Loving acts change us only when we are able to witness and receive them. In contrast, when we don’t actively perceive and accept the loving intentions of those around us, they lose their potency quickly and can even lead to conflict. It is more common than not for people to miss loving acts completely because their powerful filters of what they expect love to look and feel like dismiss loving acts completely.
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There is something magical and unique about the felt experience of gratitude. I have come to believe that it is as close as we get in our daily lives to an ecstatic connection to the divine. Experiencing the goodness surrounding us viscerally with the practice of feeling gratitude awakens and opens our heart, while simultaneously creating the lightness of joy.
For many years, in fact for most of my life, I had no idea or access to this deeply personal experience of deep gratitude. When I would express gratitude, it was in words only, a formality that was returned after a kindness offered. What I learned when I began to actively study how gratitude works within us is that you have be able to receive to feel grateful.
Every day in the in-between space of sleeping and waking, I repeat to myself, “I have enough money, resources and people to achieve my and Good Clean Love’s fullest potential.” I don’t start repeating this until I have awoken with a deep sense of gratitude about my life. I start with the easy and obvious – like feeling grateful for waking up in my bed next to my husband, with the cat purring on the end of the bed and the old dog snoring on the floor beside me. I give thanks for the people I love and for all the sweet, small comforts of having another day in this body, in this life.
Years ago, when I had just begun this journey of creating the life I had longed for, a teacher gave me this affirmation, which I have been holding ever since- “I am a joyful, grateful, excellent receiver.” At the beginning, I remember how awkward the words felt in my throat, how foreign the idea of being an active receiver was to me. Since then, I have come to treasure this thought and, thankfully, even in times of deep stress, this has become a default space in my heart.
Trusting what you know is the bedrock of befriending yourself. Choosing the beliefs that ground you to your life is everything. Today, on my 53rd birthday, as I consider what I know for sure…
I am not sure why I started with the most difficult of all affirmations to begin my book, and surely I am among many who read the words: “I love myself,” but can’t quite feel them.
About a month ago I got an interesting homework assignment from an energetic counselor that I work with. She asked me to make a set of 100 affirmation cards and to not only read them, but actually feel them every day. I had learned before that real change comes from what we fully experience as real. I spent days researching affirmations and then another day choosing and compiling the 100 that resonated most deeply. I glued them into an index card booklet and began the twice daily task of experiencing them each day.
Last night I got a text from my teenaged daughter’s ex-boyfriend. I like him so much, and am mourning her recent break-up with him. I saw it coming… as the balance of attraction and desire became lopsided, I knew that it was unlikely with their limited capacity to understand and express how things fell out of mutuality, that they would find their way back to each other. Once the scales tip, small acts perpetuate the dance of pushing forward and pulling back, until no one knows how they got there.
Give it away. I remember reading one time that one of my favorite highly evolved spiritual teachers gave away anything that she had grown too attached to. I am not at that level in my own development, although I am turning a corner about understanding what things are worth. The truth is that the more you possess, the more time and energy it takes to maintain. And then at the end of a life of collecting stuff, either you or some innocent bystander in your life has the task of getting rid of it all.
Lately I am awake at least a couple of times – in and out of weird, anxious dreams. So it is not unusual that my first thoughts are anxious too. It is amazing how fast a couple of errant anxious ideas can spiral down into low grade rumination. Reminding myself through mediation to first create a grateful moment changes everything.