Category Archives: authentic living

Are You Ready To Live A Simple Life?

Living the simple life is not so simple.  Not at first.

It requires letting go.  And if you’ve grown up in a consumer society, where everything is readily available and abundant…and convenient…this can be a real challenge.

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Here’s a telling test.  Sit in a quiet room.  Alone.  No distractions whatsoever.  And sit there for 20 – 30 minutes. In. Complete. Silence.  Think you can do it?  If the thought of this makes you uncomfortable, then you won’t be able to simplify.  At least not right away.  You can ease your way into it by starting with a few minutes a day and then building from there.

Living the simple life is living life on your own terms for your own pursuit of happiness, no matter what anyone else says. But you can’t live a simple life if you’re unwilling to let go of what you’re used to.

Therein lies the conflict…releasing what you’ve learned in the past in order to embrace a new way of living for your future.  It can be quite painful, but it’s the kind of pain that pushes one forward.  Think of it as physical therapy for the soul.

There was a time when I tried to be everything to everyone. But all I got was exhaustion, emptiness, feelings of failure and sadness. My health declined. I suffered migraines. I hated my life.  That’s when I took a vow of simplicity.  I wised up and pared down.  Instead of a life of constant busy-ness and rushing, I chose a life of contemplation, creation, and connection with nature, the people I love, and the activities I enjoy doing.

Does this mean I have no distractions or complications? No. But I have much less of them because I have reduced them to make space for the more important things.

If you’re feeling called to lead a simple life but are struggling with the idea of letting go, here are some reflections to help you process:

While letting go can be difficult, it will become easier if you start with a one-day or one-week challenge, upon which you can expand. Let go of something for the allotted time period and see whether you like it or not. Keep a record of your observations.

Decluttering your home and work space will declutter your mind. As you open up space in your environment, you free up your mind. Less time will be devoted to finding things once you establish an organizational system that works for you (you may have to train your family on your new system).

Waking early is a gift and gives you the time to go into your day unrushed. Use this time to read, write, meditate, and center yourself.

Let go of watching the news or programs that fill you with anxiety or fear. Negative energy breeds more negative energy. Also, get away from watching commercials that want you to buy things you don’t really need.

While social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are a great way to stay in touch and share with others, they can be a source of frustration and much pain for some people, especially when those people begin comparing what’s happening (or not) in their lives to what’s happening in the lives of others. Reducing your dependency on such sites opens up space for you to begin creating a better life for yourself.

Waiting for the right time to do something is wasting time. You have to make time, especially for what is important: time with your spouse, time with your kids, time for creating, time for exercise, time for nature, time for self.

Learning to say no gets easier. Reducing your number of commitments reduces your level of stress. Overcommitment is a cardinal sin against simple living. The less you agree to do the more time you will have for yourself. Choose the commitments that are most important to you.

You don’t need to change addresses or move deep into the backcountry to discover simplicity. You can create it right where you are. Simple living is all about self-reliance. It’s about taking your life out of the hands of others and into your own hands.

What will it take for you to live simply?

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

So sing The Beatles.

Love is not something that we fall into; it is a spiritual practice.

Love is an art.

Love is action.

Love requires mastery.  We can get better at it over time.

We are instructed by the world’s religions and wisdom traditions to love self, to love our neighbors, and to love God. Love is the foundation.

Sometimes loving is easy, and sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world to do.

I once had a seminary professor who said, “Some of you are going to be pissed off at who God lets into heaven.”

Wow.

That’s how much God loves.

And we are challenged to love as greatly. Buddha said to revere our enemies as our parents. Jesus said to love our enemies.

Yikes!

What does that mean?

It means that what God creates, God loves, and loves unconditionally. It means that even though we feel it is our right to hate a person for his or her wrongful, “evil” actions, it is our duty to honor that person with love because the Divine that is within us also resides within that person. That person’s deepest self is as much the image of God as ours is.

Buddha nature. Jesushood. God-Self. Divine Essence. It’s all there inside of us. We are God’s love letters to ourselves and to each other.

It’s time to move beyond lip service and back up our convictions with the actions of love. What will you do to be a sign of love in the world?

Love Park, Philadelphia, PA…a favorite place to relax
when I worked in the city.

Spiritwork:

Think of someone in your life who gets on your last nerve. You know who it is…he or she may be impossible to please, constantly complains, or just exasperates you. Yeah, that one.

Now, instead of seeing this person as negative or impossible, hold him or her in the light, visualizing that person engulfed by Spirit’s love and presence. Repeat the mantra: Love, love, love. Breathe in love, exhale prayer. Continue this loving act until you begin to see the divine within him or her. Give gratitude for this transformation.

Blessings.

Related Posts:

Read the introduction of 31 Days of Spiritual Growth here, and find links to all posts in this series.

Scratching That Spiritual Itch

Purpose.

The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

That’s a tidy definition.
And it’s a loaded one.
There is a reason why we want what we want.
But how many of us actually take the time to actually investigate it?
We all long to make a difference. Some of us actually do go out and make a difference. But many of us don’t. 
Sadly, those who don’t have been lured into thinking that the purpose of life equals holding power, acquiring status, accumulation of wealth, and possessing as many material things as possible. 
And when they finally achieve those things, they still feel that something is missing. There’s that little void inside that just can’t seem to be filled.
It’s the itch that’s in that hard-to-scratch spot…close enough to be just out of the way.
Our purpose has nothing to do with our outward life. It has everything to do with our inward life.
It’s about discovering who we really are and living authentically, not by society’s or someone else’s definition of who we should be.
As Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup For The Soul series, says, “All we have to do is step up and do it,” when it comes to claiming and living our purpose.
Success is not limited to the list of boxes that society expects us to check: education, marriage, kids, career, retirement.
That’s conformity, not purpose.
To live with purpose means to be connected to purpose. It means living from the inside out, not the outside in. 
It means living a spiritually-based life, rather than an ego-centered one. 
It means letting your life speak to you, rather than forcing it in the direction the ego demands. It’s about listening to an inner calling, not an outer one.
Your purpose is seeking you as much as you are seeking it. Only when we remove ourselves from the distractions of the world do we hear it. Embracing and valuing silence will allow you to connect. Without silence, you will fall prey to your ego, believing that it (and all that it wants) is your purpose. Silence creates the space for authenticity to bubble to the surface.
To discover your purpose, be open to the non-logical. Purpose lies beyond all logic and reason. Get comfortable with emotion, intuition, sensitivities, and impulses. Get accustomed to not having all the answers, but trust that the universe will provide them when you are ready to hear them. 
Your purpose is not static. It is as fluid and dynamic as the Spirit that created you. Your purpose may change over time; it evolves as you evolve, as you grow and learn. 
Your purpose is yours for the taking. Discover it. Claim it. Value it. Do it. 
Spiritwork:
Ready to scratch that itch? Remove yourself from the day’s distractions. Turn off the TV, the radio, your phone and anything else that makes noise. Take the day off. Send your spouse or partner to work with a kiss. Hugs the kids as they head out to school or to their favorite aunt or uncle for the day. 
Ask for spiritual direction either through prayer or meditation, then begin a self-inventory. What are your likes and dislikes? When you were a child, what did you want to be when your grew up? Why? Ask, Am I happy and fulfilled? If you could be doing something else, what would it be? Why? What do you love to do? What steps can you take to begin the process of change? Let the silence speak to you. Your heart knows what it wants. Your answers will be revealed by how your heart feels, not what your mind thinks. 
When you’re finished, create a new “business card” for yourself. Instead of a job title, write your purpose in 3 to 4 words only. Mine says Director for Spiritual Living. 
On the back, write out an affirmation, draw a special or personal symbol, or a short prayer about your purpose. Mine says, “My purpose is to help others grow spiritually.”
Next, craft a spiritual resumé based on your self-inventory. Be sure to include your objective and the life experiences that “qualify” you for your new purpose in life. 
Blessings.
Related posts:

Seven Benefits of Going Inward

For those of us on the spiritual path, personal growth is a must. We may not like it at times, but as fire purifies gold, we emerge as stronger and better people. Personal growth becomes a priority because it allows us to bloom into our authentic selves. The more authentically we live our lives, the happier we will be with ourselves, with our relationships, and with our surroundings.

Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. When we take the time to examine ourselves ontologically, we realize we are part of something much larger than ourselves. If we are to find meaning in our lives, we must examine who we are in relationship to this larger existence. Life is what we make of it; we are active participants in the creation of our lives.

If we are to experience change in our outward lives, we need to examine our inward lives. Going inward is not a selfish act; it is a sacred act, no matter what your spiritual inclination or belief system is. Whether you practice a spirituality that is atheistic, agnostic, religious, secular, or theological, going inward opens doors to the expansion of our overall consciousness and awareness about our place and purpose in the world.

Here are seven benefits of going inward.

1.  Self-awareness and self-knowledge. As we examine our inner world, we come to know our thoughts and feelings, needs and wants, hopes and fears, strengths and limitations, and gifts and talents. We come to know our personality; we develop an identity unique to us.

2.  Inner strength and resilience. Life will throw some challenging and difficult times at us. How we handle them will determine the outcomes. Going inward helps us to tap into our innate wisdom. Here we find the guidance to help us respond creatively to difficult and challenging situations, turning crisis or tragedy into an opportunity to bring about change.

3.  Love and relationships. As cliche as it sounds, love is the energy that makes the world go ’round. Without it, nothing grows, and relationships can not survive. Love allows us to value ourselves and one another. It allows us to grasp another’s personal world as if it were our own. It teaches compassion and motivates us to display goodwill toward others.

4.  Sensitivity and responsiveness. As we come to understand ourselves, we grow in our understanding of other’s needs and wants. We realize the importance of keeping our word. Our lives become filled with gratitude and appreciation. Music, art, and literature move us to deep emotion, reflection, and/or action, as does poverty, innocent suffering, and injustice.

5.  Ideals and aspirations. As we get in touch with ourselves, our dreams, goals and visions make themselves known. Our creativity unleashes itself as we pursue those dreams. We come to know the depth of our beliefs and values, and use them as a compass for our future.

6.  Seeking and striving. As we discover our connection to a bigger reality, we seek to be the best we can be. We seek meaning in our experiences and allow that meaning to influence our lives.

7.  Reflection on your experiences. Reflecting on our experiences, choices, attitudes, values, and beliefs gives us perspective and provides a platform for moving forward in our lives. It allows us to make adjustments when needed and gives us the confidence to improve ourselves.

Traveling the spiritual path calls for authentic living. Living authentically requires going inward on a daily basis, be it through prayer, meditation, contemplation, journaling, or any other method that helps us find our center. The more we know ourselves, the more authentic our lives will be.

Thoughts? Please feel free to share below.

I’m taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013.