Your Inner GPS

March 14, 2013

Prickly People: If You Can’t Stand Them; Understand Them

love, forgiveness, and truthMany years ago, during a personal growth workshop, I participated in an experiential exercise. The facilitator of the group asked members to pair off with another person. To my horror, I was stuck with a woman who I considered the least desirable participant. Unkempt and reeking of tobacco and body odors, she related in an erratic, prickly way.

I had hoped for a partner who was capable of sharing on a deep, personal level, not someone who irritated me and the others in the group. Begrudgingly, I listened to the facilitator issue instructions: face your partner, look into the eyes, and, without talking, see each other.

I nervously glanced around the room at the other pairs, wishing I was with someone else. I reluctantly stared at the grizzled woman in front of me. Then it happened. Her brown eyes penetrated mine. My blue eyes peered deep into hers. Two powerful magnets locked our gaze. A door to her soul fell open; I tumbled inward – to her very Essence. Spirit touched my heart.

My previous judgments lifted like a fog dissolving in sunlight. Tears fell from her eyes; compassion filled my heart. Tears sprinkled down my cheeks and I connected with her – soul to soul. We hugged each other as if we had found a long, lost friend.

That profound experience taught me a life-changing lesson. Whenever I encounter difficult or prickly people, I have limited vision for I only see their outer shells, not their True Selves. Those individuals become my teachers and remind me to practice three powerful forces: love, forgiveness, and truth.

Love moves me to understand and accept others. It doesn’t mean I have to accept their behaviors, but I can appreciate that they have their own, unique spiritual path. If I look behind their masks, I can find their Essence which is love.

Forgiveness frees me from the tyranny of judgment. I can then release unwanted parts of myself that I projected onto others. When I let go of expectations and control, and even forgive myself for judging, I receive unexpected gifts and amazing grace.

Truth asks me to own my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so I can choose how I act. As Wayne Dyer says, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” When I acknowledge my discomfort, I can open up a dialogue with someone who triggers my reactions. That can lead to greater connection and intimacy with myself and others. When I act truthfully, I create an atmosphere for authentic relating.

So if you ever find yourself in a situation with a prickly person, someone who you can’t stand, try to see them through the eyes of love, forgiveness, and truth. With a deeper understanding, you can shift feelings of separateness into Oneness.

Welcome Home!

December 12, 2012

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

the giftAs a young boy, I received a brightly colored Christmas present from my younger sister, Rita. Her excited face prompted me to tear open the package. Tossing the wrapping away, I found three pencils, an eraser and three comic books. My glee soon turned to glum when I checked the present she had given my older brother. His gift, a set of screwdrivers, seemed far better than mine. I ungratefully grumbled to my sister about her choice of presents. My lack of appreciation left her crestfallen, for she had given considerable thought to the gift.

As I grew older, I continued to receive pen and pencil sets for birthdays and holidays. I wondered why others couldn’t be more imaginative with their gift-giving. Then it struck me. I was the unimaginative one who couldn’t recognize presents for what they were – acts of love.

I also neglected to see the significance of the signs that Spirit kept generously sending my way. If only I had grasped the meaning of the constant reminders to express myself through words, I could have fully embraced my sister’s gift. I would have realized early on that I was meant to create stories and write books. Had I known that, I would have bowed in deep appreciation, love and gratitude.

That lesson taught me that when I expect certain outcomes from relationships or experiences, I often miss the unseen gifts. Miracles often reveal themselves when I become a treasure seeker. If I look through the eyes of a curious child, I can watch in wonderment the treasures of life – acts of kindness and love, nature’s magnificent creations, even the precious gifts of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

When you receive a present, look beyond the material object and find the hidden message – the treasure. And if someone doesn’t receive your gift with glee, smile at them with compassion. They might get your message of love and caring later in life.

May the upcoming Holiday shower you with gratitude – the gift that keeps on giving. Be grateful for all that you have, all that you have accomplished, the people in your life and the miracles you have experienced. And while you’re at it, consider this question, “What would others tell you if you asked them to list the reasons why they’re grateful you are in their life.” Celebrate the treasures!

Happy Holidays and Welcome Home!

October 24, 2012

I forgot my wallet and had an identity crisis!

license to be my self

license to be my self

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a recent drive to a friend’s house, I panicked. Clutching the steering wheel, I realized that I had left my wallet at home. My mind whirled with anxiety, “What if the police stopped me, or I had an accident?”

Feeling naked without my precious driver’s license and credit cards in my back pocket, I immediately thought of returning home. I desperately needed my wallet. After all, someone might want me to identify myself.

My ego likes to believe that plastic cards and cash stashed in a leather bundle offer comfort and security, and that I absolutely couldn’t live without my cell phone and computer. Hey, I’d be stupid to leave home without my smart phone. Someone important might need to reach me. And what would I do if there was a serious emergency – like forgetting my wallet?

As I continued my drive, I lowered the window and felt the rush of fresh air. I took a long, deep breath then laughed at my folly. My identity crisis showed me that I was more than roles, beliefs, expectations, personality traits, and plastic cards. In fact, holding onto a “false self” brought anxiety and fear, rather than security. On the other hand, my True Self, soulful and free-spirited, provided inner peace. And I didn’t need to carry a license to be my Self!

The challenge for me was to remember that I was far more than my identity or the things I carry around. The wallet crisis turned me inward so I could connect with what was truly important – my True Self.

So if you ever leave home without your wallet, purse, cell phone, or iPad, remember to open the window to your soul, breathe in love, let go of your preconceptions, be your Self, and return Home to inner peace.

Welcome Home!

August 21, 2012

Live Naked

live nakedI sleep naked.

What’s more, I can’t stand it when the sheets are tucked in at the foot of the bed. And whenever I travel and stay in a hotel, I’m compelled to liberate the sheets. Surely, they desire freedom like the rest of us! Okay, maybe sheets don’t give a damn about liberation, but I believe most of us do, and it’s called living naked.

Growing up, I was taught, like most children, to be nice and not get angry, to fit in and not cause trouble. My parents, like society, strengthened that message through positive and negative reinforcements. After awhile, the beliefs, expectations and demands of others acted like woolly overcoats thrust over my naked body.

Wearing thick layers of constricting beliefs is exhausting! We often plod through life, unconscious of the heavy, judgmental cloaks passed down from previous generations. Fortunately, wake-up calls rattle our sheets to liberate us from mental restrictions so we can find our unique, naked self. Not an easy task, as the poet e.e. cummings aptly wrote:

“To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

It truly is a battle to stay awake and naked, especially in a world that rewards us for fitting in and wearing “proper” attire. Stating how we truly think and feel takes courage.

If you’re reading this, you’re called to discover your authentic self. You may be asked to unearth and share parts of yourself that have been disowned or suppressed. But when you do, liberation occurs. You’ll experience the intoxicating freedom to be your distinctive, one-of-a-kind, special self. And you’ll want to do what you love and cherish, no matter what.

Living naked will foster childlike curiosity, intimate sharing, and heartfelt connections. So strip off your constricting clothes and live naked.

•        Take risks to be vulnerable with yourself and others.
•        Let your body and senses reveal heartfelt desires.
•        Welcome all your emotions as teachers.
•        Discover the light and dark sides of your psyche.
•        Eliminate blame and self-criticism.
•        Shower yourself with acceptance and self-love.
•        Find your unique voice and express yourself.
•        Create relationships that support authentic sharing.

Welcome Home!

Leonard

June 5, 2012

Find the Treasure in Your Trash

hidden treasuresYooo! Crash! Those sounds excited me when I was an 8-year-old boy living on the south side of Chicago. I’d rush to the alleyway in the back of the garage and watch the blue truck rumble past the 50-gallon metal drums filled with trash. Two men walking at the back of the truck would yell, “Yooo,” to signal the driver to stop. They’d then turn a can upside down onto a conveyor belt. CRASH! Garbage tumbled into the belly of the beast.
 
My eyes darted to the recovered treasures on the side of the truck – a broken bike that could be repaired, a steering wheel that could be used for a go-cart, and roller skates that could be salvaged for wheels. With dreams of reclaiming tossed treasure, I wanted to be a garbologist!
 
Thankfully, dreams of garbology were replaced with psychology. However, I learned a valuable lesson – out of every trashy situation, there was always a treasure.
 
When I became a therapist some 40 years ago and began counseling clients, I realized that any mental or emotional trash downloaded from childhood held nuggets of gold. Out of despair came the seeds of hope. Loss held the prospect of a new life. Unworthiness and lack of love fueled the desire to feel loved.
 
If you ever feel trapped on the conveyor belt of life, heading toward the belly of the beast, shout, “Yooo!”
 
Empty the worrisome chatter from your mind and look for the hidden treasures: the warm sun caressing your cheek; a gentle touch from a loved one; a welcoming smile from a stranger. The tiny gold nuggets will remind you to walk with hope in your heart and return back Home to your True Self, where there’s only love.
 
Welcome Home!

May 15, 2012

Is Your GPS Recalculating?

gpsI recently drove to Los Angeles to visit a friend in hospital. Having set my GPS (AKA Alice) with the address, I confidently wove my way through traffic on the freeway. However, with the music blaring and my mind rehearsing an upcoming speech, I didn’t hear Alice announce the turnoff. Needless to say, I realized all too late that I had missed my exit. Instead of berating me, Alice reacted in a calm voice, “Recalculating,” then issued new instructions.

It made me think of the times I have difficulty connecting with my inner GPS, Guiding Power of Spirit. Whenever my preoccupied mind whirls like an overhead fan, I can’t hear the quiet voice gently guiding me to inner peace. I don’t imagine Spirit screaming, “You bloody fool, pay attention!” though, I might say that myself. Rather, I think Spirit is more like Alice, who calmly recalculates without judgment.

I’m ever so thankful for an internal guidance system that helps me navigate through dark tunnels and unfamiliar territory. When I veer in the wrong direction, I can count on Spirit to lovingly correct my position and direct me to a higher path.

If you ever find yourself getting lost or taking a wrong turn, know that your internal GPS is always there to guide you. Merely set the intention to receive guidance then ask, “Where do I need to go or what do I need to do?” Be still and listen for the answer. There may be a brief period of recalculating, but rest assured, you will hear a gentle voice instructing you back Home to love and inner peace.

Welcome Home!

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