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Let’s Simplify Things…

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Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. But how? I need my job. My family, well, I’d like to keep them. No matter how nuts the kids are, I’m keeping them too. Friend drama…sure, but I love them and it’s worth it. Indeed, it took me a few years to figure it out, but the simplification of life has nothing to do with our external world. Work, family, kids, friends… simplification doesn’t start here. Let me tell you a little story…

When I was in my twenties, my teacher said to me, “Oakley, with simplicity you will succeed.” At the time, I pretended to get it. “Don’t have too much going on, be organized, keep things clear and straightforward,” I told myself, “Okay, I got it, no problem.” But I didn’t really get it, not at all. This key to the universe went sailing over my head and left me feeling tired and stressed. I had to humble myself, admit I didn’t get it, and open to the possibility of its meaning to begin to see its effects.

Today, life has felt far from simple. But here’s a hidden truth about life, the energy of life is always simple, it’s the human experience that can feel complicated. Yes, we human beings can complicate life. And our seeking to control the energy of life is futile. It’s like running into the ocean yelling at the waves to stop reaching the shore… which I also tried.

After a few years of deep contemplation, curiosity, and exploration, a new perspective emerged. Trying to control external circumstances and other people’s reactions and behaviors wasn’t making my life simple. It was having the opposite effect, in fact. So, I continued my meditation, and many of the training practices I’ve shared with you, and I built stronger the space of quietude within. And over time, looking outside myself to create simplicity stopped making sense. Creating simplicity started within.

As aggravating thought patterns began to quiet and emotions became steadier, my life experience changed dramatically, without anything outside of myself changing. The way I related to family, friends, and work became more refined and more clear, uncomplicated and straightforward. And as my priorities came into focus, my personal sense of power and empowerment grew. I began to cultivate my relationships with more intention, I began to build my business with momentum, and I felt more in touch with my health and my needs.

All from the practice of aligning myself with the flow of life, did life become simple. Rather than trying to keep the waves from reaching the shore – in the words of an age-old metaphor – I learned to surf.

SO HUM – I AM THAT

Thus, this month, I am sharing with you a sacred Sanskrit mantra, So Hum. Mantras have been used for thousands of years to train the mind to focus. And as a result of this focus, the thoughts and feelings that do not serve us fall away because we do not follow them and give them our life force. In other words, when we declutter our inner space, we begin to feel the power of simplicity.

A mantra has a specific energy to it, a power embedded in the words themselves. All we are tasked to do is to focus the mind on these words, these sounds, and when we drift away, we must only bring our attention back to the mantra. That’s it. The energy of the mantra will do its work, expanding its ancient and pure vibration through the body, mind, and spirit, purifying our mind and our emotions as it goes. It’s like a drive-through car wash. Relax, stay in the car, and let yourself be cleaned.

The mantra, So Hum, can be translated to I AM THAT. What this means is that we are not one thing, we are everything. We are all that is. This focus on the universal consciousness in all things allows us to loosen our grip on identities to roles, feelings, outcomes, past and future alike. . . This mantra brings us into the present moment, where we accept all that is and align ourselves with the universal flow in all life.

It’s a deep concept that we don’t need to understand before we practice. When we practice with a mantra like So Hum, eventually the experience it evokes will illuminate the meaning I am describing. But just for today, and for tomorrow, approach this meditation practice with an open mind and a gentle heart. Open yourself to it without expectation.

After getting to know this mantra and its effects, we can begin to use it throughout our day. In my personal life, I will inhale and repeat silently to myself, SO. Then, I will exhale and silently say within, HUM. This is how we can use this mantra practically. And this simple act allows us to completely reset our mind, emotions, and nervous system. Inhale SO. Exhale HUM. Repeat.

This simple reset actually gives us the chance to be present to the moment, more light-hearted, open to what is, as it is. I am not one thing. I am not any thing, per say. I am all things. All that is. I am that, and that, and that…I am the universal flow in it all.

Enjoy!

The Power of Acceptance

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In psychotherapy, “The Paradox of Change” is a concept that illustrates the nature of shifting our emotional state. Only when we have accepted something for exactly what it is, without adding or subtracting anything to it, can the thing itself shift.

Resisting or avoiding exactly what we are feeling in hopes of summoning something different is almost always futile. We end up wearing a mask, faking it, or walking around feeling shut down as in denying heartache, pain, and frustration, we also deny authentic joy, happiness, and other love-based feelings.

Denial or resistance is a strong self-preservation tactic. One that allows us to think we are in control. But it only gives the fear-based feelings we are trying to avoid more power, for whatever we resist persist – we’ve all heard that one. Additionally, resistance robs us of precious vitality. Expending internal energy to keep strong the barrier wall we have built against the immanent cascade of feelings that will surely consume us if we let go. And in this unprecedented time of change, we need our vitality and all the internal power we can get.

This is why I’m offering a simple technique to support us in accepting the fear-based feelings we are harboring, making room for the love-based feelings and calling back our vitality.

The Paradox of Change does not say that we must feel these “unwanted” feelings for hours, days, or even years. Most of us are doing that on our own anyway. No, the paradox of change simply states that we must accept exactly what’s there, as it is, before the thing changes.

This can take minutes… and if you get good… seconds.

A TECHNIQUE TO MANAGE TOUGH FEELINGS

This month’s technique is a tool to help us face the uncomfortable feelings head-on in minutes, allowing energy to move and our true nature to take dominion. In other words, the technique provided today can help us unblock stagnation and get the river of life-force moving in us.

PART ONE

This first recording provides context. It’s a short teaching on the technique.

PART TWO

This second recording is the guided practice. If you are new to this practice, I recommend listening to the short teaching before you practice.

Creating a Powerful Future

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Welcome to the final week of our 3-part series on:

THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

Have you heard the phrase, “Where our attention goes, energy flows”? Well, it’s an oldie but goodie. And as we look into the future, wondering what we will create – not only personally, but collectively – it’s helpful to remember such phrases as they are the roadmap to manifestation. In today’s society, it’s not uncommon to accept that our thoughts and feelings are the things that create the lens through which we view our reality. However, if we learn to align our thoughts and feelings with our hearts and use the power of imagination, visualization, and intention, we can begin to participate in co-creating with life at a whole new level. In essence, a new reality can be born.

So, today, let’s keep the laws of manifestation simple, 1) Wherever we focus our attention is what we will end up creating, and 2) Manifestation needs our emotion to make it happen. We have to feel it, not just think it, to make it happen. …I can hear you say, “You’re telling me that the more I focus on the stress I’m feeling the more I’m fueling it?” Well, yes, but you can shift this. Let’s stay focused. I got you. Together, let’s examine an instance in our lives where we can create some powerful change.

PART THREE

Creating Future Memories
This week, pick one thing that’s bothering you – something unsatisfying about yourself, a relationship issue, a business stressor, a race relation issue, the state of the nation… a trigger about anything really. Nothing is too big or small this week; I’m leaving it wide open… have at it. Or, if you have a meeting coming up, a big talk, a hard talk, or something where your participation is required, pick that.

In this guided practice, we will first use the power of gratitude to access the heart. Then I’ll prompt you with a visualization of the future where we will practice creating an outcome that otherwise wasn’t on your timeline. Said differently, we will learn to powerfully and intentionally create future memories.

Yes, we are that powerful and it’s important, especially in these times, to get a taste of your own power when it’s aligned with your heart. In my life, I have consciously influenced the outcomes of situations with love; creating outcomes that serve all involved, all for the highest. And now I want you to have a chance to try it. Many events in our life play out as a result of unconscious patterning. Reactions triggering a cascade of reactions, unconscious habits of protection, shame, guilt, blame, and more, creating separation, sabotaging amazing opportunities, and keeping us from fulfilling who we know we are meant to be.

So, let’s practice together and continue to be active participants in our life and this global revolution of awakening consciousness.

Enjoy!

Listen. Learn. Donate. Discuss.

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As a white American citizen, I used to understand racism through an old lens, the lens of hatred and violence. Therefore, I determined, I wasn’t racist. Why? Because I wasn’t violent or hateful against people of color. Phew. Conversation complete.

But I couldn’t have been more ignorant.

In the past few weeks, I have been listening to my BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) community with a heart wide open, realizing that my BIPOC brothers and sisters were telling me something I didn’t yet understand. And I realized, too, that in my quest to dismantle my own ignorance and bring to light the hidden pockets of my psyche, I was about to exert a great internal effort. Motivated by love, I catapulted myself out of my own comfort zone. And in doing so, shattered my former understanding of racism.

What I can share with you today, is that I will never un-know what I understand now. And what I understand, first and foremost, is that this is just the beginning of my partnership for a just society…

White privilege is not an opinion or a perspective. It is a fact. It is a systematized discrimination imbedded into the fabric of our nation; and one that I benefit from every day. White privilege assumes that I am safe inside the routines of my daily life; it assumes that I am protected by law enforcement; it assumes a life ignorant to the weight of this inequity… And as this awareness surfaces, like the tip of an iceberg, I enter a new conversation about race; one that includes all of us, as either racist or anti-racist. Our ability to avoid this conversation or remain apathetic to it, is white privilege. And the undoing of this ignorance is one act of anti-racism.

Experiences of feeling safe, protected, having access, and ignorance, are just a few qualities granted to a white skinned person at birth, fundamentally handing him or her a life free from a level of oppression they will never know unless they look and listen. In other words, the subtle and subversive ways racism lives inside of us as white citizens comes from the fact that although the United States was born from powerful ideals such as equality and justice for all, it was built on a foundation of inequality and abuse of power – slavery. (If you are new to this conversation, white guilt and white fragility could be kicking in right about now and it’s okay, take a breath and stay with me). This is a hard thing to feel. This is a hard thing to talk about. Why? (And I’m going to be a therapist for a moment here…) Because it opens the door to seeing a problem that no one has an immediate solution for. And this means, we just have to feel the feelings.

But as your loving therapist in this moment, I will tell you that great possibilities and breakthroughs are born from simply feeling our feelings and not looking for a solution to save us from the discomfort.

My personal journey, which continues to unfold, has sent me careening back and forth between outrage and heart-brokenness. I have also been aware of an eternal impassioned fire burning through me. I have also felt raw, vulnerable, and unsure. And from this place of allowing myself to feel, I have been able to remember that not only was I diving into this exploration from love, but the invitation from the BIPOC community comes from love too. By admitting I was ignorant, I was able to listen, and by listening I was able to begin to actively work toward extinguishing my own ignorance. And this is the journey I am on today.

In summary, this conversation of race is not one that started this month, and it is not one that will end this year. I, by no means, have “arrived” anywhere. But the invitation is stronger than ever to examine the racism that lives deep inside our own psyche’s. It is a call to look at how we contribute to racism – to bring what has been unconscious to light. This is the journey of evolution. It is also the journey toward fulfilling this country’s great ideals – liberty and justice for all.

In the words of Dr. King, “Justice, at its best, is power correcting everything that stands against love.” So, my dear loves who are white and reading this, it is time to listen, learn, and take action. As by listening, we can elevate BIPOC voices; by learning, we can deepen our awareness; and by taking action, we can support this human family to rise, together.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION

Listen. Learn. Donate. Discuss.

I am not an expert on the topic of white privilege. I am learning alongside you. But I did want to provide some powerful resources to support you on your journey. Engage these BIPOC voices, authors, & organizations as you choose and remember that there are hundreds of resources beyond this list. I encourage you to continue to explore.

LISTEN

It’s time to pass the mic and sit quietly ya’ll.

THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH

Trevor Noah: George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper

WATCH HERE

UNLOCKING US WITH BRENÉ BROWN | PODCAST

Brené with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist

LISTEN HERE

CLINT SMITH | TED2015

How to raise a black son in America

WATCH HERE

LEARN

Explore these authors and deepen your understanding.

THICK: AND OTHER ESSAYS

by Tressie McMillan Cottom

BUY THIS BOOK

THE WOMEN OF BREWSTER PLACE

by Gloria Naylor

BUY THIS BOOK

BLINDSPOT

Hidden Biases of Good People
by Mahzarin R. Banajir

BUY THIS BOOK

WHITE FRAGILITY

Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin DiAngelo

BUY THIS BOOK

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

BUY THIS BOOK

ME AND WHITE SUPREMACY

Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
by Layla F. Saad

BUY THIS BOOK

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

by Ibram X Kendi

BUY THIS BOOK

W.E.B. DUBOIS’S DATA PORTRAITS

Visualizing Black America

BUY THIS BOOK

DONATE

Re-allocate funds to support black mobilization and activists who have their finger on the pulse.

THE LOVELAND FOUNDATION

The Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls.

DONATE HERE

COLOR OF CHANGE

Color Of Change helps you do something real about injustice.
They design campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward.

DONATE HERE

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS CAMP

The mission of this organization is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.

DONATE HERE

NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE & EDUCATION FUND

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.

DONATE HERE

DISCUSS

Share – white person to white person – how you feel, how you think you contribute to the issue, what you are learning, what you are afraid of, and what you are awakening to. Support one another to be honest and fearless.

Discussion supports the idea of bringing light to what is hidden within us and within our everyday lives. In psychology, I call this process ‘unearthing.’ And it relates to the deep and sacred work of healing trauma – illuminating what lives in the shadows. By bringing light what is hidden, we expand our awareness and thus create new choices. And having new choices ignites empowerment. Empowerment liberates us to feel alive in our life. We become conscious creators. And although a white person can never fully understand the experience of a black life in this country, being able to act with new awareness can support change and deeper connection, which, step by step can influence families, communities, and in due course, a nation.

THE POWER OF GRATITUDE – WEEK 2

This is where I do get to come in as a professional and guide you into the heart space. Because living life from love is a life lived well.

PART TWO

Gratitude in the Face of Triggers

All too often, we can get caught in the cyclical nature of the untrained mind and find it hard to return to the heart. Especially when faced with a problem that we want to solve. And solving -side note- can catapult us into the mind and keep us from processing the feelings that give way to new insight, compassion, understanding, and change. The good news is no matter how mired we are in the mind, the easiest way back to the heart is through the door of gratitude.

In this meditation you will be asked to cultivate the feeling of gratitude, and then flex that muscle in the face of triggers. The greater our ability to be in the heart, the more fearless we can be to explore discomfort, reframe our emotional experience, and be present to others.

Let’s Start This Off Right

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As a great mentor once told me: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”

And it seems (so far) that we have not.

The pressure of crisis can push us to grow, press on us to let go, and direct us toward transformation. And I believe the last 2 months has provided us all with such opportunity. Now, it’s up to us to learn from change, take responsibility for what was revealed, and consciously create lasting transformation.

Together, we have shared in the heart-ache over missing and losing our loved ones, our rituals, routines, and so much more… Yet, we also stand together, collectively on the threshold of something completely new and uncharted. And as we breech this uncharted territory, the resolve to take responsibility for our state of being – where we focus our minds and the emotions we choose to fuel – is something that can make all the difference.

And it doesn’t need to take hours out of our day…

Thus, we are kicking off the month of June with some support! A 3 part mental and emotional reset focusing on…

THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

PART ONE

Cultivating the Feeling of Gratitude.
Each week will build on the previous week’s guided practice. Next week, we flex that gratitude muscle in the face of adversity. The following week we will culminate in learning to create our future using the power of gratitude we have grown so familiar with.

The BEST way to use these practices, is to listen to them at the start of your day for one week, until the next one arrives…

WHY GRATITUDE?

After a journey such as the one we have all been on, it is more important than ever to be in the heart space. When we find our way into the heart, our perception of reality shifts instantly. New ways of seeing our life, standing for our values, appreciating the moment, creating our future, and processing the past, become available. So let’s open up to possibility together because, my loves, we are standing on it’s threshold right now. . .

ONE LAST THING

I recently did an interview with Voyage Denver.
If you’re interested, you can read the full article by clicking the link below.