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Don’t believe everything you think.

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That’s it. Great rule to live by. That’s all it is, complete wisdom in one sentence:

Don’t believe everything you think.

Maybe you’re like me. I have a busy, busy mind. My mind is interesting – yes, very interesting. Your mind is interesting, too. I guarantee that! I’m smart. I’ve known that since I was young. I’m sure you’re smart, too. Those things are true.

We honor the mind, our thinking mind, in our culture. If we think something, we believe it is true.  As human beings – as these wonderful works of wisdom – we limit ourselves by living within the cultural constraints of our minds. It is counter-cultural to open yourself to the wisdom that lives within you, within you and outside of the limitations of your thinking, even your best thinking.

Thinking can only take us so far – and there is so much farther to go!  Your body is a place of wisdom.  Begin to know your body’s wisdom by feeling your feelings.   When something happens to you, take a moment to experience that event in your body.  What are you feeling?  Breathe!  Breathe for a moment, and feel the breath in your body.  Now, what are you feeling?

As you practice this, you can begin to name your feelings.

A long time ago, someone asked about me:  “I wonder if she knows the difference between her thoughts and her feelings?”  I am grateful that I took notice of that comment.  Do I know the difference?  I do now.  From that moment on, I began to observe – to feel – my feelings.  That in itself is a journey.  When we begin to include our feelings in our answers, in our decisions, in our observations, we encounter another dimension of ourselves.  When we include our feelings, our perceptions deepen, our love deepens, our experience deepens.

Your body has a wisdom that your thinking mind cannot perceive.  In a way, your thinking mind is on one plane of existence.  The wisdom that is beyond your thinking mind has deep roots, roots in the earth.  The wisdom beyond your thinking mind perceives on many levels, levels that your thinking mind simply cannot conjure up!

If you are sad, feel sad.  That is practice.  If you are lonely, feel lonely.  That too, is practice.  If you are happy, feel happy.  That is practice.  From moment to moment, the practice of reaching beyond our thinking mind takes us into new territory.

A good parent teaches feelings to their child by mirroring those feelings.  When the baby cries, mom will say:  “oh, you are sad.”  Or she will say:  “you are angry that your plate fell on the floor.”  Dad will say to a toddler:  “you are frustrated because you can’t reach the ball.”  Sometimes, we have to mirror our own feelings to ourselves.  We have to begin again to learn about ourselves, and about our own perceptions of the world.

Maybe you’ll need help as you begin to discern your feelings.  Maybe a therapist can help, a professional who can ask you, again and again:  “So… how do you feel about that?”  Maybe a spiritual guide can teach you to listen to your body’s wisdom as much as your mind’s wisdom.  Maybe a 12 step meeting will be the place you begin to learn.

Each one of these places can be the doorway to growth, to growth in consciousness.

Such simple practice, to not believe everything you think!  And at the same time, such a deep, profound, ever-expanding practice.

For today:  don’t believe everything you think!  Give it a try!

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A Life of Awe

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This week, a group of scientists will be meeting at the University of California at Berkeley to talk about their research findings as they have studied “the science of awe.” Through their scientific research, these scientists have determined that spending time in nature is good for human beings; experiencing nature brings us to a sense of awe.

Is that why “awesome” is over-used in the conversation of so many of us these days? For example: “I’ll see you at two o’clock, then.” “Awesome!” That word, “awesome” infects our vocabulary. Listen for it.

Although our ordinary lives may cause us to forget, I think that most of us know the experience of awe when we experience awe! We know – as often as we may be guilty of “over-awe-ing” it – that some moments, some sights, some feelings, some fleeting bit of light brings us to a sense, an experience of awe. For that moment, we are stunned to find ourselves floating in a deep feeling that may over whelm us, with gratitude, with joy, with – awe!

And then, the moment passes.

I am sure that the good people of indigenous cultures knew awe as well as we know awe. While their lives were certainly not easy – one could argue that our lives are not easy, either, although for different reasons – there must have been moments when they were stopped in their tracks by a beautiful sunset, a shining tree, the birth of a baby, the first light of morning on the trees, the sight of their home after a time away. Perhaps they were stunned into awe to witness a healing, to witness a death. And so are we.

Awe = a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder, a noun, according the the dictionary on my Apple computer.

Sometimes, life takes your breath away.  Sometimes, with tears running down your cheeks, you must completely stop what you are doing to fully savor the present moment, to see your child’s face light up with joy, to watch a deer leap into the woods, to see the light just-so as day passes into dusk.

I don’t need scientists to teach me about awe.  I’m sure you don’t, either.  The experience of “awe” seems almost primal, so basic to us that we know it when we receive it.  And awe does seem to have the element of gift, of being gifted, attached to it.  We receive awe, we receive the gift, we are grateful for the gift.

The practice of “awe” can be a deep spiritual practice.  Wait, watch, be present every day for the experience of awe.  This practice may take some slowing down!  Whatever you have on your list to do today, be mindful, watch!, notice that moment that may come when you must simply witness, you must be in awe, that state of presence/joy that stops you for a moment, a wonderful, rich, complete moment you could not have created yourself.  It simply is.

And, BTW – have an “awesome” day!