Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Soul Ties

Did you know that your soul can be tied to someone in a good way or a negative way?  Are you being controlled and manipulated by your child, friend, spouse, or parent?  This is one way to discern between a good soul tie or a negative soul tie.

Your soul is your mind, will, and emotions.  We are wired to make decisions based upon reasoning in our mind and emotions.  We make decisions based upon how we feel in any given moment or based on what we have been meditating on the last few days or hours.

I remember the first time that I realized that I had a negative soul tie.  I was in college and my mind was full, beyond capacity actually, of thoughts concerning a male friend of mine.  I could not get him out of my head.  I spoke with him every day and when I wasn't speaking to him, I was thinking about him, journaling about him, or talking to my friends about him.  I was obsessed.

Anything that he wanted, I would do.  Thankfully, he was a nice guy and did not take advantage of my obsession.  However, I had a serious problem in my soul.  I was bound.  I was not free to be me and to do what I wanted to do in life.

Anytime I had plans with a girlfriend, if my male friend called me and wanted to hang out, I would skip out on my girlfriend.  I was not normally like this.  Normally, I was a faithful friend and always showed up where I was supposed to be.

However, I felt completely out of control in this relationship.  I was out of control of my emotions, my mind, and my will.  I was controlled by my intense desires for this one man.  It was like a super-charged vacuum the size of a house that pulled me at every whim and moment.

I remember one particular day when I was praying and meditating by myself at my house.  I felt a still voice say, you need to let go of this relationship.  I felt so much fear when I heard that reverberate within my soul.  I knew that something needed to change.  But I didn't know how I could move forward with my life without this particular friendship.  I was scared of the gaping whole within my soul and the emptiness of being alone.

I was in bondage to an unhealthy soul tie.  This soul tie needed to be broken for me to experience freedom in my mind, my emotions, and my will.  I remember my friend praying to break the soul tie and literally feeling something break off of me.

It was different than I expected.  It took some adjustments, but I felt a new freedom of space in my mind and my emotions.  I had new sparks of creativity and spontaneity.  I felt freedom and space to pursue more relationships with friends.

It was the best thing that could have happened for my emotional health.  It is important for us to be honest and to assess which relationships in our lives are contributing to our emotional health and well-being and which relationships are controlled our mind, will, and emotions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kaizen: Embracing change

So you want to make a change in your life?  What kind of change?  What motivates you to change?

Lifestyle change can be very hard for people to make, especially after years of creating unhealthy habits.  Every time we do an action, a pathway is created or solidified in our brain.  The more that we do that same action over and over again, the deeper the pathway and the harder it is to make a new pathway.

Addictions are created by compulsively doing the same thing over and over again until the synapses in the brain are deep groves that are difficult to find a pathway out.

In Japanese culture, there is a concept of change called "kaizen."  Kaizen starts with tiny changes and improvements moving towards complete change.  The Sino-Japanese word means "good change" and is similar in meaning to the English word improvement.  A kaizen practitioner would recommend the smallest change which would lead to a complete 180.  For example, if you wanted to quit drinking coffee, a kaizen change would start with cutting back 1 ounce of coffee at a time until you are completely done with that habit.

If you wanted to start exercising again, a kaizen change would be 10 sit-ups a day until you worked up to an entire workout routine.  The reason why kaizen works is because you are bit by bit etching a new synapse in your brain towards a new habit.  It doesn't matter how small you are starting, it is that you are starting.

Anytime you are considering making a lifestyle change, it is important to realize that you should make changes that fit into your personality and your current lifestyle so that you can have success.  When I made changes in my lifestyle, I made an extreme dramatic makeover in the course of a few days.  My personality thrives with change and with absolutes and extremes so this was the perfect way to make a change for me.

However, for someone who is very busy and who has deeply interwoven bad habits into their lifestyle, it may be important to approach change with the philosophy of kaizen.

Ask yourself the question, what is the most important thing to change in my life right now?  And what would be the first step forward?  Once you determine the area that needs the most help and attention, take a very practical and very small step forward.  Pretty soon, you will build momentum towards lasting change in your life which will be very rewarding.

Have you ever watched the show Super Nanny?  I find this show very interesting because of the value that is shown in bringing in an outside person to consult with regarding areas of a family's life that is lacking or is not balanced.  Super Nanny does a wonderful job of not only assessing where change is needed, but delivering creative ideas to implement small changes.

On a path in the woods, if someone slightly started walking 2 degrees to the left, eventually they will be on a completely different path.  Imagine your life going in the wrong direction and how the smallest adjustment to the left or right could benefit where you land 5 years from now, 10 years from now, and 25 years from now.

Let's embrace change and implement Kaizen into our lives!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Live like an alien!

Why are some people able to persevere through the tough times and continue steady towards their goal and ambition while some people give up and quit?

There are many factors involved, but I think that one difference is the level of gratitude that a person carry's in their attitude day by day.  How can we have gratitude in difficult times?  We can be grateful that we are becoming better people with more compassion.  We can be grateful that we can grow in character and integrity.  We can also be grateful that we have the choice to pursue or passion or not.

Having health is as much a choice as not having health.  Persevering and doing what it takes to be healthy is a choice that everyone has to make for themselves.  There has to be many more reasons behind the decision to create action and behavior that cultivate proper health for the body.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough and more.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates vision for tomorrow (Melody Beattie)."

How do we cultivate gratitude and awe in life in spite of what could become boredom and dread?  I have two exercises for you:

1.  Play a game called "The Alien Game:"  Get in touch with your inner child and your imagination.  Imagine that you are an alien from a foreign planet and that this is your first day on planet earth.  Investigate things that you have taken for granted.  That co-worker who has a knack for cracking jokes, take them to lunch and allow yourself to laugh until you are crying.  Your friend who you haven't seen or talked to in years, give them a call and recall great memories.  Getting in touch with your inner child (or your inner Alien) can set you free to really live in the moment and to create moments of joy with everything that you have access to.

Living like an alien!  The halloween that my friend Brittany and I decided to dress up and enter a costume contest!  This is us taking crazy pictures!  I am grateful for this memory!
2.  Every day keep a gratitude journal.  Write down 3 new things every day that you are grateful for in the last 24 hours.  Make sure not to repeat gratitudes and make sure that you get specific.  For example, instead of saying "I am thankful for my bed," say "I am thankful for the amazing sleep I had last night in a wonderfully comfortable bed and the fact that I dreamt about giving my friend a big hug."  The more specific, the better.

One thing that really helped me as an American to become more grateful for day to day moments was my 7-month stint in South Africa.  Surrounded by poverty and need, I learned so much every day about what it means to be grateful for the simplicity of existence.  It was the best thing for me.  Now, you may not need to move to another country for 7-months in order to create gratitude in your life.  However, maybe you do!!  Maybe you need to do something drastic.

When I lived in South Africa, I heard a story about the man who started the non-profit orphanage and high school that I was working for and I was astounded.  This man moved into the townships of South Africa and lived in a shack for over a year in order to experience what the ordinary person in South Africa experiences.  He did this in order to gain compassion and to understand what exactly was needed in order to help.

This type of drastic decision changed his life forever.  Sometimes we allow fear to keep us from pursuing that dream that we always wanted to pursue.  So instead of going after our dreams, we settle for serving another person's dream that we do not believe in.  It becomes difficult to be grateful because we are not being true to ourselves.

The most important exercise in gratitude and living the moment is to decide to be YOU and to follow what you want out of life.  When your dreams that you believe in start to manifest, you will realize that all the hard work and the drastic decision to pursue that which is in your heart was completely worth it!!

What decision are you avoiding making out of fear?  What situations in your life presently or from the past are you holding onto that are keeping you from being grateful for today?  What would it mean to allow yourself to heal and to move forward with living?

Here is to a great day to practice living like an alien!  Remember, aliens don't do "normal" things.  Aliens do not know what a routine is.  Aliens are excited about new things and creating new opportunities.  Embrace life and shake things up a bit!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Forgiveness.  What is it?  Is forgiveness a feeling?  How do I know if I have forgiven someone or not?  How do I know when I am bitter?  How does it affect the rest of my relationships?

Sometimes forgiveness and unforgiveness are very subtle and can be difficult to detect.  Sometimes I hear people dismiss the idea that they have any unforgiveness without exploring what may be underlying the deeper issues of their soul.  Sometimes we never feel the full impact of the hurt, the pain, or the betrayal because we chose to keep our emotions at a distance.  When we keep our emotions at a distance, we don't allow our souls to expand deeper roots.  We keep ourselves from growth and development and we become very shallow, superficial people.

The best approach to forgiveness is the following:

Face It.  We must face that betrayal and that hurt.  As painful as it may be to feel that feeling, it stunts our hearts and our souls to avoid the full range of human emotions and experiences.  We need to realize that there is a gift within pain and hurt.  Our hearts and souls expand to make us more compassionate, more peaceful, and forgiving people.  We will be as healthy as we are in facing the reality of life.  

Feel It.  Feel the emotions surrounding the hurt and betrayal.  Allow yourselves to move through stages of grief, if necessary.  Don't stay stuck in anger and bitterness, but move through it.  Embrace the feeling and it will move through you as easy as water.  

Forgive It.  Look at the hurt, pain, betrayal and make a choice in your will to forgive that person.  If it helps, find a way to feel compassion.  Find out more about their past, about how they were raised.  Ask them questions about their life and you will find many reasons to have compassion on their decision and how it impacted you.  

"If her past were your past, her pain your pain, her level of consciousness your level of consciousness, you would think and act exactly as she does.  With this realization comes forgiveness, compassion, peace (Eckhart Tolle)."

When I realize what someone has lived through, I can forgive and hope for the best for that person.  I have several situations in my life where I had to dig deep into my soul and heart to forgive.  I had to forgive my now fiancé in a specific season of time and it has been the most wonderful, transformative experience for both of us.  Forgiveness is so good, it is so freeing and it is the most loving action in the world.

Another situation recently showed me the power of forgiveness.  Someone that I was counseling opened up to me about a horrific thing that happened to her.  She was at a party and was raped by a friend who was at the party with her.  It broke my heart to hear her explain the horrible details of the rape.  She was affected in a deep way and was struggling to have normal relationships with people because of the trauma.  We prayed and she was able to forgive this person who hurt her so deeply.  At the end of the prayer, a deep peace rested on her face.  I received a text from her a week later and she was so excited because her friend reached out and apologized with much remorse saying that he wished it never happened and that he has been tormented since it had happened.  She was excited because it brought such a deep healing in her heart to receive this heartfelt apology and pleading for forgiveness.  As soon as she released him from bitterness and judgement, not only was she able to start healing, but he was also able to start facing what he did and begin his own journey of healing.

"Forgiveness is the key to freedom (Hannah Arendt)."

Forgiveness creates space in your soul and your heart to live and wish the best for people without harboring anger, jealousy, bitterness.  These toxic emotions wreck havoc on the body of a person.  The most bitter people in the world tend to age so much quicker and in such a painful way.  Many people who have severe forms of arthritis or cancer carry much unforgiveness in their hearts (this is not always the case, but I have seen it in some situations the toxic affect of bitterness in the body).

"Relationships do not cause pain and unhappiness.  They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in us (Eckhart Tolle)."

Relationships can be healing or destructive depending on how we approach this topic of forgiveness.  If I chose to carry an attitude of forgiveness, I will reap the benefits of peace and joy.  There are relational situations where we need to forgive and move on to other relationships that are more beneficial to our soul; however, many relationships that end with "irreconcilable" differences may have been resolved simply through the power of choosing to forgive.

Think of one or two people in your life who you need to forgive.  Find a journal and write down all the things that you need to forgive them for.  Take time to process and write your emotions concerning the person and situations that would require forgiveness.  Write a letter of forgiveness.  Release that person and burn the letter.  Watch what happens in the physical realm.  This spiritual act typically results in amazing changes in the natural.  Many times, you will find yourself "running into" the person that you have forgiven.  Or "out of the blue" this old friend may contact you and ask for your forgiveness.  These things may or may not happen.  However, your heart and soul will be free to trust again and free to feel joy and peace again.  It is worth it and so beneficial to your health.