Soldiers or Warriors

We are either soldiers or warriors.

A soldier follows instructions well, and fights wars or supports wars that may or may not resonate with her (or him). She serves with no regard for her wellbeing, and she may go against her beliefs and values to get the job done. She fights by habit, and it’s possible she may forget who she is in the process.

A warrior has been a soldier previously (most likely). She (He) knows how to follow instructions well, but now, she puts those instructions against her beliefs and values and decides if a battle is a worthy cause or not. A warrior spends most of her time being, rather than fighting. Yes, she may have to take out her sword which may look like words or specific actions, but since she is connected to a power greater than her, she can use those wisely. Her sword is not used for revenge or for the sake of destroying, but to help others wake-up to become warriors who listen to their own inner voices.

Being a warrior requires courage and humility. Sometimes it’s easier to stay dormant calling it being peaceful. When we are not sure if we should fight, lets reflect on the cause, our values and purpose, our state, and our resources. Does the cause align to our purpose? Are we physically and emotionaly ready? Do we have the proper tools to do it? If the answer is yes, it is time. Perfection as we define it is impossible, but we can get ourselves ready the best that we can, and that is good enough.

Today I invite you to see if you are being a soldier or a warrior and in what areas of your life. If you are being a soldier, I invite you to be courageous and take a step to choose causes that align with your values, and to choose being more often than doing.

Facebook Post- October 19, 2019

Our Humanity Steps Out

Stepping into a new way of life or a dream requires courage and vulnerability.

Courage to go deep inside ourselves to figure out what we want to keep and what we want to let go. So deep that we realize that there are two parts to us, our divinity-soul -higher self and our humanity.

Our higher self knowing that our humanity needs to evolve sends her off to learn life lessons in order to achieve a purpose.

Our humanity supported by the higher self builds up the courage to step out, and then realizes that in the process of being courageous needs to open up and be vulnerable when exposed to new things that seem so difficult especially because they are in front of others. So, fear, anxiety, shame, and doubt surface. Our humanity may come back to the higher self feeling powerless and defeated, but if you have allowed your higher self to stand strong and connected, the higher self, with compassion, will hug our humanity and explain the process of growing through the feedback received in every step we take towards a goal, a new lifestyle, and a dream worth growing for. So, our humanity tries again knowing that the higher self is with her.

The reward of sending our humanity into the world with intention is not only for building skills through practice, but building confidence, connecting with what really matters to us, building crystal clear relationships, loving ourselves, and finding something to be thankful for no matter what circumstance we are in. This, of course, brings us to joy.

Like everything in the life we are living on this Earth, is a process which requires our constant attention so we can evolve. You see, we don’t get to choose to live a life. We have to live one.

Either we design it, or it gets designed by circumstances and other people. We might as well create our situations with intention to learn and grow towards our purpose. Let’s be active participants of the creation of our learning curriculum on Earth. The process is worth it!

Facebook Post September 9, 2019

Change or Die!

Most people who are told by their doctors that they are going to die soon unless they change their lifestyle, actually do change for about 4-6 weeks. Then, over 80% go back to their old ways.
When people work on their personal growth, the same thing happens, but when they give up, what dies is their dream- their purpose. So, they continue to do what they have always done, and they continue to get the same results.
How do we change when will power is not enough? Sometimes what we need is support. Over 75% of patients stick to their new lifestyle when they have the proper weekly or daily support (Book: Change or Die). Today, I invite you to find someone that wants the best for you to support you in your journey. Mentors, teachers, coaches and accountability partners have made a difference in my life. Find the right one for you.

Independence From What

For thousands of years people have fought to be free from others. I learned that first I have to be free from my mind. My mind was a chatterbox and I believed everything it said. It mostly said to follow unwritten rules and concepts that were probably used by my ancestors or by others around me. Some of those concepts included: “You have to blindly obey;” “you don’t have enough;” “you are not worth much,” and “you are not capable.”

Once I realized that I was accepting these behavior patterns, I was able to make the decision to become free of them. It’s not an easy process, but one worth pursuing. It requires that you become an objective evaluator.

One benefit from this for me was improved relationships. I did not need to be controlled anymore because I didn’t believe anymore that others had to tell me what to do. I was and am capable to be, to do, and to make decisions for my well being. So, I learned to say, “No.” I learned to weigh my choices. And I was also able to evaluate relationships in order to ask for dynamics to change if necessary.

If your life is not yielding the results you would like, the problem may be stemming from a paradigm that is no longer serving you. Freedom is a wonderful thing!

Happy Independence Day!

Feeling Successful?

A person who feels successful has three characteristics. First and foremost, they do what gives them a state of wellbeing and joy. At the same time, they also give regularly of their time, talent and treasure, and finally, they love who they become in the process. Success is not just being promoted to CEO, getting a degree, getting married, or getting a job. That is just part of the process.

The first two go hand in hand because if we do not take care of ourselves first (i.e. Putting our oxygen mask in an airplane), we cannot take care or give our best to others. I remember being drained of energy, and always tired, when giving my all to serve in all the possible committees at church and the school where I worked, I ended up sick because I did not make time to pamper myself, and didn’t do the things that were good for my mental, physical, and emotional health. I now meditate daily, walk, eat as healthy as possible, and take time for me when needed by going to the spa, going on mini or long vacations, going to retreats or just being.

Giving, is an extension of being, is a satisfying activity that actually has many benefits. Just the act of giving with a generous, loving intention is more than enough. However, in the process of giving great things happen. You develop a sense of purpose, and a sense of wellbeing. According to Why Good Things Happen to Good People by Stephen G. Post, giving helps with stress and depression among other ailments. He also says that when people give to charities that have meaning to them, a region in the brain associated with pleasure and trust, create a “warm glow” effect – that fuzzy feeling. I talk about giving of your time, talent and treasure because it is a basic component in the ancient philosophies and then adopted by religions as well. People who understand the law of giving and receiving know that giving in these three areas results in amazing returns unimaginable to them.

People who feel successful do not just achieve a goal and say, “I have arrived!” They achieve a goal, celebrate, and continue growing and serving. When we decide to rest on our laurels after obtaining a goal, paradigms, old fears, and bad habits may creep up and keep us down. It does not mean that we shouldn’t take breaks or vacations, those are essential. It just means that Our dream must be bigger than a goal, for our lives to be meaningful. So, people who feel successful love who they are becoming in the process of life.

Clear Days Ahead!

A few days ago, I woke up and felt a bit lazy. For some reason, I didn’t feel like going to my morning appointments. I listened to my body for a bit, but then, I knew I had to get going. I drove on the expressway and got off on a 6-lane road with a small median. I was driving on the far right. I had the sidewalk to my right, and there was traffic to my left and behind me. Suddenly, in front of me, I see a huge brown pick-up truck facing me and speeding my way. The windows were dark, and I couldn’t see inside. I heard sirens and then saw police cars on the other side of the median. I looked around for my options.  For a moment, I couldn’t see any, and the truck was getting closer. Then, as I looked in my left mirror, there was a break in the traffic, and I escaped. Later, I heard in the news that the truck had been stolen, and that he had crashed nearby. A few years ago, my body would have been paralyzed and my brain in a fog in this situation. You see, my mind is not in charge now, I am. I was shaken a bit afterwards, but I was not afraid during the event. Fear comes from negative thoughts, and I choose not to have those controlling me anymore. I have been working for a while to maintain a clear mind.

Preventing brain fog takes more than just changing my negative thoughts to positive ones, though. I have taken the time to observe my actions and my emotions to see how they affect my thinking. I have come to realize that many of my habits either make my mind foggy or clear. The main one is what I eat. If I eat too much, or too little without my daily water intake, my brain does not work well. However, if I eat healthy balanced meals (in my case vegan) in good proportions, I don’t get sleepy afterwards. And if I fast on just fruits, raw vegetables and juices appropriate for my metabolism for appropriate bowel movements, that’s heaven for my head. Fasting one day a week is a good habit to have, but if you need more than that, it’s good to have a health practitioner guide you with your choices.

Along with food, being mindful makes a big difference. It’s easy to accept stress and allow it to take over our minds.  So, we must find a way to decompress by taking breaks, walking in nature, listening to soothing music, using essential oils, doing asanas and meditating.

Here are some specific recommendations:

  • Taking vitamin B-12 if you are deficient
  • Doing the cat/cow pose
  • Doing intermittent fasting (on fruits/vegetables, or just juices)
  • Using rosemary essential oil
  • Meditating with a personal mantra daily
  • Drinking more water than you think you should be drinking
  • keeping worry and fear out of your head by changing your thoughts

Clear days ahead!

Be well!

Who’s Driving Your Train?

Most of us believe that we are in charge of our life, but are we? When we are born, we already come with a predisposition to act in specific ways. I know that my siblings did not react the same way I did to the world. So, where do those patterns of behavior come from? Most of us know that our genetic imprint, or DNA carries the genes that encode the skin, and the eyes, and that mutations in them cause diseases. We now know that they also carry our ancestral and cultural imprints. So, our behaviors may come from a great, great grandparent. We can already see the resemblance in our physical body, why not in the other areas? Studies of children who are adopted have also shown the deep cultural imprints that may be dominant in someone’s life. That is not all, those who believe in reincarnation say that it is possible that we have been carrying our behaviors for several lifetimes. Why do we keep carrying these behaviors?

Early on, there is a part of us that develops and finds its place in our life, that’s the ego. It takes shape as we see ourselves separate from our parents. The ego is our self-image. One of the favorite pastimes of the ego is to drive the train, and the train is your life. Its other pastime is to make you submit to the behavior patterns you have been carrying, because if you stay the same and do not change, you do not have to take risks and get hurt. The ego is constantly protecting you with the use of arrogance, so others don’t see the real you, or by requiring constant approval from others. Your behavior patterns could include always having drama, being accident prone, being constantly, or constantly pleasing others like in my case. The ego makes sure that you continue faithful to your pattern because at some time in the past you accepted it as part of your belief system. The funny thing is that nobody is imposing this on you, you are. If the behavior no longer serves you, you do not have to keep it. It’s time to shake up our belief system to let go of what is no longer useful.

If our life is the train, the track is our behavior pattern, and the conductor, the ego, is driving, then, where am I? In the back of the train? Oh, no! It’s time to have a talk with the conductor. He needs to give-up his seat. How do we go about doing this? The first thing is to start observing ourselves using “the bird’s eye view.” As we separate ourselves from situations and relationships and look down on ourselves, we can see how we are acting and reacting; what behaviors are being repeated, and what behaviors are serving us. The next thing is to stop wanting to control everything; stop wanting to get approval for everything; stop inventing rules to stay in our comfort zone, or stop wanting to please everybody. Finally, we need to make some decisions. We need to decide that we are not the role we are playing. I can be a teacher at this time, later I can be a learner, then I can be a mother, or a helper. We can play the role and comeback to just being. We also must decide to give ourselves permission to be free to change our mind when necessary and allow ourselves to take risks that give us life.

Personal evolution happens when we go beyond our egos.

Be well!

Face to Face with Death

Do you know how you feel about death? Are you ready for the death of a loved one especially if they are old or sick? Do you think about the fact that you could die at any moment? How would you live your life if you had conversations with yourself about death?

My idea of what death is has changed over the years. I believe that the idea culture puts in our heads about what death is, and our experience with it, determines how we feel about it.

According to the dictionary, death is “The cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism.” Most of us on this side of the world see death as the end of a person. Some may accept a little mystery beyond the body but refuse to discuss it. So, loved ones may go through feelings of sadness, anger and loneliness for years. There are cultures that have a different idea of death. They see the essence that makes the body be alive separate from the physical body (a vehicle). That essence continues evolving in a different dimension. Just having a different relationship with death, allows them to be less attached and less selfish, for it is everybody’s purpose to evolve. Not only that, there is an understanding that we are all part of the same essence, so we are always connected.

My experiences with death started young where I observed others and learned how you should behave: One must feel very sad, pray, go to church, not talk about it, and avoid people. It wasn’t until I started meditating that I thought that there could be another way I could approach it. It wasn’t until my uncle’s death that I saw it as a beautiful part of the journey. He was ready to go, so, our conversations took us to his “dreams” of when he slept deeply, how he saw life, and what he had learned. He also talked about where he thought he was going. It was an opportunity for me to be present for him, and it was beautiful.

My grandmother, on my father’s side made her transition a few days ago. We had been told that she was on her last days the day before. So, that day, I dropped off my parents at the airport around 4:00 am to go see her. I went back home to take a nap. I had an interesting dream in which I went through a stressful experience followed by floating down to a most beautiful forest; it was really peaceful! My sister and I decided that it was about me coming home to myself and feeling good about it; however, I think that that feeling prepared me for the news I received a couple of hours after the nap. I could only feel love after my grandmother’s parting; I was not sad. I knew that she was ready to go. She was entering her 101th year. She had lived a full life. I know in my heart that her essence is moving on and evolving. All is well! It is my idea of death that gives me a feeling of peace and love.

What could we gain from changing the idea we have about death? If we come face to face with the realization that at any time, our parents, siblings, partners, children, best friend, or even we can physically stop living, then we would have more meaningful relationships, and we would take care of each other and ourselves more. If we are not afraid of the natural process of someone leaving their body, we can be really present when someone makes their transition. If we are not afraid, we can think about what if my departure date was tomorrow. Would I be ready? Is my conscious clear? Are my relationships at peace? Are my finances in order? Am I leaving many problems for my family?

We would probably lead a completely different life. Wouldn’t we? Maybe you remember the song, “Live Like You Were Dying”? So, let’s take risks that move us forward and give us joy, let’s love deeper, speak sweeter, forgive always, and live as if tomorrow was a gift.

Be well!

Love, Attachment, or Both

You have probably heard that love is good, and attachment is bad. I don’t think that things are black or white -everything is relative. There are degrees of attachment and misunderstandings in love. My initial thought when I hear of attachment is my psychology class in college that explained how children made an attachment with the food, and then with the source of the food, the mother. They did experiments where they removed the monkeys from their mother when they were young. They also did studies with abandoned children. Even though a surrogate mother was provided, the monkeys developed harmful behaviors relating to themselves and others including their own offspring. Something similar happened to children. So, there is a deep connection that we build. Experts also say that attachments should evolve. If we have an initial healthy attachment, where there is a balance with the time and quality of time spent together, when school comes around for example, the child should be a little uncomfortable leaving his parent but should settle into an appropriate school setting without much problem. This in turn forms the basis for healthy relationships with friends, partners at work, and romantic relationships. Unhealthy attachments may be a byproduct of fear, such as fear of being alone, of not being loved, of not having enough to survive, of not being accepted, or of not being enough to yourself. A fear that comes from traumas that have not been healed.

An attachment is something that is not part of you. It should be something temporary, but you make it a part of you through your emotions because you don’t want things to change. According to Don Miguel Ruiz Jr., the level of your attachment depends on how you answer the question, “Are you using knowledge or is knowledge using you?” It reminds me of the yogi’s quest to gain control of her mind through the practice of meditation in order to see the options and have some control in the decision process.  He says that there are five levels of attachment and compares us with a flower. The flower is completely open (Authentic Self) as we realize that we are a living being regardless of what we think or believe about ourselves. The second level is Preference where we use knowledge as a tool for transformation, so we can attach or detach as needed; the flower opens and closes slightly.  The third level is Identity, where I can identify myself as a vegan, yogi, or teacher, for example. The flower is not fully open; however, it still connects with others. Knowledge is beginning to have some control. The flower closes-up some more in Internalization where we allow learned patterns of behavior, and previous knowledge to control us. We no longer live the present moment. We are attached to the past. At the last level, Fanaticism, we believe that only by following those rules or past learned behaviors can we truly be. By reflecting on where we are at a specific time in our life, or a specific moment in a situation, we can decide if an attachment is harmful or not. Ask who is incontrol.

As I am writing this, I am visualizing a game of tug-of-war between unconditional love and the Fanaticism form of attachment as we go through the learning curve of relationships. Sometimes it’s so difficult to be present without allowing our prejudgments of ourselves or others to take control. It happens to me when I feel overpowered by others and old patterns of behavior surface. I look down and respond the way the other wants me to respond. I am glad I don’t stay in those situations for years as I previously did. It takes me a couple of minutes after an incident to realize what has happened. Little by little I am learning to avoid them.

Now, what about love or the misuse of the word love? The problem may be in our lack of communication. We may not be specific enough in what we want in a relationship. So, the people involved come with different interests. Some say that in English we don’t have enough vocabulary to express it, and that we may have too many expectations of one relationship. For this I turned to the Greek, for they have so many words for love. The ancient Greek used the word eros to describe a romantic, sexual relationship. Some saw it as dangerous because it could get out of hand. In the yoga philosophy, as I understand, this energy is the energy of creation, a powerful energy, not to be taken lightly. Philia relates to brotherly love, loyalty to friends, and sharing. Storge is the connection between parent and child, and last but not least, is agape or unconditional love. Some say that Ludus which is playful affection may be part of the list. It is possible that we want all of these or several of them to be provided by one person, instead, the Greek tell us to nurture the different types of relationships with different people.

Not only our expectations of a specific relationship could drive us apart, but also our lack of love of self. According to Aristotle, all friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s love for himself. So, this brings as back to attachment. How we have dealt with attachment to others, to things, or to our feelings in our past will determine how we will relate to others in the future. So, ask yourself, are you using knowledge or is knowledge using you?

Be well!

Decisions, Decisions

Every moment of every day, unless we are asleep, we have decisions to make. Should I get up now or in five minutes, should I have fruit or eggs for breakfast, should I take the day off, should I start this project, should I exercise, should I call a friend, should I cut somebody off on the road because they are going to slow… Everything is a decision. All these decisions affect our life now and in the future. What kind of future do we want? Are we equipped to make all these decisions and be content with what we have done with ourselves in a year, in five, or in ten?

I have come to realize that decision-making is an art, and only through continuous observation of ourselves, and love for ourselves and others, can we be satisfied with what we have decided and have become.

Observing yourself and getting to know yourself requires inner work. You need to understand why you behave the way you do, and why you like the things you do. For a while, I worked with a bioneuroemotion coach who helped me see those patterns of behavior that were part of my culture, and my ancestors that didn’t serve me. Beyond that, I learned that there are unresolved traumas or events in my past that blocked or filtered my thoughts. The only way to heal so deeply, for me was and still is, meditation. I have used different types of meditation in my healing process. Just being quiet and still is a great beginning. I have used kundalini meditations, voicing mantras, or using a personal mantra given by my guruji. The latter is a technique that helps in clearing the mind by decreasing the number of thoughts and increasing the quality of the thought. Your thoughts and decision process become more productive.

Observation of your actions and reactions to others and situations is also very helpful. You need to become a third person as if you were a bird overlooking your interactions in different situations. This observation must be objective. You are not here to judge, but to learn why you act the way you do. This will help you decide what you want to be, and what you can and cannot live with in any particular situation and in your life. The process of observing yourself is never ending because we change, and that is good.

As I observed myself, I realized that there were parts of me I didn’t like so much, and some that I could not change right away or maybe not in this life. I learned that if I didn’t come to terms with that and accept myself just the way I was, I could never be free to be me and to accomplish my goals. So, I began to love myself no matter what-No matter what I looked-like, no matter what my past was like, no matter what things I was not good at doing, no matter what! I stopped trying to measure up to anybody’s expectations including mine. Loving others and accepting others was not as much of a problem for me, but this part is also essential in making decisions because our goal should be to “Do no harm.” We are all connected, and our decisions affect those around us. And the results of those decisions come back to us.

Now that all this is in place, making decisions is a matter of keeping some things in mind and practicing. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you make decisions.

  1. Does this option reflect a love of self, others and nature?  Yes
  2. Am I attached to the outcome? Do I have a specific expectation for the result? No
  3. Have I visualized the positive feeling I and others will have as a result of this decision? Yes
  4. Does it serve the purpose that it was intended for? Yes
  5. Do I see myself answering questions 1-4 the same in 6 months or in 1-10 years? Yes

I am a student of life sharing my lessons. Please use what I share after running it through the filter of your mind and your heart together.

Be well!