Do you often feel like the pace or scope of change in your life is overwhelming? Are you struggling to cope with the seemingly ceaseless stream of urgent input that seems to force you into almost non-stop activity? In the face of this accelerated time, what is the best way to avoid confusion and gain more clarity?
One of the most effective ways to handle accelerated time is to actually step out of it. Don’t try to constantly do more and fill up every minute of your day trying to keep up. Instead take more time during the day to stop all outward activity and focus inward. It is ideal to spend at least 20 minutes in quiet contemplation or meditation every morning before your day starts. Many people find that this gives them the clarity to remain centered throughout the day.
An alternative is to break up your day with short moments where you shut off your brain and disconnect from your to-do list and simply be with yourself for 2 to 5 minutes. Deep breathing will initiate the process and enable you to relax and reflect.
It is amazing how quickly you can gain clarity and connection with your essence. When you resume your activity you are likely to find that you are much more focused and productive. It is quite possible that you will resume with more passion and joy because you have connected the activity with your higher purpose in life. Try this method for the next three weeks and see what it does for your sense of clarity during these busy and often confusing times in which we live.
After my three month visit to Chile in 2007, I returned to The States to find that in my hometown, there is a school which offers certification to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). It turns out there are many programs of this nature offered both on site and online.
The TEFL class I attended took place Monday – Friday from 9AM to 6PM for one month and includes both classroom learning and student teaching. Although the course takes only a month to complete, the work to complete it takes every waking moment of your life for the entire month.
Upon completing the course and obtaining certification, the school offers a lifetime job placement service. Most of the students in my class had a pretty good idea of where in the world they wanted to teach. Many of my classmates planned to teach in South Korea. My plan was to return to Chile, this time, to live and work for a while.
In March 2008, I returned to Chile having arranged to stay with one of my Spanish teachers for a week while finding a place to rent. I got a job teaching English to business professionals, at one of the many language schools in Santiago.
There is a push for business professionals in Chile to know English and job promotions are often contingent upon learning English. Employers pay for their employees to attend class and as students, they are highly motivated.
I was hired by the language institute but quickly learned that most of my classes would not be held at the institute. Instead, most of my day was spent traveling throughout the city, from business to business, wearing a backpack filled with books, to teach my students in their offices, while eating empanadas on the run. Chilean food is for the most part bland, and they remove the peels from everything, even tomatoes, before eating.
I loved my students and teaching English but my day was often very long and tiring. You can earn a living doing this type of work if you stay busy.
Because it takes time for businesses to enroll their students and for classes to start, it is important to have money saved before embarking on the journey to this type of career.
In Chile, if you work for an institute under contract, you will receive a temporary resident’s visa, allowing you to stay in the country for one year.
My first job was not a contract position which means I had to leave the country every three months in order to renew my tourist visa. The fastest and least expensive way to do this is to take a seven hour bus ride from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina, a beautiful city with close proximity to vineyards, skiing, and thermal springs.
You can go through customs and immigration and return immediately on the next bus if you are inclined, but most folks spend at least one night in Argentina. These trips require careful planning during the winter months since it is possible to get snowed in for quite some time which is problematic if you are scheduled to teach classes.
In 2008, I taught English from March until November and then traveled through Peru on a tour and to the Antarctic Peninsula on a ship. Lima, Peru is a four hour flight from Santiago. Peru is a beautiful country with wonderful food although I don’t recommend the cuy (Peruvian Guinea pig.) Peru feels much more like South America to me than does Chile. It’s a place I definitely recommend visiting.
Antarctica has 24 hours of bright daylight all summer long. After a day, you lose all track of time. It is a magnificent place with lots of penguins. I even saw an Albatross fly over our ship.
We attended fascinating lectures with scientists who were stationed for one year on the peninsula to study global climate change.
In January 2009, I returned to The States for two months, to re-group, before planning my next work/travel adventure. So stay tuned…
The other day I was boiling water for coffee when suddenly I noticed the pot was not only empty, it was bottomless. The bottom of the pot had literally melted off, and was stuck to the electric burner. Staring in disbelief, I lifted the pot from the stove, stuck my head in, and looked right through the bottom and across the room at my son, who couldn’t believe what had happened.
In life, what do you do when the bottom drops out? Do you make it your mission to find out who or what is responsible, and to try to even the score? Do you analyze what happened, analyze your options, blame yourself or someone else, or freeze in your tracks, stuck, unable to make a quick recovery? Do you complain? Do you phone a friend?
When you take a course of action that leads to a dead end, how does it make you feel? Do you take it personally when things don’t turn out the way you planned? How quickly do you find new ground and carry on? How flexible are you?
Are you strong like water, immediately able to pour yourself into, and take the shape of a new container? Do you show up with humor and gratitude, as a larger version of yourself, or do you simmer for days, wondering what went wrong?
What about the rest of the pot? Do you discard the whole thing, calling it another one of your ideas that didn’t work? Can you find use for the scrap metal, mold it into treasures that will serve a part, hold a place in your new trajectory?
Often when a course of action leads to a dead end, it is because something larger, more durable, and broader in scope, is just waiting to be discovered. A fresh path, an unheard calling, a better way of doing things, is on your horizon. Something you overlooked, something more meaningful that you would not otherwise have attempted, but that is part of your purpose, stands before you, seeks you, and will become clearly apparent to you, as you surrender your perceived limitations and open to welcome it.
“Without helping others, life has no meaning. It’s how we lose ourselves. It’s how we find ourselves.” Michele Harvey
A few weeks before the New Year, many of us begin to look ahead with hope and fresh intentions. Some folks also look back, remembering with gratitude, relationships and events, or ruminate over unresolved loss from a state of nagging despair.
For the past month, I participated in a series of teleseminars, and have made the decision to become a Spiritual Life Coach in 2014. You see, I have been meditating for quite some time now, on something my spiritual teacher, Neale Donald Walsch, said to me on 3 separate occasions over the past 2 years. “Michele,” he said. “Your life is not about you. Your life is about everyone else whose life you touch, and the way in which you touch it.”
Each time I heard those words, I felt as if I was staring into the hollow of a shoe several sizes too big for petite feet. Nonetheless, I decided to focus my intention on growing into a larger version of myself, and with this intention, have drawn just the right program of study into my life.
In my book, From Confusion To Clarity, I discuss how life for me fell apart in 2011, with the death of my first born son, as well as the loss of another relationship, which evolved and changed form, contrary to my conscious desire. It was during this time of suffering, that I learned from my teacher, “The quickest way to experience having something, is to give it away to someone else.” For example, if you want more love in your life, give love to others. If you want more money, give money to others who seem to need it more than you. If you need more patience, give patience to someone else who requires it.”
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, this exercise does work. For by giving those things freely to others, without expectation of anything in return, you start to see that you have the very things you thought were lacking. I, as well as countless others, are now having this experience. In fact, by helping others, we step outside the victim mentality of rumination, and instead create space where actual miracles can occur. What we give to others, always comes back to us multiplied, sometimes,from some highly unexpected sources, and not necessarily from those we have served. My book gives countless examples of this, and you can easily apply it. Create a year of golden memories rather than rumination and regret. This is my fervent wish for everyone. Happy New Year!
From Confusion To Clarity: Vital Personal Growth in 30 Days or Less is available @ http://micheleharveyauthor.com, CreateSpace.com, Amazon.com, etc.
We are strange and peculiar beings built with an inner desire to grow. No matter who we are or where we are: no matter what we have or haven’t achieved so far the human being is programmed to reach for growth. Psychologists call this programming the organismic valuing system – our inner tendency to move towards an experience of the highest, truest, most beautiful expression of who we are.
It seems that we are born to experience greatness.
And yet there is within us something that resists this growth.
There is within us a place of inner darkness; a place that cannot see or feel or vision our true potential. I’ve heard this place of darkness referred to as the ‘the innate predator’ of our souls. It is our inbuilt tendency to resist our personal unfolding and it works in direct opposition to our organismic valuing system.
The innate predator works with our unconscious minds to create obstacles to our growth. Often we remain unaware of it until such a time that we begin to actively seek our own growth. Then we can find that when we make a decision to do something to enable that growth we end up discovering 101 reasons why we shouldn’t commit to our desired course of action!
Here’s an example from my own life.
I made the commitment to write this blog. It’s something I want to do. I believe its part of my journey towards finding and using my voice and yet despite this conviction I find myself procrastinating. I sit down at the computer and do almost anything but write the blog: e-mails, Facebook, my website, other people’s sites – all these pull me away from the task in hand!
Why is this? Why despite our best intentions do we seem to sabotage our own efforts to improve and grow into the fullness of who we are?
It may be helpful to return to the opening lines of poetry and the analogy of ourselves as a seed. A seed has the potential to become something beautiful but in order for this to happen the seed must be planted in soil. The soil is dark, heavy and damp and it bears down on the seed, covering it and almost suffocating it YET the seed does not resist the soils darkness it works with it. The seed knows that the soil provides the exact, fertile ground needed for it to grow. All the seed needs to do is to lean into this heaviness in order to find its way through the darkness towards the light.
And the same is true for us.
We, like seeds, are programmed for greatness BUT in order to achieve that greatness we must learn to navigate our own inner darkness. This means that when we feel resistance we should embrace it and use it as a vehicle (a tool or map) to help us find our way to the light of our own greatness.
Wherever you are right now, whatever you are experiencing you can be sure that you are receiving the exact right conditions needed for you to fulfill your greatest potential here on earth.
Life is always bringing us opportunities to grow and develop; to remember our wholeness as tri part beings; mind, body and soul. Yet when we resist Life’s offerings we sabotage our ability to grow.
Resistance hardens us; it breeds stress and tension which create a barrier that only serves to strengthen our resistance.
When we find ourselves in resistance it can be wise to ask ourselves which aspect of Life (of the Whole, the Divine), are we not allowing ourselves to experience?
Much of my own life has been spent in resistance. We have already identified procrastination as one way that resistance shows up but perhaps some of the following will be familiar with you too?
•Resisting the present moment by daydreaming about the past and/or dwelling on anxieties about the future
•Resisting your body’s signals for rest and pushing on regardless.
•Resisting feeling the full extent of your emotions – especially the ones you perceive to be negative
•Being reluctant to express an opinion
•Avoiding saying “Yes” to something you really want to do because you fear failure
THE ROOT OF ALL RESISTANCE IS FEAR.
Resistance comes from the small self who does not have the ability to vision life beyond itself. The small self fears it will be lost in the process of growth and so it is in its interest to stay small and resist the growth process.
So how do we begin to change all this?
How do we begin to let our resistance work for us as opposed to against us?
The key is awareness.
We begin by identifying areas of resistance in our lives and asking ourselves, “What does this resistance feel like? What does it look like? Does it have a shape or colour or sound?”
Getting a picture in our minds eye can be helpful especially if we compare it to a picture of what we perceive our growth would look like.
Here are two images I play with.
The first is the seed lying dormant in the soil (resistance) compared with the picture of a full blossoming rose (growth).
The second is a sailing ship, masts down, anchored in the harbour (resistance) compared with a ship at sea, in full sail enjoying the freedom of the ocean (growth).
There is of course nothing WRONG with living life as a seed or an anchored ship. The choice is always ours. There may be good reasons why we want to remain in resistance at the moment BUT if we desire growth then we must choose, at some point to at least set sail!
We move from resistance to growth by taking small, manageable steps; by feeling the resistance and moving slowly but surely in that direction until it begins to soften. Hence I begin to write this blog despite insecurity, doubt and the anxiety that it may not be well received by its readers!
So what is it that you are resisting right now?
My advice is to move slowly, gently and deliberately towards it. Stay open and curious about your resistance. Keep your pictures in mind; the small self and the larger self. Know that the Divine wants you to grow and achieve your potential.
We are all partakers in the great adventure of life – there is little fun or enjoyment in playing small. I know, I’ve done it most of my life. But no longer!
So feel and see yourself reaching your full potential and hang onto that feeling – it is your birthright; you were born to feel that way.
You are not small, weak, and insignificant. You are not meant to be overlooked. You are meant to be noticed, to wave your beauty at the world, to celebrate your life.
Resistance is here to help you. It is your guide. Give thanks for it; embrace it; then go out and LIVE YOUR LIFE!
“Jannietta is a poet who loves the power of words to heal and transform lives. After facing a series of losses in her life she now embraces with joy the process of re-discovering her true self and celebrating the wonder of being alive. She is author of Barefoot on Green Grass, a collection of poetry that explores love, loss and relationship and Wild Swans Flying a book of contemplative poems on love, life and landscape. You can find our more about her by visiting at www.jannietta.com or by following her on Facebook ”
Though we are never alone
It sometimes feels that way.
From the simmering stirs
Of early summer,
To deer that hide within the mist,
Life is a constant wanderer.
Everything one day drifts away.
So I’m crafting myself
A seaworthy sail,
Inviting the moment to take me,
Grateful for the birth of the new day.