities.

When Odile realized what this man’s presence could mean, at first she was appalled, even frightened. She felt this was a negative challenge to her own intention to maintain the positive, natural spirituality of the forest. She worried about what might develop; what this survivalist group might create on this land. Would they hold military-like war games, threatening the wildlife? What was such a group capable of?

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These fears and worries were Odile’s Dragon, threatening to destroy the peace of mind she had so carefully cultivated for over 60 years.

So, Odile contemplated the situation. She researched the group and similar sects. Of course she kept turning down the offers to strip her of her lots.

A month or two went by since Odile shared with me what she was facing.  When I called her back, her attitude was completely changed. She had found a way to use her own strengths to integrate her Dragon energy, I would say.

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 Odile’s strength, she came to realize, was LOVE. Love, not Fear, would be Odile’s approach, because she chose not to waste her life in a fearful condition, she told me. So every morning, since realizing this strength, Odile would simply send Love and Light inwardly to this man, to his land, and to all of his people. Every time she would think of him or the situation, she would remember to send this Love and Light. When he showed up at her door—and still he did—she met him with love, light and laughter as she made it very clear her land was not for sale.

Guess what happened? About a month later, the minister was arrested because of tax evasion. He was sentenced to a jail term. His followers left the area. The property was sold; a wealthy Catholic woman purchased the land and created a peaceful sanctuary on the land. She invited Odile to come see her land; the sanctuary was flooded with a natural Light that Odile could relate to!

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Our Dragons challenge us at our Core.  Any buried fears we harbor, they can amplify. Yet these Dragons are our Allies at the same time. They help us to identify our fears so that, as we choose, we can make necessary changes to overcome these fears; to go beyond them so that we may approach our greater goals and fulfill our Purpose and Dreams in this life.

So again, I invite you: What Are YOUR Dragons? When do they “show up” in your life? What are they showing you about yourself? How can you use this awareness to make a CHANGE that will propel you beyond any fears or guilt? LOVE matters more; Do that which you Love, and the Universe/ Spirit/ Divine Love in return will carry you above and beyond these perceived self-limitations.

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I welcome your Insights and Stories!

Active IMAGINING

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I have mentioned the practice of Active Imagination here and there throughout this site, but this week let’s focus on Active Imagination as our focal topic. Many forms of meditation, contemplation, yoga, mantra chanting, children’s creative play, nighttime dreaming especially when lucid (aware of dreaming while in it), daydreaming, fiction or drama or fantasy writing, journaling, prayerfulness, and Mindfulness techniques all could constitute Active Imagination practices, as long as You are Present and Aware. Active Imagination entails an exploration and exercise of your own imaginative faculty within your own perceptual multi-verse.

 The fragment of ancient theatre Amphitheatre

When was the last time you ‘just’ sat (or laid down on a bed of meadow grass, for example) and imagined; deeply and fully? I did that this morning (written on Thursday). I went to a café, opened this laptop, started a new file called JOURNAL, and engaged for an hour or so actively envisioning on the page my future life after retirement. Every fear I privately nurture about that transition I allowed myself to feel and yet when I envisioned in words various aspects of the life I may live, I felt my fears greatly reduced and a relieving sense of freedom entered my consciousness instead.

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               From the journal (a brief sample):

… Maybe I will mainly be alone with my pets. Then Cheryl will be not far away, and there are many places to visit that will feel familiar (Lewiston, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Canada). Will that feel weird with no one other than my pets to share it with wholly at this advancing age?

… Put Academe behind me. Hike in the state parks, get a used motorboat; go boating with Sophie and alone or with Cheryl (my sister) and her friends. EXPLORE, outwardly and inwardly. EXPAND HORIZONS. Contemplate. Write. Offer workshops and life mapping. Present spiritual events, facilitate and join satsang and book discussions. Join a Scrabble club. Fence with seniors if I wish to. Travel and enjoy visitors. Learn at Chautauqua. Write to my heart’s contentment! Publish more. Go deeper philosophically, spiritually. READ MORE. DREAM DEEPLY. IMAGINE. EXPAND.

Honestly I can tell you that after taking time to creatively envision, freely and without constraint, I felt even physically better than before I did this: less encumbered, lighter, less blocked. And the rest of the day (now 11:20 PM on the same day as I compose this), my imagination remains open and I feel like a child again in relation to a greater acceptance of Trust and of Possibility!

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Oddly synergistic events also transpired after engaging in this active imagination practice. Without my having scheduled it directly, men showed up to clear trees from my yard, removing debris and clutter more than I had even expected this team to do when they would arrive. This clearing of clutter is a big step in the direction of realizing the future of my imaginings, as I am gradually working to improve my home’s condition in preparation to sell the house before moving. It was like…Magic!

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So I invite you to take ample time to JUST IMAGINE. Exercise your Creative imaginative PLAY via direct, daily contemplation; journaling “alternate future lifescapes”; writing “from the future”; composing magazine image collages or creating mandalas.  Many techniques such as these are included in the Life Paths Handbook, to come.  Remembering to simply take ‘time out’ for IMAGINING can help you to “live INTO” your goal or life dream with creativity, building a clarity of intention while remaining flexible to new ideas along the Way.

***

I WELCOME YOUR INSIGHTS AND STORIES

PLANTING SEEDS

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Sunday’s post introduced the Life Path Mapping weekly activity of “Seeking a Vision”.  The journaling or contemplation post, WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE…, invites you simply to plant a seed about the values you desire or aim to realize in your life from the perspective of how you wish to unfold your Personhood. Of course, this is only metaphorically a form of Vision Quest…which as an authentic practice would involve a ritual ceremonial context and an arduous physical as well as psychological and spiritual ordeal. But it is vital to look inwardly to envision that which you are aiming to unfold in your Life Path in order to Plant a Seed that sets the goal that you wish to nurture and manifest.

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Ellen Langer, a PhD Harvard psychologist and author of a book titled Mindfulness, was interviewed this week on National Public Radio. She is interested in how the way we TALK about possibilities influences our attitudes and behavior. She distinguishes between whether we ask “CAN I?” when we approach a goal, versus “HOW CAN I?”  to accomplish that same goal. Planting a Vision Seed sets up something we CAN unfold to; then our mind and spirit are free to discern and to facilitate the Means.  Although we might have the faith of a mustard-seed that all that is in our highest nature and interest WILL manifest, when we consciously shine the Light of Attention upon a worthy goal, this allows us to mindfully and flexibly steer our process in the direction of nurturing that seed and realizing the Growth we are aiming to unfold.

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I also invite you to reflect on how you would have answered the prompt: When I Grow Up I Want to Be… both when you were young and then Now, and then to reflect on how and why those answers might differ as well as how they are similar. When I ask this in Life Path coaching, people often tell me they are necessarily more “realistic” and more “practical” today than they were as a child, or that their increased responsibilities preclude earlier idealistic ambitions. What I find though is that what they wanted to be as a child has archetypal aspects to it which might still be part of their adult desires, if less obviously idealistic. For example, “I want to be a Superhero” might be a child’s reply. That could be expressing the desire to develop the potentialities of a Warrior or Healer or Communicator archetype (I will introduce a special set of 12 primordial archetype images later in this process).  So, if you now still do wish to be a soldier or Guardian of some sort, or a doctor/healer or a writer/communicator, you may yet be intending to realize these same important aspects of your unconscious interests and potentials. I will say these archetypal impulses define aspects of who you ALREADY ARE, so it makes sense and is very realistic that you can develop and more fully materialize these essential components of your intrinsic Self.

Grand Palace. A temple Wat Phra Kaew

So, WHAT/ WHO DO YOU WISH TO BECOME; WHY; and later you will be invited to focus on HOW CAN you germinate and fully manifest your natural potentialities? Do feel welcome to share if you like!

Wellness Affirmations

Wellness Affirmations

Mayan Mystery Pyramid

A principle of Better Endings that can facilitate this week’s topic of Health & Wellness is Affirmation or setting positive postulates. Most of us are familiar with the use of affirmations to frame our goals according to a positive mindset. One approach to using positive affirmations is called the “fifteen times” technique. You write a very positive statement that expresses the successful realization of a goal, writing that statement fifteen times daily. In relation to health and healing, for example, I might write 15x:

I am exercising weekly and eating fewer processed foods. (a behavioral affirmation)

Or perhaps:

I am mindful of all that I permit into my mind and body. (an awareness raising affirmation)

You can use this method to orient yourself to establishing values or behaviors you desire to integrate more fully into your consciousness.

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As a cultural anthropologist I have learned about many fascinating cultural approaches to manifesting health and wellness, many of which employ practices that are similar to setting positive affirmations. The Hopi, for instance, attribute any mental or physical manifestation of illness or disorder as an indication that one is holding self-limiting or negative thoughts.  A medicine person might ask a person then to change their thoughts about themselves to positive, more healthy images or postulates. The individual must learn to “manifest” a positive state of health rather than a negative one. According to Don Talayesva as cited in Sun Chief , this is a capacity and a responsibility of the individual, to express hopi (harmonious) rather than kahopi (inharmonious) thought patterns and behaviors. While the medicine man might also practice ritual means of reinforcing positive postulates to help the individual to reorient to a healthy pattern, it is within the capacity of the individual to accomplish their own improvement of outlook.

Repeating positive Affirmations, whether 15x or in some other manner, is a matter of establishing a habit of thought or behavior that might replace other thought or behavior habits that no longer serve you.

It is important, however, to be kind to yourself. Practice acts of kindness with yourself, always. Fill your heart with unconditional love for yourself as well as allowing that love and consideration to flow through you to others and to your environment.

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If you hold yourself in high esteem and give humbly of yourself to all of life, how can you be other than in harmony with life affirming, healthful realities? Illnesses or conditions need not impair your Wellness, and positive wellness affirmations—though they may not of themselves accomplish immediate or sufficient “healing” of such conditions—certainly will do “no harm” and may help you to manifest qualities and achieve relationships you might otherwise overlook by remaining ‘caught’ in the lair of negative postulates.

You deserve to SHINE, to Manifest Better Endings, Now and Always!

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The Light in Your Eyes

 

Forest road. Landscape.

 

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the Door where It began,

Now evermore the Road doth lead

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with weary feet

Until it joins some larger Way

Where many paths and errands meet,

And whither then?

I cannot say.

– J. R. Tolkien

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Light is a good measure, and an apt metaphor, for Awareness, which brings “all good things” to those who express a positive attitude from maintaining an uplifting spiritual and/or a healthful mindfulness practice. Light radiates through the eyes and actions of those who are ‘lit,’ regardless of whatever health conditions they may be dealing with. This can be anybody.

From my life maps coaching practice, I find as a general principle that attitude matters greatly in how we go through life, and that attitudes derive often in large part from a person’s mindset and focus. Two people experiencing similar life circumstances might have polar-opposite interpretations and responses because of their outlooks on life.  This sometimes depends on whether they hold an optimistic or a pessimistic view of life, based on their beliefs as well as experience.

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John (pseudonyms used), for example, who maintained a “practical,” non-spiritually oriented belief system, regarded a series of downturns from being laid off, deaths of his father and grandmother, and a car accident as increasingly debilitating, meaningless events. His Life Metaphor of “Life is like a tree with its roots stuck in the dirt next to a flowing stream” encapsulates John’s own ‘stuck awareness,’ as does the fact that he had felt paralyzed in his right shoulder after his car accident, although doctors could not find anything physically wrong with his shoulder.

Contrast John with Ambrosia, whose chronic intestinal condition found her, one night, “touch and go” in the hospital. Doctors told her it was not certain she would survive the night. When I asked Ambrosia to rate the impact of that perilous night at the hospital, without hesitation she beamed, “+5!” (the highest possible positive rating).

“But, why?” I asked.

“Because I had a vision that night that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. My spiritual Guide appeared. He told me I could leave, if I wanted to, but there was much more for me to do here of I stayed. I told him, “All that glitters is not gold.” He answered, “but anything can be.” Then I told him I would stay only if I could get back the passion for living I once had. He said I could.”

Ambrosia survived the night and she gradually healed. She has indeed regained her passion for living, and her health condition has led her to find many healthful dietary aids and supplements. She practices spiritual contemplation and yoga, daily. She mostly walks wherever she needs to go, not owning a car. She is active as a leader in her spiritual community and serves as a compassionate role model for many. I see the light in her eyes that I did not see so much in John’s.

So, Lighten up, in whatever way works for you to experience Life, and Love, to its fullest.

And then, go take a look in the Mirror.

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Just Listen (Doo-Da-DO!)

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Saturday is First Principles day at Better Endings. We focus on a principle that fosters ‘better endings’ with regard to our weekly topic. All this week we have been emphasizing “mindful communication” or mindfulness as a Better Endings principle. The underlying behavior associated with mindfulness is: Just Listen. That can mean both listening deeply to another as well as listening deeply within.

The Big Buddha

We cannot HEAR if we are not in a LISTENING mode. WE cannot LISTEN while we are talking in our head.

So, how can we become better listeners in order to be better communicators or to engage effectively in “Alchemical conversation”?

Perhaps you might say–now I am listening inwardly–that it begins with setting a proper INTENTION.

Ah, yes. Well spoken. And how can I or we set a positive intention to communicate deeply and well?

Be open and direct about your intention; seek to establish common grounds.

But intention is not always explicit in the moment of exchange.

Then LISTEN so you may HEAR your friend’s intention, rather than swiftly react.

Does Listening need to be mutual for alchemical conversation to ensue?

Yes. “Your state of consciousness is your level of acceptance.” So is the other’s.

What can be HEARD when I/WE Listen deeply?

What can be SEEN is HEARD with the HEART.

So mindfulness is being Heartful.

Heartfulness is being Mindful.

Words fade in significance. Unconditional Love is All.

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Can you tell in the ‘conversation’ above Who is conversing with Whom? Alchemy is Archetypal!

Better Endings to You!

******

The universe is always speaking to us.
… Sending us little messages,
causing coincidences and serendipities,
reminding us to stop, to look around,
to believe in something else,
something more.

~ Nancy Thayer ~

Reblogged from Soul Gatherings 

I welcome your Comments below, or you may send your insights for a Guest Blog, or your Story to be posted!

Practice Mindful Communication

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Have you ever wished you could go back and change those words you spoke in a relationship? or with a departed loved one? or with your child? Are there certain situations that seem to “bring out the worst” in you, instead of the best, with respect to communication? Here then is your chance to revise what you said then, or to better prepare for what you will say, next time.

Tuesdays are Prompts List days at Better Endings. I invite you to use the list of topics below to write/journal, actively contemplate, or talk about a REVISION of a communication situation in your life. Create a dialogue that revises or remodels how you did, or would, engage in a conversation, to improve the outcome more in the direction you might wish that sort of conversation might have gone, or could.

Woulda/ coulda/ shoulda…but if you practice the principle of Better Endings we are developing weekly with this blog, you CAN change habits and improve communications in the present as well as envisioning how you might have done better in the past.

Already this week since I have been practicing some communication “re-writes” with respect to recent workplace and past personal relationship situations, I find myself becoming more mindful in the present moment with email and face-to-face conversations. Mindfulness, especially Mindful Listening to others as well as to ourselves, is the First Principle of Better Endings that governs the Prompts List this week.

So, here is a Prompts List, below. How might you apply a revision to one or more of the following situations? Go ahead, Practice Better Endings! I invite you to pay attention afterwards as you go through your daily life, to see how you may apply this principle Now!

  • what you wish you WOULD have said
  • workplace communications
  • email communication
  • social media communications
  • what to say to someone who has lost a loved one
  • what you wish you had said to a departed loved one
  • how you might rewrite or revise a conversation that went awry
  • how you might repair words said under stress or duress
  • talking with certain others: your child; your boss or employee; your spouse/ significant other; a stranger;your pets
  • changing bad communication habits (e.g. situational cursing)
  • revising road rage thoughts or talk
  • improving specific kinds of situations in which you have trouble communicating
  • finding just the “right words” (e.g. editing)
  • self-talk: positive affirmations
  • self-talk: revising negative self-talk
  • other-talk: revising critical harping or gossip

Origami Mouths For Conversation, Discussion Or Communicating

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Please feel free to share your results, comments, insights, and stories!

Better Communication to You! – Linda