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27 May

Patience Makes Perfect.

An article in The Thrive Centre For Human Development stated that self control and patience predicted better performance and higher self-esteem.

In this day and age of technology and fast paced living, patience seems to be more and more challenging to practise.

Here’s a short story that will put patience in perspective:

On Monday and Tuesday nights, I help my mixed martial arts instructor when he teaches kids. There was one particular boy who was right handed/footed. He struggled with left kicks. The instructor asked me to hold a kick shield and let this boy practise a side kick with his left leg. After 2 rounds, I asked the instructor if the boy should switch to his right leg. The response was “Keep going with his left leg”.

Another 2 rounds went by, and the boy was getting a bit frustrated. My previous question to the instructor was repeated, and his response was the same. After another 2 rounds, the boy was losing interest in the side kick with his left leg. Instead of asking the instructor, I informed him that the boy had completed 6 rounds, practising the same kick with the same leg. The instructor replied “Keep going”. My response – “Master, he has been doing the same kick for 6 rounds. Let’s do something different”. In his usual calm demeanor, he replied “Keep going”.

At that point, I was feeling sorry for this boy. After one more round (his 7th round, practising the same kick with the same leg), the instructor asked the boy to close his eyes, and practise the side kick with his left leg. Now, this was the 8th round that the boy was doing the same kick. To my surprise, he hit the kick shield in the same spot with every kick, even with his eyes closed. At the end of that round, the instructor asked the boy to rest for one round, and slowly drink some water. He then turned to me and calmly said “Patience makes perfect”.

The one lesson that was obvious from that experience was that there are certain things that take time, regardless of how we may feel about it or how much we may wish to rush the process.

Please ask yourself this question – “Is there any area of my life in which I must exercise more patience?”

Followed by – “What will the by-product of patience be?”

Now, it is clear that for many people patience is a very challenging character trait.

A few weeks ago, I was at a road intersection while driving. Once it was clear for the driver ahead of me to go through, he looked left and right again, just to double check. The driver behind me started beeping his horn, and went into a tirade. All of this for what? Just the two seconds delay?

Here are 4 tips for you to practise more patience:

  • Take 3 deep and slow breaths – it has been said that deep breathing regulates your heart rate. It will also make you relaxed. If the person in front of you at the post office is taking too long at the counter, it can be easy to become impatient. Take 3 slow and deep breaths. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make you feel better when impatience seems to be taking over. If you feel that you are still tense, keep taking deep and slow breaths. In the previous article, it was mentioned that taking a few deep and slow breaths, followed by a smile (fake or real) will most likely put you in a more productive/positive state. Do that if you have to.
  • Switch your attention to something else and engage in productive self talk – if you are stuck in traffic and become impatient, switch your attention to something else. It could be something that is on your mind or something that will make you happy. For example, start planning your day or your night. Tell yourself what you will do that day or night –“Tonight will be a good night at the gym” or “I can’t wait to watch that movie on the weekend”. Use your physiology to express how you feel about the gym or the movie. Doing so will take your mind off the situation at hand, and you will be in a better state (mentally and emotionally).
  • Develop a “patience trigger” – when I was a Life Coach, many of my corporate clients were given an exercise – to develop a patience trigger. There was one lady who was the self-proclaimed princess of no patience. If she saw a line at the coffee shop, she would not get a coffee that morning. I asked her to develop or uncover a patience trigger – something that would keep impatience away. She thought back to when she (as a teenager) had a major argument with her younger sister because she took too long to shower. After that argument, they didn’t talk for almost a year! She regrets that argument to this day. I asked her to think about what that argument cost her, every time impatience crept in. Whenever she thought of that argument, she reminded herself to exercise more patience. The one thing that is crystal clear in my study of human behaviour is that pain is a very powerful deterrent!
  • Be outcome oriented, not process focused – if your goal (for example) is to lose weight or gain weight, become outcome oriented ie. know that the outcome is the bigger deal than the process. Yes, you will have to go through the process to get to the outcome. The process may/will test your patience. Patience will be needed to see small ongoing results, and to get you to the desired end result. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your ideal/desired physique be. This can be applied to anything medium or long term that you are working toward – learning a new language, learning to play a musical instrument, working on a new project etc.

Quote: “One minute of patience, ten years of peace.” Greek proverb

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can productively practice patience.

Influencing you to your excellence,
Ron

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26 Apr

Negativity Always Wins. Here’s How To Change That.

Motivational speaking legend Les Brown speaks about a study conducted at M.I.T (Massachusetts Institute Of Technology). The study concluded that every time a person directs a negative statement toward you, it takes 17 positive statements just to neutralise the initial negative statement!

Think about that – one negative statement vs 17 positive statements, and then the impact on the individual becomes equal.

Please think back at a time when people complimented you and you were ecstatic. Then, just one person directed a negative remark or statement toward you. How did you feel after being on the receiving end of the negative remark?

Did it override all the compliments that you received earlier?

Were you consumed by the negative remark?

Did you feel like the negative remark was more impactful than all the compliments that you received earlier?

If the answers to the above mentioned questions is a “Yes”, then rest assured, you are not alone. Most people feel that way.

Today, I will give you four keys to being proactive when negative remarks override compliments. Here they are:

  • Remind yourself that it is only someone’s opinion – everyone has an opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Most people believe that they have a right to freedom of speech. The message that I am driving home is that someone else’s opinion is not necessarily a reflection of your reality. You can choose to do whatever you feel necessary with that person’s opinion. When I was a kid, I heard a proverb – “A barking dog will not stop a moving carriage.” What that translates to is that if a carriage is moving and a dog is running after it while barking, the carriage will not stop because that dog is barking. Now, I love dogs, and always will. The point is – why let someone else’s behaviour (that you have no control over) stop you from being at your best? They are just projecting their opinion (which you don’t have to own).
  • Ask yourself “Do I respect and value this person?” – let me share an example with you. I used to work for a major financial services organisation in the central business district of my home city, Melbourne (Australia). One morning, as I was walking to work from the nearest train station, a drunk man (who had obviously been consuming alcohol for a long period) approached me. This was at around 7:00 am. He grabbed my left arm and said “Excuse me mate. Your suit jacket looks crap”. Then he let go of my arm, and walked off. A few people on the street stopped, looked at me, and were most likely expecting a reaction from me. I replied “Good morning to you too sir”, and walked away. The people watching this unfold started laughing. About an hour later, a colleague and I went back on that street to buy some fruits. Guess what? We witnessed the police speaking to that man, and he was in hand cuffs. I looked at my friend, told him what had transpired earlier, and we both laughed.
  • Learn to respond, not react – if you have been reading my articles, you will know that I am a massive advocate of learning about responding intellectually, instead of reacting emotionally. As an anti-bullying campaigner, I suggest an exercise to kids who are being bullied at school. Please do this exercise the next time someone is pushing your buttons or getting under your skin, and you are about to react negatively. Take a deep breath, in through your nose. Exhale out of your mouth, and pretend that there is a drinking straw in your mouth so that you exhale air in a straight line. Repeat this process. After exhaling the second time, smile for three seconds. This short exercise will be calming, and should allow you to maintain your composure. When we react emotionally, we might say/do things that will lead to foreseeable guilt and shame.
  • Learn to disown other people’s behaviour – recently, a very close friend of mine was discussing an issue that he was having with a colleague of his. This colleague was always very critical of everyone in her workplace, including my friend. She only knew how to criticise, not praise. My friend said that although he knew that he should take her remarks like a grain of salt, it sometimes impacted on him negatively. We both agreed that she may have internal issues that she needs to deal with, and that is beyond our control. What is within my friend’s control is this – he can disown her behaviour. Just because she chooses to be so critical and nasty toward others, my friend cannot control that. He later emphatically told her that her criticism is not impacting on him because he is not her behaviour. From that point, she stopped being critical to him. Sometimes critical people just want a reaction. Refuse to take part in that game.

Now, I am not asking you to become imperturbable. I personally do not know anyone who is. What I am suggesting is that you learn to productively deal with other people’s negativity, and take control of your emotions and thoughts.

In an article in Psychology Today, Dr Raj Raghunathan says “The most tenable option for dealing with negative people – in a nutshell, this option involves three elements: compassion for the negative person, taking responsibility for your own happiness despite the other person’s negativity, and maturity in how you interact with the negative person..”

Quote: “The difference between ordinary people and extraordinary people is simple. Extraordinary people choose to listen to their positivity more than they listen to other people’s negativity.” Ron Prasad

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can productively deal with negative remarks and not let them overpower your emotions and thoughts.

Influencing you to your excellence,
Ron

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21 Apr

Experiencing Aloneness and Its Opposite

LiveYourHappy_cvr.inddAn excerpt from Live Your Happy by Maria Felipe

 

Before she was an author and a minister, Reverend Maria Felipe was an actress, a model, and a TV host with a fabulous French boyfriend. She appeared in national commercials, was the first ever Latina boxing announcer, and interviewed World Wrestling Federation competitors in front of audiences of twenty thousand people. People Magazine in Espanol even referred to her as “Una Campeona Sin rival,” which means a champion without rival. But through it all, she felt insecure, unworthy, and downright miserable.

 

All that began to change when she began to study a book called A Course in Miracles (ACIM), and eventually went on to get her ministerial certificate from an ACIM school known as Pathways of Light.  “This self-study spiritual thought system helps students develop a relationship with the ‘internal teacher’ it calls the Holy Spirit, which in turn helps us change how we see the world on a daily basis,” writes Maria. “This ‘shift in perception’ is what ACIM calls a miracle.”

 

In Live Your Happy: Get Out of Your Own Way and Find the Love Within (New World Library, April 22, 2017), Maria shares more than twenty years of experience studying and living the principles from ACIM. This is not a philosophic explanation of the Course. It is a practical, hands-on guide for actually living it.   We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

I became a host for the World Wrestling Federation after winning an audition over five hundred other young women. You would think I would feel so happy: ¡Gracias Dios mío! This is the gig of a lifetime, national TV and such a prestigious company….But I was in the middle of the depression I described above; I was a hot mess, and I still got the job! Sometimes we create experiences to feed our growth, and we don’t necessarily have to be in a happy place to manifest them. There was a reason for this job, and I was going to have to live it and learn from it.

 

I did learn — by suffering a lot. Because I had no sense of an inner companion to bear me through difficulties, I felt as if I was not worthy of the job, even though I won a tough audition. I was insecure about my Spanish because my accent is Cuban, and Mexican is preferred on Spanish TV. On top of that, WWF shows were filmed live, meaning that any mistake I made would be seen live by thousands. On my very first show, I remember going down the ramp in front of twenty thousand people while I listened to an earphone as the director told me, “Maria, get out there and interview the wrestlers next to the ring, then come back up the ramp with them.” It felt like mi corazón was coming out of my chest!

 

This was such a challenge, not because of the job itself, but because I thought I had to succeed all on my own. I went on to do fifty episodes and worked with such amazing talents as El Hijo del Santo, Negro Casas, Papi Chulo, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin — and, let’s not forget, a midget wrestler named Mini Max, who was my scripted love crush on the show. Despite all the attention and seeming success, my almost paralyzing insecurities continued throughout this amazing gig. I spent a lot of time on tour in my hotel rooms getting on my knees, praying to God, and reading the Bible.

 

Looking back on all that, I recognize that sometimes our deepest pains bring us closer to God so that we can learn and grow. With spiritual maturity, I have discovered that I can learn through joy, without the need for so much pain.

 

In early 2012 I was asked to start the Spanish ministry at Unity Burbank Center for Spiritual Awareness in California. At first I was a bit scared, thinking: I don’t know how to run a ministry, and I am not even a minister yet. I wasn’t set to be ordained until November. Even though I was anxious, I was open and willing to hear that still small voice within me that said yes! So I stepped into the position and began to create a program and find musicians. I would constantly ask the Holy Spirit for help, and my goal was always to feel joy through the process. I am not going to say I did not feel nervous when I gave my first talk — although it quickly went away when I remembered: This is not about “me,” Maria the separated self who must be perfect. No, this time the opportunity was all about us — that is, an opportunity to extend love and remember that I am not alone.

 

Our suffering increases whenever our mind-set is self-centered, focusing on thoughts like what can I get, how can I get them to like me, how can I keep this job, and so on. In our struggle to “make a name” for ourselves, stake our claim, and prove our individual worth, we make the separation real and condemn ourselves to loneliness and misery. By contrast, when we regard whatever we’re doing as a kind of ministry — focusing on thoughts like what can I give, how can I be of service, how will my actions benefit everyone — then we will inevitably experience joy and happiness. Another way of expressing this truth is that all that is real is love.

 

# # #

 

3009Maria Felipe is the author of Live Your Happy. After experiencing success as a model and actress, including hosting World Wrestling Federation TV shows, she felt called inward and studied to become a reverend at Pathways of Light, an accredited religious school inspired by A Course in Miracles. She leads monthly services in both Spanish and English at Unity Church in Burbank, CA. Visit her online at www.MariaFelipe.org.

 

Excerpted from the book Live Your Happy: Get Out of Your Own Way and Find the Love Within. Copyright © 2017 by Maria Felipe. Printed with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com

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18 Apr

The Discipline of Happiness

Cover-MeditationforDailyStressExcerpt from:

 Meditation for Daily Stress: 10 Practices for Immediate Well-Being

Abrams Books, April 2017

 

Discovering neuroscience was a revelation to me. It taught me that we are not the slaves of our past. We have the capacity to change every day, every minute, to reproduce new neurons until our last day. We don’t have to possess bad character; we are not our traumas. We are not our past. We are not our mental habits. We can change now, immediately. This is not wishful thinking or fantasy. It is the reality of human neuroplasticity—our ability to alter our brain’s neural synapses and pathways—and it is achievable through the practice of meditation.

 

Our brain is a muscle, and every day is a chance to develop the brain. We can further build and enhance our character, our determination, our happiness, our intuition, and our freedom.

 

Yes, we really can do this! We can become more present, more intelligent, more compassionate, and much more free. Right now. The goal of meditation is to live a freer, clearer, and happier life. One day, a novice asked Saint Therese of Lisieux, “What is faith?” Therese replied, “Faith is happiness, because everything is a blessing and a grace.”

 

To train your mind and to meditate can become the ultimate revelation of your life. Yes, you can! Yes, it is possible! Everyday when I see my students, and when I see the people I am working with at the Amity Foundation—a community rehabilitation center in Los Angeles that is dedicated to the inclusion and habilitation of prisoners, parolees, children, and families marginalized by homelessness, poverty, addiction, crime, racism, sexism, trauma, and violence—it makes me cry. I see how simple it is, in reality, to make a difference.

 

What do we need to improve our lives? Determination and discipline. Why is it so difficult to meditate? There are two primary reasons:

 

  1. Our false perception of meditation. The cliché of the monk who meditates for many hours in his shrine or on a mountaintop has encouraged a false perception of the practice. This standard image has made meditation seem unachievable, because our daily lives are not in sync with the fantasy.

We must learn that to meditate and to train our minds is possible in just a few minutes per day, anytime, and anywhere. We must see how every situation in our life is an occasion to train our determination.

 

  1. Our false perception of discipline. We have been taught that the practice of discipline is like an effort against ourselves. Think about

the quest of losing weight. We know it is possible, but to make the effort and be disciplined is too difficult, especially in the midst of our daily stress. How can we find the energy to meditate when we have no energy left just to live our lives? How is discipline possible when we are very busy and overbooked every day? Why must discipline be sad, strict, and negative?

 

Discipline means freedom. Every day, we can take a few minutes to feel better. We develop a near chemical addiction to happiness, peace, and a quiet mind.

 

We need only a few minutes to meditate every day. The most important goal here is not the quantity but the quality of the practice. In just one minute, we have the ability to touch our soul and the spiritual dimension. We can be connected to the eternity of the universe in a very short amount of time. We must prioritize the quality of our meditation practice over the duration of it. Every situation is a wonderful occasion to meditate, to feel at peace immediately.

 

Every time we wake up in bed is an opportunity.
Every coffee we have is an opportunity.
Every moment in traffic is an opportunity.
Every moment we are in the subway, on a train, or riding

the bus is an opportunity.
Every time we arrive at our workplace is an opportunity.

 

Life is like a movie; there is a start and an end. After each new movie, each new moment is a new reincarnation. Life keeps going on. Most of the time, we are the actors in our life movie.

 

We are directed by our emotions and our mental habits. To practice meditation opens the mind to another perception of consciousness. Day after day, we become less the actor and more the director. When we practice and we train our minds, suddenly one day we will be out of the movie, out of the set, and out of the screen. We will find ourselves sitting down at the front row of our theater.

 

We will have a different perception of our movie. We will see our emotions as a director sees his actors. By then, we can say to an actor, “I don’t like how you act. I won’t keep you in my cast.” We can say the same thing for our emotions. For example, when we see that we are anxious and we don’t like it, we can say, “I’m sorry dear anxious emotion, dear actor, I am canceling your contract. You are no longer in my movie. Get out!”

 

The goal of meditation is not to become more spiritual or religious. It is to become more present, calmer, happier, and freer. These are the goals of this life, after all.

 

Michel-Hi-Res-PhotoMichel Pascal is a French author, meditation teacher, singer, filmmaker, and photographer. Michel’s unique brand of meditation is being practiced at Google, Harvard University, and many other major organizations. Before moving to the United States, Pascal lived in the Kopan Monastery in the Himalayas. He has spent more than 15 years adapting traditional teachings and practices for students around the world. Pascal lives in Los Angeles.

 

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04 Apr

FIVE WAYS AYAHUASCA IS CHANGING LIVES FOR THE BETTER

84021Guest post by Rachel Harris, PhD, author of LISTENING TO AYAHUASCA

 

Ayahuasca is a tea composed of two plants from the Amazon rain forest. It’s considered a medicine by the growing number of Westerners who are drinking ayahuasca in sacred ceremonies in search of psychospiritual healing.

 

In my research, “A Study of Ayahuasca Use in North America,” published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, eighty-one people completed a sixteen-page questionnaire describing how they changed after their experience of drinking this powerful brew. In addition, I personally interviewed another fifty people, again focusing on what happened after the ceremony, asking, “How are you different? How has your life changed?”

 

The self-reports from the questionnaires and interviews revealed five ways that ayahuasca is helping people change their lives for the better.

 

1. Positive Sense of Self: Perhaps the most important change people reported was that they felt better about themselves and felt that they had a right to exist. People said things like: “I’m more accepting of myself, more loving, kind, and patient. I have more self-confidence, take better care of myself, and have greater understanding. I’m less critical.” This last statement is important therapeutically, since a harsh inner critic can be constantly demoralizing in daily life.

 

On a more spiritual level, individuals reported the experience of being flooded with love. This sensation ranges from the comfort of a warm bath to ecstatic heights of feeling loved as a child of the universe. Such experiences often lead to greater self-compassion and self-acceptance. One man said, “You can hear something one thousand times and still not get it. With ayahuasca, the message [of being loved] drops down into the cellular level, and all of a sudden you know it in your bones.”

 

2. Improved Mood: In terms of depression and anxiety, a few lucky people had what I call a spontaneous cure — “My depression is GONE,” one man wrote after a decade of antidepressant use and five years of psychotherapy. We don’t really understand such a dramatic response to the medicine; we can’t predict who will find such relief.

 

For most people, there’s a more gradual healing process that continues after each ceremony. Most people noted a general improvement in mood: more feelings of love and compassion, increased optimism, greater serenity, increased confidence, and more joy. As a result of drinking ayahuasca, people said they felt more easygoing, safer, and lighter; they had more fun and felt more stable. They also reported feeling less anxious, angry, agitated, or upset. One person wrote, “Less darkness, more light.”

 

People seemed to develop a healthy distance between themselves and their moods that allowed them to be more objective and to consider the most constructive way to handle their emotionality. A forty-seven-year-old teacher wrote, “I’m less emotional and can better deal with my moods.” Another woman, age fifty-nine and a college professor, described a distancing from her moods: “I don’t take my moods so seriously anymore.”

 

3. Healing of Trauma: People often report that during ceremonies they relived a traumatic childhood event, sometimes actually being in the scene and other times watching the scene from a distance as if it were a movie. In the former, the person might be recovering a lost memory, gaining access to information that they had blocked. In this case, the person might be experiencing the trauma with full body consciousness in a way they weren’t able to do at the time. They are likely to feel that they’ve regressed to the age they were when the traumatic event happened. In the latter case, the person is able to sustain an objective distance and maintain their adult perspective. Often these people report feeling great compassion for the child they were along with the ability to be more loving toward that child within.

 

Whether the trauma is relived or observed during the ayahuasca ceremony, I think it can be very helpful to work with a therapist who is experienced with the medicine or altered states of consciousness. A skilled therapist would know how to approach these two ways of experiencing trauma differently. I recently heard of a woman who kept reliving the same trauma in every ayahuasca ceremony. This can actually be retraumatizing, and a therapist could help her break out of that loop and move forward.

 

4. Improved Relationships: As people felt better about themselves and less vulnerable to negative moods, they became more available in their significant relationships. There was a trend toward increased honest, direct, and open communication with deeper connections. One college professor succinctly described his changes: “Better marriage. Better relationships with students and colleagues.”

 

Many of the younger respondents said their relationships with their parents had improved, partly because they were more patient and tolerant of them. One early-twenties college student, happily in his fifth year of undergraduate study, asked his mother to answer the question, “Did anyone close to you notice any changes in you (since drinking ayahuasca)?” She responded, “Now he has control over his behavior and has become very spiritual.”

 

A number of people reported reconciliations in ruptured relationships. One woman wrote, “I made peace with my ex-husband, and it made a huge difference for us and our two children.” Others said they ended “unhealthy relationships” with both romantic partners and friends. This news was presented as an accomplishment, something they should’ve done long ago. It seems that many reevaluate their relationships after the ayahuasca experience. For example, one woman explained that she “was better at setting limits without guilt” in her relationships. Another said, “I’ve stopped anything that was toxic.”

 

5. Healthier Lifestyle: Similar to the findings on depression, a few lucky people reported a miracle cure when it came to their issues with alcohol: “After doing ayahuasca, I feel that alcohol is a poison.” “No desire for alcohol.” “I have more awareness around abuse of alcohol, so I drink less.” These people spontaneously began to view alcohol in a negative light. This effortless change in perception and behavior is the unique hallmark of ayahuasca. The changes are not a result of white-knuckle self-control but of an internal shift that seems to happen organically.

 

The self-reports on marijuana were more complex, with some people reducing their use while others, who viewed marijuana as a plant ally of ayahuasca, maintained their habit. A few people said they were less interested in other psychedelics since their introduction to ayahuasca, but others continued to explore.

 

There was a pattern of change in diet with the trend clearly in the direction of less sugar, junk food, and red meat; more vegetables and fruit; and smaller portions. One woman said, “Junk food is less appealing, even chocolate,” which I consider a major breakthrough.

 

People also said they felt better after the ceremonies and enjoyed an increase in vitality and energy. With an increase in their activity level, many reported a weight loss. One man said, “I feel and look younger,” and two described a weight loss of forty pounds.

 

These changes were not the result of willpower or discipline — nobody mentioned those stalwarts of the dieting world. Rather, the desire for a healthier diet seemed to unfold spontaneously as if based on some kind of revelation. Some people reported that they heard a voice telling them to change their eating habits. Others came out of a ceremony and changed lifelong patterns with seemingly no effort, as if they simply decided, “I now just prefer kale to chocolate.”

 

 

These are remarkable changes after ayahausca ceremonies, but we must acknowledge that these self-reports are just the beginning indicators of the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca. Far more research is needed. We still don’t know who will benefit from this medicine or in what ways. And there are risks involved whether drinking ayahuasca in South America or here in the States. But for intrepid seekers of psychospiritual healing, ayahuasca is working in mysterious ways to change their lives for the better.

 

# # #

 

3001Rachel Harris, PhD, is the author of Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety. She received a National Institutes of Health New Investigator’s Award, has published more than forty scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals, and has worked as a psychological consultant to Fortune 500 companies and the United Nations. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine and in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her online at www.listeningtoayahuasca.com.

 

Based on the book Listening to Ayahuasca. Copyright © 2017 by Rachel Harris.

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30 Mar

The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels

THE FOUR PEARLS AND THE FOUR SQUIRRELS

New Book Provides Four Pearls of Wisdom for Finding Happiness While Avoiding Distractions

In the time-honored tradition of the fable, author Lissa Coffey has created a whimsical, meaningful book that will delight readers of all ages. The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels: A Modern Fable About Happiness and Distraction is a modern-day classic filled with wisdom. It inspires and enlightens in the same way that Jonathan Livingston Seagull has for generations.

Encouraged by their mentor Merlinda, four squirrels set out on a quest to find a treasure hidden in the forest. The four pearls they search for represent profound truths that lead to happiness and peace of mind. The squirrels also discover that these truths are the antidote to the many distractions that can keep us from achieving our goals.

· The First Pearl: Look at what you have, not at what you don’t have.

· The Second Pearl: Look at what you are doing, not at what anyone else is doing.

· The Third Pearl: Look at the opportunities, not at the obstacles.

· The Fourth Pearl: Look at what matters, not at what doesn’t matter.

These pearls of wisdom, along with their associated Happiness Principles (Gratitude, Focus, Fortitude, Faith) form the basis for a philosophy that helps readers through challenges in every aspect of life.

More info about the book at FourPearlsBook.com

The book is designed both exterior and interior with a unique lettering style created by Ray Mawst RayMawst.com 

 

About the Author

Lissa Coffey is the author of The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels. Her mentor, Deepak Chopra, says: “Your heart will thank you for Lissa’s helpful and heartful vision.” Lissa has written several books, including the bestselling “What’s Your Dosha, Baby?” She is a lifestyle expert who has been featured on The Today Show and many other national and local television programs. Visit Lissa online at her site: CoffeyTalk.com.

 

The Buzz

“The Jonathan Livingston Seagull for a new millennium. The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels is a wondrous tale that minds us of the true route to happiness and self-fulfillment.”

-Scott Stantis, Editorial Cartoonist, Chicago Times and USA Today, and creator of the comic strip Prickly City

 

“For those of us fortunate enough to have had mentors, we know what a difference such guidance can make in our lives. With this book, author Lissa Coffey has also taken on the role of mentor in bringing this sweet, clear, profound wisdom to her readers.”

-From the Foreword by Marilyn Schlitz, PhD

 

“The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels is a charming tale! I love that the story emphasizes patience, gratitude, wisdom gained along the way, and to keeping your mind open in the changes our journey through life presents to us. Lissa Coffey takes us on a whimsical journey of discovery with humor, honesty, and a few bumps along the way!”

-Cristina Ferrare, New York Times Best Selling Author, TV Talk Show Host, Philanthropist

 

ARTICLE AND SEGMENT IDEAS FOR EDITORS AND PRODUCERS

· Do You Want to Be Happy? Pearls represent pearls of wisdom, what we need to remember when we feel unhappy in any way. Squirrels represent the distractions that often keep us from being happy. Lissa discusses the four pearls, and the four principles of happiness that we can use anytime, anywhere, to bring ourselves to that peace of mind that we crave.

· Mentorship Changes Lives! Lissa has been a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. Research shows that one-on-one mentoring programs have real-life positive outcomes in children’s lives: http://www.bbbs.org/research/ Lissa will go over some of the data, and introduce viewers to a successful Big and Little match.

· Save the Squirrels! When people learn about the hardships animals face each day, they are more willing to take a proactive approach toward protecting the natural environment and the habitats of our wild neighbors. Lissa gives tips for how we can co-exist with, and respect wild animals in our communities.

 

www.FourPearlsBook.com

The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels

April, 2017 – Personal Growth/Inspiration – Paperback / ebook – 102 pages

Price: $13.99 – ISBN 978-1-88321-225-4

Available on Amazon and everywhere!

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27 Mar

Deadlines – Friend Or Foe?

“Deadlines are a budget for your time” said Scott H. Young in one of his articles.

Whether you are working in the corporate sector or are a student, you will face deadlines.

These days, there seem to be deadlines galore – a deadline to submit a report, a deadline to submit an assessment, a deadline to complete a project for the kids, a deadline to get in shape for the next tropical vacation, and the list goes on.

The one thing that I have noticed (through personal experience) is that deadlines are not necessarily a bad thing.

Deadlines can make us more productive.

Yes, you heard me right – deadlines can make us more productive. Let me explain to you why I believe in that.

Have you ever been too busy?

If you have, then you would know what it feels like to operate under pressure.

Working toward a deadline can make you operate under more pressure.

However, working toward a deadline can also make you more productive.

Let me share an example with you. I had a coaching client (approximately 4 years ago) who always seemed to struggle with getting things done.

She had impressive formal education, and was in a respectable role (career wise).

This lady had a habit of “putting things off for another day”.

Have you ever felt like that or done that?

In every coaching session that we had, she would come up with a list of things that she wanted to accomplish. However, she never completed those tasks.

My suggestion to her was very simple – give yourself a deadline.

She hesitated and was unsure about it.

I suggested that she implement a deadline for just one task that she had been putting off for weeks, and observe the result that she would get.

After some convincing, she agreed. Surprisingly to her, the task was completed! Why? There was a deadline.

My suggestion to anyone is to give themselves deadlines on anything that they wish to complete.

As the old adage goes – “A dream with a deadline is a goal. Anything else is merely a wish”.

Here are 3 simple suggestions on how to use deadlines:

  1. Give yourself a deadline (even) for smaller tasks – being a corporate speaker/trainer and an anti-bullying campaigner at the same time is very challenging for me. How do I juggle the two roles with my family life, fitness, volunteer work, and hobbies? I give myself a deadline to get the smallest tasks completed. Please do the same thing. If you have to complete a small task, give yourself a deadline. The bottom line is that it will get done, and you can then focus on bigger tasks. Some small tasks could be very important. Give them a deadline, and get them done!
  2. Give yourself a deadline even if you feel that you’re not that busy – what I tend to do is give myself deadlines even if I feel that I am not that busy on a particular day. Why? It will ensure that whatever I am doing at the time will be done efficiently, and I can then look for other important things to do. Deadlines are not only for busy people. Anyone can use deadlines even if they feel that they are not busy. The goal of a deadline is to help you in getting tasks done, regardless of how “not so busy” you may feel.
  3. Give yourself a deadline within a deadline – if you are working on something big, chunk it down, and give yourself a deadline within a deadline. Let me share an example with you. My anti-bullying app (Beat Bullying With Confidence) required a privacy policy update on the Google Play Store. When our app developer asked us to send the privacy policy, I had no idea where to begin. Never had I written the privacy policy for an app. It seemed like a mammoth task. So, I chunked it down into 3 stages, and gave each stage a deadline. The 3 stages had to be completed within 24 hours, and the privacy policy had to be sent to our app developer within 48 hours. Once the 3 stages were completed, I was able to put it all together and send the privacy policy to our app developer. A deadline within a deadline can be a very effective tool in completing tasks that seem big and/or tedious.

It’s amazing how productive you can be when you are stretched for time.

In an article in Harvard Business Review, Dana Rousmaniere said “Deadlines are a done-for-you prioritization tool that tells you a given project is important to focus on since its deadline is earlier. Deadlines can also make it easier to honestly assess your workload”.

Please utilise a deadline to your advantage.

Another point about deadlines is that you should reach out for help if you feel that you need to do so. It is said that two minds are better than one. Get input from trusted and reliable sources who can support you in getting tasks completed.

Quote: “Deadlines refine the mind. They remove variables like exotic materials and processes that take too long. The closer the deadline, the more likely you’ll start thinking way outside the box.” Adam Savage

Please ensure that your deadlines are realistic. False expectations will put unnecessary pressure on you.

I sincerely hope that I have given you a simple insight into how you can productively use deadlines in getting things done.

Influencing you to your excellence,
Ron

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27 Feb

Which Leadership Trait Is More Important?

One of the world’s foremost leadership experts, Dr Marshall Goldsmith (who is like a virtual mentor to me) once said “Personal contact matters — and matters greatly”.

When I was an Executive Coach, I came across many CEOs and MDs who were very emphatic on the personal touch.

Regardless of whether you are in a leadership role or not (in a professional capacity), you must have come across situations where you acted as a leader.

Leadership is a very wide and deep area, and it covers many aspects of human behaviour.
For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on how to use empathy and how not to use authority in a leadership role.

If you wish to test your leadership skills, please try being the leader of a group of children. That is why I take my hat off to primary school teachers.

With leadership, comes responsibility – a responsibility to lead by example.

Now, here is where some leaders make the mistake of thinking that they will lead better by using authority as a leadership tool.

Authority can be used and must be used at times eg.  when order needs to be restored. However, if an authoritarian approach is used on a daily basis, the subordinates of the leader will start to build resentment. That will not be productive for anyone – the leader, the subordinates, and certainly not the organisation.

Let me give you an example. There is a boxing gym where I have been training for many years.

Every now and then, a very authoritarian guy (who is very experienced), comes to the same boxing gym.

He is often asked by the trainer to help the new comers or the kids in learning the right footwork and punching techniques. Many a time, I have seen him talking down at the people that he is helping, and telling them about how long he has been doing boxing for. Raising his voice is something that he is never ashamed of doing.

Needless to say, people have often complained about his authoritarian behaviour.

A few years ago, my cousin asked me to join him at his mixed martial arts academy.

I now teach basic mixed martial arts to kids at that academy on Monday and Tuesday nights.

When I started teaching these kids, the first question that popped up  in my head was “Should I act like an authoritarian leader or an empathic leader?”

The answer to that question was very simple – empathy all the way!

Can you imagine how an 8 year old might feel, coming to their first mixed martial arts class? They would most likely be nervous and self conscious. Imagine if he/she was yelled at and told that they are “too soft” for this sport. What impact would that have on their self image?

The first thing I did was to think about the authoritarian guy at the boxing gym. Although he is not a popular figure at the boxing gym, I am extremely grateful for him.

Why? He taught me what not to do!

Through him, I realised something that I have shared with many CEOs, MDs, and mid-level managers – “Empathy outweighs authority in a leadership capacity”.

My simple suggestion to you when you are acting in a leadership capacity is to embrace empathy, and not abuse authority.

As Dr Marshall Goldsmith said “Personal contact matters — and matters greatly”.

That personal contact is amplified when it comes in the form of empathy.

Let’s break it down and see why empathy is so positively impactful.

Empathy allows you to be more human because you are putting yourself in the shoes of the other person, and seeing things from their perspective.

Empathy has the potential to be reciprocated. Two weekends ago, I delivered a speech at a regional leader’s conference. One of my suggestions was – “When helping your subordinates solve a problem, use empathy. If they disagree with your suggestion, say something along the lines of “I can see where you are coming from.”  That will prove to your subordinates that you are putting yourself in their shoes. If they are being unreasonable, ask “Can you see where I am coming from?””

In a leadership capacity, if you show empathy, it is more likely to be given back to you.

Authority will not be reciprocated. In most cases, it does not have the potential to be reciprocated.

That is why abusing authority in a leadership capacity can be very dangerous!

Now, here is my little disclaimer – please use empathy within your limits and the limits of your leadership. Some people can take advantage of your empathic nature. You need to discern when it is wise to stop projecting empathy toward someone.

Try this exercise the next time you are in helping someone solve a problem or you are caught up in conflict resolution:

  • Ask the other party to fully explain why they want, what they want.
  • Put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective.
  • Tell the other party where you stand and what you can/cannot do.
  • Ask them to “Put yourself in my shoes and see where I am coming from”.

Quote: “What empathy really means is being able to understand the needs of others. It means that you’re aware of their feelings and how it impacts their perception. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with how they see things; rather, being empathetic means that you’re willing and able to appreciate what the other person is going through.” Tanveer Naseer

I sincerely hope that I have given you a simple insight on how to use empathy when you are acting in a leadership capacity.

Influencing you to your excellence,
Ron

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04 Feb

What Ought to be the Ultimate Reality of this Universe

Many of us have pondered over this question as to what is the ultimate underlying reality of this universe. Mainstream thought is that this universe is a vast ocean of space, time, particles, fields, strings, energy, etc. arranged in a particular fashion. But there are still lot of open questions like, where did all this come from, how far does it extend, when did it all come into existence, how long will it last, and so on. There are theories around all of these questions but no definitive answers which indicates a lack of understanding of the underlying reality. Let’s take a step back and see how we can actually derive the ultimate reality of this universe through straightforward logic and sensibility using a simple step-by-step process:

  1. First point to understand is that something cannot come into existence out of absolute nothingness and then dissolve back into absolute nothingness (absolute nothingness means that there is absolutely nothing i.e. not even empty space). This means that something or things must have always existed and should continue to exist forever. Things might get transformed from one thing into another, but there must always be something or the other existing. This implies that existence cannot be time-bound and must be eternal.
  2. Next point to understand is that it doesn’t make sense for something or things to exist only within certain boundaries with absolute nothingness beyond those boundaries. Absolute nothingness, by definition, means that there is absolutely nothing so what will impose a boundary? A thing will never limit itself unless there is something else imposing a limit. And if there is something else, then that is also a thing that exists and part of the overall existence. This can be extended through infinity, which implies that existence cannot be bounded and must be infinite. This can be applied to both space and time.
  3. The question that arises now is how many things actually exist and what are they like. Let’s first figure out how many types of things might be existing. If there exist more than one type, what is keeping two types of things, say T1 and T2, separate from each other? We need a third type, say T3, to keep T1 and T2 separate. We then need T4 to keep T1 and T3 separate, and T5 to keep T3 and T2 separate, and so on ad infinitum. Another possibility is that T3 separates T1 and T2, T2 separates T1 and T3, and T1 separates T3 and T2. But even this kind of inter-leaving will go on to infinite levels. These are implausible scenarios as, even if they were possible, the complexity would be too enormous to last long. So its not feasible for multiple types of things to co-exist together.

    If only one type of thing can exist at any given time, the next question that arises is whether there co-exists only one thing of that type or multiple things of the same type. If there are multiple things of the same type, what keeps them separate from each other? A thing cannot separate two other things of the same type, as how will the boundaries be defined? Moreover, there cannot be absolutely nothing in-between. So its not feasible for multiple things of the same type to co-exist together, and hence only one thing must exist. This one thing must not have any parts either, otherwise the same problem of what separates these parts from each other would come up. For this reason, it has to be a continuous homogeneous whole and cannot be made of parts or particles (which are just tiny parts). We can also safely say that this one thing that exists would not change over time, as change in a thing is caused only by another thing, but there is nothing else that exists to cause a change. Hence, our conclusion so far is that there must be one and only one thing that exists which is infinite, eternal, continuous, homogeneous, part-less and unchanging.

  4. If our above conclusion is correct, the multiplicity, variety and change that we observe in this universe must be just an appearance and not real. This is only possible if the one thing that exists has an innate capability of appearing as many without having to divide itself into parts. Please note that its not as if this one thing is appearing as many to something else. There is nothing else apart from this one thing, so this appearance of many has to be within itself. There is only one such thing we know of that has this capability – consciousness. Consider the individual consciousness that each one of us feels within our respective minds. Even though our consciousness is a single whole and not segmented into parts, we still see a world of many things – people, objects, places, events, etc. – in a dream. Its not as if all these things have somehow physically entered into our head during the dream. They are just an appearance within our consciousness and seem quite vivid and aware of each other, and behave just like we behave in the world when we are awake. So much so that, while we are dreaming, we are absolutely unaware that we are in a dream-world and not in a waking-world. Exactly like our respective dream-worlds are appearances within our individual consciousness, this whole universe is a dream-like appearance within the underlying reality that is none other than consciousness. Since this universal consciousness is infinite and must have infinite capability, the universe appears to be very real with all its vastness and intricate details. Even the perception of space, time, matter, etc. that we have in the waking-world is exactly like we have such perceptions in a dream-world which seem to be quite real while we are in the dream. Its important to note that the universe is not a dream in your or mine or anyone else’s individual consciousness, but its a dream in the universal consciousness. And the body-mind complex that you consider yourself to be is nothing but an appearance in this universal dream just like other objects. This universal consciousness alone appears as individual consciousness within all living beings too.

    Here’s another way to see how this one and only thing that exists is actually consciousness. Whenever we see an something appearing as something else, the appearance maintains certain characteristics of the actual thing. E.g. when a rope lying in a semi-dark room appears as a snake, certain characteristics of the rope like the length, thickness, orientation, etc. are maintained in the snake appearance. Such is true with all appearances. This means that even the universe, although appearing as many with all its variety, must be maintaining certain characteristics of the real thing. Since the real thing is the same throughout, any characteristic that appears universally can most probably be attributed to the real thing. Keeping this in mind, when we observe different things in this universe – no matter how small or big – one characteristic we definitely notice is that everything has a field around it which makes it “aware” of other things within its vicinity. These fields include the electro-magnetic field, weak and strong nuclear field, gravitational field, etc. From the smallest of the particles to the largest of the galaxies, all exhibit this characteristic. This is a strong indication that awareness or consciousness belongs to the underlying reality. Moreover, the underlying reality must be consciousness itself and not a thing which is conscious as that would need two types of things – consciousness and the thing which is conscious – but we have already ruled out existence of more than one type of thing.

    Another simple reason why the ultimate reality must be consciousness is that if its not consciousness, it would be something dead and inert. And we cannot expect something dead and inert to generate such a sophisticated appearance within itself which even includes conscious living beings.

  5. One more characteristic that is observed universally is that every part and particle of this universe is not just “aware” of other things within its vicinity, but is also “interacting” with them. If the underlying reality would have been just plain consciousness, the universe could have been just a huge cloud of particles that only had awareness of each other without any interaction amongst them. But we notice that things either attract each other or repel each other and, overall, things seem to continuously move towards a more stable, more positive state, as is evident from how the universe has arranged itself over time. The fact that we observe such interaction universally indicates that the reality also has a positivity associated with it, called bliss. This bliss is the driving factor behind all types of interaction amidst all living and non-living things. The term “bliss” will be clearer when we consider that everything we ever do is so that we can feel good. All feelings like happiness, joy, peace, serenity, delight, ecstasy, etc. fall under the category of feeling good and the highest order of feeling good is called bliss, which is what we all are striving for. Its the underlying driving factor behind all our actions.

Based on the above analysis, we can conclude that the ultimate Reality of this universe ought to be One, Infinite, Eternal, Continuous, Homogeneous, Part-less, Unchanging Existence-Consciousness-Bliss in which the whole universe appears and disappears in cycles, just like dreams appear and disappear in us. Moreover, there doesn’t have to be only one universe. There can be any number of universes co-existing simultaneously since they are all just appearances in a reality that is infinite.

We have thus derived the ultimate reality using a purely objective analysis. Now compare it with the previous article, Who Are You Really, in which the exact same reality was derived using a purely subjective analysis. If both objective and subjective analyses point to the exact same reality, there must be some truth to it. Imagine what it would be like when you realize that you are not this severely limited body-mind complex, but you are actually the one and only thing that really exists which is of the nature of infinite, eternal, continuous, unchanging bliss!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/156793577905/what-ought-to-be-the-ultimate-reality-of-this)

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03 Feb

The Sound of Love

Werts-book coverBy Vanessa Werts, author of Lies and Love: Cleansing the Heart to Make room for Radical Love

Love is the most powerful force on earth. It has the ability to heal broken hearts, fractured by life-imposed realities, and the capacity to accept and cover immeasurable shortcomings. Love is the standard that wars against hate; it will always prevail.

We all need love to be healthy – mentally, spiritually, and some might even say, physically. Without love, how can the heart stay motivated, hopeful, and believe that it has purpose?

Not one person’s life is a mistake or a waste. We all have a purpose for being alive – a calling to answer while we’re here – that is rooted and purposed in love. In understanding our individual, unique calling, we must also learn to love. It is love that touches our lives and makes us better. Not material things, status, or money.

Love has a sound. It is the voice of encouragement, promise, protection, and validation. The sound of love, will minister life to the spirit of a newborn baby in neonatal care, fighting against the odds; it will fan the flickering flames of an aloof marriage into a blazing fire again, and will draw two souls together to vow to spend the rest of their lives building and growing as one. A father’s sound of love expressed to his young daughter gives her clear vision to navigate the troubled seas of dating, while providing for his son, an example of the makings of a man. A loving mother impresses upon her young son’s mind, the character of his future wife, and teaches her daughter the ways of a virtuous woman. This same sound of love is available and, is indeed mighty enough to heal the deep wounds of oppression and bias that plague America.

The growing dark cloud of hatred that looms over this great nation, is not who we are. We are better than mean-spirited words being shot like fiery arrows from one person or group to another. We are not the heartless nation we see playing out on television, social media, and in our communities and neighborhoods. Yet sometimes I wonder if basic human kindness is slipping away from us – one hostile word and one bullet at a time. Since the beginning of civilization until now – have we not learned to love?

Considering that love is the heart’s greatest desire, and we all want and need it, to be healthy and whole, a mutual understanding of love is in order, wouldn’t you say? This is how love is defined in the Bible: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Now tell me, what heart wouldn’t dance to this radical sound of love?

Love demonstrated to others according to this mutual understanding, would reset a nation, putting an end to careless words and actions that cause pain, and open the door for healing and restoration to begin. Let us learn to love one another, remembering that we all just want to be accepted, considered, and respected.

Werts, Vanessa Let us purpose in our hearts today, to release the sound of love whenever we open our mouths to speak. Who knows? Your voice might hold the sound that brings healing to a family, a friend, a community, a nation. Be unrelenting in the power of love.

 

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