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Faith and a Higher Power January 18, 2011

Posted by Karuana in Spirituality.
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Is it just me or does everyone think they rule the world?  People seem very committed to the idea that they have power in their lives and that somehow this makes them safe.  Those of us who rely on the unseen spiritual dimension for guidance and support are somehow seen as the weaker vessels.  I wholeheartedly disagree. 

Don’t misunderstand my opinion on this.  I believe I have the power of choice.  It’s just the outcomes that I can’t do anything about.  Those are in the hands of universal forces much bigger, older and I hope wiser than I am. That does not make me feel powerless in the traditional sense.  On the contrary, it makes me feel connected to a bigger picture where I have a place and I belong.  The rules of physics, science and common sense still apply.  In fact they are a necessary part of my spiritual view. 

Alternatively though I do understand the athiests and agnostics of the world.  If  hadn’t been in several death defying situations in my life I might wonder too.  But I have and consequently I have absolutely no problem asserting that, for myself, I definately believe in a Higher Power in this Universe – a Universal Conciousness that holds on to each of us in totality.  Our thoughts, feelings and experiences are part of of the makeup of this higher mind.  We are never forgotten and never alone at that level of awareness.  I feel lucky to have experienced that feeling of connectedness on a mostly daily basis.  However, I think it is up to us to get into the flow of that universal conciousness.  It does reach out to us but ultimately we have free will which gives us the option to ignore it.

I don’t believe in the traditional concept of Heaven and Hell as though these are destinations.  I do believe however that they are states of being, reated within the minds and spirits of humans based on choices that have been made.  Consequences can not be avoided in this Universe.  Karma, cause & effect, whatever you want to call it is always in play.  Unfortunately, sometimes when I discuss this with people they believe that those causes are easily determined. They easily forget that it is not just individually that we live out these causes but in our family units, communities and countries.  If you were the collective conciousness, in essence immortal with infinite memory, wouldn’t the causes you remembered be a bit farther back than what I as a human can understand?  Ah, this is where that powerlessness comes in – that faith that there is a balance in the Universe and its weighted towards expansion and love. 

This a long subject and after the day I’ve had I won’t be writing War & Peace on it.  But suffice it to say that I am very clear that my choices are all that is under my control.  I choose faith, openness, harmony and love in my life.  I hope you do too.

Steps for Higher Action – Lessons Learned from the Arizona Shootings January 13, 2011

Posted by Karuana in Conflict Resolution, Dealing with Difficulty, Grief and Loss.
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“We are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth what matters is not wealth or status or power or fame but rather how well have we loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.” 

Pres. Barack Obama at the Arizona shooting victim’s memorial.
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As I listened tonight to President Obama’s speech at the memorial in Arizona I was moved.  At a time when a lesser man would have made a fiery, vindictive speech our President instead took the high road and demonstrated his capability for spiritually minded action from his place of leadership.  This is where Barack Obama shines and we needed his light today.

He called upon us not to continue the vitriolic and hateful blaming that has got us into such a mess.  He called upon us to live up to the dreams of our children.  He called upon us to let go of old ideas and embrace a different type of conduct and problem solving.  It is this collaborative approach that my life is devoted to, both in my spiritual practice and in my technology career.

Years ago, at the prodding of the Universe and several key people, I was encouraged to look at my life in a different way.  It was time for me to put down my warrior shield and sword and begin to embrace my life and people differently.  It was hard – excruciatingly painful at times – and now in retrospect very well worth it.  When you spend your life fighting against things rather than building things you can find yourself spiritually exhausted with little to show for it.  My experience is that many battles in life are never won.  We simply wear each other out and collapse on the battlefield. 

I now know there is another way.  Each and every day I make an effort to do what Pres. Obama asked of us collectively.  In some small way to make someone’s life better, including my own.  This idea and attitude is not about selfless service.  It is about how we resolve conflicts in our society.   As he said, “How we treat each other is entirely up to us.” 

I know many of us look at the world around us and feel overwhelmed by the issues, difficulties and violence we see. Each of us has the power to impact our world in many ways.  Learning to handle conflict in an open, neutral and productive fashion is a skill that takes time but pays great dividends.  Here are a few things I have learned to help me in that process:

1.  Breath – Yes, I know you’ve heard it but its true that taking a deep breath puts you and your body in a more receptive state.  Try it.

2. Remain Curious – It helps me to be authentically inquisitive about the motivations of people who are different from me.  Sometimes those motivations are simple – fear, possessiveness, feelings of self loathing and sometimes more complicated.    When I find those things in other people I am able to have more compassion for their different opinions and allow myself to learn something from them.

3.  Find Your Tribe – Isolation, intellectual or otherwise, is not healthy for human beings.  Finding others who share your sensibilities in the world can give you a sense of purpose and belonging.  Getting active in the world around you will allow you to combat those overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness.

4.  Stay Neutral – Those with different views can not – and I mean that they simply CAN NOT change you.  Consequently you have nothing to fear or be defensive about.  You are in charge of you, so relax.  Defending yourself against competing ideas takes time away from building a strong foundation of worthwhile works that benefit those you care about.

5.  Compromise – Whether at home or work only compromise can truly craft solutions when there are competing priorities.  Everyone wins when a solution is found. Stubbornness will not save a sinking ship, get your project approved or get your spouse to put the cap back on the toothpaste.  Allow for unique and innovative solutions to reveal themselves. Personally I’m a fan of the Metadent pump for those toothpaste woes.

6.  Cultivate Patience – Issues are not created or solved overnight.  I often find it useful to step back and approach a situation from a different angle on a different day. Forced solutions rarely stand the test of time.

7.  Believe – Opening our hearts to the possibility of a better future is our first step in creating it.  We can choose to allow  for a greater sense of “moral imagination” to expand us to higher levels of activism, compassion and harmony.

I earnestly hope that more people in our country will take up this challenge to engage in higher action and leave behind the anger and dissention that is so destructive to our country, our communities and our homes. 

There is another way.  I’m sure of it.

Reaching Out – Enhancing our Relationships January 10, 2011

Posted by Karuana in Goal Setting, Life Strategies, Self Improvement.
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A new year is upon us. What does that really mean except for the change of the calendar?  I think we all need a reason to reinvent ourselves occasionally and a new year is as good a reason as any.  The change of the calendar gives us an opportunity to rekindle hope in ourselves and our dreams.  We intuitively know that now is the season to reflect and be ready to plant new seeds within ourselves.  I think we should take up this challenge in ways that really work for us and enhance our day to day life, but you’ve heard that from me before!

As always this year I have dreams of attaning and maintaining balance and harmony in my life.  Those things are worthwhile but I think what I’m most interested in, and what I think all of us really need, is to focus on reaching out.  That means moving beyond the bubble of our day to day lives to take the opportunity to deepen the connections that are around us. 

Isolation is a terrible life condition caused in part by a lack of attention to human interactions.  Being open to the people around us can seem daunting.  We are bombarded every day with stories about the worst of human nature.  Those who take advantage of the good natured among us.  Personally, and of course this is just my own opinion and life experience, I find that the power of being open is much greater than remaining aloof and closed.  Most people don’t do this on purpose.  Like me they are wrapped up in career and family obligations that seem never ending, though often rewarding in their own right.  Somehow in that frenzy of activity something can slip through the cracks.

Correcting this trend towards distance and isolation within our own frenzies lives can be a simple thing.  For me it normally involves slowing down!  Stop and chat with the clerk at your grocery store.  Listen to what your co-worker says about their life outside of your place of employment.  Call a family member you haven’t talked to in awhile and find out what’s happening underneath the mundane small talk. When you are feeling really adventurous you might try reaching out into your community.  Engage in a new activity.  Have an adventure in meeting new people and finding out what they are about.

I am a self proclaimed social networking junkie but I do not mistake that for the beauty of lunch with a dear friend or a real conversation with my friends and family who live far away.  Maybe it’s because my life is lived in two cities that I am acutely aware that some things only happen in person.  Intimacy can not be fully maintained or realized over the wire. 

A wise person who has had a long, happy marriage said to me recently that “closeness counts”.  I couldn’t agree more. So whatever you do for your New Year’s resolutions make reaching out to people around you a part of your journey.  I am sure you won’t regret it!

And by the way, welcome to the Living in Enthusiasm blog if you are new reader or one who clicked through from my news letter.   I hope you’ll sign up for alerts from this site so I can reach out to you and stay in touch!