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Archive for the ‘Awareness’ Category

I’ve started this sentence many times over. It’s not that I don’t know what to say. Rather, I am distracted by (or what I prefer to call otherwise attracted to) the wildlife outside my window. It’s the daily luncheon at the oak diner for chickadees, juncos and woodpeckers. Today they are joined by two robins who are perched still as statues while a jay warns in the distance of a hawk soaring overhead. That same hawk is sharing the air space and the wind currents with two turkey vultures. A crow is showing off its wide vocal range. Several birds follow their feast with a bath in the copper sculpture across the way, while two red squirrels chase each other through the branches with clownish grace.

Such are the magical moments presence in the Great Mystery offers. I’ll sprinkle the images throughout this post.

And I’m feeling a bit like a cat at the window;  my eyes tracking every little movement; “what was that? What was that?”

Crow - copyright (c) December 2010 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

It’s precisely this sense of surprise and wonder that I want to expand as I move, with the passing of the Solstice, into days of more light. And, yes, I mean that metaphorically as well as literally.

The only appointment on my calendar today was a meditation and energy healing with Ping Li of Awaken Within Path. Today’s meditation and energy healing was on abundance and receiving. As I sat in the silence, open to receiving purification of old energies that no longer serve who I am becoming, I brought forth three things for transmutation: money, love, healing.

I distilled it down to three unproven notions still swimming in my energy field:

  • Money is evil (or at least the root of it) [clarification to come]
  • Love hurts (betrayal being my sore spot)
  • Healers suffer for their gift(s), not only have they been wounded, they remain crippled (don’t have a clue where I got this one…past life?)

You can imagine how helpful these beliefs are for one who wants more income, a loving partner and is engaged in healing practices. Uh-huh! Does any of this sound familiar to you?

I’m not much of a scientist. I have the curiosity of one, but I’m not very detailed oriented and don’t like restrictions on my movement.  I’m more an explorer than a scientist. So, I set about to explore these notions to find the one thing that would help me release them, which is to say, to discover them once and for all untrue.  Here’s what bubbled up:

It’s all just history.

Money is evil

The whole money is evil thing is from the Bible, only the words are actually: “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV ) and, according to a Wikipedia article: “A more accurate rendering from the original Greek may be: ‘For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil,’ (New American Standard Bible).”

Money doesn’t create anything. We do. What we do with money and how we are about it, is not about money, it’s about us.

Love hurts

Love doesn’t hurt, we do. We get hurt and we hurt others. We betray, get betrayed and worst of all, betray ourselves. We numb out, freeze our hearts, cheat, create eternal busy-ness in our attempts to avoid pain, thereby creating the greatest pain of all – separation.

We are afraid to love because we are afraid to feel the loss of love. In a funny way, we pre-empt the pain by creating it from the start with our separation and isolation. That’s about as rational as saying: I’m afraid that, someday, I won’t have any food.  So I’m not going to eat anything ever and that I won’t know the feeling of hunger after having experienced a full belly.

woodpecker copyright(c) Dec 2010, Kathy J LohHealer’s suffer or are crippled (as in saints and martyrs and psychic healers struck by lightning and the archetype of the wounded healer.)

People don’t suffer because they have chosen to be healers, they likely became healers,  because they have suffered and it is easy enough to gather evidence that there are amazing healers in the world who are not crippled or ill.

This is a story my negative ego dangles in front of me when, faced with the question, “who am I becoming if it is not who I am now?”  It responds with a lot of very scary images to keep me confined to the shadow of who I think I know myself to be. Because that’s what the negative ego does. It pulls together little bits and pieces of sayings and events, tosses them in a blender and pours a toxic cocktail of half truths and assumptions and serves them to us with a mischievous smile. “Here, have a drink. It’ll make you feel better.”  It’s much safer to cling to my “personality” than to go off on some adventure to find a “me” I’ve never known before.

Sure, I’ve been wounded. Who reading this has not? Opening to my capacity to heal myself and others has no direct correlation to suffering other than it is meant to alleviate it.

Byron Katie’s (The Work) questions help here:

Me: (Supposition): If I open to my full capacity as a healer, I will suffer.

Katie: Is that true?

Me: Yes (tenuously, but I can’t say no)

Katie: Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

Me: No (I must admit)

Katie: How do you react when you think that thought?

Me: I feel scared and weak and timid. I feel like I’m not living up to my fullest potential as a compassionate being. I’m sitting on my hands, so to speak. I hide out.

Katie: Who would you be without the thought?

Me: (here we are back to that question…who would I be, but this time instead of the great wild unknown of who I am becoming, it is an exploration of life without just this one thought…just this one)

I’d be someone willing to engage with the world with an open and compassionate heart. I’d be someone exploring their fullest potential.

OK – this is a no-brainer now! Without that thought, I can be one who brings healing to others, in whatever form I do, while also being mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically vital. That is to say, in integrity.

The precise time of solstice is 14 minutes away.  At this time of our shortest day and longest night (in northern hemisphere); at this time when there is much promise of hope, forgiveness and new beginnings; at this time when the old structures are giving way and new ones await our creation; at this time:

I release history and dance into the Mystery

Robin in birdbath copyright (c) Dec 2010 Kathy J Loh

wash it all away

What happens when I no longer believe that evil and money are married at the hip?

What happens when I no longer believe that falling in love is setting myself up for betrayal?

What happens when I bring forth my healing gifts with integral health and well-being of body, mind, spirit and heart?

At this point in my meditation I heard, “We’ve been waiting to play with you.”

I smiled and the word surrender bubbled to the surface of my awareness for another go round.

Surrender your history

Surrender to the unknown

Surrender to potential and possibility.

I recall a quote I used in a recent Mystery Message about surrender:

“You can remain in your present idea about yourself, or you can choose again. I like the idea of choosing again.” Neale Donald Walsch

As I type these final words, the solstice moment has arrived, right on time.

Into the light everyone, into the light.

Surrender to the truer, more real you.

copyright (c) December 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

 

Eclipse lunar copyright (c) Dec 2010 Kathy J Loh

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I meditate.

I contemplate.

I have great internal Board of Directors meetings.

I sing and chant and sometimes even rant.

I fill my heart and empty my mind.

I follow my mind and empty my heart.

Dance with my spirit and inhabit my body.

Sometimes I am guided. Most often, I dance alone.

This morning the sunrise was a sight to behold. Clouds to the west kissed illuminated hills and homes. I could not sequester myself in my meditation room and miss the morning.

 

copyright(c) Oct 2010, Kathy J Loh

Where does the pathway in the clouds lead?

 

Jackhammers abused concrete somewhere in the valley below. A steady stream of cars snaked its way up Wolfe Grade and silver jets left vapor trails between the clouds…so many people going somewhere.

Is this how we honor the dawn?

Is this how we honor all beginnings?

I don’t know. I only wonder.

Not wanting to miss the changing colors and shapes of the clouds; not wanting to miss the flocks of crows (and one tiny hummingbird) that traverse the skyscape, I began to sing, as I always do to begin meditation.

At first I was aware of my voice and the wending of the melody. Soon enough, I was absorbed by the pastel hues, absorbed by whatever it is that absorbs me, of which I am a part, to which I belong, and the song emerged as a completely self-organized melody; my morning song; this morning song.

Or is it mourning song, like the dove in the pine outside my window? For the tears come as my heart cracks open and I don’t really know what is sad or what is too much to hold.

Perhaps it is gratitude.

Perhaps it is Beauty.

Surely it is Love.

And, it doesn’t need a name.

When I retreat to my mediation room each morning, supposedly to ground myself so as to be more present during the day, to what have I become un-present? Where have I gone and how much of the day already missed?

This “being present to”… this offering of lullaby to the dawn and all the weary travelers, this is what grounds me now.

What is your morning practice?

copyright(c) October 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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It has been 2 months since I posted.  I’ve been enjoying quite the social whirlwind since I returned to Marin: dinner dates, movie dates, parties and hikes. I’m having a blast.

I’ve written so many posts in my mind, but none have made it to print. So much to say. Where to start? I’ll start here:

The question people most ask me these days is, “Are you all settled in?” The first two weeks the answer was, “not yet.”  I was pining for the trails, the beach, the owls, the dogs, stars and quiet. I was worried that the din of neighborhood traffic and star-minimizing light pollution, including the glare of numerous street lamps in the area, would be insufferable. I feared I’d made a horrible mistake.

As I investigated that fear, I discovered that the only mistake would be beating myself up for the decision I’d made, not letting myself off the hook. Once I realized that, my fear dissipated as I promised myself that no matter what,  I’d be kind to me.

For those first weeks, most of my “settling in” entailed getting things out of boxes, many of which had been stored for nearly 5 years. At my old place, every time I’d set aside a day to go through the boxes I’d hit an obstacle: workers in the yard, new roofing over the garage, a party on the ponderosa, something else to do, that kind of thing. Most often, though, the obstacle was the sick feeling in my stomach whenever I opened one. The overwhelming aroma of memories and uncertainty would send me reeling out the door and down the hiking trail for some fresh air. I cultivated a strong sense of “manana.”

copyright (c) 2010 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

Moving van on moving day

When I started getting the urge to move, I promised myself I’d muster up the courage to go through those boxes. I did not want to pay for their portage to a new garage.  But, the opportunity to move came more quickly than motivation and so, they moved with me. Truthfully, with all the space I have now, I’ve discovered that there isn’t that much to release.

For the first time in 5 years, all of my books are on shelves. All of the music equipment is up and I have plenty of space to spread out. Even my belly feels better with the space between me and the furnishings in my larger home. I have been calling this the “let’s see” house. Let’s see which of all my past identities, and the tools of the trade that go with them, will survive. I’m not going to force anything.

The boxes hold memories, but they also hold surprises. I forgot I had water goblets and dessert glasses. I rediscovered some artwork, most of my cookbooks, table linens, décor and candles. It was like getting married all over again without the hassle of a husband. I actually like most of these things, so I’m glad I kept them during my “downsized” years.

I feel the same way about me and who I’ve been and become, before and during my five years of relative solitude. I’m rediscovering neglected delights.

Here I am, in the house I lived in 15 years ago, revisiting my past in so many ways. I’ve done healing work with the younger me who lived here in those years. I’ve rediscovered the walks I used to take in the neighborhood. The same neighbors live here and remember me (as I do them). I’ve rewound and spliced. The new story (of which I wrote in the last post) is taking shape.

There’s one box that surprised me; a box bigger than all the rest (and paradoxically smaller). It’s the box around me. I’m discovering how rigid I’ve been with myself; all these rules and opinions; what’s OK and what’s not. When a possession has been in a box for five years, it makes sense that re-connecting with it will lead to observations of what’s the same and what’s different about the me that lived with it then and the me that is choosing to live with it now (or not).

I find myself musing over and over again, “I used to think (fill in the blank). What was that about?”

One of the rules my rigid self holds is that I have to get rid of things. Once I decided to let go of having to let go, I no longer worried about my identity. If my ego wants to identify itself by the things I own, it follows that I either have to use them and be that or let them go and be something/someone else. But today, I see it as just stuff. I’ll use it or I won’t and it will go when it’s time. I’m just me being who I am and the more I settle in to that, I suspect my relationship with stuff will shift without forcing anything.

Even my social activities are informing me of how I’ve changed. I’m more extroverted than I thought. I’ve gotten used to neighborhood noise and actually find it somewhat comforting. I like living within walking distance of a small downtown. Today while I was sweeping the leaves, the neighbor was mowing. Something about that makes the work easier. At night, the once dreaded streetlamp creates beautiful dancing tree silhouettes on my walls.

As I reflect upon the process of un-boxing my belongings, I realize something is happening to me too.

I am un-boxing my belonging.

Post-script:

I now have a small room dedicated to meditation. In my contemplation today, I visualized myself in a box. The paintings on the inside of that box were all the things I have told myself is me and images that represent the rules; right down to how to dress for my figure type and other women’s magazine advice.  Above me was the ceiling I have put on joy, prosperity, income, happiness.

I imagined the box falling open, looking much like the diagram of how a box looks before it gets folded up into six sides. I watched the unfolding as the top blew off and the sides shriveled up and fell off like the petals of a spent rose. There I was, standing atop a stem, naked to all possibility. For a moment it was a bit unnerving; too vulnerable. I understood, in that moment, why I created the box; the illusion of safety and security, a sense of belonging that is represented by the box and everything in it.

Then, the stem fell away and there I was with no sense of past or future, no sense of beginning or end. My mind wanted to go to form. “What does it look like? What can we have? How can we get that? Who can we be? How do we become that?” I was aware of my thoughts and how enticing the bait was, aware too that the bait dangled on a very sharp hook.

At the same time, there was so much peace, so much safety, security and true belonging in this un-boxed, undefined, unlimited presence. Ego also wants to say, “This is perfection, this presence. How can I get more of that?”

More bait.

Settling in and getting un-boxed, I am watching when I dig in and when I vacate. I notice when I put up pretty murals that tell me who I am and how easy it is to replace one box with another even if the ceiling is higher. I am aware of boxes others like to put me in and how they subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) request that I police my behavior to keep them comfortable and make them right. I notice how I am tempted to comply.

I watch.

I notice.

I become aware.

It’s a practice.

Copyright © August 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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I have a morning practice of journaling, pulling an angel card and meditation/contemplation. Yesterday, I wrote in my journal about the myriad of irritations that I’ve been experiencing, wondering “what’s the feedback?” What am I getting out of feeling so “put upon” that I continue to gather these small annoyances?

I decided to take it to meditation, but first I pulled an angel card for the day. Now, I’ve been doing this for so long, that it has evolved into something really amazing. The card almost always responds, in some way, to what I’ve just written. In addition, the cards right in front of and behind the card I pull (the wing cards) give me greater detail by way of the perspective they bring to the first card.

I opened the Healing with Angels card box and pulled out the deck. I noticed something in the bottom of the box. What’s this? A flea! A flea was in the angel card box. How did that get in there? I don’t have pets. (The dog I walk with belongs to my neighbor.) In my 4 years here, I’ve never seen a flea (and I would know if they were here because I’m highly allergic).

I tried to grab it to give it a good squeeze, but it hopped on to the side of the bed. I grabbed it again, but its beautifully evolved hard shell would not bend to my will. It jumped out from between my fingers and onto the carpet. I got out the vacuum and have no idea what kind of life that flea is or is not living now.

I went on to pull a card: Miracles (between Blessings and Guardian Angel)

Fleas are pretty amazing little creatures with barbed hairs that enable them to stick to animals like Velcro and they jump over 100 times their height. They even perform somersaults while leaping. They are hardy and they cause misery. It’s a miracle of creation, a miracle that it was in my angel card box.  Miracles come in all shapes and sizes and, at first glance, they may not appear to be miracles.

The angel card informs me:

“Miracles are occurring all around you right now. Begin to notice them, and you will experience even more miracles.”

Taking into account the shoulder cards, Blessings and Guardian Angel, I make up that miracles will be more visible to me when I count my blessings and accept the support of my Guardian Angels. I am blessed and I am not alone.

I am not seeing the miracles for the “fleas.”

When one itch arises, I think I have to flee.

When I see one flea, I think “oh no! It’s an invasion. They are going to overrun the place!”

Isn’t that just how I have been viewing the little irritations in my days lately? Stringing them together like beads, creating for myself a nice little choke-chain.  Trying to control everything and everyone and getting really angry when they won’t let me. I’m choking myself into isolation and insolation.

About the flea, I hear, “Remember, it came from The Mystery.”

Circumstances, too, often arise from The Mystery.

What if these circumstances, which I experience as annoying, are miracles?

Sunset Pond - trees, reflected

What's Real? (K J Loh)

In the ensuing meditation, I viewed my life from what I call the Angels’ perspective. (Those of you who get the Mystery Messages may be reminded, here, of the Merlin Hawk message.)

While holding myself as blessed and protected, I was able to see that what I get out of all this itching from the flea-like circumstances is an opportunity to suffer. Suffering supports my inner martyr. (Victim or martyr; choose your poison.) It allows me to blame, collect pity and sympathy, punish other people, throw temper tantrums, and a wide variety of other strategies to avoid taking responsibility for my life and my happiness. Basically, it is the perspective that the world is out to get me and I am bending over backwards to accommodate it, while never being able to have a day go the way I want it to. “Look at me! I’m covered in flea bites and it itches like crazy! How can you expect me to be happy?”

Here’s the kicker. My martyr voice tells me that taking responsibility will lead to suffering and struggle. It’s too hard!

Hello? Uhm…..isn’t that what martyr is doing? It’s causing me to struggle and suffer to avoid suffering and struggling. Huh?

The meditation/contemplation continued with many more insights around betrayal, anger, abandonment; all really juicy stuff. Suffice it to say, I found that all the people and circumstances were completely transformed when I transformed how I saw them.

I forgave myself for a long list of ways I twist what is into something to rail against. I took that choke-chain off. I saw my life on a big screen as it would be without martyr. I could not think it. I just sat and watched. It’s the same picture, but the feeling is different. I realized, I can’t get there through martyr. Suffering, trying to control and struggling will only lead to isolation, loneliness, and constriction. The point to martyr is to never get there anyway.

Suffering is highly over-rated. Struggling is highly over-rated.

Today’s angel card reminds me to open my eyes and see the miracles happening all around; those amazing events and people sent by The Mystery, which I’ve refused to see in order to support struggle, suffering and misery.

I can hold my goals and visions very tightly, like putting myself into lock-down. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of a vortex; a drain spiraling inward.

I can hold my goals and visions lightly, with love, trusting that The Mystery is friendly and helpful; honoring my priorities, being real and joyful; taking responsibility. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of an outwardly expansive release of energy. (I’m reminded of my Open Hands Open Heart post)

I’ve done a lot of work around martyr and victim. I’ve been through workshops and years of coaching. I know both intimately. Yet, I still find myself in retreat from responsibility at times and that gives martyr a toe-hold.

Awareness is a practice.

Here is an exercise to support your awareness practice:

For the next few days, listen to your inner voice and notice what it is saying about everything that happens to you and how others are treating you. Write it down. Become familiar with your “favorite” sayings. Then review your inner voice’s general perspective.  Is it supporting your happiness or feeding your misery?

Copyright © February 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Got a flea bugging you? Coaching helps you gain insight around the obstacles you create to your own happiness. I’m happy to schedule a complimentary consultation for anyone seriously considering hiring a coach. Email me at: kathyloh@coachkathy.com

Re: photo – that’s a pond, reflecting the trees and fence which is why they appear upside down.

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The other day, I emailed a great rant to a dear friend, Cynthia Morris. I titled it “snarky moment.” I was smiling and feeling mischievous as I wrote. I was removed enough from it all not to be the victim in search of rescue, or the martyr in search of pity. I was having a romping roll with anger in the ranting hayloft and it was fun!

Here’s the story.

We had a series of storms here. The power was out for three full days. We had the advantage of a generator that was on briefly each morning and evening; enough to keep the food from spoiling and enable us to run water and flush toilets. Our water comes from a well. The well requires a pump and that pump requires electricity.

I hunkered down when the power first went out. I figured I could easily be patient with the usual two hours of outage that comes with a big storm. I’d managed to make my coffee just in time. I dressed like I was going skiing; long underwear, turtle neck, hooded sweatshirt and down vest. I checked to be sure the land line phone worked for the day’s client calls.

I spent 60 minutes in the morning and the evening scanning email and other social media using my backup laptop battery and a dial-up internet service.  Slow, v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w. I spent time under the down comforter. I actually read a book. (insert gasp of amazement here)

By day two, I was feeling really pent up. The rain, hail, thunderstorms, and falling tree limbs kept me off the wooded trail. To get to a movie, I’d have to drive the long way around on back roads as the main road was blocked by downed trees and lines. My patience was wearing thin and the lemonade I was making from lemons tasted sickeningly sweet. I was gagging on calling this an adventure, a retreat, a learning experience.

By day three, righting my rant had stopped working for me altogether. I was hardly breathing anymore.  My creative muse had flown the coop. The ways in which I was making positive out of the negative just weren’t telling the whole truth. I wasn’t being patient or positive. I was tolerating. In my hunkering down, I gave lip service to “adventure,” but I was living imprisonment. Of course, I didn’t realize this until the power was restored.

Stormy skies Santa Cruz

Storm Brewing (K J Loh)

The first full day of electrical power was followed by the first full day of sunshine. My own power was returning as well and instead of righting my rant, I wrote it. I wrote it and fired it off to Cynthia. Being the wonderful friend and creative coach she is, she responded:

There is a lot of wisdom and a lot of clues in this rant. I’d go through it and highlight what you want and then, you know, make it happen.

Now rants are kind of funny. They generally don’t have a life beyond their explosive moment in time. So, I had to go back and read what I’d written. It was amazingly clear that there are some changes I need to make in my life and the clues in that email are undeniable. The changes loom ominous like the storm clouds. So, no wonder I didn’t own-up to them. No wonder, I wanted to make lemonade. I didn’t want to admit that a lot of the “lemons” on my tree of doings had pretty much gone rotten.

After reviewing the email, I went mud-stomping with Callie dog in the woods. The hilly terrain got my heart beating and I exclaimed to the trees with delight, “I’m breathing again!” That’s when I realized I was no saint of patience.  I’d been tolerating. I’d hunkered down with the power-outage (no small bit of symbolism there) and decided to wait until circumstances handed me an oxygen mask.

Tolerating is imprisonment. It makes the spirit hover safely beyond the body, makes the mind crazy and the heart numb. Tolerating is not patience.

Tolerating is breath that is just shallow enough to get by.

Patience allows for deep satisfying breaths.

Tolerating is fearful inaction, constriction.

Patience is love and expansiveness.

Tolerating is a wicked ingrown hair of control.

Patience is free flowing surrender.

Tolerating is self-negation and has very little to do with self-love though it may have a lot to do with what appears to be self-preservation.

When I highlighted the key points in my rant, I discovered what I was tolerating. I discovered what I want through what I don’t want. I discovered new possibilities. Now I must also discover my courage.

There’s a huge energetic surge that comes with a rant. That energetic surge can be a wave that trashes us or one we can ride all the way to the joyful shores of our vision. Whereas tolerating leads to utter exhaustion and possible wipeout, patience allows us to become one with the wave.

What are you tolerating?

Next time you feel a rant coming on, write it before you right it.

Suggested steps for writing, and thus, righting your rant:

  1. Create a safe space for you and others when you rant. It’s not about blame. It’s about what you are no longer willing to tolerate. It’s about your own discovery of what has to change and gathering the courage to create that change.
  2. Write your rant.
  3. Put it away for a bit and go for a walk, dance…get your body moving.
  4. Do something kind to/for you. Receive love, nurturance and warmth.
  5. Go back and review your rant. Underline or highlight the clues. They may be things you don’t want anymore, something that needs to be said, a new creative outlet that wants to be born.
  6. Re-form those clues into powerful intentions and write them out as such.
  7. Chart your plan of action.
  8. Gather your courage and your allies.
  9. Begin – one small step is all it takes, one small action. It may be a powerful request you make of another. It may be resigning a position. It may be clearing a space in the home for creative activities. It may be asking for help. Whatever it is, your power will be restored with each step.
Copyright © January 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today’s post is a reprint of an article I wrote that was published in

Coaching Interactive in 2006.

Gratitude is an attitude of gratefulness or, as I love to play with it, great fullness. It derives from the Latin “gratus,” pleasing. Gratitude creates awareness for that which is pleasing us, even while we may be standing in the shadow of our unhappiness. It is receiving and luxuriating in the richness of the warm sunshine upon our shoulders, the breath-taking display of a starry night, and the lingering embrace with a loved one.

These joys are gratis (free of charge), from the Latin “gratia,” favor.  They do not require great busyness, doings and struggle. We do not have to earn them. We need only stop, notice and allow ourselves to receive them. It’s a simple exchange of energy; like breathing out and breathing in. We give the world around us our exquisite attention and it gives us great fullness.

As we move toward that which delights, we begin to give to ourselves those experiences which bring us joy. We give them to ourselves and in so doing, we create a foundation of trust in ourselves.

I want to be clear about something here. Not all receiving is blissful. The willingness to be with the depth of our grief or remorse is also opening to great fullness. For the moment, I am writing of the abundance we can receive from the world around us.

The Universe offers us a feast, a banquet of richness, and we come to the table starving and saying, “Oh, no thanks; I couldn’t really,” as if we have to check some internal gauge of worthiness. Sometimes, our hunger is so great that the ensuing downward emotional spiral and intensity of our internal dialogue can cause us to resist great fullness. We lose our heart.

In conversation, a friend and I waded into the murky waters of self-sabotage. He said, “Decent hard-working people deserve a good life.” I asked him, “Who would you say does not deserve a good life?” There followed a predictable list that included criminals, riff-raff, cheaters, abusers and the like. It soon came to light that holding the belief  that “decent hard-working people deserve a good life,” was self-sabotaging. He knew he was not a bad person, but he could never know for sure what was good enough or hard-working enough.

He then asked me, “Why do you think you deserve a good life?” and I responded,“Because I was born.” There followed a pregnant pause broken by hearty laughter and smiles all around. He exhaled. He began to experience his inherent worthiness; his great fullness.

It seems so much happens when we stop trying. Making an effort is antithetical to receiving. There is irony in our working to prove ourselves worthy of receiving abundance. When we think we have to earn, because we hold ourselves inherently unworthy, we create an even greater gap, an ever greater emptiness.  While we are striving, we are closing ourselves off to receiving. We are holding our breath. It is allowing and receiving that fills us up and has us experience our natural worth. When we are full we spill over and giving is the natural outcome. The paradigm becomes “allow and receive” rather than “prove and earn.”

fall leaves 2009

(c) Kathy J Loh

Consider this Buddhist Koan:

No thought for the hereafter

Is cherished by the wise.

For on this earth they truly live

Always in paradise.

Desire, from feeling lack, creates the polarity of abundance and scarcity; of paradise and hell. Without desire, the polarity disappears. Breathing in and breathing out is one breath.  What is abundance but great fullness?

When we deflect an acknowledgment, we simultaneously project and create, within ourselves, a greater void of worth. When we truly receive, we simultaneously give and create, within ourselves, an experience of love and self worth. We deflect by metaphorically holding our breath, with armor around our 4th and 3rd chakras. Practice dropping out of your head into these centers when you are receiving. Bring healing to the very centers that have taken so many painful hits over the years.

There are many practices for focusing on gratitude. People find it helpful to create a gratitude book in which they record all for which they are grateful. Others begin and end each day with simple prayers or meditations upon that for which they are thankful.

Here is a practice I created for receiving and experiencing great fullness, which I regularly assign to clients with wonderful results.

Take a walk.. You do not need a destination and you can do it anywhere. As you amble along, notice everything you are sensing. Say to yourself “I get to receive _____________” and start filling in the blank with everything you notice. I get to receive the song of that bird. I get to receive the warm breeze on my face. You don’t have to be name the bird. This is not about information. It’s about experience and sense. If you don’t have words for the experience, simply allow yourself to have it. I get to receive this. You might like to add “For no other reason than because I was born, I get to receive….”

See how many things you get to receive. You may find yourself greedy for more. You are at the Universe’s banquet table and you are saying “Yes, thank you!” You  exhaled and you are breathing in. I especially like saying “I get to receive” rather than “I am receiving” because it adds a sense of fun and gift. There is less opportunity for resistance (as in the “I-am-receiving-oh-no-you’re-not” dialog with the Saboteur)

And speaking of banquet tables, this Thanksgiving, take a moment to remove yourself from the conversation and  look at each person around the table, saying within, “I get to receive ___________ from ______.”  Fill in the blanks with something wonderful, quirky, even ordinary about,  but unique to, that person and their name. Let me know what happens for you.

This practice of receiving creates presence. Being present, in the now, we are free to experience the great fullness of life, something we deserve simply because we were born.

After all, the best things in life are gratis.

Copyright © June 2006 and November 2009, Kathy J Loh, all rights reserved

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“All seasons are beautiful for the person who carries happiness within. “ – Horace Friess

“ My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?” – Charles Schulz

It was a Monday (Oct 2008) I will never forget…(hopefully)

Strike One:

Construction had begun on the remodel of a garage-soon-to-be-family-room to which my granny unit apartment is attached. Sledge hammers and crow bars were being used to rip away the old wall. I work, on the phone, on the other side of that wall.  It was disruptive and annoying and the nightmare, as I called it, was only beginning.

Strike Two:

Let me back up for a moment. On the Friday prior I got a warning signal. My computer crashed.  It summarily told me, by way of some error message I can’t recall, that it was done and it died. I was grateful I had a back up drive and I used it regularly. I still had time on my 3 year warranty, so I picked up the phone and waited to have a conversation with a techie in India. Secretly, I hoped my computer would be pronounced dead so I could go out and buy a Mac.

The techie took me through a number of fruitless steps and then told me all we could do was wipe out my hard drive and start over. With her supervisor on the line, she asked me if I understood what we were about to do. I said yes and that I wasn’t happy.

We wiped the drive clean while re-installing the operating system. (Sometimes I wish I could clear my “drive” and re-install my own internal operating system. Do they outsource for this service as well?)

I spent the weekend re-loading software. The only reward was the speed I now experienced with the newly cleaned disk.

So, now back to Monday’s strike two.  It comes in two parts. My back-up drive died after downloading a fraction of what it held. My computer’s wireless card died and some other, less memorable things got funky. Again, I called India (I mean my computer company’s Technical Service). There was a program the techie wanted to download to my computer, but since my wireless card was not working, that was not possible. I had to go around to the landlord’s place and download it through their computer to transfer to mine. This had me traipsing back and forth across the property  into the dusky hours of twilight, carrying my computer at all times.  I was hurrying back to get his return phone call at my place when…

Strike Three:

I stepped down the two stairs between my bedroom and office and missed the second one.  My ankle folded in half and my computer went flying out of my hands and into the desk leg. (Would this be my Mac opportunity?)

The phone rang and we continued our work on my computer, while I had my leg up on the desk with ice on it. The techie came to the conclusion that my problem could not be fixed over the phone and they would now honor my “in home service” warranty and send someone out to the house to fix things. (Gee, wonder why he hadn’t come to that hours and a healthy ankle ago.)

Before the choice comes the surrender

Tuesday found me propped up in bed with no online service available, painstakingly moving from spot to spot in the house with the use of a borrowed walker, unable to drive, listening to hammers, saws, and loud music as the construction crew continued their demolition fiesta. I was trapped. I felt like a cornered animal. My daily swim/float in the pool had come to an abrupt end. It was like the powers that be said “no more fun for you little missy” and pulled the plug. What’s with my life mirroring my computer anyway?

I had a  call with my writing coach and she let me whine and blame for a bit. Then she reminded me of my exquisite imagination. There, on the phone, lying in the bed, I began to float on water. I was as much in the pool as on the bed. As we completed the imaginary float, she asked,  “What did you hear while you were floating?” I was surprised to realize I’d not heard the hammering at all. I’d heard it, but hadn’t noticed it. I was no longer triggered by it.

Floating (c) Kathy J Loh

Floating (c) Kathy J Loh

In that moment, I integrated what, until then, I’d only known intellectually.

Happiness is a choice.

Despite the circumstances, I knew I did not want to feel miserable as well. How I feel is within the realm of my control.  Days prior to this strike-out, I’d been blissfully happy and carefree. I did not want to lose that joy. I may be “out” but I’m not going down! I decided to feel happy. I surrendered to the what-is of a sprained ankle, a lack of internet connection, non-mobility and invasive noise. I asked for help. Rather than spending the hours in anger and frustration, I spent them following my heart’s desire in each moment.  I was truly happy.

So, I suggest following these steps for the next time circumstances knock you sideways:

  • Stop and breathe
  • Notice what is
  • Ask:  what can I change and what is out of my control?
  • Surrender to it
  • Let yourself wallow for a little bit; feel what you are feeling.  (I discovered something about why I’m so triggered by loud noises when I did this.)
  • Ask for help
  • Choose happiness
  • Follow your heart’s desire and create it for yourself in whatever responsible (ability to respond) way you can

Oh, and my laptop computer? I still have it. The in-home technician replaced the wireless, gave me a new keyboard and an incredible deal on more memory and extended the warranty. ( Uhm…can I get one of those extended warranties for me too?) And the Mac is on hold for now.

Copyright (c) October 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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