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20 Oct

The Narcissist’s Wake-up Call: How to Stop Narcissism from Ruining Your Life (and Everyone Else’s Too)

Are you a narcissist? Authors Greg Miller, Aaron Hill, and Jack Skeen say you owe it to yourself to find out. Here they share 11 common problems narcissists experience thanks to their destructive behaviors, along with exercises to help the truly self-involved build healthier habits today.

          Hoboken, NJ (October 2017)—Narcissists are everywhere: in boardrooms across the country, in high school cafeterias, and, of course, online. From their diva-like behavior, never-ending monologues, and rants on social media, they are stirring up a narcissism epidemic. The worst part is, many narcissists spend years, lifetimes even, either unaware of their behavior or unwilling to change it. That’s why, according to Greg Miller—and there’s no easy way to say this—you might be a narcissist, too.

“If you’re preoccupied with being special and feeling superior to others, that’s narcissism,” says Miller, who along with Aaron Hill and Jack Skeen wrote The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success (Wiley, October 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43485-6, $26.00, www.thecircleblueprint.com). “Narcissists exploit and manipulate those around them and have a high level of self-obsession, believing everyone wants to hear what they have to say.”

It’s not easy to live with, work with, or be friends with a narcissist, say the authors. But while you might assume it would be pleasant to have such a high opinion of oneself, it’s even harder to be a narcissist.

“Narcissists actually do a great deal of suffering, whether they realize it or not,” says Hill. “They can’t have meaningful relationships because they keep a cool distance and behave in ways that alienate others. They often have deeply wounded self-esteem, and they need constant validation to feel content.”

Even if you’re pretty sure you aren’t a full-blown narcissist, the authors urge you to check yourself, because you may well have some narcissistic habits that need curbing. Most people do!

No matter where you fall on the narcissism scale, from casual conversation interrupter to raging egomaniac, your life can improve by acknowledging your behavior and working to change it. In The Circle Blueprint, the authors discuss how narcissism is a major culprit in halting your personal development. The book is part of a larger self-improvement program called the Circle Blueprint System, which also includes workbooks and a confidential scientifically validated psychometric self-assessment. The self-assessment is free with the purchase of the book.

“You can find real happiness by repairing damaged relationships, accepting responsibility for your actions, and forging authentic bonds with the people in your life,” says Skeen. “Everyone can benefit from looking for traces of narcissism in their own behavior.”

Keep reading to learn about 11 classic narcissist problems you may be experiencing and some exercises to help you change your behavior and adopt healthier interpersonal habits:

PROBLEM: You believe you’re better, smarter, and more talented than those around you. This greatly impedes your ability to build healthy relationships at work and in your personal life. The sense of being very special, almost extraordinary, is common among narcissists. However, this is alienating to others and hurts your relationship with them.
EXERCISE: Make a list of people you feel you are better than. Now, make a list of people you view as better than you. If you find it much easier to list people toward whom you feel superior, you may begin to recognize how this belief has affected your life.

PROBLEM: You need constant attention from others. You may find yourself speaking louder than others, always talking about yourself, exaggerating your accomplishments, and boasting, all of which are ways to make certain you are noticed regardless of what is going on.
EXERCISE: Over the next few days, pay attention to how you interact with your peers and friends. Notice how much of the attention of others is focused on you and what you do to make that happen. Keep a list of some of the ways you seek and maintain attention.

PROBLEM: You hurt and disappoint others, and, over time, they lose trust in you. In order to have healthy relationships and be a productive leader or employee, people must be able to trust you. However, they can’t do this when you hurt them with your words or actions. This habit might not be an easy one to admit because it is likely not your intention to harm anyone; you dream big dreams and believe things will turn out just as you imagined. But, if you are honest, you will see that most of your dreams are about your success and not the success of others. Many times, people who trust you come to feel disappointed and burned. And over time, you damage relationships with people who cared for you and believed in you.
EXERCISE: Make a list of people who used to believe in you but now seem resentful. How can you repair these relationships? What can you do in the future to show others that you care about and value them?

PROBLEM: People avoid you, causing you to miss out on valuable partnerships. As people get to know you, they are more likely to indulge you and put up with you than to really enjoy your company. This might not be easy to see because people tend to be polite. But you might notice that people break away from conversation with you as soon as possible and rarely ask you to collaborate. If so, it’s likely that you are turning people off rather than building a group of people who support you. In an age where collaboration is crucial, this is a deadly weakness.
EXERCISE: For one week, observe whether or not friends, colleagues, and family members tend to avoid you. Note their behaviors and look for subtle signs that they are not as engaged with you as you would like them to be. Keep a record of your observations.

PROBLEM: You don’t learn from your mistakes. It is almost as if you are so committed to being special that you refuse to accept the feedback that you are not. You tend to repeat the same mistakes and minimize failure or explain it away as due to unusual circumstances. Further, you can’t accept dreams that are more normal-sized. Resistance to feedback cuts you off from the learning that you need in order to tame your narcissism and use your gifts in a more reasonable and profitable way.
EXERCISE: Make a list of feedback you have received numerous times but have not learned from. Ask yourself if you’re at risk of making the same mistake yet again. How can you break the cycle and start a healthier new pattern? What will you do differently this time?

PROBLEM: You can’t acknowledge or accept your weaknesses, and, therefore, you miss out on the benefits of being vulnerable. You like to demonstrate your strengths and hide your weaknesses. However, vulnerability draws people to you and makes you relatable. The truth is, being open and authentic about your narcissistic tendencies could actually help you. First, it shows others that you have awareness of your needs and so may be able to manage them. Second, it is a reminder for you to be aware of how your narcissism can get in your way.
EXERCISE: Practice vulnerability by admitting to others that you are a narcissist. Explain that this means that you believe you have special gifts, you have a need for feedback, and you are susceptible to being flattered. You will actually discover being vulnerable in this way becomes a source of strength and growth for you.

PROBLEM: You don’t pay attention to or listen to others, so you lose opportunities to connect and collaborate. Connecting with and acknowledging others isn’t just polite—it pays off. Listening to others can provide you with valuable insights, ideas, and contributions that could help you in business and life. And avoiding the input of those around you can open you up to making big mistakes. This may be the most difficult skill to master. To do this well, you will need to park your interest in yourself on the back burner and truly listen to the people who are close to you.
EXERCISE: Practice paying attention to the people in your life. Ask them questions about the things that matter to them: their dreams, concerns, and fears. Notice that you frequently want to interrupt them or follow something they said about themselves with a story about yourself. Hold back. Don’t talk about yourself. Listen and repeat back to them what you are learning about them. Try to avoid projecting your experiences on them and/or giving advice. By paying attention to others, you make room for people to draw closer to you and to support you better.

PROBLEM: You are unaware of your actual unique gifts. It is not enough that you feel that you are special and have unique gifts. You must learn precisely what those unique gifts are. Without that knowledge, you will be tempted to use every opportunity to show that you are gifted, even in areas where that might not be the case. As you come to understand your gifts, you can use them strategically. As you learn where you are special and where you are not, you can begin to focus your gifts in those places where you are most likely to be reliably successful.
EXERCISE: Write down exactly what you are most gifted to do. Now, list 10 things you shouldn’t attempt to do. Use this exercise to practice distinguishing between the two.

PROBLEM: You never affirm others for their gifts and talents. You tend to want affirmation much more than you are inclined to give it, but the people around you greatly value your feedback, and your affirmation helps them to understand the positive impact they are making on your life. If you don’t offer affirmation (or worse, constantly criticize), they feel taken for granted and perhaps even taken advantage of. And when this happens, they’re not motivated to help you or to do their best work. Nor do they like you.
EXERCISE: Practice speaking to people directly and openly, thanking them for what they are doing, pointing out the impact it is having and encouraging them to continue. Giving affirmation is far more important than receiving it, but it is also true that the more you give affirmation to others, the more likely it is that healthy affirmation will come to you.

PROBLEM: Your inflated self-confidence sets you up for failure. You enjoy believing that you can do whatever you put your mind to and that you have no limitations, and that belief supplies you with the courage to take on some big risks. But, occasionally, you overstep your capacity and put yourself in a position that leads to failure and disappointment. You don’t have the best judgment as to what is, and what is not, a reasonable risk. This lack of judgment can really cause you problems.
EXERCISE: Make a list of five decisions you have made that, in retrospect, you see were foolish. Do you recognize how this overestimation of yourself can get you into trouble?

PROBLEM: You feel good about yourself only when things are going well. When everything is great, you feel almost invincible, but when you lose the support of meaningful people, experience conflict, or encounter failure in some project, your self-confidence can plummet. When that happens, you can almost be immobilized by self-doubt and anxiety. This vacillation in your self-confidence can make it difficult to hold a steady course and be a great leader.
EXERCISE: List five times in your life when you have experienced a loss of self-confidence. What occurred that led to that loss?

“If it turns out that you display some narcissistic habits and behaviors, don’t lose hope,” concludes Miller. “These exercises are meant to be jumping off points that help you recognize how you got to this point. You have work to do, but with effort and determination, you can grow in leaps and bounds and repair damaged relationships. The key is being willing to change. If you can do that, a new life awaits you, in which you are known and even admired for being genuine, caring, and kind.”

# # #

About the Authors:
JACK SKEEN, PhD, is the founder of Skeen Leadership, an executive consulting firm. Skeen coaches successful leaders, addressing every imaginable leadership, business, and life issue with wisdom and professionalism.

GREG MILLER, PhD, is CEO of CrossCom, a technology services company. Miller has successfully led CrossCom to become a market leader through process efficiency, technology innovation, and rigorous execution.

AARON HILL, PhD, is the William S. Spears Chair in Business Administration at Oklahoma State University. He has authored a dozen articles appearing in the Financial Times Top 50 business journals.

About the Book:
The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success (Wiley, October 2017, ISBN: 978-1-119-43485-6, $26.00, www.thecircleblueprint.com) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. For more information, please visit the book’s page on www.wiley.com.

For more information, please visit www.thecircleblueprint.com.

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13 Oct

The Power of Choice

By Ilona Selke

 

At dinner one night in Ubud, an artist town in Bali, it turned out that the person sitting next to me had worked in the early years with Harry Palmer of Avatar to help “put him on the map.” He was older now, and had accumulated a sizable amount of wisdom, which was shining through his eyes.

 

I couldn’t help but ask, “What is the quintessence of your life’s studies? If you were to put it into one sentence, what would it be?” He liked my questions, so he was kind enough to answer. He said, “It is our ability to choose! It is the power of choice!”

 

He explained that, at any moment, we can stand back and choose which way we wish to respond, or feel, or focus on what we really want. Something tingled in me. A good cosmic coincidence arrangement was going on here!

 

The power of choice.

He hit the nail on the head! In fact, that was the name of the magical personal growth course developed by Dr. Rod Newton, for which I had been invited to take over international marketing. We’ve been teaching the course worldwide since 1990, calling it the Living From Vision (LFV) course. Many graduates from LFV have told us the same thing: the training to choose and to refocus their vision amidst adversity has helped them realize that we live in a dreaming universe.

 

I am reminded of one graduate in particular who had studied under a couple of Indian gurus with intense fervor before he began studying Living From Vision. He told me that one of the most valuable life tools he had ever received was the STOP-LOOK-CHOOSE method LFV teaches. Here’s how it works.

 

When you find yourself in any situation you don’t agree with…

  1. Step Back: In your mind, transport yourself to a serene, peaceful place such as a beautiful beach. Really see yourself there and allow all anxiety to leave your body until you feel completely at ease.
  1. Take a Look: Observe the problem area while remaining completely outside of it in this peaceful place. As you begin to get an overview of the situation, you feel even more relaxed.
  1. Define Your Goal: Take the position of being the director of your life’s film. Refocus on what you really want. Describe your goal clearly.
  1. Imagine and Feel Your Success: Allow yourself to feel exactly what it is you really want as if it has already happened. Use all of your senses and imagine yourself experiencing the sensations that go along with your goal. Hold the vision of your success until you can feel it with 100% certainty all the way to your core.
  1. Let Go: Let go and let the universe rearrange itself for the highest good of all concerned.

 

This technique allows you to actually step out of the “movie,” the drama, the story. As you make space for a new awareness to come in, you realize that this movie unfolding around you is affected by (yet separate from) the light that brings the scene to life. From there, you can refocus on what you really want, make a choice, then re-enter your life movie. The changes will be noticeable. I love to practice this over and over when faced with anything that is less than beautiful.

 

When you are able to pull out of a negative or less-than-satisfying situation, you exercise a very important aspect of your being. By becoming aware, we take one of the most important steps in our spiritual evolution. First and foremost, you are the essence of awareness itself. Outer reality is secondary to that awareness; it responds to that awareness. You have the power to change your inner movie script. Once you have mastered stopping the movie and stepping out, it will become easier and easier to choose in your mind, heart, and soul what you really want.

 

Practice daily how to focus on what you want and manifest it. (This free app can help.) In doing so, you will unify the left and right hemispheres of your brain and begin to access higher levels of consciousness. Merging the two halves of our brain results in a singularity from which we can co-create a new reality.

 

Refocus. Imagine a better outcome. Then reassemble a new reality. The secret ingredient that is vital to your success is embodying the feeling of your ideal outcome as though it has already happened. As always, “practice makes perfect.” Awareness can accomplish miracles. It is the hidden power of the unseen universe. It is what quantum physics is trying to describe.

 

In the beginning of any practice, start with small goals.  With time, practice, and in cases of true need, you will learn to shift larger aspects of your life to express more harmony, more beauty, and more fulfillment. Much like yogis are able to create miraculous manifestations, healings, etc., you can co-create an ever more beautiful reality simply by using focus and the power of choice.

 

251-ilona-selke-in-white-jacket-bctfeAbout the Author: Ilona Selke is an international bestselling author, seminar leader, lecturer, musician and CEO/cofounder of Living from Vision. Over 30+ years, Ilona has inspired thousands of people worldwide to discover the power of their consciousness and create a successful life. Her new book “Dream Big: The Universe Is Listening” offers real-life stories of transformation as well as practical tips anyone can use to shapeshift their lives from the inside out. For more information, visit www.IlonaSelke.com and www.LivingFromVision.com.

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29 Sep

The Radiance of Letting Go

Guest post by Mark S. Burrows

9781571747648We live in an over-informed but under-transformed society. Books and seminars abound to help us find our way in this technology-laden world. We are oversaturated with information. But what our heart yearns for is not this, but the path of change deepens our heart and quickens our mind. Here, easy solutions rarely offer real help.

One of the soul-guides from a distant age, Meister Eckhart (d. 1329), knew that the wellspring of happiness has to do with inner transformation. He described this often using a quite simple word: “Gelassenheit,” which we might render quite literally as letting-go-ness. Emptying our mind. Clearing the clutter. It is the power of releasing what binds us—to old habits that are not life-giving; to tired clichés about what we should have done; to ways of thinking that bind us and will not let us open ourselves to the deep source of life. Only when we empty ourselves of the demands that keep us off balance are we open enough to receive the source of light—which ever burns within us, whether we know it or not. The challenge is to let go, and find our way back to that still and vibrant center.

In a simple poem entitled “Ever Shining Light,” inspired by one of Eckhart’s sermons, I describe his invitation to come into this ever-burning light in this way:

Some days it seems the whole world

is tilting the wrong way; it might be up,

but I am somehow down, and right is

always somewhere else against my

wrong, and then You remind me that

within me burns an ever shining light

which no night or stumbling down

can ever fully dim or finally smite.

Yes, this light is always burning in our hearts. How do we find our way there? Not by doing, Eckhart reminds us, but by letting go of our need to organize, manage, direct. How do we do this? Ah, here’s the rub: by un-doing our compulsive need to be in control.

Today, clear out a space and time in your life to begin this practice. Begin simply. Reduce your expectations, which, after all, are one of the hurdles we often never get beyond. That “ever shining light” is still there, under all the layers of darkness and worry, of anger and unhappiness. It keeps on shining, whether we know it or not.

How do we find it? By emptying. Letting go of the clutter. Don’t try to “clean house.” Just sit where you are, and embrace the moment. Enjoy what it feels like to breathe deeply, and slowly—in, and out; in and out. Let your mind follow the movement of your chest as it expands and then contracts again. Try to breathe a bit more deeply than you normally do. Give yourself over to this rhythm. Enjoy the simple in-and-out of breath, the air replenishing your body moment by moment.

Don’t try to do this in the “right” way. The way you are practicing, just now, is, for now, right.

Read the words of this poem again, slowly. Yes, the world is in a messy state. And, yes, your own life is not what you might wish it to be. But it is what it is, and you are what you are—in this moment. The change comes, when it does, slowly. Incrementally. Like the sequence of your breath. Like the rhythm of day and night and day again.

The lights shines, yes, deep within you. Change comes to us when we let go. When we allow our breath to be our guide to inner stillness. For it is here that the change begins. How do we do this? Eckhart would put it this way: by un-doing. By letting go. By practicing being empty, still, without expectation of what could or should happen in our lives. Strangely, this is the path that opens us to a freedom that waits within us, like that ever shining light in our hearts, until we turn from what binds us and open to what promises to lighten our burden—and our path. Practicing letting-go is one way we learn to find that inner stillness that is always there, deep within us. Change? Yes, this is what we desire. But we must relinquish our notions of what this looks like, and begin with the simple truth of the light that is always shining in our soul. Always. Even now.

How much does this require of us? Not more information. And not greater demands. Rather, we must learn, day by day, moment by moment, to let go—more than we think we can. How much is enough? Eckhart reminds us that this path of inner change is not a project we can manage with goals, or hope to complete. It is a “wayless way,” as he liked to put it. An ongoing inner journey. One that frees us by degrees, as we seek to be the one being we were made to be: simple in our uncluttered soul. Radiant in our heart, despite the darkness that often hinders us.

How much should we risk letting go to enter into this journey of inner transformation? He put it this way, in a poem entitled “Even More”:

We should

know that no

one in this life

has learned

to let go who

could not

learn

to let go

even more.

Mark S. Burrows

 

Mark S. Burrows is the author, with Jon Sweeney, of a newly released book, Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart: Meditations for the Restless Soul (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2017). A scholar of mysticism and a poet, he teaches theology and literature at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany. Well known as a speaker and retreat leader, his work has recently appeared in Arts, Poetry, The Southern Quarterly, Reunion: The Dallas Review, 91st Meridian, Almost Island, and Presence.

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18 Sep

ON BEING KIND

An Excerpt from Big Love by Scott Stabile

 

Author and Facebook sensation Scott Stabile’s parents were murdered when he was fourteen. Nine years later, his brother died of a heroin overdose. Soon after that, Scott joined a cult that dominated his life for thirteen years. Through it all, he became evermore committed to living his life from love.

 

In each chapter of his new book Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open, Scott shares a personal experience that pulled him from his center and the ways in which he brought himself back to peace, and to love. While some of his experiences are extraordinary, like extricating himself from a cult after 13 years, most of the stories reflect on everyday challenges we can all relate to, like the weight of shame, the search for happiness, and the struggle to be authentic.

 

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

 

# # #

 

I woke up in a pissy mood recently, committed to gloom before I had even rolled out of bed. Still grumpy that afternoon, I went to the supermarket, only to be greeted by the sweetest checkout clerk ever. I couldn’t resist her happy eyes and huge smile. We had a quick conversation in Spanish, much of which I didn’t understand, and it didn’t even matter. Her sweetness and enthusiasm completely shifted me out of my pissy mood. I carried her joy with me the rest of the day. Everyone I encountered later that day benefited from her kindness.

 

It’s too easy to feel lost and powerless, like we can’t make any real difference in this messed-up world. I’ve often become paralyzed by the amount of violence and oppression that exists worldwide, paralyzed by my seeming inability to do anything about it. But we are not powerless to effect positive change. Indeed, we are powerful beyond measure, each one of us, in our ability to treat each other with kindness. If you want to change lives, then be kind and patient with strangers, be open and generous with your friends and family, and talk to your neighbors — and listen to them, too. Don’t underestimate the extraordinary effect you have every single time you show up to a situation with an open, loving heart. The checkout clerk shifted me out of my funk with her kindness. When my partner, G, got home that night, I greeted him with a smile instead of the scowl he might have gotten because of my foul mood. Our kindness transcends the moment of delivery. It affects more than we can ever know.

 

That’s how kindness rolls.

 

Kindness acts as a magnet, by the way, for more of the same in return. When I walk out into the world with an open heart and a smile on my face, I invite smiles and warmth. That doesn’t mean everyone showers me with their love, but more do than when I go out closed down and bitchy. If you don’t believe in the law of attraction, start paying attention to your attitude and to what you attract in different moments. I find there’s almost always a direct correlation. When I’m loving, I attract more love. That’s a good reason to be loving.

 

Love doesn’t just call on us to be kind in obvious situations, either. Sure, it’s wonderful to hold open the door for a person carrying groceries, but can you open your heart to your partner when he’s pissing you off? It takes no effort to share a loving comment when your friend posts a picture of her baby on Facebook, but can you resist attacking someone online who posts something you disagree with? Can you instead share your point of view without judgment and venom? I thought myself a kindness king until I had an issue with my cable service recently and had to talk to four different service reps to deal with it. I lost my shit on rep number 2, and things only went downhill from there. I became a self-righteous, angry, impatient asshole. One phone call sent me over the edge.

 

I want to become so rooted in my kindness that it’s not dependent on the words or actions of others. No matter how they choose to be, I can choose to be kind. That’s power. That’s love. That’s change making. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. Wanna join me?

 

Let’s start with ourselves.

 

When we think of kindness, it’s natural, and important, to consider how we can be kinder to others. But what about ourselves? Surely we’re entitled to our own kindness. We benefit most from the love we have to share. With that in mind, how do you treat yourself? Do you offer yourself the same smile you would a loved one? Are you lifting yourself up or tearing yourself down? We have to look at how we talk to ourselves and focus on a kinder inner dialogue. We don’t live in a world where everyone is sweet to one another. We’re likely to face a good share of assholes out there. At the very least, let’s not be assholes to ourselves.

 

 

# # #

 

Scott Stabile is the author of Big Love. His inspirational posts and videos have attracted a huge and devoted social media following, including nearly 360K Facebook fans and counting. A regular contributor to the Huffington Post, he lives in Michigan and conducts personal empowerment workshops around the world. Visit him online at www.scottstabile.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart. Copyright ©2017 by Scott Stabile. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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11 Sep

The #1 Most Important Aspect to Master for True Inner Peace

By Radhika Vachani

Author of The Most Powerful Tool for Personal Transformation and Happiness

 

p.xviii

You experience your entire life through your mind. If your mind is not in order, if it is not a healthy place to live, nothing you do or achieve will ever make you happy nor give you the satisfaction you are looking for.

Human beings mostly operate from a very superficial layer of consciousness where the conceptual mind, driven by the ego and the senses, determines how you think, feel and act. This energy sphere is fraught with restlessness and chaos, as it is oriented in the physical world, which is volatile, impermanent and uncertain.

To live a more wholesome and meaningful life, you must learn to go beyond this layer and access deeper levels of consciousness, living in a more awakened state.

You have access to a vast amount of intelligence, creativity and wisdom within you—you just have-to learn how to access it.

The main way to do so is through training your mind to focus on your breath.

The breath is the most powerful tool for your personal transformation. It is the only aspect of you that takes place in the present, not in the past, nor the future. When you become aware of the breath multiple times throughout the day and breathe slowly, feeling each inhalation and exhalation, you start to transform your mind.

The mind is the root cause of all unhappiness, and with simple exercises practiced regularly, you can learn to relax and tame your mind, and transform yourself and your life experiences.

Here are three simple ways to become more mindful and to help train your mind to experience peace, each and every day:

  1. Start Early. Every morning, when you take a shower and/or brush your teeth, do this simple task with complete concentration. Every time your mind starts to wander off, you should be alert enough to recognize this and simply draw the mind back to the breath.
  2. Set Reminders. Download mindfulness bells onto your phone and set a timer for every hour, or less. When the bells go off, take a few moments to breathe consciously, feeling each breath. Do this about 5 times, breathing slowly. This helps move your mind away from its restless and chaotic state to become more present, mindful and alert.
  3. Just breathe. Spend 5 minutes or more every morning to sit quietly with yourself. Sit upright on a chair or in a cross-legged position in a quiet room. Close your eyes, and place your middle and index finger gently on your navel. Slowly inhale starting at the navel all the way to the upper palette of your mouth. Allow your abdomen to extend out as you do this, feeling your fingers extend out as well. Then slowly exhale as you draw your navel into the spine, feeling your fingers moving inwards towards the spine. Do this bout 5 times, and then come back to normal breathing. For the next few minutes, just feel the breath, training your mind to focus on the breath. Set a time for 5 minutes and increase the time as you get better at this.

When we are not mindful and alert, we get caught up in a mind that is constantly dreaming, distracted and chaotic. We are unable to be present to all that is occurring around us and within us, and as a result, life just passes us by. Yoga is a science of the here and now, and when we train our minds to focus on the breath, we are in fact training the mind to become more present and alert so that we can live our lives with fullness.

 

 

RADHIKA VACHANI is the author of Just Breathe: The Most Powerful Tool for Personal Transformation and Happiness. She is also a motivational speaker, yoga and holistic wellness expert, and the Founder of Yogacara Healing Arts in Mumbai, India (www.yogacara.in). Radhika also runs life-transforming retreats all over the world, in the Himalayas, Ladakh and at her Retreat Center outside of Mumbai in Alibaug. To learn more, visit www.yogacara.in  or connect with Radhika at radhika.vachani@yogacara.in and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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28 Aug

Soulful Leadership: Reimagining Leadership’s Purpose

soulful-bookcoverGuest post by Gaurav Bhalla, Ph.D., author of  “Awakening a Leader’s Soul, Learnings through Immortal Poems…”

New times require new narratives…and Leadership is no exception. Especially since the story of leadership today is one of serial crises with the meltdown occurring in virtually all organizations of civic society, ranging from government to education to healthcare, NGOs, and even religion. The eager and animated post-mortems conducted endlessly on 24×7 news-analysis-opinion channels like CNN and the Internet are not going to help leadership wade its way out of its recurrent crises. What will – and is urgently needed – is that we embrace a new 21st century narrative that reimagines the purpose of leadership and leadership journeys.

Here’s why.

The dilemmas, quandaries, and problems faced by today’s leaders can’t be solved by simple-minded thinking: “yes-no,” “right-wrong,” “agree-disagree.” There’s always a “but…” hanging around somewhere to make leadership journeys and decisions more challenging: “Yes…but,” “Right…but,” “Agree…but.” Consequently, what is needed is bold, audacious leaps away from traditional methods of developing leaders that rely on personality-based approaches and effective execution of virtuous managerial tasks, like empowerment, job-enrichment, and having fun at work, to something deeper, more substantial, and more enduring. We need an inner awakening in leaders, so that they can bring their biggest asset into play, their humanity—who they are, what they stand for, and what they are willing to fight for. Because, while the head may be smart, the soul is smarter…and wise.

Next, old methods of nurturing and shaping leaders are just not working, and need fundamental transformation. Every year, billions of dollars are spent globally on leadership training and development programs, with the US alone reportedly spending between upwards of $10 billion. Regrettably, these enormous investments have produced pitiable returns.

 

Here’s just the tip of the iceberg as proof:

  • The 2017 Edelman Global Trust Barometer informs us that “trust in leaders” is in tatters.
  • Compounding the trust crisis, is the low employee engagement dilemma. Gallup’s research indicates that more than 50% employees evaluate themselves as “not engaged,” and between 15-20% as “actively disengaged.”
  • Lastly, it’s an atypical day when the media doesn’t carry stories of leadership betrayals and business scandals representing deliberate and vicious acts of wrongdoing. Takata, VW, Uber, Wells Fargo, and Retrophin – a small sampling from a list that grows longer every day.

 

Finally, we need a new narrative, because the current “market-centric” creed that dominates leadership behavior – profits and performance over all else – is not sustainable. Leadership is about action; leaders are hired to do something. Committing to action – any action – requires sacrificing something or somebody. But the planet and people without access to power, privilege, and resources can’t be sacrificed ad infinitum as they traditionally have been; “exclusion and inequality” are not the best growth strategy in today’s connected and interdependent world. The world deserves better from its leaders.

In my new book, “Awakening A Leader’s Soul: Learnings Through Immortal Poems,” (www.soulfulleadership.world) I propose a new narrative for reimagining leadership’s purpose. It’s called “Soulful Leadership,” and is defined as:

 

“Purposeful leadership journeys guided by an inner awakening that faithfully and diligently consider the full range of sacrifices embedded in leadership decisions so the ongoing prosperity and wellbeing of all involved – the leader, the organization, people (employees, customers, communities), and the planet (health and resources) – can be increased.”

 

There are several reasons why I believe embracing and implementing “Soulful Leadership” will help ease leadership crises and usher in a new era of wellbeing and prosperity for the greater many, not just the privileged few with access to power and resources.

First, Soulful Leadership shifts the purpose and focus of leadership from an exclusive “market-centric” focus to a more “human-centric” consciousness: one that aspires for greater “inclusion and equality.” This is vital in today’s diverse world with multiple and conflicting agendas

Second, it reimagines leadership’s purpose by focusing on what leadership should stand for – a public platform for increasing the “wellbeing and prosperity” of the greatest many. Too much emphasis has been placed on the personality and power of leaders for too long with too little return. It’s time we moved away from a spotlight on leaders to the necessary role of leadership.

Third, and most importantly, Soulful Leadership nudges us to look beyond the brilliance of leaders’ executive minds to an asset that’s even more important, their humanity—who they are, what they stand for, and what they are willing to fight for. Because, while what’s in leaders’ heads may be smart, what’s lies within that guides what’s in their heads is smarter…and wiser.

In order to trigger the humanity of 21st century’s visionary leaders and script a new narrative for leadership, the book urges current and future leaders to turn to a new and different set of teachers for guidance – the world’s immortal poems. Accordingly, with the help of these different teachers and their timeless wisdom, the book recruits the works of immortal poets, like Shakespeare, Rumi, Blake, Whitman, and Dickinson, and a few modern ones too, like Milosz, Rilke, and Gibran to take current and future leaders on a transformative journey of reflection and self-awareness, so they can understand their own humanity and that of the worlds in which they live in new and different ways.

And yet the world is different from what it seems to be

and we are other than how we see ourselves in our ravings.

Czeslaw Milosz, “Ars Poetica”

 

After seeing and hearing themselves in new and different ways, the book and the author hope that readers can start their own “Soulful Leadership” journeys, using the power and privilege of their leadership positions to make the world a better place.

The book launches globally on Sep. 7. It’s available, currently, for pre-order on Amazon in the US, UK, and Canada. In the meantime, dear reader, you are invited to visit the website: www.soulfulleadership.world to get better acquainted with the book. While there you can download a color infographic depicting the book’s journey and a free essay – Prologue – from the book’s website.

 

Namaskar! Wishing you happy Soulful Leadership journeys.

soulfoul-book-cover-2

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21 Jul

5 Common Senior Care Options That Are Available

senior care optionsAs people are living longer these days, you may have to take care of the senior in your family for a longer period of time. According to the “Life Expectancy at Birth by Region” chart, the average life expectancy in developed regions went from around 66 in the 1960’s to around 78 the in 2010’s. It is estimated to move up to about 83 years of age in the 2040’s.

 

Although we may live longer in the future, our bodies will still go through fatigue in the later years in life which require assistance. Many seniors are more prone to falling over during these times which can lead to a serious fractures. Since family members might not have the time to take care of their elders, it leads many to seek for care options.

 

A frequently asked question is what type of service would be best for their elder parent. To answer this question, they suggest you look at the many options available and choose according to your budget and which they may be most comfortable with. It is important to look at the following:

  • costs involved
  • consider the type of problems the senior has
  • determine if medical assistance is needed
  • and what living environment the senior prefers

 

This article will provide you with some information about each of the different types of services there are to help your elder.

 

In-Home Senior Care

A lot of times, the elderly dread the thought of living in a nursing home. Some seniors simply prefer to live in their own home until their last days. For example, when my grandmother started needing assistance, our family mentioned that we could take her to a nursing home. Her reply was always the same – she insisted that she could take care of herself at home to get off that topic. In reality, she needed assistance because it was hard for her to see, hear, and get up from the couch.

 

In cases like this, in-home care is an option to allow them to stay in the comfort of their homes and get assistance from a caregiver when scheduled. Most home care agencies are non-medical so many of them only cover basic assistance services.

 

This service is typically private-paid but some long term insurance companies are covering the cost of this option. It can cost anywhere from $15 – 24 per hour for this service.

 

Medical Home Care

This is sometimes known as home health care and is needed when a more specialized caregiver visits the senior in their home. It is similar to the in-home care services described above, except a licensed person such as a registered nurse helps them. This is typically needed after a patient is released from the hospital and may require close supervision by a healthcare professional.

 

Independent Living Communities

Independent living is also commonly referred as a retirement living community. This is basically a small neighborhood area where other seniors live. They often consist of apartment complexes or condos. These communities are great for elders that are healthy but want security. Some even offer meal preparation, house keeping, and transportation services.

 

Assisted Living Facilities

This is a step up in assistance from the independent living communities. I consider is a combination of a medical home care service and an independent living community. Elders have more private space than a nursing home, but still have the same services from nurses.

 

Nursing Homes

Most people are familiar with nursing homes because traditionally, they are the most used senior care services. I like to consider these as similar layouts as college dorms for elders to live in. Seniors live in the same building but each have separate rooms to sleep in. They are offered medical assistance from nurses if needed and is somewhat similar to a hospital layout with a little more comfort.

 

That should give you a little background on each type to help you begin your search. If you haven’t already had to care for your elder parent or grandparent, you may have to in the future.

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30 Jun

Your Heart: The Gift of Inspiration

An excerpt from Reclaiming Your Body by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana

While the English language frequently refers to what our bodies know — “gut feelings,” hearts “reaching out” to others, etc. — many of us have learned to ignore, deny, or even mistrust our body’s inherent wisdom. Even worse, a lot of people don’t like their bodies very much at all.

 

As a result, we often cut ourselves off from one of our greatest allies. In Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s, author Suzanne Scurlock-Durana provides the tools and guidance necessary to reconnect with our body’s inner guidance system of sensation, imagery, and inner knowing. Her book includes chapters for each main “wisdom area” of the body — the heart, gut, pelvis, legs and feet, bones, and brain — and explores each area’s unique roles in the process of developing full-body presence.

 

We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt, which speaks to the wisdom of the heart.

 

# # #

 

The heart is the wellspring of our inspiration for life. The characteristic wisdom of the heart is in how it inspires us to live more deeply and fully and to create from our gifts. The energy of love resides throughout the entire body. It is the foundational energy upon which our creative inspirations are born.

 

Although the energy field of the heart has been proven to be quite powerful, in our culture today the voice of the heart is often muted or ignored altogether. When our heart’s intelligence isn’t activated, we can easily feel confused, or we may listen only to the voice of the head telling us what we should do. The inspiration of our deepest heart’s knowing is then lost to us.

 

There is a distinct feeling when we drop into our heart and let it open up. When we share from our heart, there is an authenticity and vulnerability that create a feeling of connection and intimacy if the listener is open and receptive.

 

There is also a distinct feeling when we are not connected to our heart. This could manifest as “coldheartedness,” which might be experienced as a chill in the room or a conversation killer, and it will create a block to genuine intimacy.

 

Another feeling occurs when we are in our heart in an overly sympathetic manner. These kinds of interchanges often feel cloying, sometimes suffocating, and frequently invasive.

 

Yet another experience occurs when our heart resonates with another person’s heart. A warmth in meeting, ease of connection, feeling deeply seen and heard — these are the empathetic connections that may become lifelong relationships or enduring imprints on our heart.

 

What is the quality of energy that our hearts generate? The heart expresses warmth, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, loving-kindness, and most of all inspiration. A full-hearted person is a happy person.

 

In Chinese medicine, the element of the heart is fire, and there is a distinct sensation when this element is balanced. We feel excited, creative, and “on fire” for life. The heart is the birthplace of our deepest inspirations, so when it has been suppressed or exhausted, we may have a flat, muted experience. Burnout approaches when our creative fire has gone out.

 

Priming the Deep Well of the Heart

The heart is the home of compassion. When I work with someone in the helping professions, especially healthcare providers, their genuine concern for others is apparent. Their warmth and caring is frequently the original inspiration that moved them toward their profession.

 

However, when I sit with them long enough, I often discover that they are much better at giving than receiving. The front of a caregiver’s heart — the part that they radiate love from — feels warm and wide open.

 

However, often they have much less awareness of the back of their heart, the heart space of self-love and nurturing. I think of this as the deep well that feeds the rest of the heart. Like any well, when it is not primed and replenished, it runs dry and burnout starts to take hold. The front of the heart — the part shared with the world — needs connection to the deeper well of the heart in order to survive and thrive.

 

This means self-care is mandatory, not optional. The airlines truly do have it right. You must “put your own oxygen mask on first” before helping those in need around you. What the flight attendant doesn’t say is that if you fail to care for yourself first, unconsciousness or even death may result. Yet many of us have been taught to ignore our own needs as we focus on caring for those around us. This is a sure recipe for disaster. Now is the time to turn this paradigm around and treat our own heart as a primary resource that is to be treasured and deeply valued.

 

The heart is the home of our deepest inspiration and the well of our love for life. Having respect for the wisdom of the heart and living from its rich depths is essential.

 

# # #

 

Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, is the author of Reclaiming Your Body and Full Body Presence. Her Healing from the Core curriculum combined with CranioSacral therapy and other bodywork modalities creates a complete, body-centered guide to awareness, healing, and joy. She teaches around the world and lives in Reston, Virginia. Visit her online at www.healingfromthecore.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s Wisdom. Copyright ©2017 by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

 

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30 Jun

Dissolving Fear Through Acceptance

An excerpt from Feng Shui Mommy by Bailey Gaddis

 

Before she was a beloved pregnancy blogger, certified birthing doula, and childbirth preparation educator, author Bailey Gaddis met her own pregnancy by buying a bunch of books — which, for the most part, made her even more confused, insecure, and scared.

 

Her new book Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood (New World Library, May 14, 2017) is her way of giving pregnant women and new moms a better option.  Adopting the principles and philosophy of feng shui, the Chinese system of a connected inner and outer harmony, this book guides women to their balanced center and supports them in tapping into the primal energies brought forth in the birthing experience.  We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

A reverence is owed to fear — it holds the power to veer us away from danger and it provides us opportunities to discover and claim our courage, allowing us to grow in ways impossible to access without a powerful impetus. So thanks, fear — we honor you. Now we’re going to learn how to get you the heck out of our way.

 

Fear can be a catalyst for growth only when it is acknowledged and accepted, then shown the door. When it becomes a festering guest it begins swallowing up your reserves of health, happiness, and sanity, sticking you in a “what-if” paralysis. The oftentimes-false illusions that give birth to fear (e.g., a misconception that your body doesn’t know how to build and birth a baby) are frequently left unchecked in the vulnerable heart, mind, and body of the pregnant mama. You may believe the fears are there to protect you, maybe to “prepare you for the worst.” But instead of helping you prepare for an unlikely and unwanted outcome, the stress produced by these fears often creates the unwanted outcomes, like pregnancy complications, medical interventions, or postpartum depression.

 

The unknown sound you hear at night is much scarier than opening the door, peering outside, and seeing that the sound is just your cat chasing its tail. You’re going to open the door and get to know fear. You’re going to observe it, chat with it, and befriend it so it’s no longer the hidden demon you run from, but a known entity you know how to communicate with, know how to kindly ask to leave when it has served its purpose. The first step is exploring the basic (illusory) anatomy of fear, and how it affects your very real physical anatomy.

 

The Mind-Body Effects of Fear

The skeleton of fear is composed of thoughts about a perceived (not usually real) threat. The flesh of fear is composed of the unpleasant emotions triggered by those thoughts.

 

As soon as a fear is birthed in your mind, the amygdala (a nut-shaped organ in the core of your brain) sends a wake-up signal to your autonomic nervous system, causing your body to acknowledge the fear. The two lanes of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, are the boss ladies regulating your internal organs, telling them what to do in times of danger and peace. But sometimes, they get a little confused.

 

Without the sympathetic nervous system (the Panic Room), you might pet a great white shark. Without the parasympathetic nervous system (the Meditation Room), you might have a panic attack when the waiter brings you a salad instead of a hamburger. The confounding thing is, the chemical response created in the body when facing either the shark or the salad is the same, even though one has the potential to cause death, while the other is just inconvenient. Death and inconvenience both sound unpleasant, but they’re way different. Unfortunately, the body does not know that they’re not rated the same on the scale of seriousness.

 

Sympathetic Nervous System: The Panic Room

When you’re shoved into the Panic Room, you fight, take flight, or freeze. Because it is unlikely you will be in many situations where physically fighting is an appropriate (or legal) response, the modern-day “fight” mechanism is to experience anxiety. A few other fun features of your Panic Room are a triggering of stress, an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, a slowing of digestion, a rerouting of blood to defense organs (the uterus is not a defense organ), and a decrease in your ability to think and reason. Fun, right? But remember, your body is not very good at deciphering an actual threat (a rattlesnake staring at you) from a perceived threat (the grocery store not having the right brand of almond milk); both situations can throw you into your Panic Room.

 

When you’re moving through childbirth, a process that is natural and rarely life threatening, the mind often sends the body into the Panic Room because it doesn’t know what to do with birth. “This is an unknown, this is scary — I don’t know what to do with this. Yup, we’re probably going to die.” None of these thoughts are based in reality, yet they evoke a very real response in the body, making birth more challenging, and ironically, more dangerous. The quickest way to achieve a room reassignment, from the Panic Room to Meditation Room, is deep breathing, which we’ll explore further in chapter 17.

 

Parasympathetic Nervous System: The Meditation Room

You should be living in your Meditation Room for about 98 percent of your life. You deserve to be living in your Meditation Room for 98 percent of your life. This is your restful space, where you get to feel all warm, fuzzy, and Zen-like. When you’re living in this space you calmly respond to non–life threatening stressors, your body is at ease, all your organs (including the uterus!) are receiving the ideal amount of blood and oxygen, your breathing is slow and steady, and you feel really good. With the release and absence of fear comes entry into your Meditation Room. Delivering your baby in this Meditation Room encourages gentle, comfortable, and healthy (maybe even blissful!) birthing.

 

An important component of preventing your fears from pulling you out of your Meditation Room is letting them speak their piece so they can leave you be.

 

Give a Voice to Your Fears

Tense situations are commonly diffused after both parties freely express their opinions. Conflicts with fears are no different — your fears need a nonjudgmental space in which to express themselves before they feel compelled to move on. That space is created when you stop trying to “fix” or overcome a fear, and just sit with it in a private location. Breathe into the emotions and sensations that emerge as you allow the fear to be there. Notice them and name them. For example, “I’m breathing into the tightness I feel in my chest when I think about my fear of pushing my baby out. I’m not trying to make it go away — it’s there — I’m just acknowledging it.”

 

Resist the temptation to validate, discredit, or conquer the fear — just be present with it. As if you’re watching a movie, observe the thoughts and images that come up as the fear moves through you; none of it is wrong. Any resistance, tightness, sadness, shaking, shame, pressure, anger, or any other form of emotional or physical expression is perfect, because that’s what’s coming up. It all has to come up to be released, and this can all happen in ninety seconds.

 

Ninety-Second Release

It takes ninety seconds or less for an emotion to be generated, chemically flow through the body, and be set free. If you say, “No! I do not want to feel sad right now. I’m going to force myself to feel something else,” and resist the ninety-second surge of sadness, you’ll need to process it again and again until you surrender to it. You can handle anything for ninety seconds; set your timer and breathe through it. Did you know surges during active labor often last about ninety seconds, commonly peaking at around thirty seconds, then diminishing?

 

# # #

 

Bailey Gaddis is the author of Feng Shui Mommy. As a Childbirth Preparation Educator, Birth Doula, and Hypnotherapist who works with pregnant women and their gorgeous offspring everyday, Bailey is fairly certain that “new baby smell” is the most enticing aroma on Earth. Visit her online at http://www.baileygaddis.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. Copyright ©2017 by Bailey Gaddis. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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06 Jun

Excerpt from the Freedom chapter in The Book of Truth

Selig jacket

Excerpted from The Book of Truth by Paul Selig with the permission of TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2017 by Paul Selig.

Now, we will say this for you. Some things are required. You hold yourself in a body, you are required to care for the body, you have a livelihood at this time because you’ve agreed to a world that operates in commerce. As you bypass the systems of control or agreed upon ways of exchange, you actually call higher ways into manifestation. At this juncture, we will say, few of you are prepared to release the life that you’ve claimed in worry or in expectation to what might be born as you and for you in a higher way.

Here we go:

“On this day I choose to release myself from all expectations of how things should be, or what they should look like as perceived by the small self. And in this claim of freedom, I realize myself as the one who is independent from the foils and beliefs of collective agreement that would seek to hinder me from my true expression as my True Self. I know who I am in truth. I know what I am in truth. I know how I serve in truth. I am here. I am here. I am here.”

 

This is a claim that is made by you to re-create the self outside a fixed agenda or outside of the perceptions that you are holding in investment because you cannot imagine yourself without being realized in certain ways. Even the identity you hold that was prescribed by you as who you should be seeks to impale you in a series of ways upon the intractability of physical manifestation.

What this means is that if your belief that your progress is dependent upon anything in form, you are using that thing to justify and claim you in a small way. It can be anything, you see. “When I have the perfect marriage, or the perfect employment, the perfect practice, the perfect insight, the perfect realization, I will be here as I truly am. But until that moment, I will wait and claim this thing as what I require to be free.”

The only requirement for freedom is realization of what you are, because the moment this is understood, all ties and tethers to what was created for you or by you to be in agreement to a system of control is leaving, is gone, is eradicated in truth.

Now we come back to the idea of truth for one reason only. The systems of control that we speak of, or the ways that you would seek to realize yourself through external manifestations, are never in truth. And we will tell you why. All that is in truth is present now in this very moment, in the eternal now that you have encountered in the reading of this text and through the alignment to the what that you are. The Divine Self operates as what you are in the eternal now. And anything that is not present as you is simply an idea of what is required to call you forward.

Now, this is confusing for Paul. “But there are things we need, and we call them into being. We require food, we go to the market. Don’t tell me my needs are met now if I have an empty kitchen.”

We are telling you something very different. The idea of expectation as something to strive to, or claim for, or bring yourself as in consort to at the cost of the present moment you stand in, is what is being addressed. The infinite now is always here. It is here as you, as you walk to the market, as you prepare your meal. But the justification of what you should be as predicated on some future event—“when I am this or that, have claimed this or that”—is never true because your realization only happens in the moment you stand in.

The path to enlightenment, if you wish to use that term, is always now because enlightenment is now and not on some prescribed date at some other point in time. Until you all understand that what you have done so far is prepare the way for manifestation that is already present as what you are, you will be confused by this. In a higher octave, the Divine as you is fully present, and the realization of this and the knowing of this is the creation of what you are in manifested form. You are not becoming what you are not, you are claiming what you are. And as you come to be at this alignment, in this awareness, the release of the lies that you have given credence to will claim you in freedom.

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