Practical Spirituality

For the American reader, Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Regardless
of the cloudy history of this celebration, it has come to mean a time of
family, food and discount shopping – not always in that order. Naturally, it’s
all to be sprinkled with a dose of gratitude and reflection. Before Thanksgiving this year here is an idea, set
and intentional time for a conversation with your family, partner, or yourself
to reflect on what you are truly the most grateful for right now. At this very
specific moment in your life, there must be one or two things that you feel,
for one reason or another, is truly what you feel the deepest gratitude for.
Once you have chosen this one thing, make a plan to help give this same gift to
someone else.

If you are grateful for a job, help someone get a job, or make some
contribution to the local centers or charities that help the unemployed. If you
are grateful for a relationship, give to those who are alone or lonely. You may
help at big brothers and sisters, or visit or contribute to a longterm care facility.
Be creative, how can you show your gratitude this year, by giving someone else
the same reason to be grateful.

How are you going to share your gratitude this year?

If you wanted to be great at a sport, a natural
necessity in your training would involve first assessing what muscles and
systems of the body you’ll use most, and then building an exercise plan around
that information. In fact, you would likely need physical conditioning before
you could even take certain risks, or take more challenging steps in your
performance. In a similar way intuition and self-awareness are much the same
and take time, practice and exercise before we can engage them at a high level.

Fortunately, there are exercises we can do to grow our intuition and awareness. Each
region of the brain has a specific, dedicated focus and related areas of
function, and so we can target those areas we want to enhance or improve. The
artistic right hemisphere, for example, is dedicated to the creative self: art,
music, poetry, imaginative/creative pursuits AND intuition. In other words, if
you increase your diet of the arts and exercise your creativity through a
regular artistic pursuit, you can build your sense of self-knowing and
intuition–which means that knowing which career is best for you can be
supported by writing poetry. Knowing if a relationship needs a change can be
assisted by painting. Deciding where your life is out of balance can be aided
by learning to play an instrument.

Two things to keep in mind: you do not have to be artistic or
“good” at art to benefit
 , nor are these the only
solutions you’ll need to find the answers you seek, or to grow your intuition –
but it will give you a great advantage and could be fun!!!


Woodland Water

The world is filled with bright ideas,
innovative solutions, and great opportunities. The biggest challenge always
lies in finding your own motivation and willingness. In Eastern traditions,
there’s an old expression about the journey to enlightenment. It’s been said
that if you don’t seek your total liberation of heart and mind with the
passion, focus, and conviction of a man with his hair on fire looking for
water, then don’t bother!

On the other hand, remember that it’s okay
to stay exactly as you are. There’s no need to change, unless you feel the need. There’s nothing “wrong” unless life
doesn’t feel right. Listen to your innermost spirit and ask yourself: Is there more to who I am? Is there more
that I have yet to share?

“More” isn’t about what you have or what
people think–it’s being soulful, mindful, and full hearted. It’s about being
more you. At times, your version of
more will be doing less and working
harder to simply accept yourself as you are. The end of Inspiration Deficit
comes from action, but what that action is will be different for every
person. Some people reading this will say, “Yes! This is the time to slow
down,” and others will say, “Yes! This is the time to speed up!” The next step
is all about what your inner wisdom tells you. It concerns fully embracing who
you are and making positive new choices now.

What choices are you going to make today for positive change in your life?

Excerpt from Inspiration Deficit Disorder.

There is a lot of discussion today about bullies
and the sometimes deadly cost of bullying in the news. Some wonder if the there
is an increase in bullying, or if we are just becoming more aware of the
problem. Naturally any time it becomes more culturally acceptable to come
forward as a victim of any type of abuse, there will always appear to be an
increase in incidence. But is bullying actually different or more frequent
today than in the past?

In talking with people of an older generation –
born and raised pre-television or in the early days of TV – it seems that
bullying in the past was certainly common, but straight-forward and fleeting.
Youth spent more time together in play and unregulated sport.  There is no
question that pecking orders were established and the strong would “push
around” the weak from time to time, and then there was the occasional
menace that people simply learned to respect and avoid. Though we can never
justify or excuse bullying, it seems there was a simpler time when bullying was
a less socially complex. Of course, this was also in a time and context when
brute force was more acceptable in parenting, relationships and conflict – and
we cannot forget the pure racism, bias and bigotry of the past that likely
excused a lot of violence from even being considered bullying. But when we
speak of the cruelty of children and what happens within communities, we must
wonder if things have gotten better or worse?

Today’s bullying takes on so many more shades and
tones. We now have the physical bullying by the local oversized menace, plus
the small gangs of bullies (which can be made of girls or boys of any race or
economic background), and we have two additional factors that I think make
matters much worse. We now have virtual bullies – for example, teens that
harass, victimize and torment others by text, email, Facebook, Twitter and
other social media means. In this there is no accountability, there is a much
higher psychological intensity and potential for humiliation, and there is a
diminished sense of remorse in bullying from a distance, rather than
face-to-face. At the same time the scale of humiliation can be enormous. Which
brings us to the next and final area of concern, and it’s something we can all
do something about.

The new complexity of bullying lies in the
dehumanization of strangers and people who are different than us in our culture
today. Social networking sites, biased websites, video games, and movies that
celebrate massive amounts of violence all diminish the perceived value of a
human life, and the capacity for empathy and remorse. This is no small issue.
Throughout history, it has always been the dehumanization of an enemy that has
led to or allowed horrific acts of genocide, torture and persecution to exist.

Humanizing our society and teaching empathy and
reflection about our impact on others is something we can do in our school
systems, our homes, and in our social circles. Violence starts in the mind, as
an attitude towards problem solving, judgment, and how we deal with difference.
It starts in subtle ways and that is where you can make a difference.
Take a stand, teach a friend, empower a child or try a new perspective
yourself. Bullying is the tip of a dangerous iceberg of cultural immaturity. I
am certain we are better than that.

Will you take a stand?