Category Archives: Living Fully

THE POWER OF WORDS — PART 2

March 14, 2018

NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

My husband and I have begun reading The Four Agreements, a Toltec Wisdom book by don Miguel Ruiz about the power of our thoughts and words. I remember the first time I was introduced to these ideas. It was the late 1990’s and I was attending a Truthought Criminal Justice conference titled Mind over Matters — Corrective Thinking. It was there I first learned a formula that has stuck with me ever since:

  • Our repeated, ingrained thoughts become our deeply seated beliefs —
  • Our Beliefs become our individual and collective values —
  • Our Behavior is a result of these beliefs and values.  As are our words.
  • ThoughtsBeliefsValuesBehavior (actions and words).
  • Feelings? They are the messengers…but, like our behavior, they are a result of our thinking, our beliefs and our values.

Our words are the building blocks with which we construct our world. But it all begins in our mind, with our thinking. You want to change your behavior? You have to first change your mind.

When the movie What the Bleep Do We Know? hit the theaters in 2004, followed soon after by the movie The Secret, positive thinking and manifesting abundance became a hot new topic. But as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 of the Old Testament, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Books on the subject had been coming out way before the movies of the early 2000’s opened the floodgates. Napoleon Hill’s 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich, and Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 release of The Power of Positive Thinking were two well known books from the early 20th century.  The behavioral sciences had been studying the power of our thoughts as the conference I attended attests. In the early beginnings of the field of quantum mechanics (physics) researchers stumbled upon the impact that the thoughts of the observer of an experiment had on the experiment’s results, which has led to greater research into consciousness. Scientists studying water and the effect that our thoughts and words have on the properties of water have been going on since the middle of the 20th century.

And yet, none of our “discoveries” are new.

There are numerous references in the texts of various religions and spiritual practices that describe the importance of “positive thinking”. In the New Testament we are counseled to “take every thought captive to Christ” (who embodied love, compassion, forgiveness) and to think on: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

The Buddha taught: “What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create.”  

Abu Amina Elias in his commentary about the teachings of the Quran wrote: “After understanding the effects of positive and negative thoughts, we then need to direct our thought processes towards positive trains of thought and learn to dismiss negative thoughts before they take us into a downward spiral. Many of the Prophet’s companions considered the skill to direct thought in a positive way as the enlightenment of true faith.” 

And then there are the Toltecs. The Toltecs lived thousands of years ago in southern Mexico. They were scientists and artists who formed a society to both explore and preserve the spiritual knowledge of the Ancient Ones. The Toltecs came together as Naguals (Masters) and students at Teotihuacan. But over time, due to European conquest and misuse of personal power by some of their apprentices, the Naguals were forced to conceal the ancestral wisdom. They embodied and passed it through the generations of different lineages of Naguals. Their ancient prophecies foretold the coming of an age when it would be necessary to return the wisdom to the people.

That “future age” has come. We are living in it. don Miguel Ruiz is a Nagual from the Eagle Knight lineage, and has come forward to share the powerful teachings of the Toltecs, one of which is, The Four Agreements. Ruiz says that if we were to take these to heart and live them, all conflict would be resolved. I believe him. Certainly all my conflicts would dissolve. These agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable (do no harm) with your word;
  2. Don’t take anything personally;
  3. Don’t make assumptions;
  4. Always do your best.

These agreements are where the rubber meets the road and expose how we really think. Being “into” positive thinking and intention and manifestation is a good thing to  be “into”. But, are we living it? How well are you able to live according to these Four Agreements?

A VALUES AND BELIEFS EXERCISE

Consider what behavioral values are really important to you in terms of how you show up in your relationships. Maybe honesty, or kindness, or with humor. Jot down a few.

Now think about what you believe about how life works that makes those values important to you.  Write down a few sentences about these beliefs.

For example, it is important to me that I show up with gentleness and grace. I believe that in doing so, the other person feels safe enough to be themselves.

Now, choose one of your values and think about the last time you violated that value. Lied, lost your temper, used humor to harm.

Now, here’s the tricky part. Figure out what belief was bigger in that situation than the one you just wrote down that made living that value important to you.

After you have identified this “other” belief, think about which belief more often runs your behavior. Many people doing this exercise, if they are really honest, find that their idealized values and their lived behavior are frequently not in sync. Rather takes the stuffing out of some of us.

I believe the verdict is in. Our words are raw, creative power. They do create our experience of life. It is our thinking, our beliefs, and our words that construct the world we live in. We are waking up to this powerful truth at a time when it is absolutely essential that we begin deconstructing the way we’ve been running the world, and build something better. We cannot do this with marches and posters and petitions and elections alone. We certainly cannot do it with violence — we’ve proven that over centuries of carnage! But maybe, just maybe, if each one of us begins to make serious changes in our own mental constructs of the world, if collectively we can imagine a thriving world, we will indeed heal our Earth, and build a world of peace, where all are allowed to thrive.

But even if I don’t live long enough to see such a world, I at least can heal my little corner of it. I can create my own wild, wonderful life, sending out vibrations of love and joy and peace. Who knows where the ripples will end — in what time, in what place?

Next:  The Power of Words — Part 3: The Ripple Effect 

Advertisements

SNIPPETS

February 4, 2015…Happy Birthday to Meridith!

SNIPPETS

1. BALLET OF THE BIRDS

A large flock of fat birds are cavorting in the sky. Bird ballet. They, as one Being, flow south, bank in a wide arc to the northeast, swoop earthward, soar heavenward, bank again to the west, to the south, reverse, around and around, not one wing out of sync with the whole.

I stand transfixed wondering what these birds are. Large as crows–but they aren’t black. Small seagulls? Wrong time of year.

Suddenly the music has finished its final note and they fall inelegantly toward ground, alighting on the cable wire strung across the alley outside my window. Thirty pigeons on the wire, fluffing their feathers, jostling each other for room to catch their breath.

And then as one they depart across the rooftops beyond my sight.

2. THE STORY MAKER

Every morning she had tea and decided what story she would make today.

Do we think that Life happens to us; that every day unfolds according to the dictates of some hidden writer sitting in a stuffy room in a galaxy far, far away? Do we never suspect the writer is us?

3. THE SHIFT

She glowed. She had swallowed seven suns and every cell in her body was drunk with their Fire and Light. She smiled and the air crackled–angel hairs of fire running wild. One touch and reality would shatter.

She stood still. Only her eyes moved. She knew in the next breath, one turn of her head, the world would shift–like a kaleidoscope.

Like a kaleidoscope; every turning reveals a new story in color and light; another pattern to comprehend. There is no need to fear the turning. Light and Beauty never cease their dance with Love and Joy.

Shift.

4. COURAGE

Four fat pigeons are hanging out together on the cable wire strung across the alley. Meeting adjourns to the ridgepole of the house next door. They are lined up beak to butt like children waiting their turn to jump off the high ledge at the swimming hole.

The pigeon first in line hesitates at the edge, looking down at the deck below, looking out at the trees, looking right, looking left. He looks down again, wobbling his head up and down, back and forth. He steps back, forward, back, forward. He suddenly stands very still, slowly tips his head down, his body forward, and he falls off the ridgepole, head first! Three feet, five feet, ten feet and finally wings spread, flap, beak pulls up, and his plump pigeon body lands in the mess of birdseed strewn on the deck by the squirrel raiders.

Up on the ridgepole, the remaining three have each stepped up. Pigeon #2 hesitates at the edge, looking down at his friend below, looking out at the trees, looking right, looking left, looking down  again…and over he goes, deck-ward ho!

ON TRUST

December 4, 2014

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE

Her heart beat like a panicked bird caught behind glass. She pocketed the promise and stretched out her arms–the full beautiful length of them. She uncurled her fingers to receive whatever help might come and stepped off the edge. She didn’t leap, or jump. She was crying a little. No tears of joy; hopefully that would come later. No, she just stepped. Courageously she picked up her foot and moved it forward and set it down beyond solid ground smelling of earthy, familiar things. Her body followed, flying and falling through the sky with a promise in her pocket.

It’s called The Leap of Faith, something each one of us faces periodically. Whether we arrive anxious or excited, we have all come to moments when we are challenged to step off the edge of what has been familiar and fall through the sky into the unknown with only a promise in our pocket. Or, maybe for some it is sailing across unchartered waters away from familiar shores. We are called forward, upward. We are called to shed the old skin of who we’ve been and how we’ve lived. All we hold is a promise: everything always works out; life is good.

It sounds like suicide. If feels like suicide. When we step off the edge, we have to leave behind our old habits of mind and being lest they snap us back again like a bungee cord that won’t let us go. The naysayers caution us against our foolhardy notion to venture forth into new ideas, new places, new spaces in the world within ourselves–such things might lead to new worlds outside of ourselves. They want to keep us safe, they say, as they clip the bungee cord to our belt.

There is a universal law: “intention precedes manifestation”. It means that what we focus our thinking upon will begin to gather energy and mass and eventually solidity and physicality and thus it is that we create our lives. We create the stories we live. Sometimes the only way out of one story is to take that leap of faith into a new one. Faith has been defined as the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. This is the promise we hold in our pocket as we take that leap without the bungee cord–sailing through air, through water, through testing and trials, all for the sake of realizing our dream: to find the Holy Grail of our lives, whatever that may be for each searching Soul. Stepping off the edge is to live fully with every cell into every moment of our lives.

That cliche, live life to the fullest used to bug me. What the hell did it mean? Once I dissected it with a dictionary in order to understand its meaning–fully. I believe it means to be aware and awake in the present moment I am living; aware of my surroundings, aware of what my senses are experiencing, aware of the choice I have in each moment. Sometimes these are small things in small moments, like appreciating the feel of warm water streaming over my body in the shower. As I stand there I become aware of the fact that I am privileged to have warm water that is safe for me to shower in right here in my home at just a turn of a knob.

Sometimes these are big things in big moments, like the moment when I receive a job offer, or sign the deed to my new house, or board the plane that will carry me to a new adventure.

Then there are the really big moments when I come to a crossroads in my life. These really big ones usually precede the plain old big ones because they involve making decisions that require I choose one path at the exclusion of another, altering my life forever. Usually one of those paths is familiar, a continuation of what I have been living while the other leads to unfamiliar, unexplored territory. Sometimes neither is familiar and to move forward requires a decision between two entirely different lives from my current one, both full of the Unknown, with my only alternative being to camp out at the crossroads which is sort of a metaphor for stagnation. But to move forward requires one of those suicidal leaps of faith. 

For those of us who choose to camp out for awhile, sometimes the authorities come and evict us and we have no choice but to head down one road or the other. Or die. And sometimes none of the choices are pleasant. Sometimes the material we have with which to create our life isn’t very beautiful and the roads we have to choose from are difficult; even dangerous. But, we still have choices. We get to choose whether to live fully conscious or numb ourselves into oblivion. We still have an internal garden we can cultivate, or allow it to be overrun with thorns and stinkweed. We can choose to make our life a work of art, a powerful poem, or abandon ourselves in the misery around us.

Living life fully: opening ourselves to full awareness of what we are experiencing in the present moments of our lives. Living life to the fullest: being intentional to fill the moments of our lives with as much life as we can possibly cram into them. Creating a life that is thriving and beautiful like a fertile garden or an amazing work of art, at least internally if not also in our external experiences, requires intentionality, presence, and quite possibly having to periodically step off the edge and free-fall into the unknown with only a promise in our pocket.