Endless Compassion

  
Recently I was asked how it was possible to remain upbeat and cheery when meeting with so many people day in and day out with so many difficulties. 

This type of query is not about counseling or therapy though. This is about something much larger, much bigger than a profession. 
Who among us hasn’t tried to rescue someone? Tried to save someone? Become involved in the suffering of others only to make things worse? Who among us hasn’t fruitlessly thrown money at problems? Given unheeded and/or unhelpful advice? Become weighed down by the very people we thought we were helping?

Look at the projective nature. Better to ask what is it in yourself that wishes to be rescued? What is it in yourself that wants to be saved? That believes if only the right person would enter your life with just the right words, or if only you had ‘x’ amount of money that everything would be okay.

How to remain present with people when they’re suffering? How to bear compassionate witness to others in the midst of pain without being drawn in to their drama is a teaching for all of us. To be an empathetic witness who doesn’t stoically compartmentalize for fear of the pain they might feel. To not suffer from tyrannical compassion and walk the delicate line and to feel the pain of others without trying to commandeer or control the other persons emotional outcome is a skill. To not suffer from idiot compassion and become complicit in the loss of boundaries and drown in unhealthy copendency is a skill. 
A skill for whom? For everyone alive, in family, in relationship, in friendship, as lovers, as neighbors, as enemies, in society, in the environment and simply – in the world. 
While there are endless facets to examine in helping to avoid these common mistakes of compassionate caring – there is a foundational basis that needs to be there to keep your sanity, composure and your good heart intact.
When you can look into the suffering face of another and see them as inseparable from yourself, as a reflection of your own being – only then is your compassion aligned with wisdom. 
To be compassionate with suffering first requires an acceptance of suffering. Suffering is an intrinsic part of life and cannot be avoided. You can’t help anyone to change who doesn’t have an intention to change or doesn’t see an issue with their actions. I can’t tell you just how important it is to be able to separate out the difference between your version of another persons suffering and their actual suffering. Even more importantly to know the difference between their suffering and your discomfort with their suffering. To react to your own discomfort has nothing to do with compassion, but is more aligned with fear. 

May you practice a gentle loving and living compassion for others that is not contingent upon their actions, behavior or your expectations of outcome. May you see yourself in every suffering being, and may you recognize them as a reflection of your own unfinished business. May every suffering being you meet be met with a heart and mind imbued with a deep genuine concern for their happiness, safety, peace and well-being. In this way may we all experience the fruits of our loving and compassionate heart in this very life.

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Empathy and Sympathy 

  
Empathy is the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand-relate as best as you can to how that person feels in the situation. The trait of being able to express this feeling and understanding it is the second tier of empathy. Another response to hearing another person’s problem is to express sympathy. Sympathy is the ability to express ‘culturally acceptable’ condolences to anothers plight. A lot of the time, this includes pointing out a silver lining in the situation but it’s not always a helpful thing to do.Empathy is harder to accomplish for many reasons. We not only have to actively listen to another person’s problems without judgement but then be honest with ourselves and the other person about our feelings as a listener. That connection builds bridges that reinforce trust and understanding that are healthy and positive for both people. At a later time it may be appropriate to look for a solution. Few things in the world make people feel better than when trusted family or friends understand where they’re standing; it helps them to feel better because it gives confidence to their own standing. People are frequently lost in life and reassurance can be paramount in helping others to gain a foothold to take the next healthy step.

Next time someone opens up to you about a problem, try to listen to what they are saying. They are reaching out for help and full acknowledgement is the first step. I know it’s hard to willingly put yourself through more unnecessary pain but it in doing so you will both feel better. Identifying similar feeling in similar situations strengthens healthy bonds for not only the two of you but the community as a whole. We all suffer at some point and by talking it out we can genuinely help each other through hardships.

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Recognizing Your Angels

  
People are oceans – they cannot be recognized by their surface. How can I recognize the best ones for me?❤️

The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life and help you to see the sun, where you once only saw clouds. The people that believe in you so much, that you start to believe in you too. The people that love you, simply for being you – the ones who look past the behaviors, never give up on or lose hope for you; the ones who encourage you to see your endless potential. The ones who support your health, and the ones who listen. The ones who take the time to look beneath your surface.

The best ones remind you to never put yourself down and to never stop being kind to yourself. The very best ones tell you that it’s going to be okay, to breathe and to never give up or to lose your good heart. The ones who encourage you to keep going – that remind you that we all go through dark times and phases – and to never look back. The ones who will hold you in your bleakest hour. The ones who help you to stand when you fall. The ones who support you in your search for something deeper.

Finally – the ones that remind you that you are empowered – that you are the architect of your own future, that you are creative, and that you can do anything you set your mind to. That you can do and undo anything. To be patient. To never give up on love. The one’s that never stop loving you. These are the very best ones for you.❤️

 

“Anyone can learn the dance, just listen to the music.

Rumi🌷

Thank you to my angels🙏🌷

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We Are All Bathed In The Same Light☀️

 
Sometimes I wish I could shake people into loving themselves. How many times have my friends, students and clients dropped their defenses – unlocked themselves to reveal that they are living in a previously unmentioned and undisclosed fear? 

Fearful that there is secretly something so bad or so wrong with them that they will never find a home in someone else’s heart. Wanting and longing for deeper contact and connection. You are so lovable, more than lovable – but first you must learn to love yourself.
On the outside they will never know. Often so handsome, so pretty. Smiling and proper. So well-rehearsed. Hidden away in a very deep pocket filled with fears, insecurities, doubt and self-shame. Catching themselves staring at the clock far too often – a secret collector of minutes passing by. It’s bewildering how present the absence of joy and love can be when you allow it to control your life. 

Sometimes you get lost trying to find yourself. As I often say, “it’s hard to see the picture when you’re the one in the frame.” While no one can truly save you but yourself it often helps if you will allow someone else to hold the mirror – so you can get a better view with a little distance, light and reflection. It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help. You don’t always have to try so hard to keep it together. Sometimes the best way to put yourself together is by allowing this version of you to fall apart. So many times I have seen that the pain that seems so real will soon be nothing other than a misunderstood dream of a time gone by – a fading memory.

When the chaos subsides and settles you will finally be able to smile back at the world with authenticity and genuineness. There will be no more monsters lurking in the shadows. You will no longer have to pay the price for abandoning what you were meant to do in this world. When you let it all go you will discover that there was nothing ever wrong with you – that nothing has ever happened that could ever truly scar or damage you. 
You can remove the thorn and release the pain until there’s nothing left. You can become aware and no longer be imprisoned by your impulses. The road to healing begins with an intention. Happiness is based on believing in yourself once more and drawing on the well from within. Happiness is an internal choice, not a series of outer conditions. ❤️❤️❤️ 
Once you free your mind you will discover that we are all bathed in the same light, the same potential – just different reflections of the same loving eternity. 

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Be Present Just for A Moment

  
Notice whatever your current predominant attitude, emotive, or felt state is. That’s conceptual – meaning your thinking is describing what you’re experiencing. See if what you’re experiencing is only what your mind is describing. Briefly rest with that experience.

Now notice what the awareness is like that is recognizing that predominant state. What’s it like – only what it feels like – not what you think about it. Recognize its spacious, light, warm quality. This is called non-conceptual awareness. Rest with recognition in that awareness.

Go one step further: what is the awareness of that awareness like? What does it feel like? That’s awareness recognizing itself – which we call self realization – not you recognizing awareness – simply awareness recognizing itself.

When you stop paying attention to awareness what awaits you are appearances to awareness – Sounds, visual phenomena, tastes, smells, tactile sensations, thoughts and emotions. All of these are appearances are rising from, briefly abiding in, and returning to and not separate from awareness. These appearances are the results of your past thoughts, speech, and actions – they are not you. You are not a temporary mental or emotional state. Be the awareness.

Consequently go for protection from suffering as well as the joy of contentment in awareness – not in the appearances of awareness, or you will be like a suffering dog who cannot stop chasing its own tail. Free yourself. Relax. Don’t fixate on, adopt, or reject any appearance. Simply let them come and go without attachment. Recognize and rest in present moment natural uncontrived awareness. 

May you be happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease.

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The Garden

I walk softly through the garden of my mind planting the seeds of love and kindness, nurturing the growth, tending to the future harvest. May never-ending abundance fall from these limbs encouraging and feeding the lives of others. May the shade from these trees provide protection from the heat, and the weary a place of rest and gentle sleep. May these falling leaves and changing seasons remind me of my short time and brevity. I will mindfully sow my thoughts, reaping every action. These actions will flower into habits, and these will blossom and become my character. With every thought sewn, I weave the fabric, this colorful field of my reality.

There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our thoughts. Bertrand Russell

Imagine that there is no knowable world out there independent from your mind and the way that you think. 
When the Buddha was asked, “Where does the world and all of its inhabitants come from?”
He replied, “From movements of the mind.” 

Imagine that now. Imagine all that you’re perceiving now is the result of your previous conditioning. We reap what we sow. Thought by thought, word by word, action by action – tend to your garden wisely, creating your future harvest.

And another perspective: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7

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Ultimately Speaking

Not until you let go of everything that you crave and cling to will you receive all that you truly need. Furthermore – if you will simply pay attention you will recognize that you already have all that you need, I promise it is only the craving for more that stops you from realizing this. How could you ever have more than being a part of everything?
Finally you will need to let go of the person you think you are to discover what you just might already be. Only by releasing the grasping to the various identities you’ve unnecessarily created will you see that everything you’ve longed to become was already a part of you.

Relax the craving and the grasping. Everything is fine as it is. Everything is fine in its own place. There is nothing to cling to or control. There is nothing to fixate on, nothing to adopt or reject. Everything is free just as it is. Relax into this awareness, release the striving. Relax and observe the appearances of the mind like stormy weather passing through a perfect sky. You will burst into laughter when you discover that you have made a big deal about absolutely nothing for far too long now.

May you be happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease.

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Completion

There is no greater pleasure than to see someone go through the metamorphosis of spiritual, emotional, and psychological transformation. So thankful to be a part of the process as my friends, students, and clients move from a wisdom that was fractured and transform to a living and loving wholeness. So grateful.

With certainty I can state – that when it’s all said and done, the entire path of transformation will conclude with the realization that you are enough, perfect, and complete in your own being; that ultimately speaking there was never ever anything wrong with you at all. Each day rediscover your worth, value, and inner dignity in heartfelt silence beneath the chatter. If you’re going to self-talk anyway – then try obsessing and ruminating about the things you love about yourself.

Remember this as often as possible: there may be a few temporary obscurations in the way and veils that need to be lifted, but overall you’re already lovely and complete.
Everyday the world may be dragging you around and yelling at you, “This is important! That is important! You need to worry about this! You need to worry about that! You need to get your shit together!” And everyday it’s up to you to get your mind right and pull back and place your hand on your heart and remind yourself and say, “No. This is what’s important.”
Refocus on the powerful, magical and synchronistic part of your life where kindness, generosity, and love flow from you easily. That’s the right place.

Stop waiting for the world to give you what you want and falsely think you deserve – you’re responsible for providing those things to yourself. Stop trying to change others and circumstances and instead refocus and work on changing yourself until you can accept yourself as you are. Heaven and hell are not separate places – they are states of consciousness. You create your reality and reside in that reality – within your own mind.
You’re already whole so stop looking for your other half or something outside of yourself to complete you. What other people think of you is none of your business, tend to your own garden. This is another day, another opportunity to be yourself as you are – perfect, whole, amazing and complete. It is your life’s work to recognize this.

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Remain Soft and Vulnerable

In the midst of all the beauty that this world has to offer, yesterday was particularly rough. I drove down the rural road toward the safety and serenity of the meditation center that I call home. This time of year is more magical than usual as the surrounding ranch style houses seem to be filled with joy from the twinkling lights and decorations of Christmas.

My home – spacious, silent, and peaceful. Huge oak trees with enchanting Spanish moss hanging from the limbs stand beside a beautiful pond; the water is reflecting the setting sun perfectly. I came home to a welcoming garland on the door, the scent of fresh pine and presents wrapped beneath an ornate tree. The refrigerator is filled, the pantry is stocked. A loving family awaits me. There is abundance here. Other friends are already victoriously toasting and sending 2014 off with bottles of champagne.

So bittersweet. If only you had been there with me. If you could have heard the pain. The lives that were shared with me yesterday would be enough to break the strongest of hearts. I came home with tears streaming while driving down this dusty country road. An overdose of suffering – another child has succumbed to addiction. The despair of loss, grief, and loneliness will surely follow. The death of a husband, another friend with cancer, and so much more. Just know that there are walking wounded among us, they put on the loveliest of faces, the best of clothes, and it’s hard to tell who’s who just by looking.

Today I pray for those who are suffering deeply, may prayers of loving kindness and compassion reach you. May you not shut down. May you find the courage necessary to allow your heart to stay open. May you forgive yourself and others. May you stay soft and may the world show you its beauty once more. This too shall pass, and tomorrow you will figure out how to put yourself back together again. Try not to define yourself by your wounds, but instead stay loving, open, vulnerable and trust that light always follows the darkness. You are loved. You are not alone.🌷

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Passionate Love

It would be so easy to settle for companionship. For years I’ve watched couples in counseling gravitate toward the middle, what even they describe as “good as it gets, I guess,” being comfortable, and just feeling safe.

I’m fascinated by extraordinary people who also have extraordinary relationships. People who live not only their lives to the fullest, but are complimented even further by their partners. And there’s more – they keep it going throughout their lifetime together.

We’ve had the chance to interview many of these unfortunately rare couples. Thirty years together plus, and still passionate for each other. Is there a commonality? Yes! What have we discovered?

These passionate couples share these five qualities in common, and I seriously recommend that if you’re going to be in a relationship that it has these qualities, and if you’re not in a relationship with these qualities – to recalibrate – and quickly!

1. They have the same sexual frequency – this is the number of times over a given period under optimal circumstances that they desire to be with each other sexually. Inevitably this turns out to be a deal breaker for passionate people if it’s not met.

2. They are emotionally responsible. They don’t blame each other or make demands on one another. In fact they are each other’s biggest fans and supporters! This is huge. They support each others dreams and aspirations even when it’s inconvenient. They have similar communication styles and take complete 100% responsibility for their behaviors and emotions.

3. Their values and beliefs are aligned. Think religion, ethics, financial responsibility, philosophy of life, vision.

4. Intellectually compatible. Need I say more? Not a deal breaker necessarily, but definitely a stressor if there’s a mismatch.

5. Recreational Activities. She likes to camp, he’s a metrosexual. Again, not a deal breaker, but a stressor.

Passionate couples who last over the long term – are five out of five on our checklist. They consequently know what to expect from each other – they have a degree of certainty which creates stability. Consequently they have little fear of uncertainty and both trust and support the changing passions of their partner. They are behind them all the way. They can’t seem to get enough of them, and support them to the end.

I highly recommend never settling for anything less than this regardless of the consequences. This is your life, and be fair to your partner as well, recalibrate as often as necessary. Staying together without passion is not what we’re looking for. Lots of people manage that, there are plenty of ordinary relationships, we’re seeking something else!

There’s more to it than this of course, but this is a great start!

One last bit of advice, and it’s completely telling of the relationship: In your heart do you believe that this person would be there for you if you were sick, injured, bed-ridden? Could you see this person sticking it out with you on your deathbed? If the answer is no, you’ve got some talking to do with yourself.

If you’re going to be putting your life into this, and that’s what a passionate relationship is all about, watch that selection process and save yourself years or even a lifetimes worth of heartbreak.
Finally, if it’s just not happening, do both of you a favor, don’t be afraid to fire someone, to let go and move on. It’s your life and you’re worth it.

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