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09 May

A Few Tips If You Want Something More

It’s a rare, gray day here in Southern California.  With rain so scarce over the past few years,
we relish these teasing skies.  Will
moisture drop from the heavens? Will our flowers and trees soak up every last
drop to nourish their existence?  Does
the water quench their thirst or leave them straining for more? That strain
would be akin to what we feel when we activate the gap between where we find
ourselves and where we long to be.

Internally, there is a continual nudge to move toward our
goal.   Externally, we may provide all
manner of excuses for why we cannot take action. Or we may begin to complain
and allow criticisms to dominate our thought process.  Both of these approaches are detrimental to
achieving our goals.  The subconscious
mind will not support your efforts if you are thinking with two minds, for
instance, saying that you want money and then condemning anyone who has made
more than you or saying that you want to start your own business and then
complaining that you don’t have the time. 

So what’s a body to do? 
Nip those negative thought habits in the bud.  Take out your journal or a notebook and write
down the answers to questions like the following:

What has brought you to this place at this time and
why?  There is a reason that you have
activated the gap at this moment and when you listen to what your insides are
telling you, you know what it is. 
Although I am by nature impatient with what may feel like slow progress,
it is more likely to be something inspirational or threatening that makes me
feel so uncomfortable. 

What are you telling yourself?  If your thoughts are filled with criticism,
doubts, fears, or resentments, it’s time to flip your thinking.  Divide a page in your notebook into two
columns.  Write down all your complaints
and negative feelings on one side.  Then
note what you would prefer next to each item on the other side of the
page. 

Your discomfort comes from the contrast between what is on
the two sides of the page.  For right
now, I want you to focus only on the side where you have written down your
preferences.  As you reread them, do your
preferences fit into your dreams of what you want to do, be or have? 

What are your dreams? Take as much time as you’d like to describe
what you want to bring into your life. 
It could be a bucket list of places to visit, friends and family you’d
like to see, a pet project you’d like to undertake, a foundation you’d like to
support, a life work you’d like to pursue or all of the above.  Write it all down in as much “technicolor” as
you can. 

How do you feel as your put this on paper?  How do you want to feel when you can look
back at all that you have achieved?  Feel
those feelings now.

What one thing can you do today that will help you feel the
way you want to feel, right now.  Perhaps
you have a vision of feeding the world’s homeless, but the closest you can come
at the moment is donating time and/or money to a food bank.  Then do it now and cherish that first feeling
of taking a step toward your dream. 

At times, we may be unaware of the source of our discomfort,
however, when we stop and honestly look at the situation, we can begin to
notice where to start right now, make a plan and experience some relief as we
begin to move through the steps we need to take to bridge that gap. Once we
begin to move, we may begin to be what my friend Sandra Daly calls
“successfully midair.”  May you take off
and soar today!

To Your Successful Flight,

Susan

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16 Feb

The Practice of Contemplative Retreat in Our Modern World

The Practice of Contemplative Retreat in a Modern World

As I awoke this morning, my thoughts were filled with
thoughts of Ash Wednesday.  I had no idea
why as it is not a holiday that I think about very often.  I had a feeling that it was just around the
corner (which it is) and that it had some meaning for me as part of the
spiritual calendar. 

This was somewhat strange. 
I know that the date as celebrated by Christians commemorates the 40
days that Jesus Christ spent in the desert being tempted by Satan.  I know that in its modern iteration, many
people consider it a time to give up or sacrifice something in anticipation of
Easter Sunday.  More often than not, it
may mean giving up chocolate.  But this
morning, it was so unusual to think about it that I had to ask myself what
meaning Ash Wednesday and the following 40 days of Lent have in our modern
world. 

I found an article by Father Thomas Keating who is a leader
in Centering Prayer and the Contemplative Outreach group.  Since I wrote about centering prayer in my
book Rainbows Over Ruins, I paused to
read his thoughts.  He calls Lent a
contemplative time and suggests that it was meant for communal retreat in
preparation for celebrating the mystery of redemption at Easter.  He describes redemption as being about
“holistic health” and states that we need to go through a radical
transformation of motivation in order to be ready for redemption.  That’s why the Christ went into the desert –
to experience the lack of the most basic human needs, security, power, control,
affection and esteem. 

Father Keating states that wherever we may be in that
overall process, Lent is a time to renew our commitment to what he calls
“divine therapy” by looking at our instinctual needs and the dynamics of our
unconscious mind.  Lent is about temptation
of the unconscious mind and how it influences our conduct all our lives unless
we keep working with it.  Keating suggests
that Lent is an invitation to go deeper into that process through centering
prayer, and even into a 40 day retreat comparable to an extended Vipassana
(Buddhist meditation) retreat. 

Vipassana.  Again, my
lack of familiarity with that practice sent me into deeper research.  Vipassana is an extended 10 day meditative
practice marked by breathing meditations, noble silence, dietary restrictions
and specific moral conduct.  For those of
us in a busy, urban lifestyle, it is a major departure from our daily
routines  The 5 precepts are to abstain
from (i) killing any being, (ii) stealing, (iii) all sexual activity, (iv)
telling lies and (v) all intoxicants. 
For those more experienced in this practice, they also abstain from
eating after mid-day, sensual entertainment, bodily decorations and the use of
high or luxuriant beds. 

While on a Vipassana, the goal is not to disturb the peace
and harmony of others.   The routine is
to suspend all prayer and worship other than this specific form of meditation
as guided and to maintain 10 days of silence. 
The only physical activity permitted is walking.  Simple vegetarian meals are provided.  No letters, phone calls, visitors, cell
phones or other electronic devices are permitted, not even music, reading,
writing or television.  Other than meals,
the entire retreat is spent in a kind of meditation that focuses on breath and
dis-identifying from the body, emotions and thoughts.  Finally, the focus shifts to meditating on
loving kindness and goodwill towards all. 
In this tradition, a negativity in the mind cannot co-exist with peace
and harmony. 

As I read these descriptions, I was so aware that the work I
have been doing in meditation, centering prayer, psychosynthesis, and positive
self-talk is all interrelated to these practices.  However, it also struck me that this type of
extended communal retreat would be a challenge in my life where days are filled
with talk and meetings, television, filming, writing, researching and such.

What daily practice and sacrifice would be in the spirit of
both Lenten and Vipassana practices as described?  What would balance the effect of mass media
in our lives to make room for the divine therapy found in observing the
dynamics of our unconscious mind?  What small
shift in attention could anyone make that would contribute to such a goal?

As I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that if we
kept the goal in mind to support the peace and harmony of others, as well as
ourselves, we would be living the spirit of these communal retreats.  Our normal daily activities might be a
distraction from this goal, however, staying focused in spite of distractions
is also a spiritual practice. 

If we find that we need more outer world support for what is
going on in our inner space, then adding components of a retreat could proof
beneficial:  

1.      
Meditate as often as possible using a technique
designed to silence the mind and bring it to the experience of the Divine DNA
within all of us.  I call it the eternal link
between the subconscious mind and quantum consciousness.  Breathing meditations, centering prayer and
dis-identification exercises are classic examples.  The goal is to eliminate all negative
thoughts. 

2.      
Embrace silence. 
Noise becomes addictive.  Many
people find it extremely difficult to be in silence for any extended period of
time.  Even church services are organized
around continue movement through a program and prayers spoken by others which
eliminates very much time to dwell in the silence.  To support our interest in silence, we might try
to reduce or eliminate media and electronic devices during our period of focus.

3.      
Meditate with the goal not to disturb the peace
and harmony of others and to meditate for good will toward all.  

4.      
In line with peace and harmony, one of our goals
might be to abstain from killing any being.  
That would suggest a vegetarian menu, lighter foods, earlier meals, and
rhythmic walking exercise during this time.

What an interesting challenge this could be to undertake for
the next 40 days.  It isn’t that I could
successfully do all of these things,
however, imperfect action is better than none at all.  If there is a message or transformative
experience to be found stemming from my earlier early morning reverie, perhaps
I shall find it. Whatever the answers, this is the season for contemplation. 

May we use this time to find our inner connection to the
Divine Within.

To Your Success,

Susan

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14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day

We belong to a mutual appreciation society, my baby and
me!  And I’m very glad we do for
appreciation is the sweet sauce that makes the Law of Attraction yield its
treasures. 

Akin to gratitude, appreciation is a way of expressing love
for the people, places and things in your life. 
It is a recognition that expressing those positive feelings for what is
working in your life or what is bringing more of what you want into your life
will bring even more to you. 

Have you heard that expression that you have to “Be” it
before you will “See” it?  Being it
involves vibrating at the same level as that which you desire.  Appreciation is a way of being what you
desire.

What do you want out of life?  What will it feel like when you have it?  Start feeling that way right now.  If you don’t feel it yet, then look around
you.  What could you do today to help you
feel that way right where you are? 

Show your appreciation. 
Thank the gardener, the housekeeper, the mail carrier, the waitress, the
grocery store clerk, the teacher and the kid next door who brings the
paper.  These are people who help create
the lifestyle you have visualized.  They
free up your day so you can enjoy the company of your family, friends and
special someone. 

Does it sound simple? 
It is.  It’s easy to do and easy
not to do.  It would be better if we
remembered to do it every day rather than setting aside a single day as a
holiday to do it. 

And while we’re at it, let’s not forget to give thanks to
the Supreme Consciousness – the Love, Light and Power – in which we all
dwell.  All things are possible at love
and above – so let’s send love out into the Universe and rejoice when it’s
returned tenfold. 

I’m going to spend the rest of my day celebrating with my
loved ones.  May you do the same.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Susan

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21 Jan

Simple Steps to Kick 2015 into High Gear

Over the past few months, we’ve been contemplating the
importance of our purpose and the need to outline a plan before we write out
any resolutions.  Now it’s evident that
we have to do more than just think about resolutions.  We have to do more than just plan out our
actions.  We have to Take Action. 

It makes sense, doesn’t it? 
Until your wishes move into action, they are just dreams.   Yet even though we know this, moving into
action can become a major stumbling block. 
This is not an indication that something is wrong with you.  We all experience this.  The most up-to-date brain technologies now
reveal that the default reaction of the brain to change its routine is to go
into a negative, protective mode.  You know
the feeling.  As soon as we need to
adjust our daily habits to accommodate new actions, our brain seem to take the
default position of “No, this can’t be done.” 
A little voice begins to scream out every excuse in the book to stop us
from disrupting our routines. “It’s too hard.” “I don’t have the time.” You’ve
heard the litany. 

In spite of this “head trash” as Noah St. John calls it, you
have the ability to make major, positive improvements in your life by focusing
in two directions.  First, on the outer
level, I’d like to challenge you to contemplate habits you can change that
would pay off in high value activities that would move you toward your
goals. 

·        
If it is overwhelming to consider “how” you will
achieve your goals, it will help if you break out the tasks involved into small
steps.  Excuses and feelings of overwhelm
vanish when the actions are easy to chew. 
The distance between where you are and where you want to go becomes less
threatening as you see the distance shorten with each action.  It feels great to look back after a bit see
that the small steps taken have added up to a major accomplishment.

·        
Time can be deceptive.  When we begin to make changes, we think it
will take a large block of time for a new activity.  I found that by getting up a full hour
earlier every day, I had time to meditate and get into the right mindset to
write the book I dreamed of doing.  It
may have taken more time, but I did it.  Other
people make the choice to fit in some physical exercise.  When you prioritize and focus established
chunks of time early in the day, before the whirlwind of everyday life sweeps
you away, it’s amazing how much more you can accomplish. 

·        
Many people experience much greater efficiency by
making a list of the most important things they want to do in a day and prioritizing them.  Brian Tracy has written an entire book on Eating the Frog, doing the most
complicated or least pleasant task of your day first.  Once completed, you can take it off your To
Do list and enjoy the rest of the day.  John Assaraf stresses the importance of doing
the most important, income producing and list building activities first, and
finding ways to delegate less important items. 

·        
Another possibility is to eliminate daily habits
that are non-productive.  If you opt out
of watching television each evening to use that time for something you’ve been
longing to do, you’ll find a couple extra hours in your day that you forgot you
had. 

There is nothing “other worldly”
about improving your productivity, however, when one of our goals is to
experience the joy and well-being to be gained from achieving our goals and
living our passions, it helps to allocate our time so that we can focus on the
one thing that inspires us.   I find it
fascinating how it only takes a couple adjustments in our routines – and the
willingness to make them – to make huge changes over time. 

That’s where heading in the second
direction I mentioned earlier – the inner direction – plays an important
role.  Knowing your purpose, being motivated
by passion and understanding why you want something provide the fuel that keep
you going when the outer direction might distract or bog you down.  Once you’ve worked through the decisions
involved in gaining this inner knowledge, it saves you all the energy and will
power you burn while reaching the milestones you have in your plan. 

 If you haven’t already done so, the inner
direction is the best place to start.  To
make you’re your best year ever, once you have those goals in mind, find a few
habits you can change to improve your productivity and then repeat daily.  As you repeat these new activities, you are
laying the outer foundation for your dreams. 
Coupled with the inner work of positive self-talk that you’ll be developing, you will gain the
ability to go for your dreams.   When you get into the zone where your inner
game and outer activities are aligned, anything is possible.   

This is going to be a fabulous
year!

To Your Success,

Susan

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07 Dec

The More You Give, the More You Get

                With
all the focus we’ve just had on gratitude this past month, I feel a sense of
completion as we extend our gratitude through our acts of giving to others
during the seasons of light in December. 
Although the calendar dates vary, there has been a celebration of
victory of inner light over spiritual darkness and the return of the light
after the winter solstice since well into ancient times.  Humanity as a whole is grateful for the Light
and expresses itself in celebrations complete with candles and gifts.

                So it
feels appropriate that the motivational voices appearing around me in the last
couple weeks should be those that encourage acts of giving.  I’ve heard John Assaraf use the phrase “the
more you give, the more you get” several times. 
We’ve have been honored to have Tony Robbins on the show to speak about
his new book.  He shared a story with us
of a time when he only had $20 to his name. 
He saw a young boy who wanted nothing more than to buy his mother lunch
but had no money to do so.  Tony had just
purchased his own lunch and was moved to give his change to the lad. Although
he had no cash left, at that moment Robbins said that he knew the feeling of
true wealth. 

                We also
had the opportunity to give a gift on the show – not of the monetary sort but
of fulfilling someone’s wishes.  Nick
Vujicic brought us such positive feelings when he visited us.  Afterward, we learned that he and his wife
had wanted to have Richie Sambora play at their wedding, but it had not been
possible.  Richie was scheduled to play
for us on the very next day so we invited Nick to return as part of our
audience.  He did.  To watch the joy that registered on his face
while the music played, and observe the interaction between them after the show
brought chills and goose bumps.  Truly,
there are many ways to give.

                Think
about the variety of films and programs that populate our air waves at this
time of year; the books and charitable events. 
There is a common theme.  Those
who have done well put aside their positions of station to share with others
less fortunate.   Like the girls in Little Women, baskets of food are taken
to those in need.  Celebrities mingle
with the masses as they man the food lines and serve others.  They travel around the world to entertain our
military forces who must be separated from their loved ones while giving their
service over the holidays. We reach into our pockets to give to Toys for Tots,
and into our closets for other service organizations providing essentials to
those in need.  We share a bit of our
abundance with those who have less.

                Yet it
isn’t just about money.  We also give of
our time and energy in order to visit the shut-ins and lonely, bringing our
well wishes, helping to write a card to a friend, singing songs at homes for
the elderly, volunteering our time and knitting socks, gloves and even blankets
for lost pets in shelters.  Is it even
possible to place a value on so much love being released for the benefit of
others? Yes, love. Love without limits that expands as it extends one to
another, love that moves us to set aside war for a single evening of peace and
giving.  It is love that is given with no
expectation of return, except the feeling of the deepening and growing love we
feel within ourselves. 

                Remember,
the more you give, you more you get.  May
your heart resonate with the love around you and radiate even more.  Pay it forward.  Pray it forward.  May we each know the joy of seeing angels
among us this holiday season.

                Wishing you Holy Day joy,

                Susan   

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08 Nov

Spiking Your Holidays with an Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is such a
wonderful time of year.  No matter our
differing backgrounds, we can each spend a little time to celebrate that which
we find meaningful in our lives.  For as
long as I can remember, our family and friends have gathered for that
purpose.  We give thanks for the food
that graces our table. We give thanks for work, for health, for companionship,
for major and minor successes, the blessing of our country, improvements we see
around us, small and large miracles.

For one day each year, we take
the time to appreciate the people, places and things that contribute so much to
what we enjoy in life.  We give thanks
for what has been received, and express gratitude for that which we are about
to receive.  It’s more than just saying
grace, it’s anticipating the abundance of our world – an abundance which is all
around us if we have the eyes to see. 

For many, expressing thanks is
something they only do on the holiday, if at all.  Their thoughts are filled with what Noah St.
John calls “head trash.”  They do not
allow positive thoughts or dreams to stay long in their conscious mind.  As a result, they develop what is called a
bad attitude.  People around them feel
the negative energy they are radiating and tend to pull away from them.

Attitude is easily noticed by
other people. It is reflected in the way we think, the way we feel and what we
do.  When people have a good attitude, we
enjoy being around them.  So how do we
turn our thinking around so we are radiating positive energy that supports us
and others? 

One of the ways to attract
more into our lives is to appreciate what we see around us.  It’s a form of love that draws positive
things to us.  One of the best ways to
increase the flow of abundance, joy and well-being to you is to start
appreciating what is around you right now. 
You may not see that right this moment. 
In fact, you may be decidedly leaning in the opposite direction.  But if you want to start turning your life
around, start to appreciate it.  Find
just one thing.  Look for it – the sun,
the rain, a bird in the sky, the wag of a tail, a child’s laugh, or a surprise
smile.  All you need to do is make a
point of appreciating one thing around you. 

As part of my daily routine, I
make a point to express gratitude for ten things.  They are not always at the top of my
mind.  In the beginning, I had to be
thankful for very simple things, however, over the past couple years, I have
found more and more things and I’m grateful for some pretty wonderful
improvements.  By cultivating this habit
on a daily basis, I feel as if I have developed an attitude of gratitude that
draws ever more positive things into my life. 
It’s something I experience every day, not just once a year. 

It has also helped to monitor
my daydreams so that I can catch any negatives slipping into my thinking. There
is a simple exercise to do this.  When
you realize you are expressing a negative idea, write it down on the left side
of a piece of paper.  On the right side,
write down what would be the positive opposite to that idea.  For example, if you are saying you are
unhappy, write down that you are happy. 
Then ask yourself: Why am I happy or why am I starting to feel
happy?  This positive why question is called
an “afformation.”  The technique provides
a way for your subconscious mind to begin to search for all the reasons you are
starting to feel happy and bring them to your conscious mind.  It is amazing how fast and easy it is to see
the results. 

Another way you can begin to
express gratitude and appreciation is to create a subtle form of vision board
as part of your holiday décor.  I did
this once years ago when I created a wall hanging in the shape of a Christmas
tree onto which I had taped all the things I had accomplished in the prior
year, as well as my dreams for the coming year. 
You could also create a Gratitude Garland.  As you get ready to hang garlands around your
home for the holiday season, spend a few minutes interweaving slips of paper
into them containing positive statements and questions, accomplishments that
make you feel good, dreams you are pursuing, and of course thanks and
gratitude.  You will be surrounded by
visions of abundance and good fortune throughout the holiday season. 

This is the perfect time to
start to lay the groundwork for a fabulous new year.  May you reap the benefits when you spike your
holiday with a refreshing attitude of gratitude.

With appreciation,

Susan

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