Let the Happiness Flow — Redefining the Sense of Self, Creativity and Expression

Let the Happiness Flow — Redefining the Sense of Self, Creativity and Expression
As a writer, I seem to go through phases of not being able to write. Or, I tell myself that I can’t write, for one reason or another, and soon hours turn to days and days turn to weeks and suddenly I turn around and realize I haven’t written anything in a month. I can’t say that it’s “writer’s block,” because I don’t truly even know what it means. What I can best relate it to is my relationship with my boyfriend. Most of the time, we have an amazing relationship. It’s fun, sexy, funny, intimate, affectionate — everything I could have asked for and more. But sometimes, we have a weird moment or hour or afternoon and my first reaction is to panic. I assume the worst or fear the worst, which only makes the weird moment last longer or feel more awkward. But usually, in just a small amount of time, I realize that I am actually creating the weird feelings. It usually takes me just a few minutes of self-reflecting and going in to myself that I realize there’s something I am feeling, but not sharing with my partner. Sometimes it’s something small and sometimes it’s something larger that feels scary for me to face, so I try to ignore it and push it down. But I think in any healthy, evolved and conscious relationship, there comes a point where “hiding” any sort of true feeling starts to become obvious, and if not handled quickly, it starts to become a problem. And so when I realize this, I take a deep breath, connect with myself and talk to the man I love. I tell him what’s going on or what I am avoiding or what I am afraid to feel or say… and we work through it together. And after talking, I feel better and things feel good again. It’s a constant lesson for me to always speak my truth and say what I feel because holding it in only makes me uncomfortable, anxious and pretty miserable to be around.

At this point, I can say that being in a relationship has become easy for me. Not easy in the way that I want to stop trying or I am getting sloppy, but in the sense that being part of a couple/dynamic duo/partnership is becoming the default for me. What used to feel like “alone recharge time” has started to feel like something less familiar and less recharging. I do still like time to myself, because I’m human, but the way I operate and feel most comfortable in is shifting from a solo life I lived by myself to a shared life that I am living alongside someone else. It’s something I have heard people talk about for years and until now, I have had no idea what they were talking about. I have always been such an independent person (even isolated at times) that it became my comfort zone. It became my default to want to be alone, brooding in my mood or misery or sometimes just doing nothing, and other times (though seldom), I felt happy. And when it came to writing, that was the place that I would have the most success with writing. If I could “just get” to that deep dark introspective place, all would be well and I would be able to get creative. I was my own muse and I was, to some degree, miserably happy in that dynamic with myself. I can’t say I was particularly nice or loving with myself in this place, but it was what I knew and so I stayed.

For almost four months I have been happier than I ever knew was possible. This has been, by far, the most exciting part of my life so far. The only challenge I have had, at times, is writing. And much like when I am feeling disconnected from my boyfriend when I am not being fully honest about something I am feeling, I am finding that I actually have a very similar relationship with myself. I can say that my time alone has become less than it was before, and I have been good and happy with that. And in the few times that I have attempted to go to “deep dark places of isolation” I have not been very successful, because it just isn’t something that fits for me anymore. I want to write because it’s the way I express myself and allow my creativity to have a voice, but the way I have been channeling it (through pain and misery) is no longer applicable in my life. So after struggling with this for the past few weeks, I have finally come to the realization that there was something I wasn’t being honest with myself about. There was something I didn’t want to look at or accept or feel because it was too painful or scary or maybe I was just being lazy and didn’t want to do the inner work. But much like talking to my boyfriend and then feeling better, I allowed myself to go deep into my feelings and see what was actually going on. And what I found/learned was astonishing! I didn’t have writer’s block at all, as it turns out. But I was afraid and hiding, which is why I wasn’t able to find my voice.

For me, the thing is that I am living the life I always wanted. I have a healthy and happy relationship that I enjoy so much that it’s changing the relationship I have with myself. With a degree in spiritual psychology, I have done a lot of the “inner work” to connect with myself, break through limiting beliefs and barriers, and as a coach, to assist others in doing the same. I have learned how to like, love and accept myself, but this is the first time in my life that I can actually feel the depths of that and experience it as something different in my life. The way I am relating to myself is different. It’s lighter, more loving, more appreciative, softer and more open and accepting. I find myself not wanting to be isolated or miserable, even if it means I get a deeper, more intense writing piece out of it. So it hasn’t been that I haven’t been able to write but it has been that the way I have been relating with myself in order to write has changed. And it’s in this new realization and dynamic that I am viewing my self-expression and creativity in an entirely new light. I am happy. I am smiling. I can still write deep and meaningful things because that’s part of me and part of who I am and how I express myself. But the desire to brood in that place is no longer here. I am realizing that I can connect with and relate to myself in a more positive way and still be able to feel that I’ve created something meaningful. I don’t want to just write about the experiences I want to be having anymore because now I am actually having them. So now I just want to experience life and then share instead of feeling sorry for myself for not having what I want. Because now I do have what I want and it’s time to move forward in a new way.

And in the end, this has been another reminder to myself to always just be honest. Whether it’s in my relationship or with myself or in my writing. I spent the past two weeks trying to think of a “good article” to write. I started and stopped over a dozen articles before getting frustrated and not writing anything for a while. I wanted to be perfect and create and share the “perfect” thing but when I tried to do that, nothing happened. So I got to the point where I was frustrated enough, dropped the expectations and just got authentic with myself and learned that sure, there is part of me that is afraid to connect with this happy side of myself for fear that it will go away or fear that I will lose sight of it or it won’t last. In some ways, it’s like if I acknowledge and accept my happiness, then it will go away. And I think I have been afraid of this for years but it’s only now that I have somehow found the courage to just get up and do it anyway. So many people seem to focus on the negative parts of life or why things don’t or won’t work or what could go wrong or what could happen. And I spent so much time in my past doing this. Writing was a way to relieve some of the anxiety of the own personal torture cell I was making for myself. It never dawned on me that I could in a way that both captured the depth of life and emotion but also left it light enough to be humorous and enjoyable. So I am going to try it on for a while, letting myself feel and experience a new perspective in writing. Maybe this won’t be the best article and maybe no one will be able to relate to it, but for me it’s true and real and in some ways that’s all that matters. There is no time to waste being dishonest and it’s the honesty with myself — the true, deep-to-my-bones honesty — that is going to be the foundation to exploring and creating this new, beautiful part of myself and my life.

365 Invocations to Create an Extraordinary Life, Week 7
Aloha, again! How is your journey progressing toward aligning your spirit with the healing energy of the Universe, your co-creator?

I am delighted that I have begun to receive your comments. This is important because hearing from you about where you feel “stuck,” “skeptical” or “thrilled” about feeling a connection helps me understand where I need to go to give you more tools to work with on your path to Oneness and invoking an extraordinary life.

Some of the comments I have received express confusion about visualizing the Universe. There seems to be a general nervousness about how it looks, how it feels, where it exists, how it exists, if it exists — almost like it is presumptuous to know. There’s some doubt that an energy so soft, so loving, so powerful really lives. And if it does, why would so many suffer and why is there so much fear and violence in our world? The short answer to the last question is, it is not the Creator who brings fear and violence into the world. It is our fearful thoughts and actions that manifest emotional and physical pain and suffering.

Getting back to the visualization process: Let’s start by doing a little soul work. Let’s begin by remembering there is the story of You ruled by your ego’s desires, and there is the everlasting You who has no story, is a part of everything, and is totally free and in a relaxed loving state 24/7. From this point on I am going to be talking to your everlasting part, your soul.

Everyone wants love: to be loved, and to be able to give love. From the moment of birth, babies need love to thrive. Research by Megan Gunnar, from the University of Minnesota, shows that babies who are loved in their first six months of life — held often and securely attached to their parents — do not show elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in subsequent stressful situations.

Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. As you breathe into your body, notice there is the You who is breathing and also there is someone else quietly noticing you breathing. This part of you is watching over you, always has been and always will. It will never judge you, abandon you, or die. Simply stated, it loves you no matter what and it knows it is connected to the source of love and relies on that connection. It is here to lead you to your source so that you can relax, trust, feel empowered and feel true bliss.

So as you breathe, notice the eternal part of you and keep relaxing and breathing deeply. Feel yourself becoming one. When your mind is quiet, ask that the Universe reveal itself energetically in front of you. It may appear as a color, a sound, formless or a specific shape. Don’t try to make it happen or figure it out. Just keep relaxing and asking that which created you — and continues to co-create your reality from your thoughts — appear in a clear visualization. Rest assured, the Universe is generous, non-judgmental, and wants to reveal itself to you at any moment.

This is your homework until next week. Remember, the more you relax and drop all judgment of what you should see and feel, the deeper your experiences will be. Take your time, be patient, and let the Universe reveal itself in whatever way you need to find it. It could be in the eyes of a child, in the flowers you arrange, in a stranger’s smile on the street. The loving energy of the Universe will appear as soon as you are ready to sense it and feel it.

Here are your invocations for the week.

1. The Universe and I are one.

2. The Universe protects me and loves me.

3. Breathing in I let go of all judgment, breathing out I relax.

4. The Eternal part of me is peaceful and still.

5. I trust my connection to the Universe that creates everything.

6. I deserve to be connected to the source of love and peace.

7. I am an expression of loving kindness and inner peace as seen through the Light that surrounds me everywhere I go

Please feel free to send me your comments so I can continue to create invocations that help in your expansion. I will be on vacation so see you again in two weeks. Be well and be free!

Carol Simone, simply known as Simone, is a spiritual catalyst in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of The Goddess of 5Th Avenue, Being Quan Yin, Becoming the Energy of Love and Compassion, The Kiss of the Shaman and others. You can write to her at quanyin@carolsimone.com.

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Iyanla Vanzant To Terrell Owens: ‘You’ve Become A Victim Of Your Talent’ (VIDEO)
On Saturday, Nov. 2, Iyanla Vanzant will kick off a new season of “Iyanla: Fix My Life” with an emotional conversation with former NFL superstar Terrell Owens. She travels to Alexander City, Ala., the hometown of the acclaimed and controversial American football wide receiver, who finds himself in personal crisis despite his incredible talent and success.

Through a series of emotional heart-to-heart sessions, Iyanla uncovers the pain from Owens’s childhood — rarely seeing his mother and not knowing the identity of his father — and soon realizes that some of his bad behavior on and off the field likely stems from his feelings of abandonment as a child.

In the above clip from the episode, Owens shows a side to himself most people have never seen.

“I want you to dig down in here,” Vanzant says in the video, pointing to Owens’s heart, “and I want you to find the voice of your heart. What does your heart say?”

“I know there were times, from the outside looking in, people thought I was at my happiest, or at my best — I was sad,” Owens says. “When I went home, I was sad. I was lonely.”

“You’ve become a victim of your talent,” Vanzant tells him.

“People never stop to ask you, ‘Terrell Owens, how you be?'” she says. “You can run fast, but how’s your heart? You can catch a ball, but how’s your soul?”

“I’m OK,” Owens says quietly.

“No you’re not,” Vanzant says. “You’re a 40-year-old veteran athlete who doesn’t have a team, with no vision about what to do next, four children who are looking up to you.”

“When you lay your head down on your pillow in the quiet times, when there’s nobody else but you — who be Terrell Owens?” she asks.

“Iyanla: Fix My Life” airs Saturday, Nov. 2, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

How to Use Writing as a Meditation Practice
Writing can be a powerful meditation practice, helping us to integrate our active mind with the mind of meditation. By using it as a process of inquiry, it can help us track our progress in loosening attachments and habitual states of mind even as it sharpens our ability to attend to the present moment. As little as 10 minutes of writing practice a day can reap great benefits.

Those who have a regular meditation practice can simply add the writing immediately following it, and those who find it difficult to do traditional meditation will find this practice fruitful as the writing gives your busy mind something to do, curbing your restlessness as you cultivate awareness of your overall experience. Writers will particularly find this practice beneficial, as the resulting free writes will be rich with ideas and images to seed further work.

All you need to get started is a timer, notebook and pen. The practice can be done in five simple steps:

Begin by settling into a contemplative space of silence by taking a minimum of 21 conscious breaths — or sitting in stillness for 5−15 minutes with your attention lightly on your breath, body sensations, or sounds in the room. Notice the atmosphere of your mind — whether soft and spacious or grim and tight — and set the intention to cultivate an atmosphere of warmth and openness toward yourself and your experience.

Set the timer for 10 minutes and free write without stopping, beginning with the prompt “Right now…” Don’t stop to reflect, edit, try to make sense or write a “piece.” Simply finish the sentence and keep going until you run out of things to say, then write the prompt again and finish the sentence, and so on, until the timer goes off. You don’t need to write fast — just without pausing to think. Be willing to let the words surprise you: The idea is to relax your mind so that you can source the layer under your discursive thoughts — though it is not “wrong” to write your conscious thoughts and feelings if they are dominating. In fact, there is no way to do it wrong.

When the timer goes off, take a few breaths and then read aloud what you wrote, listening deeply to yourself. Try to resist the temptation to read it back in your head — even whispering it aloud makes a difference. Notice what your mind does when you read it back — expectations, fears, pleasures and judgments will likely arise. Allow them to be just as they are in an atmosphere of warmth and openness. You might jot a few notes on what you notice at the end of your piece for later reference.

Now scan through the writing and underline any phrases, sentences or sections that strike you as particularly alive or that intrigue you for some reason — you don’t need to know why. Any of these fragments can be used as a prompt for another piece of timed writing, either now or in your next session. When you do use these fragments as prompts, remember that you can always return to the prompt “Right now…” at any time while doing a timed writing. This is the fundamental prompt for this practice.

At the end of the session, share the benefits of the practice by making the wish that whatever insight you gained produce positive effects for yourself and all beings touched by you.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly and effortlessly a thick pile of freewrites will accumulate if you do this practice daily. From time to time, you can go through and re-read what you’ve underlined, noticing themes, modes of thinking, or repetitive thoughts.

As long as you are faithful to doing at least 21 conscious breaths before writing and sincerely setting your intention to cultivate warmth and openness toward yourself, you will notice over time that these writings evolve and are quite different than journal entries or ruminations. The intention brought to the writing creates the conditions where insights can arise as you uncover hidden obstacles and unwind your judging mind into greater warmth, spaciousness and acceptance of your writing and your experience. Keep at it and you will begin sourcing the work more and more from spontaneous presence.

The practice can be done anywhere, and varying location and time of day when using the prompt “Right now…” can give you a fascinating glimpse into yourself as you go about your life, whether you sit for ten minutes with pen and paper under a tree or in a waiting room, in a hospital or at your kitchen table, at a posh resort or in a Bombay slum.

I invite your questions and responses to this practice both here and through my website, where you will find more resources to help you use writing as a tool of awakening: writingfromthesoul.net and flamingseed.com.

When Did Introverts Become So Cool?
Do you only arise from the depths of your private room like a mystical unicorn once in a blue moon? Do you prefer Netflix to the company of other people? Do you mentally prepare yourself before going to a party?

If you answered “yes” to any, or all, of those questions, then you might be an introvert. Ironically, introverts are having a moment in the Internet spotlight. (The Huffington Post certainly has written plenty about them.)

In a new video, the PBS Idea Channel asks if the bookish caricature we see in popular culture is really what an introvert is, and if technology is making us more or less introverted.

Madonna Practicing Islam? Singer Reveals She’s Studying Muslim Holy Text
Madonna made waves in the mid-1990s when she began studying the Kabbalah, a Jewish esoteric tradition that draws from the mystical and prophetic visions described throughout the Torah. Now she’s causing uproar with the news that she’s begun studying the Koran, the sacred text of Islam, joining celebs like Janet Jackson, Dave Chappelle, and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), who reportedly also practice Islam. Is this a Madonna-worthy publicity stunt or an earnest attempt to deepen her spirituality?

Madonna is no stranger to scandal, from her famous cone bra to the Britney Spears kiss to her highly sexualized music and performances. It’s little wonder her religious beliefs would catch the public’s attention too, but perhaps Madonna’s fame isn’t the only ingredient in this buzz. Sure, she’s a mega celebrity and her every move will be of interest to the media. But religion is a divisive topic, and, unfortunately in a post-9/11 U.S., Islam is a particularly sensitive faith to discuss.

Observers might criticize Madonna for having a casual relationship to her faith or they might say her interest is inspired more by romance than by belief (her boyfriend, Brahim Zaibat, apparently practices Islam, as well). But viewed in a more forgiving light, Madonna’s statement might be an important step toward religious literacy and tolerance.

In an article for Harper’s Bazaar, Madonna writes:

I am building schools for girls in Islamic countries and studying the Qur’an. I think it is important to study all the holy books. As my friend Yaman always tells me, a good Muslim is a good Jew, and a good Jew is a good Christian, and so forth. I couldn’t agree more. To some people this is a very daring thought.

She goes on to say the “idea of being daring has become the norm for me,” which suggests that, a) Madonna believes Islam is inherently “daring” or b) she knows any major life change or conversion she undergoes will naturally seem daring to her audience. Either way, it’s a bold statement that we hope Madonna carries through with the utmost tact and respect for the 1.5 billion practitioners of Islam worldwide.

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