Thursday, June 8, 2017

Are you grounded?

What does that mean exactly?  To be grounded?  My kids would say that it means they can't go outside to play with their friends so I suppose it depends on who you ask.  To me, being grounded definitely involves my interaction with others, but in my case (unlike when my children are grounded) I actually WANT to be grounded!

You've heard others say it, I'm sure, "stay grounded" or "I'm not grounded right now".  It can be an off-the-cuff sort of statement for some people, but for others, it holds deep conscious meaning in their lives.  Most of the time, we don't even realize how powerful this cliche can be in reality, when applied effectively to our lives.

Being grounded can take on many shapes, but in general remaining grounded really is exactly what it sounds like.  Imagine a tree, rooted in the soil.  The wind can't blow it over uprooting it, those roots run deep and they are the tree's lifeline.  Without the roots, a tree wouldn't receive it's nutrition and strength.  Without staying firmly grounded in the soil, the tree wouldn't survive or grow and regenerate.

When we are successfully grounded, we are present in our daily lives, we are firmly rooted in the here and now.  No matter what is going on, we stay balanced, centered and aligned with our higher purpose and best interest.  It means we are able to control our reactive, knee-jerk, behavioral patterns which are driven by our ego.  When we stay present, we don't allow ourselves to be swept up in thoughts or emotions about the past or the future, we can't be uprooted by the wind or stomped out.  Being present enables us to take on life's unexpected challenges with grace, because our roots hold us firmly in place.  Today is the only day that matters, right here, right now.  The past is gone and the future hasn't unfolded yet.  If we are swept up in our emotions about the past or the future, we lose our footing and we stumble, losing ground on what matters most.

Emotions are important and I am not suggesting we shouldn't honor every emotion we experience, because each emotion has a distinct purpose in our lives, but experiencing a strong emotion doesn't have to uproot us sending us into a tailspin either.  Instead we can observe the emotion as a passing experience, because that is exactly what it is.  Emotions come and go, and then new ones also come and go.  If we allowed ourselves to be influenced by every emotional whim that surfaces, we would be like the wind, with no roots to keep us firmly planted in the soil.  When something emotional comes up for me, I like to try to imagine that emotion sitting next to me on the couch. It's there, but it's not me.  I see it, I feel it's presence, but I don't have to succumb to it's power, because I hold the power to choose my actions.  It passes and then I have choices to make about what triggered the uprising of the emotion in the first place, which was likely rooted somewhere in a past experience or a fear about the future.

I thought this was a great example, blogged by Sabrina Reber in "How to Raise your Vibration"

For example, if someone in the grocery store accidentally bumps into your cart and you are grounded and aligned with your higher wisdom you will simply look at the person smile and move on. However, if you are may be thinking about something in the past that upset you, and when the person bumps into your cart you may fly off the handle and yell at them telling them they should pay more attention......not only did you have a knee jerk reaction but you also projected your energy of “not paying attention” onto the other person when you weren't paying attention to what was going on in the present moment either.

Consciously grounding yourself is an act of mindfulness, with the ability to impact you on a much larger scale, long-term.  Mindfulness itself tends to be more task-oriented, like the grocery cart example above.  On the larger scale, we can see how remaining grounded can improve our overall life immensely.   The bigger picture begins to form as we shift our habits from ego-driven behavioral patterns to conscious awareness of our current situation and surroundings.  But how do we make that shift is the real question.  For me, it took a number of years to first recognize my need to focus on being present more, but that was only the beginning.  Awareness is good, but action is the only way to truly exhibit presence in your daily life.  It takes action!  When an event sets you off, you can try to remind yourself to stay calm in the moment, but that might be asking a bit much of yourself since the pattern has already been set off by that point.  As with anything else in life, practice is essential.  We must water the seeds we want to grow.  For me, I had to actively pursue grounding work in the way of meditation, introspection, reading and paying more attention to how my thoughts effect my life (and the lives of those around me).  I often had to step out of my comfort zone to see the benefits. The ultimate lessons in my life, however, always evolved through my experiences with my children.  I began to recognize that if I viewed everything through a lens touched by my children, I would see things completely differently.  How would I want my children to handle themselves in this same situation, what advice would I give them?  Bingo, my answer was suddenly clear as day.  How's that for perspective?  It was then that I began to also recognize how much control I had over my own perspective of each situation.  I could choose the view and I could influence the outcome, just like that.

In Sabrina Reber's blog, which I referred to above, she shares some grounding advice which is quite simple, so I will share that with you too.  I have always used a very similar exercise (linked in #1 below).  In addition to using it daily through some periods of my life, I also use it whenever I feel out of touch with my purpose or just plain out of control emotionally.
  1. Do this grounding exercise when you get up in the morning, before and after you have meditated or done any type of spiritual/healing work and always before you head out of the house into a public space. Click here for: GROUNDING EXERCISE
  2. Throughout the day, bring your consciousness....your awareness into your body. Become aware of where you are and what you are doing.....become aware of the smells, sounds and temperature.
  3. Become aware of your thoughts.....if you are in heavy mind chatter you are in the past or future. Bring your thoughts into the present and state whatever you are doing. “Right now I am washing the dishes.” Right now I am cooking dinner”. “Right now I am present.”
  4. If you are ungrounded, focus your energy on your feet. Bring all of your consciousness to your feet....wiggle your toes, feel your connection to the Earth. (added by Jessica - I would even go as far as to envision your feet growing roots into the ground here, breath deeply as the roots dig deeper, works wonders for me!)
  5. Command yourself to ground. “ I command for my energy fields to align and be brought back into balance and for me to ground fully into the present moment.
  6. If you are going to an appointment, an event, a meeting etc....where you feel you could get upset and ungrounded ask for help. Pray to Creator Of All That Is for what you would like to experience and ask your "I Am" Presence to help you stay calm, grounded and aligned with your higher wisdom.
  7. Be aware. Be alert. Be conscious. Be present. Be here, NOW.
As with anything else that takes practice, be gentle with yourself and trust that you will seek grounding more naturally over time once your awareness has developed.  With practice, grounding yourself when you need it most will become second nature.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Finding Happiness

I think it's safe to assume that a good majority (if not all) of us believes that the key to a good life is happiness, right?  What do we want for our kids most, above all things?  We just want them to "be happy".  So we jump through hoops to make our children happy, hopefully teaching them how to find happiness in their own lives.  But what IS happiness exactly?

Joy is often a word used interchangeably with happiness.  No surprise there, right?  What is the difference anyway?  Most of us want to "find happiness" and believe that we must "seek joy" in order to do that.  The thing is, we cannot find happiness like it's a lost twenty dollar bill on the street that we were lucky enough to find before the next passerby picks it up. We must CREATE it, and contrary to what many believe, seeking joy does not sustain long term happiness!  Let me clarify here, I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with joy, joy is great, we all need joy in our lives.  The distinction I am referring to is that joy is a temporary emotion that passes by just like the other emotions we experience in any given day (or fleeting moment), but happiness is a state of mind.

Does your favorite snack bring you happiness, even though it will be gone in 15 minutes?  No, but it sure does bring you joy for those 15 minutes, doesn't it?

Does your new toy (or purse for the ladies reading this) bring you happiness even though it will eventually wear out and end up in the trash some day?  Just like your favorite snack, it too will bring you joy...for as long as you like it.

Does the newest Star Wars movie bring you happiness even though it will end in a few hours?  It may teach you something about happiness, but the short-term effect is pure joy, for two hours.

I could go on, and I am sure that you can list a billion things that bring you joy.  What all these things have in common is that they bring you temporary joy.  And like I said earlier, joy is great, we should be seeking joy, but we should not be confusing this with happiness.  Joy is not a replacement for happiness.  Happiness, as a permanent state of mind comes from doing the work, from developing our-inner-selves and doing it for ourselves, not to please someone else.  It is not a passing emotion, it's a state of mind that you cultivate according to your own deeply rooted belief system.  One question you can ask yourself to separate short term joy from long term happiness is this; if you were to take away the thing you are questioning, are you still the same person without it?  Joy is a form of pleasure, often a sensorial experience, not a deeply mental experience and it is gone once the experience is gone.

True happiness is cultivated daily and the truth is we are already doing things every day to develop and model happiness.  But can we do more?
  • Long term happiness is finding your confidence even when it's hard to believe in yourself, or better yet, believing in yourself especially when no one else does!
  • Long term happiness is choosing to defend a cause that is close to your heart despite having to go against the grain.
  • Long term happiness is getting back up on that bike even though you fell off of it three times already and believing you can do it, because you can!
  • Long term happiness is paying it forward and doing something kind without the need for recognition or praise.
  • Long term happiness is taking the time to understand a bully rather than learning to hit him harder.
  • Long term happiness is forgiving the one who hurt you. 
  • Long term happiness is serving others.
  • Long term happiness is praying or meditating to deepen your consciousness.
  • Long term happiness is recognizing the good in everyone.
  • Long term happiness is making the right decision even when the wrong decision is easier (and more joyful).
When we live a life cultivating our inner happiness, we are more capable of navigating the intricacies of this unpredictable world without falling hard and floundering in a perpetual haze of hurts.  We fall down, get back up, dust ourselves off, find the lesson in our fall and move on wiser and happier.  Happiness is the foundation of our lives and we must always believe we ARE happy, not that we must find it.  Happiness must not be seen as a future goal.  As long as we are consciously and mindfully living our truth day in and day out, and modeling it for our children, we don't need to look for it.

And how do we teach our children to be happy?  We simply model it.  They can learn to open doors for others even when they are in a hurry, they can learn to forgive easily, they can learn compassion and unconditional love, they can learn to serve others, they can learn to try again even when there is fear, they can learn to compassionately stand up for themselves, but we must model these behaviors for our youth in order for them to become ingrained in who they are.

If you desire to attain happiness and if you wish to live in a world of harmony and peace, you must understand that the journey begins with you.  It is only then that you can reach out and touch the lives of others and change the world.  -Dalai Lama

So rather than "finding happiness" today, repeat this affirmation to yourself every day - I AM HAPPY - and believe it!