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On Stuff & Happiness: Words from Kylie Jenner

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People, Kylie Jenner is worth $900 million. She just graced the cover of Forbes Magazine as the first 21-year-old set to become “The Youngest-Ever-Self-Made Billionaire.” I had to laugh when I wrote down the zeros to spell out $900 Mill. Here, check this out… $900,000,(wait, there’s more)000.00.

Haha!! So great! This kid is inside abundance consciousness without a doubt. There is no poverty mindset in there. None. And for that, I celebrate her. I celebrate her for a lot of other reasons too, and among them, her first episode called Life of Kylie, where she opens up by saying (loosely quoted)… I can buy anything I want, anything, and the happiness that comes from buying those things lasts about 2 seconds. I get my happiness from other places.

Now, first of all, this girl is 21 years old and has learned this through sheer experience. She gets that things don’t make us happy. And this is going out to all her ga-zillilion fans who live inside a fame culture. Way to influence Kylie! #proudofyou. Now, I can hear some of you saying, “This is BS. She can pay all her bills, and she owns her own house, and she has no car payments, and vacations like…” Yes, I hear you. And what you are talking about is referred to as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow says that we need to have shelter, food, and water, before we can start to contemplate the more philosophical nature of life. So, do you have those three things? Stay with me…

There are people who have more than we could ever imagine and they are miserable. Their relationships are empty and sad, they are lonely and depressed, even suicidal. Kate Spade took her life this year and she had the kind of money that might have us thinking, “If I had that, then everything would be….” Careful, this is exactly what I’m ousting and you’ll thank me later.

It’s not that we can’t enjoy the luxuries of living, or strive to make millions. Abundance consciousness includes money (if you want it to), but it extends far beyond the greenbacks. As from the mouths of babes, Stuff Doesn’t Make Me Happy, I Find My Happiness In Other Places.

It’s cliché at this point, but when a person passes away, we are impacted by what kind of person they were, not by all the stuff they had. If they had money, we ask, how did they use it? Who did they help? What did they make better for others? If they didn’t use it for any good at all, we kind of think they’re an asshole, don’t we? Funny, a person with money who uses it for good is inspiring, but a person who doesn’t do anything other than sit on it, we consider a jerk, or someone at the very least, we are quietly resentful of. Why? Because the kind of person someone is is more impactful and memorable than what they have, especially if they have a lot.

The kind of person you choose to be day to day, the impact you have on others, and the way you feel about yourself, is the place we need to start. The reason being is if we practice cultivating happiness now we will know where it truly comes from later. So for those of us setting goals related to zeros adding up, we can be happy regardless and enjoy the game.

Kylie exhibits her love for her pups, her family, and her friends. She makes life worth living by being present to events around her, how to make them better, how to stay connected with her fans, and yes, she’s still 21 and dong 21 year-old-things. And, in my personal opinion, I think her choosing to have the baby she has had something somewhere to do with cultivating purpose and love, given that she really gets that stuff doesn’t bring happiness (aka, purpose or a sense of knowing love).

So, let’s get quiet for a minute and really focus in… The lesson for today starts here: Choose Your State Of Being. Choose what you want to feel and what kind of person you want to be. For example, I want to feel more Peace, and I want to be the kind of person my friends can trust and depend on. Okay, great start! Then examine your current thoughts and feelings and ask yourself if those feelings and thoughts are feeding this sense of self you desire to become. Choose feelings and thoughts that would be in alignment with that desired Self instead. Yes, change the ones you currently think and feel. For example, practice more gratitude, acceptance, and honestly with yourself. Then, you can set inspiring goals!

What I have found through creating my life like this is that I felt fulfilled and peaceful and harmonious when I had one client. The same feelings I feel now with a full private practice. I never groaned about not having enough clients. I just stayed focused on my state of being no matter what and the clients came and the zero added up and, yes, I could buy the things I liked- bringing it back around to stuff. And with those resources, I expanded my practice and built more things to serve my clients. And the peace and harmony and sense of fulfillment deepened. And all along the way my focus was this state of being, the impact I had on others, my ability to be present and connected to the people I loved, and from this place I set out to achieve the goals I set for myself – a thriving private practice, a blog I find so much joy in sharing and writing, chosen figures of income, time with loved ones, and more…

So, in conclusion for today, dare to create the life or yours dreams… Start by finding happiness in other places than stuff (psst, it’s inside you!). After that discovery, you will enjoy the stuff a lot more because you will be free, free from it having to make you happy.

North Star: Creating Your Future Self

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“It’s a general moral principle that the more power you have over someone, the greater your duty is to use that power benevolently. Well, who is the one person in the world you have the greatest power over? It’s your future self. You hold that life in your hands, and what it will be depends on how you care for it.” – Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Richard Mendus, MD

 I often tell my clients, “Each thought and feeling we have either drives us toward our future self, or away from it.” But what is our future self? We should start there… Our future self is the self we want to live into; the self we see ourselves becoming. It is, when asked to close our eyes and raise ourselves out of the mundane familiarities of life with all it’s current habits and patterns, the person we want to become.

For example, a client of mine who arrived at my office, frustrated about where she was in her life shared that most days she felt hopeless, frustrated, and angry. I congratulated her on having taken such careful stock of her current state and asked her who she wanted to be… She then began to describe a “totally different person.” She shared that she desired to be happy and vibrant, that she wanted to have better relationships with her family and friends, she wanted to be positive and see the bright side… And this is where our work began.

I gave her a homework assignment to observe the negative thoughts and feelings that arose each day. “Write them down, take notice,” I said. She came back the next week with a list. Phrases we can all relate to appeared, “I can’t do this/ Who does that person think he is?/ This sucks/ I hate this…” etc, etc. These phrases were fear-based thoughts and feelings that were suddenly, she realized, taking her away from her future self. She had never described a future self, but now she had something to focus on and strive toward. I call this, “Creating our North Star,” a guiding light to support us in developing ourselves and becoming someone we are proud to be, living a life we are proud to live.

Over the next week, she practiced replacing some of these thoughts and feelings with those thoughts and feelings that would drive her toward her desired future self. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to see where I can grow/ I have a lot to learn from that person/ I take responsibility for this moment/ I choose to be present to all I am feeling right now…” These thoughts and feelings didn’t sugar coat anything for her, they simply shifted her relationship to the moment, making her more present and compassionate to what was happening. Sometimes they felt awkward, which is a great sign we are at our transformational edge! What these new thoughts and feelings really did was give her a sense of influence over her destiny, igniting a sense of empowerment where there was none before.

As stated earlier, “Each thought and feeling we have either drives us toward our future self, or away from it,” and we have the power to choose how we show up for that future self. Will be we it with compassion and curiosity, or with judgement and score? One way will help our future self blossom, and the other will surely keep us mired in the patterns and habits creating our suffering.

My invitation is to get curious about your daily thoughts and feelings and ask yourself, Is this thought of feeling feeding the future self I love so much? Or is it taking me away from him or her? We all have the ability to choose our thoughts and feelings. It’s okay to change the script. We get to create ourselves. We get to choose who we want to become. And as stated so beautifully in the Buddha’s Brain, “You hold that life in your hands, and what it will be depends on how you care for it.”

(And by the way, the image is of Snatam Kaur, a fantastic musician. She is radiating so much light, that my camera lost its mind. Talk about embodying your north STAR – literally and figuratively!).

Thoughts on Meditation: Love vs. Fear…

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Meditation helps us distinguish what we are identifying with – a thought? A feeling? Or the witness within? By identifying with the witness, we can take a step back and see our thoughts and feelings as temporary creations. As we allow these creations to pass by, like clouds through the sky, we notice that they simply give way to more thoughts and more feelings; and thus, the nature of the mind is revealed, a continuous cycle of thought. Through witnessing this pattern of the mind, we have the chance now to cultivate one of the biggest tools of empowerment: Choice.

Based on the kind of person we have committed ourselves to becoming and the quality of impact we have committed ourselves to having, we can begin to choose which thoughts and feelings we give our attention to. Our thoughts and feelings come from two different radio stations within: the frequency of fear or the frequency of love. Pretend, for a moment that you totally buy into what I’m proposing and start watching your thoughts and feelings. You will be able to trace every single one to either an experience of contraction (fear based) or an experience of expansion (love based). Does your body feel tight, heavy, or simply numb? Or do you feel energized, alive, or simply relaxed? (Yes, the Universe is that simple most of the time). And through choosing which thought you give attention to, you can begin to shape your reality, your day to day experience of life. Thoughts and feelings are either moving us toward our goal or away. We get to choose which ones gets our full attention!

Being able to choose what thoughts and feelings we listen to enables us, again, to choose consciously the channel we tune into; one that supports our growth, our relationships, and the person we are committed to becoming, or one that hurts our emerging potentiality, the love available to us, and our commitments to flourishing. Through choice, we create ourselves; through choosing, we become conscious creators.

Meditation empowers us to identify love-based thinking and feeling. It also empowers us to allow fear-based thinking and feeling to pass-on-by. For example, we can now say, “That thought doesn’t serve me,” and we can choose a different thought that does. We can say “That thought (a judgment, let’s say), does not support my relationship with my spouse, I am going to let it pass and choose a loving thought that support the intention of a harmonious marriage.” This takes courage, let’s not kid ourselves, but it’s more than possible.

What station are we tuned into? We are the only ones who can choose which station we tune into – love or fear radio. Both create powerful and believable realities! And out of the two, a life of love-based perspectives, responses, feedback, and flourishing is simply a choice away.

Thoughts on Meditation: Can I Get A Witness!?

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I hear this all the time: I can’t meditate, I can’t quiet my mind. I’m here to bust the biggest meditation myth there is: meditation has nothing to do with quieting your mind. Boom. There it is. Myth busted. I will add that a quiet mind can be a lovely benefit, but don’t seek it.

The nature of the mind is to think, is to dream, is to imagine and to vision. You want your mind to be thinking. It tells us we’re alive. What you don’t want is to believe all of its thoughts. What you don’t want is to follow your mind down the rabbit hole like Alice followed the white rabbit. It gets trippy fast, and usually results in inflamed emotions, bad choices, and disproportionate reactions.

The point of meditation is to strengthen the witness. And if you’re in my school of thought, to raise your vibration, which I’ll discuss at another time. The witness is the part of us that is not doing the thinking or feeling. Hundreds of thoughts and feelings pass-through minute to minute and day to day. The Witness observes.

If thoughts and feelings are clouds in the sky, the witness is the blue backdrop. The vast container that never changes. The thing that holds the various weather patterns which pass through daily.

So how do we identify with our witness? We sit quietly and study ourselves. We focus on the breath, in and out of our nose, and label “thinking” when a thought arises (no matter what it is), and we label “feeling” when a feeling arises (no matter what it is). Then we come back to the breath.

I promise, your ability to accept what arises will grow. And as a result of this, your inner and outer worlds are destined to transform for the better. (Just in case the idea of transformation in your life seems frightening, I’ve added “for the better,” just to ease the fear. You see, the universe is indeed conspiring for your success, you just have to show up a little.)

Over time, through meditation, we begin to see the patterning of our own minds. We realize that we have been at the hands of this mind most of our lives, following it this way and that, believing in all it presents to us. As we peel away from this trance and tell Alice’s white rabbit to get lost, we are left with a strong observer, one that can say, “I’m going to stay present to the truth of this situation, how I feel right now. I’m not going to give my attention to the stories that are arising. This moment deserves my full attention and presence.” Breath.

Again, through the gateway of this personal investigation, we become more in tune with ourselves, better listeners, more curious, and more in control (what? yes) of what behavior we exhibit and contribute to the space and relationships around us. How, you ask? Because we have started to build the ability to witness the background thoughts and feelings always arising and falling, which usually have very little to the truth of what’s happening right here and right now. We become empowered to consciously respond not only to our inner world, but to our outer world as well. Meditation supports us to live ‘in response to’ rather than ‘in reaction of.’

Knowing that hundreds of thoughts and feeling will just pass by if not entertained, gives us the chance to feel more peaceful, centered, and calm. We begin to know ourselves as something much bigger, much more spacious, and much more compassionate and powerful than the little voice inside that has a tendency to say otherwise.

Therefore, forget quieting your mind. That’s a guaranteed unpleasant experience. And nearly impossible. Just sit and observe your thoughts. Label thinking, or feeling, and come back to focusing on the breath in and out of your nose. Strengthen your relationship to the witness within and allow the fruits of your exploration to flourish.

This is meditation, a tool that will take you from one perspective of life to another… for the better.