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August 26, 2016

WATER FLOWS

Despite obstacles, water continues to flow. Rain increases its power. Because of its constant movement, water can make even the sharpest rock smooth. 

When we face challenges in life, often our first reaction is to stop everything and withdraw from everyone. We may want to stay in bed and resist facing the world. But in reality, there is power in movement. There is power in connecting with others. Separation is the biggest illusion. Consistent action will help you to achieve any goal.

If you remove the boulder, even a river will change its course.

Change is inevitable. While we can become accustomed to life going in one direction, this will not always be the case. People change, situations change, we change. As water simply adjusts to various changes, so must we.

Nature gives us all of the cues that we need to live. A living leaf connected to its life source on the tree is flexible and pliable. The dead leaf on the ground is rigid and can be easily broken into a million pieces.

Continue to flow with nature, adjust your course as needed, and be flexible with life. Embrace change and continue to move. Connection with positive forces can propel you forward at a faster rate. Just keep going ;)

 

Photo source: Falling water

thailand
August 16, 2016

CHASING FREEDOM

Writing now from Koh Samui, Thailand and reflecting on the life of a traveler. When traveling, I always meet kindred spirits…people that feel more connected to life (somehow) while on the move. From the outside looking in, it probably seems to others that we are running from something…running from life. But as I think about it, we are running to life. It’s almost like for us the freedom is in the chase. Life makes more sense from the macro-level of our global travel.

When I speak to others I meet, it seems like we’ve all tried the normal working life. We may have set up a home base somewhere and maybe some of us even have families. But after a few weeks, the road seems to be calling us. After a month, it’s hard to sit still. The regular 9-5 feels like a trap.

In the context of meditation, I feel that this sounds so strange — why can’t we find peace where we are?  I don’t think that’s it. I think we can. But the adventure is in the exploration. Life is in the movement.

I think back to earlier times in world history when it was more common for nomads to wander from place to place — though, even now, there are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. These groups of people primarily follow seasonally available plants and game. These nomads may also be merchants who travel and offer their goods or services as a way of making a living. There is a familiarity in the movement of these tribes to those of us who love to travel.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that we want to be traveling constantly. When I travel, I often reach a point where I look forward to going home and recharging. I like having a familiar place to return to. However, I meet others who have been on the road for years, living only with a backpack! Some years ago, I made a friend named Connor who had been hitch-hiking across America for over a year. He worked when he needed to and often slept in nature or in cities. He loved the freedom it provided, but talked with me about maybe buying a camper (or bus) one day to make the movement easier and shelter more accessible.

Those of us who live life this way are a bit outside of the box. Without thinking much about it, we are redefining what it means to live well. While the urge to settle down may sometimes hit us, I think it’s important for us modern-day nomads to continually challenge ourselves to build a life that supports who we really are. For I think we can only be happy when we truly feel free.

Image source: Thailand

image
August 9, 2016

FOR MOM

Dear Mom,

I love how you read my website and maintain connection over the time zones and oceans. I want you to know that in my blog, I channel messages I feel inspired to share. The mesages may be about something I’ve experienced (past or present) and processed through a different lens…or it could be about something I talked about with a friend or read in the paper. I share hoping that these messages will inspire others who may be going through something they need to understand.

I want you to know that your daughter is…

HAPPY like I’m eating your fresh brownies…

FREE like I felt when I jumped off of that plane that time…

SAFE like I’m hanging out with the martial arts crew after practice…

HEALTHY like I was in your favorite leaf symphony picture…

STRONG like when I was three and kicked that doctor (ha!)…

CONFIDENT like I’m about to walk on stage and take the mic…

UNBREAKABLE like I know I will always bounce back on life’s trampoline…

UNSHAKABLE because my self-worth and self-respect is BEYOND…(you taught me that!)

BOLD like I can just drop everything and pick another country to live in…

AND LOVED because I know you’re always with me and I’m surrounded by the love of our incredible family and ancestors. You know I keep Grams wrapped around my finger ;) <3

So Mom…don’t worry! I’m so, soooo good! And beyond blessed to be taking another journey to grow deeper in spirit and self. I have been given this mixed bag of life experiences so that I can gain greater empathy and understanding. But I will never be defeated. And I always make the choice to never suffer. Ain’t nobody got time for that!! ;) My mission is to keep inspiring others to life their best life. Just like you ;)

 

I LOVE YOU!

 

;)

 

 

image
August 9, 2016

FLY FREE

Sometimes when we invest so much into an idea, person, or life, we focus our attention on attainment. When we get what we so desired, we then focus our attention on maintaining.

But when do we stop to ask ourselves if this is what we really wanted? 

Getting what we think we want is always a lesson. For me, the lesson is always one of letting go. We have to let go of our expectations of how things are going to be (expectations blind us to reality). We have to let go of what we invested in attainment (that was simply the cost of the experience…think of it as a college course). And, most difficult, we have to let go of what is no longer serving us.

It is the most difficult because it sounds the most selfish. But really, it is the most vital to our health and wellbeing. If the idea that inspired us turns into the enterprise that drains us, you can be sure that our health and happiness is impacted by the drain. If being with the person you thought you wanted to build a life with makes you feel more alone or more drained than you were when you were single, you are pulling yourself under water. If the life you worked so hard to build for yourself makes you feel trapped in any way — a job that you don’t want, a house that you can’t afford, or things that you don’t need — stress and anxiety are sure to follow.

When we are in these situations, it can be difficult to see a way out. How does one cancel a career dream? Or leave someone they care about? Or create a new life? The answer is simple, they choose.

We are only limited by our imagination. Around the world, people are living lifestyles that we may automatically consider primative. But when psychological studies show that these people as happier and more content with the life they have than the so called “first world” countries, who is really getting it right?

We must not allow ourselves to be confined by our limited view of what we think is possible. We can not hold ourselves back by being trapped in what we think we need.

Letting go is an art. It is having faith in a greater reality and state of being. It is appreciation for lessons learned. It is knowing when it’s time to go.

Intuition guides us on timing. But we have to be ready to make the choice. If we are not ready, God will give us more and more information to confirm what we already felt. Eventually we get the message. But letting go is hard. It means that we have to acknowledge that maybe we were holding on to a dream. And it means that we have to give up fear of a different future. We feel comfortable in what we know…even if it is uncomfortable. Our life becomes like a beautiful pair of shoes that we love because of the style…but feel pain walking in after a certain amount of time. We keep walking in them because we don’t want to be barefoot…and they are so beautiful, maybe it’s worth a little pain?

But you are made of stardust. Your life is not meant to be painful. You are meant to fly! So first, you must put down all of the things that are keeping you grounded. A bird does not fly with a backpack on. You, too, must put down your baggage…emotional, mental, and material…to fly free. It is your birthright.

 

Photo source: fly free

butterfly
August 5, 2016

SUFFERING

Suffering is not wanting to get up to go to work.

Suffering is being a relationship that doesn’t make you shine.

Suffering is battling illness.

Suffering not having enough money to live the life you want.

Suffering is dealing with toxic people.

SUFFERING IS A STATE OF MIND.

It is easy to feel trapped in situations. Feeling stuck in a job you don’t want or a relationship that doesn’t provide the kind of love you need seems almost normal. Dealing with the repetitive cycle of waking up to a life that you don’t recognize…a life that you don’t remember choosing can be heartbreaking. It’s easy to wonder, ‘How did I get here?!’ The reality is that our lives are a result of a series of choices that we have made. Even if we could not have changed certain situations that happened to us, we still have a choice in determining how we deal with the situation.

So suffering becomes a thing we do unconsciously. We may try to cope by eating sweet things, drinking alcoholic things, buying things we don’t need, or doing things we later regret. We do these things in an attempt to escape a reality that we don’t want to face. We don’t see that the prison is one we’ve made for ourselves.

But pain always spills over. We don’t even realize that, in our suffering, we feel a little better if we make another person suffer too. We feel less alone in our struggle. It may even be a struggle that we don’t understand. We may not even realize that we want the other person to suffer too.

We desperately want to know how to stop suffering. The only way to do this, quite simply, is to make different choices. But change is hard. We want all of the things that we think are making us comfortable. We don’t want to let go of the safety nets that we’ve created for ourselves.  Our thoughts of victimhood comfort us. Our possessions can trap us.

I remember the moments leading up to my move from Cape Verde. I’ll admit that I had a few vehicles that I wasn’t sure how to let go of haha But I had to ask myself, was this car or that motorcycle worth my freedom?

Letting go is never easy. We learn to become comfortable in our suffering. It is familiar. It’s a known quantity. Change can feel like Pandora’s box. If we let go of all of these things, what will be left of us? How will we define ourselves? How do I start over? What if I fail?

The thing is, failure is always measured based on our expectations. We can get our cues from society — seeking to emulate what we see on TV and what we hear in music — but this is very dangerous. You are making a conscious choice to define yourself based on other people’s standards. First you have to define what success looks like to you by more value based metrics. Is it financial freedom? A love without betrayal? A career based on providing services to others for causes you believe in? It is necessary to get beyond the images of success based on the car, the house, or the job title. These things are meaningless. And when you obtain them, you will quickly focus on the next thing you need to acquire. Desire and suffering go hand in hand. Both know no bounds.

Suffering is also caused by worries about others. Worrying about others is a distraction. It gives us something to do to avoid cleaning up our own house. Worry is useless.

So break free of your prison by flipping the script. Shake yourself out of your normal patterns to gain perspective. Take bold moves to get free. Let go of the ties that bind you. Even if you don’t feel able to make a life change right away, focus on making small changes in your thought patterns. Remember that you’ve survived all of the times that you thought would break you. God is faithful. Remember that everything you’re enduring is optional. Break yourself out of the prison you have created for yourself.

The world is big and possibilities are endless. You are only bound by the limits you place on yourself. With faith, you can experience more than you thought was possible. With faith, you will find that everything you need comes to you when you need it — no sooner and no later. All we must do is trust that and be as willing to let go as we were to receive.

Placing a butterfly in a jar is unnatural. Seeing a butterfly fly free in nature is true beauty. Don’t place yourself in a jar ;)

 

Photo source: butterfly

beach bliss
July 21, 2016

THE MOST VITAL THING IN LIFE

When you feel like saying something

That you know you will regret

Or keenly feel an insult

Not quite easy to forget,

That’s the time to curb resentment

And maintain a mental peace

For when your mind is tranquil,

All your ill thoughts simply cease.

It is easy to be angry

When defrauded or defied,

To be peeved and disappointed

If your wishes are denied;

But to when a worthwhile battle

Over selfishness and spite,

You must learn to keep strict silence

Though you know you’re in the right.

So keep your mental balance

When confronted by a foe,

Be it enemy in ambush

Or some danger that you know.

If you are poised and tranquil

When all around is strife,

Be assured that you have mastered

The most vital thing in life.

by Grenville Kleiser

Photo source: Beach bliss

Selena Sage note: This is a beautiful poem that I memorized for an assignment in high school years ago! It is a poem I still remember and love <3 

lotus-mud-flower-water-bloom
July 21, 2016

PATIENCE

During my stretches this morning, I asked for the lesson I was meant to learn and share today. The message that came into my awareness was patience. Honestly, patience is a concept that I’ve always had a little trouble with…haha I appreciate immediate results, but this is not always practical or in our best interests. In many ways, I feel that God has directed me to live on an island (where everything is typically much, much slower) to help me to really live and learn patience. I decided it would be a good exercise to reflect on patience and share some thoughts ;)

So what is patience? It’s defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. I like this definition. To me, it implies the underlying basis of patience — which is faith. Patience requires faith that everything is going to work out. But the catch is that it might not work out according to your expectations. I believe that the Universe operates so that the highest good will be fulfilled. The reality is that the highest good is not centered around every single want and need that you might have.

So what does this mean? It means that we must not become anxious or annoyed every single time something doesn’t work out our way. We have to zoom out and focus on the bigger picture. We have to force ourselves to look deeper into our situation and understand all that we must be grateful for. We must accept that, even though we may not see it yet, the current situation is intended to teach us something. What we are learning is likely the basis of inspiration for what we are meant to share with others. If we become overwhelmed, frustrated, or impatient, we miss the point.

“Do you have the patience to wait 
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?”  

- Lao-tzu

When we are unsettled, we become anxious. Making decisions based on feelings of anxiety can lead to more anxiety. Waiting a day, or even a week, to make a decision is often something we have the luxury of doing. However, in an unsettled state, we can feel the need to make the decision right away. If we allow ourselves calm moments of reflection, the answer usually comes to us. 

So, patience is also a practice of stepping away from the situation we are focused on to gain perspective. And meditation is a powerful way to interrupt negative thought patterns and create a calm environment which can restore the flow of divine inspiration.

No mud, no lotus is a Buddhist saying that I think captures the essence of what can happen if we allow our perceived suffering to be transformed. We recognize that every moment or situation may not meet our expectations, but we have faith that everything is happening for the highest good. Through this understanding, we are calm — which is another way of saying that we are patient. Our ability to move through challenges with patience and grace transforms us. Through our awareness, we grow to accept delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious…and, in doing so, we become the lotus.

Photo source: Lotus growing in mud

monks meditating
July 18, 2016

MEDITATION FOR THE MONKEY MIND

In Buddhism, ‘monkey mind’ is often used to refer to the endless chatter of the mind. There is an excellent video on YouTube, click here, in which Mingyur Rinpoche (a Tibetan Buddhist Master) simply outlines a meditative approach to calm the monkey mind. So much appreciation for sharing meditation in such an accessible way!

The mind loves to be busy. Even when we wake, the first thing that may come to mind is all of the things we need to do! Stress can be caused by the mounting worry that we haven’t done all that we need to do. As a result, our day can become a blur as we get swept away in all of the activities we feel that we need to achieve. We lose touch with what is real and what really matters.

In these times, we simply need to take a breath. Meditative moments, as I like to call them, allow us to break the cycle of our monkey mind and be free. As we concentrate on our breath, we are centering ourselves in the present moment.

Peace is just a breath away ;)

 

Photo source: Buddhist monks meditating 

 

blue sky
July 18, 2016

ELEVATE YOUR ENERGY

The plane of worry, fear, and doubt is like a stagnant pool of water. Disease breeds in stagnant water. This is a lower realm, and it’s easy to rest in this space. The mind is free to stay constantly busy analyzing worries, fears, and doubts while supplying other evidence to confirm what you believe to be true.

Elevating your energy above this plane is an active step. When you knowingly detach from the lower plane and move into a space without those worries, fears, and doubts, your mind becomes free. Here, everything flows and you’ve entered a creative space. If you welcome inspiration, it will join you. But if you become bored, or feel like you’re not accomplishing anything in this higher state, your mind will naturally drift back down to the lower realm. In that realm, it has many things to do.

The mind loves to be ‘busy.’ But busyness is the opposite of peace. Peace is stillness. It is not allowing the energy of your body to be hijacked by lower (lesser) energies. Be still is a Bible verse that is coming into my awareness at present. Meditation, too, is about being still and settling the mind. But even in meditation, one can focus on breathing or mantras to assist your mind with ascending to another plane (I recently saw an excellent video about this, which I think is deserving of its own post).

We must first have an awareness that we are actively in the lower energy plane of worry, fear, and doubt. Anxiety is an indicator that we might be in this space. Often, the energy we express in this fear based state is toxic. It can drive positive energy away from us. Remember, we only get what we give. Light is life. Be light.

It is worth saying that though there may be evidence to substantiate our lower energies, when we actively move to the higher plane, we are assured that everything will happen in its own time. We are assured that we will make the correct decisions when we need to make them. We understand that these lessons are intended to teach us something. We find peace.

Remember, peace is an inside job. External sources can only grant you temporary distraction. The Kingdom of Heaven lies within. Every creation carries pieces of the Creator. When we recognize our divine nature, worry becomes nonsensical.

I wish you stillness and peace.

Namaste.

 

Photo source: blue sky

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