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15 Oct

AVOIDING YOUR BEST WORK LEADS TO CREATIVE CONSTIPATION

The following is a modified excerpt from Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done.

***

There’s a big difference between what your best work and all the other work you do. Doing your best work is fulfilling while you’re doing it and also creates a bridges the gap between the life you live today and the life your soul yearns to be in. And your best work isn’t just about work you get paid for — it could be playing in your hobby band, raising your kids, being the church secretary, or community volunteer projects.

Your best work is always going to be challenging because it’s the work that matters to you. And because it matters to you, you’re going to be thrashing — that is flailing, having mini identity crises, “researching”, and all the other kinds of meta-work that doesn’t actually push the work forward — along the way. Best work is starting to look suspiciously like hard work, and our natural reaction is to avoid doing hard work and to instead find something easier to do.

When it comes to your best work, not doing it comes with two major costs: (1) you won’t be able to thrive, and (2) you’ll be stricken with creative constipation. Since I’ve already discussed the link between thriving and your best work, let’s talk about creative constipation, or the pain of not doing your best work.

Creative constipation is exactly what it sounds like. We take in ideas and inspiration that get converted into aspirations, goals, and projects, and at a certain point, if we’re not pushing them out in the form of finished projects, they start to back up on us.

And like physical constipation, at a certain point, we get toxic. We don’t want to take in any more ideas. We don’t want to do any more projects. We don’t want to set any more goals or plans. We’re full and fed up.

That inner toxicity becomes the broth that flavors all our stories about ourselves and the world; our head trash gets more pronounced and intense, and what we see in the world goes from bright to dark. Creative constipation leads to behaviors in which we lash out at the world—and sometimes even more intensely at ourselves. We become resentful of others—even people we love—who are doing their best work.

Our ability to feel positive emotional peaks is diminished at the same time that our ability to feel negative emotional troughs is amplified. You’ve no doubt encountered the tortured, depressed soul who’s creatively constipated—and you may have been there yourself.

There’s a reason that nearly every spiritual tradition links creativity and destruction: the same energy that fuels creation also fuels destruction. The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim God creates and destroys; “beating swords into plowshares” works equally in reverse. The Hindu god Shiva is seen as

a destroyer who makes way for creativity. Creativity and destruction are seen as a continual loop in the Taoist concept of yin and yang.

Spiritual insights such as these also show up in our everyday lives. Think about how often you’ve engaged in retail therapy—and thus destroyed your time and resources—because you’re unsatisfied about something in your life. Think about how often you’ve indulged in emotional eating because you’re not creating the change you want to see in your life. Think about how many people blow up their lives in a midlife crisis because the career and life they’ve made haven’t satisfied their deep needs.

Now think about the people you know or have read about who are doing their best work. Notice how they’re healthier, happier, (usually) more financially comfortable, and in good relationships with others? Doing their best work creates meaning for them at the same time that it cocreates who they want to be in the world. And these folks know that doing their work in the world is the wheel of change, meaning, and growth, more so than merely being stuck in their heads.

So at both deep and practical levels, we can choose to channel our energy to do our best work and thrive, or we can choose to leave it unharnessed to gradually destroy ourselves, our relationships, our resources, and the world around us.

Better to do the hard work of creation than the hard work of repairing the destruction we’ve wrought.

 

Charlie Gilkey is an author, entrepreneur, philosopher, Army veteran, and renowned productivity expert. Founder of Productive Flourishing, Gilkey helps professional creatives, leaders, and changemakers take meaningful action on work that matters. His new book is Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done. Learn more at productiveflourishing.com.

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15 Oct

Are You at Risk for Depression?

An excerpt from Beneath the Surface by Kristi Hugstad

Ever since author Kristi Hugstad’s husband, after years of struggling with clinical depression, completed suicide in 2012 by running in front of a train, she has dedicated her life to helping to abolish the stigma of mental illness and suicide.

 

That mission is what inspired her to write Beneath the Surface: A Teen’s Guide to Reaching Out When You or Your Friend Is in Crisis, which speaks candidly to today’s youth — and the parents, teachers, and coaches who love them — about the anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts that far too often accompany the unique challenges that face their generation. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Most children grow up thinking their home, family, and upbringing are “normal,” even when they’re not. Children and teens living in a home where one or both parents are depressed often don’t realize this isn’t the norm — though this situation is more common than you may think.

 

In fact, fifteen million kids in the United States have parents with depression.

 

As a result, these fifteen million kids are at greater risk of developing depression themselves. But depression can happen to anyone. It can occur after a trauma or during a stressful situation, or it can develop due to someone’s particular brain chemistry. Why someone develops depression is important, particularly if it’s due to situational or lifestyle factors, which can be changed. But more important than the why is the how. As in, how do you deal with depression? That is the real focus of this book because depression can put someone at risk for any number of issues, including suicide. The faster you recognize the symptoms of depression, the faster you can get treatment and reduce the risk of other, even more serious issues. Additionally, the more you know, the better you can help others.

 

Are you at risk for depression? Consider the following questions, all of which may indicate that someone is already depressed or at risk for developing depression. If you find yourself answering affirmatively even to several questions, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed, but you may have an increased risk of becoming so. Later we’ll talk about what you can do if you or someone you love is suffering from depression.

 

Depression Self-Assessment

 

Do you currently live with a family member who suffers from depression?

Studies have shown that living with a mother or father who has depression, whether the cause is environmental or genetic, increases your own risk of developing the condition. You may not know if a parent suffers from depression; if you feel safe asking, do so. If not, consider whether they exhibit the signs described in this book. Further, you don’t have to live with a depressed family member to be at risk.

Does life feel pointless?

Everyone may occasionally feel hopeless as they navigate through school, work, and life. But if a hopeless feeling persists day after day and affects your daily behavior, it could be a sign of depression.

Do you find it impossible to concentrate?

Depression can make it hard to concentrate even when you’re reading or watching something you love.

Have you withdrawn from your friends and family?

It’s important to do your own thing and be independent, but this should be balanced with a healthy amount of socializing and bonding with friends and family. Depression sufferers often turn down opportunities to be with others simply to be alone.

Have you noticed a sudden change in your weight?

Extreme weight loss or gain can be a symptom of depression. If you’ve lost your appetite or find yourself seeking comfort in food, this may be because your brain chemistry is being affected by depression.

Do you have insomnia, or do you sleep too much?

Look, teenagers need their sleep and often don’t get enough. But if you go through long periods of sleeplessness or of sleeping too much, depression may be the reason.

Do you have physical pain that won’t go away?

Depression doesn’t just cause emotional pain. Depression can cause chemical imbalances in your brain that make you perceive pain differently, and it could be the reason for a persistent physical pain that doctors can’t find a reason for.

Have your grades dropped? Have you stopped participating in extracurriculars?

Depression has two best friends: apathy and lack of energy. These can combine to affect your performance in school and your extracurricular activities, and they can sap your passion for activities you once loved.

Have you ever thought of suicide?

If you answer yes, you’re not alone, and suicidal thoughts can be caused by depression. However, if you’re currently thinking about suicide, seek help and treatment. Tell someone. With counseling and, if necessary, proper medication, you will begin to feel better. When you’re suffering from depression, the idea of feeling better might be difficult to imagine. This is the time to practice trust and courage.

 

# # #

 

Kristi HugstadKristi Hugstad is the author of Beneath the Surface: A Teen’s Guide to Reaching Out when You or Your Friend Is in Crisis. Ever since her husband completed suicide in 2012, after years of struggling with clinical depression, by running in front of a train, she has dedicated her life to helping to abolish the stigma of mental illness and suicide. A certified grief recovery specialist, Kristi frequently speaks at high schools. Visit her online at https://www.thegriefgirl.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Beneath the Surface. Copyright ©2019 by Kristi Hugstad. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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03 Oct

Practice Self-Compassion

**Excerpted from “Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People” (Sounds True, Oct. 22, 2019)

Self-compassion means directing loving-kindness inwardly. Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself a break and acknowledge that you did your best in any circumstance. When you become your own champion, you will feel more protected in the world.

Research shows that people who are compassionate toward their own shortcomings experience greater well-being than those who harshly judge themselves. We all make mistakes, but the larger lesson of love is how we treat ourselves at those times.

Still, it’s often easier to have compassion for others than oneself. Over the years, many psychotherapist friends have lamented to me about this issue. Don’t worry. This is an area of growth that loving people must address so they can be more compassionate with their own struggles.

Compassion can be learned. Start by planning at least one act of kindness toward yourself daily. For example, turn off your computer and enjoy a walk or tell yourself, “Good job,” or “I’m happy that I didn’t react nastily to a controlling friend.” My Taoist teacher says, “Beating yourself up a little bit less each day is spiritual progress.”

SET YOUR INTENTION

I will be my own best friend. I am not perfect, nor are any of us. I will not beat myself up. I will treat myself with kindness.

 

*    *    *

Judith Orloff, M.D., is a New York Times bestselling author, a member of the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty, and has a Facebook Empath Support Community with more than 6,000 members. She has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, and in Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and more. Her new book, Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People  (Sounds True, Oct. 22, 2019), draws from her own experiences as an empath to share the secret to well-being. Learn more at drjudithorloff.com.

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19 Sep

Being Thankful Out Loud

An excerpt from Loving Out Loud by Robyn Spizman

 

While it can be easy to feel like it is impossible to make a positive difference in these divisive times, the new book Loving Out Loud: The Power of a Kind Word by New York Times bestselling author Robyn Spizman promises that our words can go a long way in that regard, especially when we share them out loud.

 

Loving Out Loud offers readers creative ideas and practical insights for cultivating kindness in their lives while connecting more deeply with the world around them. The book is divided into chapters that provide readers with powerful ways for raising kinder children; loving their significant others, family, and friends; and valuing teachers, coworkers, and everyone in between. We hope you will enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Since I haven’t thanked you yet today, let me do so now. I realize you could be doing any number of things at this very second, but you chose to read this article. For that I am truly grateful.

 

Having a mindful, kind attitude can change our view of life. I like to think of it as being a kindness “influencer,” as with social media. Imagine together starting a Loving Out Loud (LOL) campaign of caring about each other. Watch what happens when you share an attitude of gratitude in your world and show appreciation to others out loud — it’s electric and kinetic!

 

Albert Schweitzer summed up gratitude when he said, “Often…our own light goes out, and is rekindled by some experience we go through with a fellow-man. Thus we have each of us cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

 

When we appreciate someone and become that spark, a thank-you becomes a gift and lights us up. We all have so many people to thank. How we thank someone becomes part of our signature style of kindness. Studies continue to prove that the more we do for others, the happier we feel. There is a direct correlation. Cultivating kindness is a wonderful opportunity to uplift others as well as ourselves. When we turn our attention to noticing what we are grateful for, we bring out the best in ourselves.

 

If you stop and think of all the people you know who deserve a thank-you, you’ll be surprised to see just how many have an impact on your day, along with your life.

How a Thank-You Can Brighten Your Life

There are days when we all feel down or blue. A thank-you “out loud” is a really nice way I know to shift a mood. It can begin with the power of a simple hello, showing your genuine delight and lift up another person, including yourself.

 

A kindhearted hello leads to friendships, new contacts, relationships, and more. You are not just breaking the ice but are igniting an opportunity when you take the risk to connect with another person and reach out first, sharing positive words or an observation. You create the possibility of making a new friend. In return, you are also seen as friendly, outgoing, considerate, engaging, complimentary, and interested. These good traits contribute to making a wonderful first impression.

Be Thankful Out Loud

The words thank you are universal in their ability to spread good feelings. It’s clear that when we thank the people who touched our lives in little as well as powerful ways, we celebrate a part of life that validates each other.

 

Think for a moment:

  • Who has helped you along the way in your lifetime?
  • Who wrote recommendation letters on your behalf?
  • Who took the time to teach you to ride a bike, read a book, play an instrument, hit a home run, play tennis, or cook a special recipe?
  • Who makes your life easier or has come to your rescue?
  • Is there someone who has been there for you through thick and thin?
  • Do you practice saying “thank you”?

Every day there are opportunities around you, and when you seize them out loud, you build and increase your LOL radar. When you see someone in uniform who has served the country or provides safety or a public service, get in the habit of saying, “Thank you for your service.” Here are some other ideas.

Make a Thank-You Date

A friend recently reminded me how special it is to thank others out loud with a scheduled “thank you” date or get-together. Every year, she takes her babysitters out for a thank-you lunch dedicated to expressing her appreciation. It makes her kids’ caregivers feel special, and they make new friends at these dates, since they have so much in common. Whether it’s a lunch to thank a teacher, breakfast to thank Grandma for driving car pool, a mother-daughter walk at the park, or a dinner with a friend who volunteered to help you, thank-you dates are memorable and a tradition worth establishing.

 

Having written about the topic of thanks, love, and kindness for decades, I’ve discovered many clever ways to say “thank you,” some that don’t even use those words. For example, I loved it when a younger gentleman gave a handshake to an elderly coworker and said, “I want to shake the hand of the nicest person I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. You are one generous soul.”

 

I continue to marvel at all thank-yous that make us feel appreciated, but some hit it right out of the park. I’ll never forget one I received that made me smile from ear to ear. It has stuck with me over the years as among the most touching thank-yous ever to warm my heart.

 

I sent a holiday gift to a friend of mine’s daughter. As she opened it, her parents videotaped her reaction and sent me the thank-you video capturing her excitement. Her joy in unwrapping her present was off the charts. That was one gift that kept on giving joy!

 

# # #

 

Robyn Spizman is the author of Loving Out Loud. She is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and popular keynote speaker who has appeared in the media for over three decades, including NBC’s Today show more than thirty times. She lives in Atlanta. Visit her online at http://www.robynspizman.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Loving Out Loud. Copyright ©2019 by Robyn Spizman. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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26 Aug

Telepractice Speech Therapy for Students Blazing a New Trail in Telemedicine

How a novel telemedicine tactic is bridging gaps in standard speech therapy, improving and accelerating results for families, schools and districts at-large

For those looking toward industries poised to lead the growth charge over the next five-to-ten years, one need look no further than telehealth and telemedicine. These global markets are expected to exceed $185 million from 2019 through 2026, according to the new Advanced Report on Telehealth and Telemedicine Market Analysis Forecast. Yet another new report, “Telemedicine Market 2019,” actually forecasts global industry growth to reach a staggering $78.82 billion during the period 2018-2022. These and a litany of other research endeavors veritably assure that telehealth will become a dominant force, reinventing health care at large in years to come.

For students from K-12 through college-level requiring speech therapy in particular, remote access to professional services and practitioners will clearly become more ubiquitous. In fact, “the demand for speech-language therapists is already outpacing the supply in some cities,” says Licensed Speech Pathologist Orna Kempler-Azulay, president of Abington Speech Pathology Services, Inc. She’s helping spearhead the speech teletherapy charge in America and beyond with her ground-breaking service platform, RemoteSpeech.com.

Underscoring telehealth’s viability for expanding access to quality and effective treatment for both children and adults worldwide, the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) has gone on record to substantiate that, “Telepractice is considered an appropriate model of service delivery for audiologists and speech-language pathologists.” Additionally, a “Speech Telepractice” report not only touts improved access to care that telehealth facilitates, but also engagement and the residual effect benefits of remote care. It cites, “The web-based technology engenders highly personalized and engaging activities, such that clients’ interactions with these high interest tasks often continue well beyond the therapy sessions.”

For students, these advancements easing accessibility, bolstering treatment protocols and expediting results can’t usher in soon enough amid the extreme hardships many children with voice, speech or language issues suffer. Not the least of which is getting bullied or even shunned by friends and family members. In light of the nearly one in twelve U.S. children ages three to seventeen reportedly suffering from some kind of communication disorder, below Azulay outlines key ways remote speech teletherapy benefits students, including and beyond bridging the availability gap:

  1. Eradicates barriers to access. For many, career and other schedule demands, transportation challenges and other obstacles make it difficult––if not impossible––for families with students to participate in on-site speech therapy programs, whether at the school, in clinics or other treatment locales. For those living in rural and remote areas, these problems can be further exacerbated, rendering treatment options an impossibility. This also applies to people who must relocate internationally, including members of the military, business executives and government officials who desire to help family members or themselves. Web-based speech teletherapy offers these and other well-suited patients the opportunity to readily access the on-going care they need to improve their lives, also giving them control over date and time-of-day scheduling and other concerns. Indeed, k ids work one-on-one with teletherapists in-between their activities and busy schedules, whether the sessions are conducted after school, at night or on the weekends. Teletherapy also allows these individuals to start and continue therapy without any interruptions, which can optimize results.
  2. Removes stigma and fear.   For many children, visiting a speech therapist at school heightens their anxiety and makes them even more self-conscious about getting the help needed to improve their speech. These kids are often bullied by their peers, who belittle the speech issue as well as the therapy sessions that make the patient’s schedule “different” from other students. What Azulay is seeing in schools that have embraced teletherapy is how they proffer a quiet location—in an office or a study room in the library—for these students to easily log on to a teletherapy platform via computer or tablets and readily access the expert-level help needed. In effect, these students are more willing to get the help they need because treatment can be rendered with more privacy and at a date and time that better suits. “As far as their other classmates know, they’re just coming up to do some work on the computer,” said one therapist in a recent study. In some rural communities, parents and therapists confirm that teletherapy affords them greater privacy, allowing their loved ones to access the help they need without other family members or other members of the community knowing. Even when other students observe that speech teletherapy is underway via a computer or tablet, it can actually draw curious, positive attention from these peers.
  3. Fosters access to top therapists.  Federal and state law requires all therapists to be licensed in the state they practice in, regardless of how their services are rendered. What teletherapy has created is a vast new channel through which highly qualified practitioners can provide their expertise to patients throughout the entirety of their home states, not just the city in which they live. Relating to her own RemoteSpeech.com platform, Azulay points out that therapists are “lining up in droves” because they’re wanting to help the throngs of patients who are seeking access to high-quality therapists.  Families and patients are no longer relegated to those professionals who happen to be in their immediate area. With access to a deeper roster of talent, caregivers can specifically place students with culturally and linguistically diverse professionals, or make a selection based on specialty. All of these options create a more tailored approach that yields a better outcome. Additionally, through telemedicine, therapists also are able to see more patients per day, which means more people can get the help they need on a regular basis.

    Azulay also underscores that current state lawmakers have established strict criteria for any therapist to practice, and rightfully so. “We’re doing a lot of educating to ensure those inquiring about speech teletherapy services know that quality of care is not being compromised in any way whatsoever and, in fact, quite the opposite is true,” Azulay says. She further underscored that access to a larger pool of highly trained Speech-Language Pathologists and School Psychologists is being provided, with these professionals executing the exact same exercises they would undertake in an in-person session. Also, quality therapists can eliminate prohibitive travel expenses, and better circumvent tardiness, absences, weather events and other unexpected issues that previously required scrambling for a replacement.

  4.  Greater transparency and oversight.  Modern platforms allow every speech teletherapy session to be recorded, giving any parent or other concerned caregiver the ability to access the video and see exactly what is going on and remain involved in the child’s progress. In fact, according to Azulay, teletherapy offers an even greater opportunity to review and assess a given session or overall therapy course as compared to in-person sessions that are usually conducted one-on-one, behind closed doors. Caregivers can procure session notes, schedules, therapy plans and progress updates at any time they desire, and videos can also be referenced during parent meetings. This more readily allows for any course-corrections needed to ensure all of the child’s needs are being addressed—mission critical as treatment evolves and the child progresses.

For teletherapy to work, Azulay says you need to have willing partners, including parents, caregivers, school districts, hospitals and others who embrace the approach. Despite the preponderance of evidence supporting remote speech therapy, Azulay and others in the telepractice business face resistance. For example, among school districts, such push-back is often due to solvable issues like lack of updated technology (and/or an understanding of how to use basic technology); access to tablets, computers or internet access; or adequate space for treatment of these students.

Insurance companies not universally covering treatment costs is another barrier that Azulay hopes will be eradicated in the near future. “Some states have passed laws that make insurance companies reimburse their patients for teletherapy, but too many are still not there yet,” she laments.

Despite some hurdles yet to be overcome, the growth trajectory for speech teletherapy is undeniable and understandable. Overall, the approach is already helping thousands in the U.S. and around the world gain access to care that seemed impossible to receive in the past. The telepractice option is providing needed help far more conveniently to students within the security and comfort of their own home or other “safe space”—an A+ approach soon to graduate to the billion-dollar big leagues.

~~~

By Merilee Kern, MBA
As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist. As a prolific branding and marketplace trends pundit, Merilee spotlights noteworthy industry innovators, change makers, movers and shakers. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events across all categories. Connect with her at
www.TheLuxeList.com / Instagram www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews / Twitter www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor / Facebook www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern

 

Sources

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15 Jun

The Eight Steps of Love on Every Breath

An excerpt from LOVE ON EVERY BREATH by Lama Palden Drolma

At this time, when our human family is facing many challenges, it is more important than ever that we find peace and sustenance in our hearts. In the new book Love on Every Breath: Tonglen Meditation for Transforming Pain into Joy, author Lama Palden Drolma introduces a profound, ancient meditation that has been practiced in isolated mountain retreats in the Himalayas for centuries, which is now available to the modern world.

In the standard Tonglen, the meditator simply breathes in the suffering of others and then breathes out love and compassion to them, but this approach does not always work well for Westerners, who often find it difficult to get past the ego’s roadblocks. That is why Lama Palden prefers to teach the more user-friendly “Love on Every Breath” variation to Westerners, which comes from the Shangpa lineage of two enlightened women.

We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

Love on Every Breath is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana meditation from the Shangpa lineage that combines breath, awareness, imagination, and an energetic transformation process. The meditation brings all these components together in a powerful way in order to open our hearts, to reveal and cultivate our kindness, love, compassion, and wisdom. In Tibetan, this is called the Extraordinary Tonglen, since it uses special techniques of Vajrayana to transform suffering. The Tibetan word tonglen is composed of two words — tong means “giving or sending,” and len means “receiving or taking.” First, we open ourselves to receive and feel the suffering of ourselves and others, breathing it into our heart center. This is the “taking.” The suffering is then instantaneously and effortlessly liberated in the heart and transformed by a special method into unconditional love. At this point, on the out-breath, love and healing energy are sent back out to whomever you are doing the meditation for at the moment, whether yourself or another. This is the “sending.”

The primary purpose of the Love on Every Breath meditation is to cultivate our love and compassion, to transform and liberate our heart. When we come from a place of love, everything shifts for us. This book gives you the tools to transform and empower yourself and come to a place of creative engaged freedom.

The Love on Every Breath meditation is not an exotic Himalayan practice, but it is something that emerges out of us spontaneously and naturally. It is inherent in us to want to remove suffering — others’ or our own. The problem for many children (and adults) is that we absorb the suffering of others, and then it stagnates inside of us. Love on Every Breath gives a way for the suffering to be liberated in the body and the psyche and emerge as compassion. There is a felt sense as this happens.

 

The Eight Steps of Love on Every Breath

The Love on Every Breath meditation has eight steps. The complete meditation is done as a sitting practice and takes about forty-five minutes to an hour from start to finish, but the practice is highly adaptable and can be easily abbreviated.

 

Here is a brief description of each step. In step 1, Resting in Open Awareness, we let go of everything. We let go of the past and the future; we let go of any and all ideas about ourselves or others; we completely let go into our bodies and into relaxing. We become aware of our mind so that we don’t allow it to wander into thinking. Rather, we stay present with what is. Usually, the easiest way to do this is to join our attention and breath. This anchors us in our body, and in our felt sensations, instead of in our thoughts. This is a doorway into calm abiding. We simply rest in awareness and openness; openness is synonymous with emptiness.

 

In step 2, Seeking Refuge in Awakened Sanctuary, we go for refuge, for sanctuary, to the awakened ones. This helps create a context and the space for our meditation. We also ask the buddhas and other awakened beings to support us during our meditation.

 

In step 3, Cultivating Awakened Mind, we engender the altruistic intention to fully awaken to be able to help liberate all beings from suffering.

 

In the fourth step, Stepping into Love, we invite an awakened being, traditionally Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, to be present above the crown of our head.

 

Following our heartfelt prayers, Chenrezig dissolves into ourselves, and we meditate that we become inseparable from Chenrezig. The awakened mind is then established in the heart center as a crystal vajra of light, which is a symbol of the indestructible, pure luminous empty reality of who we truly are, our buddha nature. The vajra is what transforms the suffering — not our individual personality or ego. This saves our ego from saying, “I don’t want to take in more suffering! I have enough of my own!”

 

The Vajra that Appears in our Heart Center

 

In the fifth step, Taking and Sending for Yourself, we imagine our ordinary self in front of us and contemplate our pain and wounds, meeting ourselves with loving awareness. We breathe in our suffering as a dark smoke-like substance, breathing it right into our heart center. As soon as it touches the vajra of light, we visualize a lightning bolt arising from the vajra, transforming all suffering into white light, symbolic of unconditional awakened love and healing energy. When we are breathing out, this white light goes into the heart center of our ordinary self, where it heals, illuminates, and awakens.

 

In the sixth step, Taking and Sending for Others, we meditate on a loved one, and gradually we include others. As in the previous step, we contemplate their suffering, big and small, see it as dark smoke, and breathe it into the vajra in our heart. When the suffering touches the vajra, it is instantly transformed. Then, on the out-breath, we imagine the white light going into the person or people, filling them with light and healing, and eventually bringing about their awakening.

 

Chenrezig, together with the vajra of awakening, greatly enlarges our capacity to welcome the suffering and transform it. Slowly we expand our meditation out to various people and groups of people, until finally all beings are included. We rest in the love and joy of all of us awakened together.

 

Step 7, Dissolving, involves dissolving our visualization, completely letting go, and resting in open awareness. Then in step 8, Dedicating, we dedicate any and all benefit of our meditation to the awakening of all beings.

 

# # #

 

Lama Palden Drolma is the author of Love on Every Breath. A licensed psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and coach, she has studied Buddhism in the Himalayas with some of the most preeminent Tibetan masters of the twentieth century. Following a traditional three-year retreat under his guidance, Kalu Rinpoche authorized her to become one of the first Western lamas. She subsequently founded the Sukhasiddhi Foundation, a Tibetan Buddhist teaching center in Fairfax, California. Visit her online at http://www.lamapalden.org.

 

Excerpted from the book Love on Every Breath. Copyright © 2019 by Lama Palden Drolma. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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17 Apr

Intuition: Your Soul Signals

An excerpt from Energy Speaks by Lee Harris

Most of us intuitively feel that reality contains a spiritual dimension hidden from our five senses. For author Lee Harris, that spiritual dimension became startlingly real one day when he began communicating with “the Zs,” a group of nonphysical beings from another plane of reality. At first, Lee dismissed the Zs as figments of his imagination, but they spoke with such wisdom and compassion that he became convinced of their existence. He quickly discovered that they had profound insights to offer into the big issues facing all of us: relationships, prosperity, health, and more.

 

In Energy Speaks: Messages from Spirit on Living, Loving, and, Harris distills the Zs’ wisdom into a concise and practical guide for conscious living that promises that each one of us is an irreplaceable part of something much greater than ourselves, and that help is always available to us from unexpected sources. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

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Our destiny is being reframed and reshaped every day depending on how we show up: The truths we tell. The choices we make. The willingness to grow and change.

 

Destiny says, “Okay, we’ll give her this new boyfriend to help her get over the boyfriend she was with a year ago.”

 

You start to date that new guy, but then you meet someone else, too — someone who is a lot more like your old boyfriend.

 

So this is the choice point. You’re offered an upgrade boyfriend or the old pattern.

 

This time, you choose the old pattern. You choose what is your habit.

 

Now, even though it’s not going so well with the old pattern in a new form, it’s familiar. In a little bit of time, either you get to the point where you say, “You know what? I’ve already done this relationship dynamic before. Thank you. You’re very nice, but this is not for me.” Or your resolve crumbles and you go back into your comfort zone.

 

Six months later, you’re looking sickly and have run out of energy. You’re turning up at events holding the hand of the more predictable boyfriend, and your friends are nervous to say anything to you (kind of like you were with Jill). Your last boyfriend was a bit tricky, and they don’t want to get in the middle of that again. Meanwhile, you’re just going down, down, down, inside your own soul. Stuck in the habit.

 

It doesn’t have to go that way. Your destiny path is constantly signaling you through your intuition. The beauty of intuition is that it’s like a GPS installed by your soul — constantly rerouting and rewiring you based on your choices. It’s calibrating you to more and more courage and honesty. It’s leading you to greater empowerment and freedom of being and expression.

 

Of course, following your intuition doesn’t mean that every wish is going to come true, that every situation is going to work out the way you first envision it, or that the path will be clear of all obstacles. Well, I had this intuition that I was going to be Joe Smith’s girlfriend. So what happens inside you when being with Joe Smith isn’t what plays out for you? Do you decide that your intuition isn’t trustworthy? Do you mistreat yourself in some way? Or are you kind to yourself around the disappointments and hurts that you sometimes feel? Do you recognize that the situation has changed, and so, too, can you?

 

We get attached to various pathways, destinations, and outcomes. And we forget that the only attachment our soul has is to our growth. All it wants to know is: are we growing and expanding? Our soul doesn’t say, “Yes, she needs to marry that woman named Yvonne, and it will all be great! Gay marriage is on the way, so that will work out well. They’re going to have a house in Birmingham, and they’re going to have three kids.” No. The soul is overseeing the deeper undercurrents of transformation, less focused on the specifics. “She needs to experience empowered love without restriction.”

 

Destiny says:

We put Yvonne there for her, and she didn’t pick Yvonne. And while there was a possibility that she would stay with Yvonne, she walked away from Yvonne after a month because she was not quite ready for that depth of love. She chose the next one in line so she could see how painful her relationships can be when her choices aren’t aligned with her innermost being, and she stayed with that person for six months until she got sick.

We are constantly redirecting and being redirected. And learning to tune our dial to the frequency of our intuition makes for a more fun-filled journey…no matter how many twists and turns there are along the way.

 

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Lee Harris the author of Energy Speaks: Messages from Spirit on Living, Loving, and Awakening. He is also an intuitive medium, transformational leader, musician, and visual artist. In 2004, he began holding channeling sessions and readings in his home, and today he leads workshops throughout the world. A native of England, he is now based in California. Visit him online at https://www.leeharrisenergy.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Energy Speaks. Copyright ©2019 by Lee Harris. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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17 Apr

REVEALING THE REAL YOU IN LOVE

The Letter Code CoverAn excerpt taking from The Letter Code: Deciphering Why You Love the Way You Love

By Dr. Krystal White, Ph.D
Go to www.thelettercode.com/resources to take the quiz and find out what YOUR letter is.

You know the feeling of being completely yourself, unencumbered and free. It feels like a peaceful contentment. We all want relationships, especially romantic partnerships, where we can be intimately and positively connected to our significant others and be our true selves at the same time. We need to find our own centers to achieve this dynamic. Feeling successful in our relationships is reliant on our ability to uncover and respond to our hidden core love needs.

If you’re like me, you live in a complicated world and find yourself to be rather complicated, too. Being “authentic” is not as easy as it sounds. You need to shift through lots of detail on the surface to quickly get to the simple, real you underneath all the roles, responsibilities, and rules you have adopted. Your letter code is a hack for deciphering all this superficial stuff to get to the most essential way you genuinely connect with your significant others.

Your letter code reveals the basic need you are seeking to fulfill in love—and have been all your life—although you may not have known it. It dictates how you fundamentally relate to your romantic partners and explains the reason why. Everybody has a combination of needs that, when met, facilitate them in clicking with their partner. The love connection just flows when this occurs.

You know this clicking when you feel it. It happens when you are loving from your real code and not a false one. Staying close to your code— your real center of love—will quickly reduce how much effort you put forth to connect, and it will increase your experience of being in the right place to feel love.

In this book, you will be guided to classify your behavior, feelings, and thoughts into their most essential form. Knowing our codes helps us quickly translate and communicate our real selves to the significant others we’d like to love better.

People have only one of four main romantic love profiles that explains their patterns of connectivity. The needs that underlie each of these profiles are recognizable and easy to understand. The four letter codes represent essential patterns of thought, feeling, and actions. These are expressed in how emotionally close or distant people like to be in relationship with their significant others. They also help us decipher the degree to which we seek either autonomy or support from them.

Under different circumstances, some people need either to move emotionally closer to their partners or emotionally away from their partners. Other people don’t need to move at all, needing instead to remain grounded, while either standing together or standing apart. Each of these four behavioral styles conveys how people achieve connectivity with their significant others.

In this book, I’m giving you a quick tool for understanding the four main types of psychological needs driving how we love. Without psychobabble or spending time trying to deduce the origins of your profile, I’m going to give you quick, user-friendly information on how much support, togetherness, groundedness, and separation you naturally need in your love life to click with a partner.

How to feel fulfilled, happy, and aligned with a significant other may have been hidden to you up to now. But I want you to be able to see the real you in love. Knowing your letter code has the potential to powerfully change the way you love from here on out.

You Get the Picture

 

Consider the body language when two people approach one another in greeting. Some people lean in, some people stand upright, and some lean away. Some people even want to be so close that they are practically standing on top of one another.

These physical patterns are like the lines making up letters in an alphabet. Imagine that each person’s body is a straight line. Lines join together to make a letter, just as two adults connect together to form a couple. Being able to read the letters is a hack that can help you quickly understand yourself.

It is not possible to accurately discern anybody’s relationship needs purely from observing the way he or she approaches others. What you see is not what you get. But you can decipher your own core needs in a relationship by examining what’s beneath your patterns of feeling, thinking, wanting, and behaving in love.

The reason to do this is because you can’t change what you can’t see. Once you can see your letter code, you’ll be more effective in connecting with others while being the real you.

The Different Ways We Touch

Looking at how the lines of our energy and behavior touch and connect reveals commonalities and differences in our core needs in relationship.

 

Leaning In

Some people need to lean into a relationship, wanting to establish a mutually supportive connection. If this feels right for you, you want not only to assist your partner, but to also lift her up emotionally. You want both of you to be there to help each other when vulnerable, and receive a significant degree of support from the connection. Without this consistent support, you will feel that something just isn’t right. You may feel slight unease, disappointment, or frustration—perhaps assuming that you are being taken for granted or mistreated. Or you could feel self-judgmental, becoming dissatisfied with yourself for not being enough or doing well enough to have earned and received the support you wanted.

You may be a person who naturally needs a significant degree of emotional vulnerability. You appreciate it when you are needed; and if you are being honest with yourself, you like it when you can trust it is safe for you to need someone. Getting this need met provides you with an essential sense of stability.

Leaning Back

Some people need to lean back from a relationship, wanting to diverge from their significant others. If this sounds like you, there are times when you will seek to go into a completely different direction from your significant other. You  need periodic diversion away from being a couple in order to feel satisfied. Leaning away occasionally, or even frequently, gives you space to reflect on your own life, to feel more gratitude for the relationship, and to bring vitality and renewed passion back to your relationship.

If your partner does not like or genuinely value this type of leaning away, you may feel frustrated, ashamed, or guilty of your desire. You may establish destructive habits to gain this freedom or to repress your need for it. Neither is an ideal solution. By contrast, if you can lovingly express your need to have separate experiences and your partner is willing to embrace your need, as a couple you may discover that adventures external to your partnership actually brings integrity to the relationship.

Standing Side by Side

Some people feel a need to be grounded and upright. They prefer to touch in ways where each person isn’t required to lean in to connect. They prefer to stand side by side in love. If this sounds like you, you tend to find purpose in maintaining a solid, rooted foundation. You feel fulfilled by being steadfast in your commitments, and you value a strong work ethic. You view relationships as partnerships where two people care about each other’s wellbeing and take responsibility for themselves as well. It feels important to you to see eye to eye with your partner and to function as equals.

Reaching Out

Some people are looking for companionship from their significant others. Companionship provides a bridge of connection between otherwise separate entities. If you deeply appreciate it when your partner reaches out to you in reciprocity to enjoy common interests, tasks/projects, activities, and experiences, this may be your preferred dynamic. Sharing and collaborating is a link to your significant other that provides a clear way for you to enhance your mutual pleasure.

Focus on Yourself First

In the next four chapters, you’re going to learn how to decipher your personal letter code and hidden relationship needs. It doesn’t matter if you are in a long-term relationship, such as a marriage, or if you are only casually dating right now. In either case, you have built-in, natural ways of joining your life with a person you genuinely want to love. Once you know your core need and can more easily see it behind your thoughts, emotions, and actions, then you can start to build (or rebuild) your love life from a foundation of empowered awareness rather than false interpretations.

Each letter code visually represents the type of relationship a person is either consciously or unconsciously trying to create according to his or her personal motivation. Understand your letter code and you’ll be clued in about your innermost need.

 

Beware! Trying to guess your significant other’s letter code could lead to disconnection. Remember, these needs are mostly hidden from us. We can spend many years superficially reading our relationships one way, while the truth of what we need is completely the opposite. You’ll get much better results if you work on deciphering your own motivation first before you try to guide your significant partner to decode his/her own needs.

 

Focus on yourself. That often serves as a powerful tool to influence others to do the same.

 

 

KRYSTAL WHITE, Ph.D., is a leadership psychologist with more than 15 years of experience working with individuals, organizations, and communities.

 

Dr. White holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, is a board certified child and adolescent psychologist, and has completed a medical fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center in developmental pediatric psychology. She also holds a master’s degree in Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a master’s degree in mind, brain, and education from Harvard University.

 

For more information, please visit www.thelettercode.com and www.drkrystalwhite.com or connect with Dr. White on Instagram and LinkedIn.

 

The Letter Code is available on Amazon, www.thelettercode.com, and wherever books are sold.

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03 Apr

You Have to Believe it to See it

An excerpt from Signs from the Other Side by Bill Philipps

Who hasn’t wished they could ask a departed loved one for advice, heal an unresolved rift, or even just ask where their grandmother’s strand of pearls is hidden? The best psychic mediums know what solace such messages can provide. They also know that communication with those on the other side can be cultivated by anyone with a sincere and open heart.

 

In Signs from the Other Side: Opening to the Spirit World (New World Library, March 5, 2019), beloved psychic medium Bill Philipps illuminates all of this for readers by demystifying what he does and providing step-by-step guidance that allows readers to receive afterlife communications themselves. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

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I invited my dad to brunch one recent Sunday afternoon. We haven’t always had the closest relationship, but fortunately it has strengthened with time. After a delicious meal and rich conversation, we were saying our goodbyes in the restaurant parking lot when a beautiful white butterfly fluttered our way. It danced in front of us, then circled us multiple times. It was obvious, at least to me, that it was trying to get our attention. I knew there was nothing random about its presence.

 

“Look at that,” I said. “Mom is letting us know she is here with us.” A split second after those words spilled from my mouth, I cringed. Why did I just say that out loud?

 

Faint hope, I guess. I braced myself for Dad’s reply.

 

“Yes, she is,” he said with sincerity in his voice as his eyes followed the butterfly’s path.

 

I was stunned. And joyful beyond measure.

 

Anytime I had ever talked about receiving signs or other information from the spirit world, Dad laughed, joked, or scoffed. For personal and religious reasons, he never could understand why I had passed on a surefire career as an opera singer in favor of one as a psychic medium. In his defense, what parent wouldn’t find that incomprehensible? That’s why those three words from him were such a breakthrough in his mind-set and in our relationship.

 

He knew that since Mom’s death in 1999, when I was just fourteen years old, I had believed that white butterflies were a sign from her that she was with me. I don’t know on this day in the parking lot how much Dad truly believed it, but it appeared he had at least unlocked his mind and heart to entertain the possibility that she was responsible.

 

And that is exactly how every opportunity to receive a sign from someone who has crossed over to the next life must begin.

 

Each day, spirits are trying to connect with us to help us make decisions, find meaning in our lives, or navigate through difficult times. They try to create that link in a multitude of ways, such as with animals, electricity, music, dates, numbers, dreams, and coins. They repeatedly dangle these things right in front of us, and though we see them, we usually consider them nothing more than ordinary objects or coincidences that have no significant meaning in our lives. That’s because we don’t know how to view them as something more, or we simply don’t believe.

 

How often have you made a decision based on a gut feeling? Isn’t the result of your decision usually the one you had hoped for or expected? And how often have you said to yourself, “Something is telling me I should [or shouldn’t] do this”? That “something” is your innate psychic ability, commonly known as intuition. It is a God-given gift that is seized upon by the spirit world to help guide you in your earthly journey.

 

What we often fail to realize is that even though a dead person’s body is gone, their spirit is not. Their soul lives, not just in heaven but on earth. Sure, we may comfort ourselves by saying that we know they are around us or that we feel their energy, but do we truly believe they are present in our lives to the extent that they can communicate directly with us from the beyond at any moment?

 

They are, and they can.

 

If your first reaction is “I need to see it to believe it,” make a couple of adjustments to that phrase and you’ll be right on track: “I need to believe it to see it.”

 

One day, when I was trying to navigate through some difficulties in my life and desperately longed for my mom, I asked her to show me a sign that she was with me. Believing that she would, and paying close attention to my surroundings, I was expecting to see the usual white butterfly. But instead, I received something much more definitive.

 

The next day I found myself driving behind a car with a license plate that read “YVONNE” — my mom’s name. Not only is that a relatively uncommon name, but there are millions of registered vehicles in the vast state of California and only one with that plate. How did I end up in that exact place on the road at that precise moment behind that car the day after I had asked for a sign? Coincidence? No way. I think my chances of winning the lottery might have been better. Signs from the spirit world are literally everywhere. Fortunately, I was in a frame of mind that enabled me to recognize one.

 

In a world fraught with uncertainty, people are often searching for guidance in an earthly form but struggling to find it, so they are turning more and more to the “other side” for help. I witness it daily from those who reach out to me for readings or advice, many of them desperate to connect with a loved one who has passed. But the good news is that you don’t need me to make that connection. Yes, with a gifted medium as a conduit, communication between you and the spirit world will be much clearer. But neither I nor any other medium can be that conduit for everyone all the time. That is why if you believe in the intuition you were born with and are open to the possibilities, the spirits will take care of the rest directly with you.

 

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Psychic Medium Bill Philipps is the author of Signs from the Other Side and Expect the Unexpected. His life’s mission is to help people deal with the grief of losing loved ones by bringing through validations, evidential information, and beautiful messages from Spirit, which heal and bring a sense of peace. Visit him online at www.billphilipps.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Signs from the Other Side. Copyright ©2019 by Bill Philipps. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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19 Mar

Why Buddha Never Had Alzheimer’s

Guest post by Dr. Sen

Meditation has come a long way since its primordial moments in the deep recesses of a forest, where ancient sages practiced this art as a way of life. From the teachings of Buddha to the research-laden laboratories of Ivy League institutes, it has taken a groundbreaking journey, offering one blessing after another. Scientific tests run by the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard Medical School, among others across the globe, are both testimony and tribute to the endless potential of meditation.

Modern medical management adamantly follows strict, evidence-based findings. Nothing is considered standard unless it is held in our palms and felt. Any proposed advance must follow formal research protocols. A hypothesis is stated; the hypothetical drug and a placebo are given to “active” and “control” groups, respectively, and the results of each are compared. If tests show significant benefits reached through statistical analysis, the drug goes through further trials before being considered therapeutic. Oddly enough, considering its philosophical origins, meditation has gone through identical research routes. The screaming headlines from various universities, much of which has been published in various journals, cannot be ignored. Meditation is being increasingly recognized as a powerful management tool for a variety of mental ailments. Specifically, it has emerged as a comprehensive therapy for minds affected by stress, depression, loss of memory, and other behavioral disorders.

 

“Prevention is better than cure,” said Desiderius Erasmus. Allow me to take the next step, bend the Dutch philosopher’s quote, and re-write it as follows: Prevention is the mother of all cure. Allow me to take you back to way before the fatherhood of Hippocrates, before any medical pedigree was created, to days of patient care when resources were scarce and ideas quite stilted, when diseases flourished and death wooed at will. How did the “doctors” address suffering in those days? How much was prevention, and how much was treatment? It is amazing how many scholarly, emotional, and financial resources we have delivered since then and continue to deliver in the cure of human suffering.

Yet how little do we invest in understanding the birth and development of a brewing disease before its obvious visibility. We doff our hats to the incredible discoveries pouring in from all corners of science. In cancer, for example, since the advent of nitrogen mustard (one of the first anti-cancer drugs), through the numerous permutations and combinations of chemotherapeutic drugs, radiation, and radioimmunotherapy, to the present surplus market of monoclonal antibodies—we have been hurling anything and everything at cancer that is at our disposal. Despite all these remarkable innovative strides, patients continue to succumb to the disease.

If you dig in the mud, you will know the reason. All these drugs and procedures are truly lifesaving, except that when patients present with signs and symptoms of cancer, the disease has already traversed many miles. It is common knowledge that at this advanced stage, any malignancy is meant to be recalcitrant, not by choice, but by definition. Once the blood or lymph nodes or the nerves pick up the mutated process from the primary organ affected, we are looking at a potential disaster. Reins at this moment will fail to harness the beast, which has been let loose and is determined to kill. The problem lies in our approach. We scientists are hunting for a light that is actually hunting for us. We are grappling with the trunk of a tree, when the roots are being left untouched.

When it comes to healing Alzheimer’s disease, we face an identical crisis. Can scientists detect a pathology at its very inception? Can they diagnose the disease when only a hint exists? Along with our intellectual aggression to develop new cures, we must foster an equivalent fervor to capture the disease before it can mature. In order to do that, we need to remove the rust that has collected in the arts of diagnosis that used to be considered masterpieces. We need to start all over again, as students of truth, with the belief that permanence of any solution lies in the prevention of that very problem. Meditation and yoga, as well as spirituality and other holistic approaches offer the promise of such permanence in the art of their practice. They brew well before organs mature, and linger long after they wither. They become priceless accompaniments in our striving for a disease-free sojourn through life.


Shuvendu Sen, MD, is Director, Medical education, and Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program at Raritan Bay Medical Center, Meridian Hackensack University. Dr. Sen has been named to America’s Best Physicians, as well as many national and regional awards for received the Oscar E. Edwards Award from the American College of Physicians, as well as many national and regional awards for research, teaching, and community contribution.

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