Refocus your Focus!

All of us have priorities, things we must focus on. Deadlines we must meet. But as we spend our days hyper focused on achieving whatever it is that is at the top of our to-do list…. Much of life (life happening all around us) seems to blur into the background – even when you think it is not. Even when you think your juggling really well; your eye, on all the balls… in reality, you ultimately drop one or two.

And what do we lose focus of most often? Things that are not a priority? Yes. But we also tend to lose focus on things that are a priority (usually things that are going so well… we simply feel we can relax a bit). Unfortunately, these are often our most important relationships.

Recently, my youngest started developing a nervous tick. Almost unperceivable at first, yet it went from 0 to 90 (becoming a chronic tick) in less than 2 weeks. It developed at such an alarming rate, that my child’s teacher, assistant teacher and myself all sought each other out (in a bit of a panic) to discuss what course of action should be taken.

My youngest has a learning disability, so he has had a lot of attention from me & help from tutors, therapists… to prepare him for school. After years of work & due to the fact everything was going so well, the tutors, teachers… and I all changed our main focus to more urgent priorities & BAM! Something happened to trigger his stress tick, but none of us had been focused on him enough to know exactly what. I took my eye of the ball so briefly, and one of my most important relationships immediately began to suffer.

During the same time period (not a coincidence), I had just gone back to work and was pushing myself to prove myself after being out of the workforce for a number of years. I spent far too many hours staring into my illuminated computer screens… and started developing mild headaches… Since I was trying to reach a deadline, I ignored my bodies warning and kept working until I got the job done. I pushed myself so hard that I ended up having a horrific migraine last Friday that lasted 72 hours through the Memorial Day weekend.

I reached my goal. However, I was so focused on my work, that I dropped two balls (my caregiver relationship with my son and my relationship with myself/my health). I ignored the warning signs (the mild tick and the mild headaches). I simply thought I had more time before I had to address the problems. Due to my delay, mild problems became chronic.

How often do we ignore (relationship and/or health) warning signs in our lives? We are all so busy, and our to-do lists at times seem endless… relationships (& health) often suffer because of it. How do we stay focused on all that is important to us? We don’t. However, we can address ensuing problems in our relationships as soon as they pop up – not waiting until they become chronic situations.

I know how to take care of myself when I get out of whack. So I do (although I shouldn’t) sometimes drive myself harder than I should. However, seeing my son out of whack for the first time – helped me refocus my focus on the most important things in my life. It was no mere coincidence that my son developed a nervous tick at the exact same time I went back to work. Everyone in a relationship (household…) affects everyone else. My son did not hear me speak or see me behave in any stressful ways… he simply felt the stress I was internalizing.

I dropped everything over Memorial Day weekend to right my wrongs. Thank goodness I was able to find a natural remedy for my migraines – and am back to work no problem. As for my son, we had a number of long talks. I am no longer multitasking in his presence. If he is “present” – so am I. His teachers are glad to report that his chronic tick is now no more than an occasional nervous twitch.

If I want my home to be healthy and harmonious, I have to be a model of health and harmony – not just outwardly but inwardly (physically, mentally & spiritually) as well. If your harmony/health is not deep – your energy/vibration will affect others/your relationships in negative ways (despite your outward well intended words and actions and/or your ability to “appear” healthy on the outside).

Pay attention to all that is important to you… when you notice something going astray – act as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to face a problem or change the status quo. The less damage that is done, the easier things will be to rectify. When you do fall off the wagon (so-to-speak), don’t be upset with yourself. Simply do your best to regain your (physical, mental and/or spiritual) harmony again – ASAP. If it is done quickly enough (without too much harm to those around you), your relationships should get back on track (after you say any needed amends of course:).

If life has simply been too hectic to manage, and, issues in an important relationship do become chronic… Again, do not waste time feeling guilty and/or beating yourself up over the situation… Refocus your focus and face it head on!

In love, everyone needs to be “masculine” & “feminine”…

I had always been extremely extroverted, an overachiever, a triple A+ personality type, extraordinarily (materially) successful (even in my early twenties), blah, blah, blah… I was very “yang”. However, my marriage to my childhood sweetheart was an absolute mess! My husband was uncomfortable with my increasing success… No matter how much I tried to save our marriage, sadly our marriage was lost…

As time went on, my personality seemed to only attract alpha (yang) males. However, once in a committed relationship, they did everything in their (mighty) power to snuff out my light, always wanting the limelight for themselves & expecting me to take a backseat to their lives. After a while I thought I must have been doing something wrong.

I thought that I simply needed to work harder at practicing unconditional love. I had been researching psychology, philosophies, physiology, eastern philosophy, religion…. And, as we often do when we are trying something new, I made a mistake – a BIG mistake. I mistook the idea of the “feminine principle” (yin) as all I (a woman) should try to emulate in the hopes of creating harmony in myself and in my relations with others (especially my partner).

The semantically complex compound word “yinyang” simply put means “opposites”. Exact translations of “yin” & “yang” separately are: “shady side of the hill” & “sunny side of the hill”. Yin (the “shadow” side) represents the passive female principle in nature (defined by Chinese philosophy as: soft, wet, flowing, dark, mysterious… submissive); yang, the assertive male principle in nature (defined by Chinese philosophy as: rigid, dry, solid, visible, evident… dominant).

I had found the Chinese Taoist yin principle: “be like water” very helpful in handling rigid business colleagues. The principle believes that water is stronger than stone (simply look at the grand canyon). When dealing with a “rock”, one must learn how to go around the rock, to wear it down, to reach one’s final destination/goal… It actually works very well. Not wanting another failed marriage… I thought maybe there is more to the power of the innate “feminine” principle & that it was certainly worth a try.

YinYang

Since I had an extremely dominant male, I thought all I have to do to make our home harmonic is practice the yin principles. For the sake of peace, for the sake of my children, I’ll simply be the yin to his yang… I thought, “No one is perfect, so I should continue to try to love unconditionally – this time using the yin principles…” Surprisingly, ta dah! I actually found the Chinese Taoist yin principles to be very helpful guidelines in learning to love unconditionally. I was actually able to master unconditional love… I must say it gave me an inner peace and an ability to be happy like I’ve never known. My inner (mental & spiritual) life was now bliss. However, in time, it took a great toll on my physical & material well-being (my yang so-to-speak).

What was I doing wrong? “Such a great theory!” I thought, “Why isn’t it working?” I had a beloved Zen master (who sadly moved back to Japan), who told me for years, “Why are you trying to be a saint? You are not a saint. Stop trying to be one!” Zen masters always speak in riddles… so I never quite understood exactly what he was trying (repeatedly) to make me see. I would think, “I like being a good/loving person. What’s wrong with that?” Plus, I loved Zen meditation (a yin/feminine principle) – it was great for maintaining my mental well-being.

Later, I studied with a Sufi master (who is sadly back in Turkey), he would say (also repeatedly), “You have to be a warrior! You must learn to fight! Even Jesus was a warrior!!!” I never understood why a Sufi master would be referencing Jesus, but o.k. Whatever works I thought! But it didn’t work on me; I wanted to be as “loving” as I could be. Plus, I had never been happier, I loved being connected to my spiritual (yin/feminine) side – nothing bothered my inner peace.

Then at a New Year’s party. The hostess had hired a psychic as entertainment for the entire event. Everyone was letting her read their palms, cards or something… Anyway, late in the evening I finally acquiesced. I sat down and the woman looked at me and said, “You are a very loving person.” I can still feel myself swelling with pride, surrounded by a number of guests watching the “show”. Then, in front of all those people the psychic said, “No. No. Wait. You could be a very loving person, but you don’t love yourself. Until you love yourself, you’ll never be a truly loving person.” I was mortified! What a slap in the face. My swelled ego burst. I got the message this time – loud and clear!

How stupid I had been! The harmonic yinyang principle was never about separating yin & yang (the opposites). It was never about being a compliment to someone else… It was about being the compliment to my self – being everything (passive & aggressive, soft & hard, flowing & solid, shadowy & clearly visible, mysterious & evident, submissive & dominant…) all in one. Every person has to be a lover and a fighter. The key is to train oneself to know when (and how much of) each principle is required. The mastery is being able to do that well enough to use all of the principles in only a constructive way (that is what the dots in the symbol represent — when one aspect becomes so powerful that it is about to take away from/become destructive to the other — it is time to change focus/strategy) .

At first I was too assertive (yang without enough yin). Physically and materially at my peak, but my inner self was a mess. Then I became too passive (yin with not enough yang). My psychological and spiritual life blossomed –  while my finances and body were devoured by my spouse. Now, I am able to know exactly when to be assertive and when to be passive, which is needed when & how to utilize just the right amount of both. Am I happy? You bet I am! Am I at peace? You know it. Do I know how to get my needs met without bulldozing others? Un-huh. Do I love myself? Yes, I do. Am I a loving person? I think so (but I might want to get the number of that psychic)!

An Interesting Side Note:
The earliest recorded English usage of Chinese Taoist/Daoist “yin and yang”, is cited in the Oxford English Dictionary as: 1671 – yet we are just now starting to understand their true meaning. Talk about being lost in translation!

“50 Shades of F _ _ ked Up!

Lately, I’ve noticed throughout our media many S&M/dominant/submissive spin offs from “50 shades of f_ _ked up (as the character Christian Grey so aptly put it in the film 50 Shades of Grey). There is no beauty in a S&M/dominant/submissive relationship. If there is no beauty, there is no harmony. If there is no harmony, there is no love. Why has “50 shades of f_ _ked up become such a phenomenon?

I watched a review of the film, in which a number of women thought it was great that we had a film that “promotes women exploring their sexuality”. Did I miss something? In the film, Anastasia was an adult virgin (so sexual experimentation was most definitely not her focus). Secondly, Anastasia refuses repeatedly throughout the film to allow the character Christian to perform any of the (deviant) sexual acts that truly turn him on (acts that are painful and/or degrading). Until the last sex scene, when she allows him to have his way (since up until this point he has been controlling yes… but to her confusion he has also been loving and romantic). When he does actually show that he derives pleasure from hurting her, she immediately leaves him. This film was not about sexual experimentation, as much as it was about becoming strong enough to stand up for oneself , how to set sexual boundaries & how physical and sexual abuse as a child can severely warp a person’s mature lovemap.

The movie showed a man who admitted he was “f_ _ked up” (who revealed why: having been born to and spending his early childhood in the home of woman who was an abusive drug addicted prostitute… to later (yet still an impressionable adolescent) be sexually victimized for another 6 years by yet another “f_ _ked up” controlling sadomasochistic woman… (it is not a big surprise that the character’s mature lovemap is deviant). In juxtaposition to the deviant lovemap, the movie portrays a young lady: pure and innocent, who although she did not come from a “perfect” home, she had always had a loving father figure in her life & hence a mature lovemap that sought the same in a partner. Innocent young lady, full of insecurities, struggling financially, trying to find her place in the world, gets sidelined by a more powerful/older predator, who is (outwardly) extremely confident, able to take away her financial woes, and tries to manipulate her understanding of where/what her place is in the world. Although innocent enough to be temporarily intimidated into doing things that made her feel uncomfortable…. She quickly grew aware of the depth of her lover’s unstable mental health… and after trying to love him unconditionally… quickly left for the sake of her own physical and mental well-being. In summary: (surprisingly) there where some good messages in the film.

Unfortunately, our mass media has decided once again to focus on the shock (selling/$) value of the film (promoting the negatives, the deviant). The music industry, magazine covers, fashion… are making visual representations of S&M/dominants/submissives part of our everyday world/norm. Sure, a lot of the media tries to make the S&M cute and playful – news flash; there is nothing cute about S&M. The film and media can give it trendy names “dominant” “submissive” but it’s all S&M (properly defined as sadism & masochism: gratification, especially sexual, gained through inflicting or receiving physical or mental pain and suffering). Why are we promoting pain and suffering? Why is our culture’s latest trend an attempt to promote (and an embracement of) extremely unhealthy relationships? So sad.

We should be promoting love! If people are bored with the missionary position and want to “experiment” with their sexuality – why can’t it be physically & mentally (spiritually) healthy (loving) sex? Maybe because it takes a lot longer to master the art of inflicting love? The Kama Sutra, Tantric Sex, Taoist Sexual practices all about inflicting love. That should be our cultural trend. There is nothing healthy in receiving pleasure from hurting someone else (or receiving pleasure by being hurt by someone else). If this is what you seek, stop reading desirable love immediately and seek professional help! Sex should not be something that you have to heal from… it should be (in it’s own right) a healing (as is all love) experience. Go experiment with love!

No (World) Peace Until You Learn to Love Yourself.

Peace is: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations. (Dictionary.com). If we truly want “world peace”: We must first (and foremost) learn to have harmony in our own lives (learn how to love, understand and accept ourselves, our most intimate relations, as well as our extended families, our neighbors, our communities, our school communities, even the people where we work…). Peace (harmony/love) must start with ourselves. When the majority of people master this, then (& only then) can the concept of “World Peace” become a reality.

A slogan that needs to become a reality long before the concept of “World Peace” is: “Harmonic Homes!”, or, “Home Peace!” We should rally for: Peace in our families! Peace in our schools! Peace in our neighborhoods! Peace on our roads! Peace in the workplace! But most importantly, we should be rallying for: “Inner Peace!”

Yet, what would be the purpose of gathering for an “Inner Peace” rally (demonstration, march, or, silent protest) — except to have another networking opportunity? It would be better if people simply dedicated (scheduled in non-social/non-networking) alone time for cultivating their own peace (understanding, acceptance, harmony). Anyone who is truly tired of war, road rage, charity board power plays… should consider making this a top priority.

Remember: Love is Energy. Love, our feelings, our thoughts, our anger, our prejudices…. are all energy/vibrations (just like music – some harmonious – some not). They all effect (consciously & unconsciously) everyone nearby – as well as everyone far away (the world per se). This is a simple fact of quantum physics. A person’s behavior and speech can be politically correct… However, if their heart and thoughts are not full of understanding, acceptance, love & harmony – their gestures and words will not have a peaceful effect on others (they will in fact have the exact opposite).

How many of us are living in truly peaceful, harmonious, loving homes? Relationships, neighborhoods, communities, schools, workplaces…? For any of this to happen, we must be at peace with ourselves first. As long as the majority of people are not at peace with themselves (not loving/harmonic individuals), not only is the concept of world peace somewhat of a cruel joke – so is desirable love.

It’s attainable. All of it. World Peace. Inner peace. & everything in between. It all starts with a seed & that seed is each and every one of us. For each of us that can attain inner peace/harmony (understanding, acceptance, love for ourselves), there is another intimate relationship that has the hope of doing the same; another family; another community… Each person’s thoughts and feeling effect so many others. Simply be the positive change you want to see in your world… and in time, the rest will follow.

Unconditional Love: WARNING!

You attract what you are. – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Is this true? Yes and no.

You hear from so many: “Become what you want to attract…”. Even some of the posts on this blog have inferred the same… However, before I write any further about desirable love (how to attain it)…I would like to attach a WARNING LABEL to the process.

You hear a lot about 1st “learn to love yourself”…. and as you “learn to forgive”, “love unconditionally”, and “be more accepting” of yourself – you will simultaneously learn how to be more empathetic/forgiving/loving to others… blah, blah, blah.

So now suppose we have done our “work”… we have become a more loving individual… we should attract a more empathetic/understanding/loving partner into our lives… Correct? Well, yes and NO! You will attract both; good & bad. In fact, the better you become, the better & the worse you will attract. Why? & How can one avoid this?

Every human being is attracted to beauty/harmony/love – it is essential to our health and well-being (physically/mentally and spiritually). We are therefore instinctively drawn to it. The more a person is lacking these qualities inside themselves – the more they need them from a source outside of themselves. In fact, the less desirable (unhealthy/inharmonic/unloving) a person is on the inside, the greater their attraction to posses these qualities through a person whom they perceive as having an abundance of loving qualities (empathy, compassion, supportiveness, unconditional love & acceptance…).

To use a vivid example: Psychopaths. They are proven to seek partners who rank in the very highest (90+ percentiles) for the human emotion: empathy. Psychopaths actually hunt to find the most loving of us (knowing that these people are best suited to let them get away with their lack of human kindness, compassion… love… for the longest period of time); a loving person balances out their complete inability to feel empathy, or, their complete inability to form human attachments. A loving partner helps them appear normal to society (giving them a cloak to hide under while they commit crimes against humanity – especially your humanity). The only way they can form a partnership is to pair with a person that practices forgiveness, compassion, unconditional love & acceptance. As you can see, the practice of unconditional love & acceptance can be very dangerous in real world scenarios.

How does one avoid getting involved with negative people? Practice unconditional love on yourself… not blindly on every person you meet! Even Jesus said: Forgive another “seventy times seven”. 70 x 7 = 490. Four hundred and ninety is a finite number. If a person is in an abusive relationship, that person could easily forgive their abuser 490 times in just one week (often less). Again, unconditional love should be practiced on yourself – to allow you to constantly move forward/make progress (physically/mentally and/or spiritually). However, forgiveness should be finite for those seeking to consume/destroy your health and well-being for their own selfish needs.

To be very clear: as you improve yourself be very careful of those you let into your inner circle. We all need to be improving ourselves. Be wary of those who are adults and are not. If someone seeks your help, don’t “do” for them — guide them. The best way to help someone else is to provide a good example (which obviously comes back to us focusing on our own frailties – working on making ourselves healthier).

If you do mistakenly get into a draining one-sided relationship, if a person is leaving you feeling physically, mentally and/or spiritually drained and/or confused – distance yourself ASAP (to regain your harmony/your inner strength). If later you decide to continue some form of a relationship with this person, maintain enough distance (physically and/or mentally) that they are no longer able to (literally) suck the life out of you. Try to remember to only have close intimate relationships with people that are already (or working hard to be) full of love.

Opposites do attract. Loving people have been programmed by culture to want to help those they believe need their love and support. Disharmonious people are instinctively attracted to those from whom they can easily take what they do in fact need – however, have not had the guidance to learn how to, or, simply do not want to put in the effort to build for themselves.

Be(a)ware; you can and should love other adults – just make sure it is not negatively affecting you physically, mentally and/or spiritually. Loving your children can be draining, Remember, you can only give what you have. If you sacrifice too much of yourself, in time you will not be able to give them the love they deserve. Always cultivate and protect your inner beauty/your loving spirit. Don’t depend on others to do this for you. Make maintaining AND protecting (respecting) your physical, mental and spiritual health/harmony your number one priority. Then you will have the chance of being available when the right person does come into your life.

Take care & be well!

Love smells like…

I was asked: What does love smell like?

It is such an indescribable scent, I had to answer:
“Otherworldly! Harmonic! Blissful! Love smells Divine!”

Mind, body and spirit… What?

Mind body and spirit. Mind body and soul. These words have become catch phrases. There are innumerable eastern inspired and/or “alternative” websites dedicated to the ideas; the American Cancer Society, the Teachers College at Columbia University, Harvard Medical School (just to name a few of the increasing number of Western mainstream establishments now promoting their own special interpretations) give much advise on living a “balanced” life. Yet, many simply use catch phrases (“balance”, “alternative…”, “quality time”, “ground yourself”, “meditate”…) to describe the catch phrase (mind, body and spirit/soul). Everything sounds very inspirational, but (in layman terms) how do we “balance” our physical, mental and spiritual lives?

First, forget the word “balance”. You actually want to harmonize (not “balance”) your our physical, mental and spiritual entities. Unfortunately, the word “balance” has become a common catch phrase due to a misinterpretation of eastern philosophy (in which the word for “harmony” was misinterpreted to mean “balance”). Balance is a state of equal distribution. Who wants the stress of maintaining a state of equal distribution to attain & maintain physical, mental & spiritual health? Our bodies, minds and souls don’t want more stress; they want harmony.

Our body, mind and soul are interconnected & therefore the health of one affects the health/harmony of the other two. Harmonizing each individually (and thus as a collective) is the key to optimal health, well-being, joy, and (desirable) love in our lives. Try to exercise/strengthen your body, your mind and your spirit everyday. I know that might seem a bit overwhelming at first… Just try!

Like any new exercise/health routine, it is best to try to slowly incorporate Body, Mind and Soul harmonizing techniques into your daily routine. Start with what comes naturally to you (or what you are most drawn to), then layer on additional practices. In time, the better you feel, the happier you are, the more you love life… the more motivated you will become to try/incorporate more techniques.

Here are a few I have found to have a great impact on my health, happiness and ability to appreciate love in and around me – and (even more importantly) to gracefully handle their opposites!

  • Exercise
    • Move, Stretch & Strengthen your body
    • Move your circulatory system (strengthen your heart)
      • Using “cardio” exercises – sweat
    • Move your lymph system (clean your blood/heart from impurities and strengthen your immune system)
      • Walking is the best way to move your lymph
    • move your energy systems (chi/qi/chakras – harmonize body, mind and spirit)every day
      • if you don’t like the idea of practicing kundalini yoga, tai chi, or, Qigong… you can always try Taoist or tantric sex and/or masturbation – they are actually the best for opening chakras and moving chi
  • Eat
    • Not just “100% Organic” (chemically free), but “Whole” (unprocessed) foods.
      • There are many “organic” foods that are refined (processed) that are simply not healthy
        • Learn the difference before you waste your money
    • The largest part of everyone’s diet should be a colorful array (yet the majority green) of low starch vegetables
      • If you eat raw vegetables – make sure you soak for 10 minutes in a hydrogen peroxide & water bath to kill the parasites
        • Most people don’t think about the parasites in raw foods (they exist in large numbers in ALL raw foods & are the cause of many digestive discomforts).
      • If you eat raw foods that you are not 100% sure were prepared properly – have a daily dose of ginger (raw, tea, pickled…) – the ginger will help kill parasites
  • Drink water that does not have added chemicals (since many tap waters do – if you drink tap and don’t know exactly what’s been added to your tap water – use a filter)
    • Also use a filter on your shower heads, chemicals in water are absorbed through the our skin (an organ in it’s own right) and can cause other health problems
  • Get plenty of sleep (children need 8-12 hours; adults, 6-8)
  • Get outdoors more – “ground yourself” in nature
    • We are animals first & just like animals taken out of nature (put into an artificial environment), we suffering physically and mentally if we are indoors too much of our day. Suffering physically and mentally will lead to a weakened spirit (loss of joy).
  • Be happy
      • Practice optimism (not fool heartedness, just optimism)
      • Be positive (don’t lie, tell people the truth, simply do it in a positive/constructive way)
  • Be grateful
    • If you pray for nothing else… say a prayer (or simply some words, if the word “prayer” makes you feel uncomfortable) of what you are thankful for – every day.
      • Only once a year, on the third Thursday of November – is not enough!
    • Western science has now proven that the health (harmonizing) benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless
  • Spend more quality time with loved ones
    • What is “quality time”?
      • It is time in which you pay thoughtful attention to loved one(s).
        • It is not (for example) watching a movie together
  • Live your passion
    • If it is a passion shared with your loved ones – even better
      • If not, to be true to who you are (how you define and love your own self), you must find time to cultivate your individual passion.
        • Schedule in “quality time with self”
  • Meditate
    • There are many forms to choose from: you can practice meditation (obviously), prayer, yoga, mindful breathing, tai chi, qigong, Daoist sex, journal/blog writing, any peaceful activity in nature (such as walking, a slow jog, gardening, sailing, biking…) – remember peaceful not competitive forms (leave those for physical exercise).
  • Sacrifice
    • Practice sacrifice, compassion and empathy for at least one other person everyday (and always for yourself)
    • For example: give time to a local charity, or, simply give a pregnant woman your seat on a crowded bus/train/subway…
      • No matter how big or small the effort – make sure the gesture is sincere/comes from your heart

Last, but most importantly, DO NOT STRESS, if you are unable to do something everyday. The trick is to SIMPLY TRY YOUR BEST everyday. Be kind to yourself. Practice will make progress.

Again this is only a short overview of body, mind, and spirit practices that have helped me maintain harmony in my life — even through the most trying of times. I hope they inspire & bring health, harmony and happiness to you. Remember, all parts of us are one in the same. Be loving to one part of yourself, and in time you (and others) will love all of you even more!