While I was visiting a high school this week I noticed banners posted on a classroom wall that the students had made. On the banners the teens wrote statements about their aspirations for the future. "I want to be a pharmacist," "I want to be a lawyer," "I want to go to medical school," some read. But surprisingly the majority of the students wrote something like, "I want to be happy," "I want to know what I want," "I what to figure out what I want."
Even as young people, the need to just be happy is a yearning desire. Beyond the desire to be happy, the longing to be clear on what one wants is equally prominent. As we grow into adults, we find the same quest for joy and the same longing to become clear on what would bring such a state of mind.
Unfortunately in today's society, we go about cultivating joy in a haphazard way. We live in a materialistic culture and think that the newest gadget, computer, car, clothing will bring us joy. Our human perception is limited and the focus is on attachment to form when joy comes from the exact opposite: non-attachment to form. Yes you can attain moments of happiness and pleasure from the material world, but the only way to cultivate true, deep abiding joy is through connecting with and nurturing of your spiritual self. You see, joy is sacred, deep and peaceful. It is not only the absence of suffering, it transcends suffering. It is a state of calmness that abides while the world is going crazy around us.
So then the only way to cultivate this deep joy that remains at the center of our being when things are going awry is through spiritual practice, specifically meditation. I heard it said that what we do with our lives - our work, our hobbies, our activities - are to be sandwiched between our morning and evening meditation sessions. We want our meditation practice to become part of our everyday routine, as natural and regular to us as washing our face or brushing our teeth.
Here's the formula for being joyous and for figuring what you want to give to life: go to the mats and practice. If you are starting out with meditation, it doesn't have to be long. Ten minutes each day will get you started on the road to joy. For some this will take discipline and others will find it so enjoyable that they do it again and again for the rest of their lives. A meditation teacher once likened the practice to eating chocolate cake. It's so good that it's not a sacrifice to eat it; rather, we look forward to eating that chocolate cake every day. For me, meditation has always been that luscious piece of chocolate cake. If a skip a session, I feel those human qualities rearing their headsand I know I have to take to the mat again, but it's the first thing I do in the morning and the final thing I do when the day of activity is ending.
My desire is that each one of you incorporate this simple practice into your everyday lives for your own personal spiritual growth and for the peace it brings to the world. This week ask yourself what would you write on your banner? And e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org to share what you come up with.
Work With Me
If you are ready to live in deep, abiding joy, I invite you to work with me. We can work via phone, Facetime, Skype or in person to activate the power within you to fulfill your heart's desires. Email me at email@example.com to get started.
Today more than ever, the world is filled with numerous appearances that scream sorrow, lack and limitation. Shootings, suicide, war, health pandemics and negativity bombard us on a daily basis. If we look at the news, we can get really frightened and depressed about current events. But you are not a victim of circumstance. You have a choice whether to be held in bondage by unwanted appearances or move away from the mass consciousness and step out in faith. Refuse to be part of negativity and shine your light in the world.
I live in the kingdom of all good because God lives and breathes through me. I have peace, health, love and joy in my life now and I bring it to others as God's light shines through me.
When you see tragedy in the world, there is a beautiful Buddhist practice that you can do to bring about positive change in the world. Say with all of your heart:
Even so, on this life's journey you will meet challenges. In my book Live Your Joy, I talk about such transformational drama which is defined as:
"Emotional shake-ups necessary for spiritual growth."
These are the shake-ups that transform our lives, heal our souls and teach us unconditional love. Mystics teach that these are necessary for spiritual growth and these lessons propel us forward on our spiritual path. Once you reach the Infinite Bliss Mode of Action, these challenges will be met from a calm place within where the Divine lives.
Recently I had some transformational drama in my own life. There was some matter that I seemingly had no control over. I was feeling sad and wanted to see a different outcome than what was occurring. My husband said to me, "There's nothing you can do." I had my head in my hands with tears in my eyes and looked up at him and said, "There is something I can do. I can pray." So I prayed and then went out of the house to tend to some things. By the time I returned, the situation was resolved for the highest good of all concerned. So when you think there is nothing you can do, remember that prayer is the most powerful mover of energy that there is, and when you pray something happens. And faith is what propels your prayer into manifestation.
I saw a sign on a church that said, "faith takes action." And it does. Our belief system is an active one. Our faith is powered by prayer. We must pray to set the law in motion and to activate the law. Just like when you want a lamp to go on. You don't just sit and will the light to come on. The light won't turn itself on. You must flip the switch to activate the electricity. Prayer flips the switch and activates the law.
As you go about your daily life, remember that no matter what you see in the world of effects, there always is something you can do. Have faith and power that faith with prayer. Make prayer part of your on-going spiritual practice. Most importantly, remember each day to always flip the faith switch to an on position.
Work With Me
If you are ready to take the next step in faith, I invite you to work with me. We can work via phone, Facetime, Skype or in person to activate the power within you to fulfill your heart's desires. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Joy, it's something we long for and something that often seems out of reach. After all, where is the joy in today's world when we see the suffering human condition, financial hardship, war, crime and natural disasters? While joy isn't something we can buy, it is something we can cultivate and develop within ourselves.One of the main ways of opening the doorway to everlasting joy is to live with an awakened heart which is called bodhichitta in the Buddhist teaching. Bodhichitta is a way to bring joy to your heart as well as to the world as a whole. Simply starting with the intention to free yourself from suffering and to do the same for others begins to heal and to benefit ourselves and humanity. In other words, we begin to release the ego's hold on us, drop self-centeredness and make meaningful change.
When we focus on helping others, our hearts soften and we become kinder and more compassionate which cultivates lasting joy. So then, how can you practice bodhichitta in your daily life? Start in small ways, and you will reap big results. For example, you can offer to go the extra mile at work when no one else is willing to do so. You can offer your place in line at the grocery store to someone who looks frazzled and in a hurry. You can contribute to any life-sustaining effort such as the environment, animal rights, health advocacy, serving the homeless, etc.
I practice this focus on others every chance I get from working at Hospice to working with kids and teenagers. I found that once I started working with kids and Hospice patients that while I was there to help them, it was me who was being helped with an expanded and awakened heart. These opportunities abound in our world today and should not be hard to connect with.
By contrast, it's the letting go of self-absorption that may not be easy in the society we live in today that endlessly promotes the "me" mentality. So much media attention is given to what we need to buy, how we need to look and where we need to vacation in order to be happy. Dropping this focus on "me" is not only preferable but required for joy to flow in our lives.
As you progress on your path of Bodhichitta, I hope that you are inspired to offer yourself to be in service to others. As a result, the one who will benefit is you with an awakened heart filled with egolessness, deepened compassion and love.
Drop me an e-mail (email@example.com) and let me know how you are doing. And if you would like help in opening your heart to joy, spiritual coaching packages with me are available via Skype, Facetime, phone or in person.
During the holiday season we see consumerism at its peak and many people even go into debt to purchase whatever the rage is for the year. Of course, spiritually minded people don't get caught up in the superficial aspects too often, but, sometimes, we, too, can get pulled into doing too much and focusing on the trappings of the season. This is why I am suggesting an expanded approach towards the holidays - namely 12 days of giving focusing on heart-felt generosity. Heart-felt generosity can be a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays and bring true feelings of joy to both the giver and receiver of the gift. It is about expanding our already open hearts to giving in more meaningful ways.What is the best way to practice generosity? I suggest that you select a timeframe, such as the 12 days before Christmas or Hanukah or the New Year, to practice loving generosity and really focus on giving to, caring for and sharing with other people. Simply give someone the gift of love, a smile, an encouraging word or an act of kindness. You can even create a lasting gift from your heart such as a poem, a drawing, a song -- or clean a room, plant a window herb garden or cook a meal for someone. Generosity doesn't end there as you can offer another your seat on a crowded bus, let that shopper who looks utterly frazzled go ahead of you in line at the store, spend time with an elderly person or a child, pet sit for a friend or simply listen to someone who is going through a challenging time.
This type of generosity brings you great joy as you can feel the energy of happiness that you are bringing to the receiver. Feeling the results of giving in this unbounded way empowers us to seek out receivers for these genuine gifts from the heart. Why do we feel joy when we give like this? Because we are all one and we can feel the joy of both giving and receiving created by opening up the heart space to give in a more meaningful way.
Visualize the Love
As a person who lives by New Thought principles, you are likely well-versed in the art of mental visualization. Well, there's a story about how an even imagined gift can reap great rewards. It goes like this. A poor child was playing by the roadside when he saw the Buddha begging for alms. The child wanted to make an offering, but he didn't have anything to give. So he collected some pebbles and, visualizing them as huge amounts of gold, placed them in the Buddha's alms bowl. Because of this act, in his next life the child became the powerful, wealthy King Ashoka who benefited numerous beings. Why not mentally visualize your gift surrounded by radiant light and brimming with love?
Mastering the Art of Generosity
This holiday season I encourage you to practice heart-felt generosity for the 12 days before Christmas or Hanukah or the New Year. Once you set the intention, you will discover many openings to be generous in spirit. When we move away from society's dictates on commercialized giving, we will notice a magnificent expansive feeling in our hearts. At the end of each of the 12 days have some quiet reflection on all the ways you were generous and what resulted from this. I suspect that you will have a wonderful feeling of joy which will inspire you to continue to be generous not just during the holidays, but every day of the year.
Seasons greetings to all!
What do you desire out of life? Maybe you want to be a successful spiritual entrepreneur. Or perhaps you want to spend time expressing your artistic nature. Maybe you want to assist animals or cultivate a healing practice. Whatever the urge within you, it is there for a reason. It is Spirit knocking at your heart and wanting to express by means of you. If you don't answer the call, Spirit will find an outlet through someone else. And that will keep you stuck right where you are.
No matter how spiritual we are, at times we can get caught in a fear-based place. A place where the ego thrives and says that you can't because are not good enough, smart enough, rich enough or whatever limitation fits the bill. Yet you know that you are a powerful co-creator with God. And you know that you can create whatever you want including the manifestation of a divine urge.
So take a deep breath, relax and allow. Because the simple act of allowing divine ideas to take shape through you creates sustained joy. What if you block the flow of Spirit? Then life becomes a daily grind and one that is not bursting with the joy of fulfilling what your soul came here to do. The deep longing to fulfill a greater purpose, when left unattended or brushed underneath the layers of resistance, is fertile ground for discouragement and despair. So what do we do when we have a yearning to create more, be more, express more?
The key to making this divine urge a reality is to simply trust. Trust that Spirit knows how to do this by means of you. Your role is to simply answer the call and follow Spirit's lead.
As stated in Live Your Joy: How to Awaken from Spiritual Slumber, "Recognizing the Creative Power at work opens you up to receiving an unlimited bounty of inspiration and motivation. There is nothing to fear. We are not the authors of our accomplishments; we are the instruments through which God works." What a relief. We can simply allow the Creative Power to work through us and guide us every step of the way.
Every day speak your word with authority, and say:
Today I give myself to God. I trust in this Power of Goodness and allow myself to be guided in new and exciting directions.
With these words imprinted in our hearts, we remember that we can trust in God without fear of failure. After all, there are no mistakes. Every twist in the road is a learning opportunity to be embraced, to gather up the gifts and to demonstrate more of God's love.
I invite you this summer to do one thing each week toward fulfilling your heart's desire. Step into your role as powerful co-creator with God. And let me know what wondrous manifestations take place.
Work With Me
If you are ready to take the next step in manifesting your heart's desires, I invite you to work with me. We can work via phone, Facetime, Skype or in person to activate the power within you to fulfill your divine urges. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
With Valentine's Day approaching, our society heightens its focus on couples, romance and diamonds. What if you are not in a meaningful relationship? You are likely to feel even more frustrated, lonely or disappointed at this time of year. But take heart, making some easy changes in the way you go about manifesting a soul mate will certainly yield the outcome you desire. Take a look at the top five mistakes people make when it comes to attracting a soul mate and change your approach today.
Above all, this Valentine's Day remember that you are always connected to God; therefore, always connected to love. Any time that you fear aloneness, you are feeling separate from God. So celebrate the Divine Love within you and know that if you are seeking a soul mate relationship and don't fall into the pitfalls listed above, that soul mate relationship is on its way to you on Cupid's wings right now.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Dr. Barbara Gulbranson is one of the nation's leading spiritual teachers, author, spiritual coach, ordained minister and director of the Suicide Prevention Center, a program of United Health Services.