The Magic of Acceptance

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Acceptance is a Magical Energy.

When I say ‘acceptance,’ I don’t mean simply hanging your head and giving up. That is resignation. That is a loss of hope. Acceptance is the ability to look around and assess where you are right now, in this moment in time, this very second, and just breathe and recognize this is reality, and be okay with that. To not judge the moment, or yourself in a negative way, but to simply allow it to be what it is. You don’t have to like everything about where you are and you don’t have to be ready to stay there forever. Just find a space where you can breathe and notice that you are okay, right in that moment. You’ll find that from a place of acceptance, you can often see the light well enough to notice what the next baby step forward is for you.

Each day as you wake up, spend a moment noticing your surroundings and your life. Take in the sights and textures of a few things around you, notice how your body feels, be with life. Don’t judge it. Just notice. Try and find at least one thing that you can be okay with, or even loving towards, in what you witness. It can be really, really small. Then notice at least one thing you can be accepting and loving towards in yourself. That part is even harder for most of us. It was for me. (And often still is.) But working with self-acceptance is really vital to healing all the underlying emotional energies in your cells and changing any self-defeating thought patterns that may have become ingrained in your mind.

There was a prayer that I said to myself every morning in the shower for a very long time, which helped me to find and understand acceptance. I still say this prayer when I am facing a difficult day. Prayer helps us call upon the larger energy all around us in a conscious way and to center our own mind. It doesn’t have to be focused on a religious affiliation. Even the simple mental wish for strength or for someone to have a good day can be seen as a prayer. This prayer is called the Serenity Prayer:

Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The Courage to change the things I can,

And the Wisdom to know the difference.

In many ways, when we accept where we are, we have to let go of certain things. We hold many expectations about things—expectations about the way things should go, about how others should behave or think, expectations about ourselves. Most of the time these expectations don’t turn out to be exactly what happens in reality. When we spend our time and energy thinking reality should match the image we have in our heads, we create energetic resistance. It is a state of disharmony and it is a lot like trying to force water through a blocked channel. It won’t work, but it can surely cause struggle and pain.

One of the fastest ways to change the way you feel about a situation that you have no ability to change is to let go. Accept that you have no control over it. For example, you cannot control someone else’s behavior. It doesn’t matter what the behavior is or what you do or say about it, in the end, you aren’t in control of it. Letting go of that allows you to find space to see options for either learning to accept the behavior lovingly or find distance enough to be free from it.

In any situation, including illness and pain, you can only control your part and your responses to the situation. Trying to control the rest of it is exhausting and anxiety producing. It won’t work in the end. But you can tune in to how you feel about the situation and respond in the most open, kind, and loving manner for everyone concerned—including yourself.

Lovingly letting go of the things you can’t change allows you to see options for the things you can change. Accepting what is allows you to open to Universal Life Force. It brings in trust that all things will pass. You can really begin to notice that this is true. No emotion or situation stays forever. They all shift at some point. Opening your energy channels to allowing Universal Life Force to operate through and around you each day acknowledges that you are aware that you are part of a larger whole and can’t see the whole picture. But you allow room for the mystery of the picture, even when you can’t see all of it.

(An adapted excerpt from my book Infinite Reiki, Infinite Healing.)

Blessings,
Angie

P.S. Pre-registration is now open for Herbal Basics: Creating Your Family’s Apothecary. This online class will be fully released on June 30th. Those who pre-enroll will receive a free PDF as an early preview of the class so they can get started now. Early enrollees will also have early access to class the material as it posts. Join us and learn how to create a few simple, basic recipes to have on hand to support your family during colds, minor cuts, scrapes or burns, and stress or sleeplessness! Pre-registration price is $55.

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Divine Balance

cloud-754365_1280pixabayHere’s a thought I keep having, based on my own inner, gut intuition. I feel the Divine is not one gender or the other, but both. It seems a duality based, humanistic standard to judge the Divine by the boxes of separation we place ourselves into.

To me the Divine feels very Feminine, yet also has very Masculine energy. If we have both (and we do) then how can the Divine only have one or the other? It is Balance Supreme. We humans are the ones who are in a state of separation and dualism. Our ultimate goal seems to be to return to the Oneness, not continue seeking which side is the “right” one.

Feminine and Masculine have truly been out of balance for endless ages. I see and feel it in the Earth and her people. I feel it in myself and in others. We all have this imbalance. I hope we can heal it by seeing the wholeness of all. Loving all of it. If we honor only one, we surely suppress the other. We will come further with healing ourselves if we seek balance and wholeness, which is truly Divine. The Divine cannot be separated at Its core.

Giving and Receiving Our Talents

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Photo: Pixabay

Many of us wrestle with an underlying feeling that it is not OK for us to succeed at anything we attempt. This deeply buried belief keeps us from fully embracing our talents and our own understanding of God. We hold ourselves back. We self-sabotage and we keep ourselves small.

For years, I felt it was not safe and somehow wrong for me to fully express myself or to allow myself to receive anything in return for my talents. I subconsciously felt intimidated and resentful of others who were free of this belief and who lived in grace and abundance.

I told myself it was much more important to be a good person, to love others and serve Truth, God. I believed that it was impossible to do these things while feeling whole and being blessed in life. As if being happy, safe and well somehow nullified any good that had been done. What I am realizing is that I can serve God best by fully being the light I was created to be, by fully using my talent and by fully following my intuition, insight and inspiration. When I do these things, I find that I am serving God and all Creation to the fullest of my ability. I am also happy.

When I shine, I feel most in alignment with God. I recognize that everything each of us does can be done in service of each other and God. It is a matter of doing it from a standpoint of love and service, rather than fear, limit, lack or greed. My being unafraid of my own light allows those around me to also be happy and shine in their own way.

Holding myself separate from those that made more money than me or had more success was being judgmental of them and myself. I saw myself as better or more holy than they were because I had less.

Recently I was listening to a successful musician who chants and sings of the love of the Divine. It was deeply moving and very beautiful. Her face was happy and serene. She embodied the love she sang of. I thought, ‘What a wonderful service she does for all who hear her! She is at peace and encourages that in her behavior and her music. She uplifts others to that same Peace of God.’ And it flooded my awareness that she is a very holy person using her talents to serve others and being rewarded for it. I was grateful that she decided to let her light shine and grateful she earned a living doing it so that as many as possible might be able to hear her.

The most important thing, for me, is to do everything I do in the full service of God and others. It is not for my own ends, though I may greatly enjoy the outcome. The point is to release my own expectations of what I should or should not be provided with and serve. Serve all day, in every way, in everything I do and with every being I encounter. To me this means being happy in myself and happy that I am serving so that I can share my happiness with others in all that I do.

Neuroscience has shown again and again that kindness, compassion, forgiveness and gratitude increase our brain’s capacity for happiness. When we are happy, we have even more to share! It is the same thing that every religious tradition has taught for all of history. It is healthy for us and healthy for those around us. It is freeing and rewarding, both on an energetic and a physical level.

This is being in alignment with a spiritually healthy life and with serving God. This is the opposite of being selfish and greedy. This is actually allowing our cups  to be filled so that it can overflow to others.

As long as we see our abilities as small and our blessings few, we will never be free to fully give of what we have. What is there to give if we don’t believe we have enough or that we are enough? We first must have faith in what we have and be full of gratitude for our talents and the abundance that flows from them. Through this, our talents will expand and so will our service and the rewards that flow from using our talents for the greater good. When we believe we have little and may lose what we have, we don’t allow for anything different to happen.

This all made me think of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, 14-30. The ones who were given talents and made use of them in the world received more talents and were rewarded. The one who hid his talent and made no use of it for fear it would be taken away lost his talent and had nothing. When we use our talents for the good of others, we are rewarded with more. And when we fear we don’t have enough and may lose what we do have, we never enjoy what we have and therefore have already lost it and may lose even more. Those that are grateful don’t demand more, yet they receive it.

Surrender your demands and expectations. Choose to be filled with gratitude and service. By allowing what is good to flow through us, and freely allowing it to flow from us, we honor the flow of giving and receiving. We can stop fighting Universal Law and recognize we are fully part of it. We can open our arms to embrace it, loving it and letting it love us back.

We can celebrate each day and all that flows from us and to us.

Finding Purpose When Life Sucks

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I got some pretty lousy news today that threw me for a loop. It made me angry and scared and sad and overwhelmed. Then, as I began to calm down, I started thinking it could have been so much worse. I started seeing all the things to be grateful for in the situation. Soon I shifted from feeling like life had just sideswiped me, to recognizing that I had been given an opportunity.

We often go through life expecting that everything is supposed to go to plan, be happy and without problems or difficulties. No one expects to have relationships problems, to be sick, to lose a job, to have an accident or for their car to break down. Yet these are fairly normal occurrences in the course of life. Often things far worse than these happen. The loss of a home, a spouse or a child. Why do we think life is supposed to be smooth? How could we learn and grow without lessons and tests?

True, we have no need to seek out struggle and hardship, but there is also no reason to assume that it should never be a part of life. One force pushing against another creates great things. Entire canyons are created because of eons of water flowing through, creating resistance against the rock, slowly carving out beauty and grandeur. Diamonds are formed through intense pressure on lumps of coal.

Sometimes these things that life gives us are nothing more than information about what isn’t working so well in our lives. We can listen and correct course or ignore it and it will continue to alert us in new ways until we recognize what we need to see. Guideposts are everywhere. In our bodies, in the environment, in our interactions with others and the way they make us feel. Our intuition speaks to us all the time, as well. Most of us don’t listen. We’ve been taught not to believe.

But here’s what I started thinking about my bad news. I learned about it in enough time to do something proactive. I listened to my intuition repeatedly and that’s what led me to learn about it that soon. I am so thankful for this Divine gift that we are all given. I am thankful I pay attention to mine more often than I used to. I also recognize that this is a signal. It is a chance for me to open my heart and my mind to learn more about the life I am living and the body I am living in. Am I expressing it, my body and my life, in the best way I can? Am I serving the highest good? Am I happy? What does that mean? Am I free to serve fully or am I holding back?

Every bump in the road is a chance to examine the life we are living. Big bump or small, it doesn’t matter. It may be your lesson, or a lesson you are participating in for someone else. Keep your heart and mind open to feel and see all you can. These bumps aren’t happening to you. They are happening for you. Even the harshest ones are for a reason. If you can’t see that, begin with gratitude.

Gratitude for the experience, even if it sucks. Gratitude that you are alive to have it. Gratitude that you are able to feel fully enough to know that it sucks this bad. Gratitude that it’s not worse. A wise friend of mine, a Holocaust survivor who lived in a concentration camp for years, was fond of informing me that it could always be worse. If the world is still spinning and you are alive, it’s true. It could be worse and it will eventually get better. As much as it sucks, if you really need a gratitude starting point, start there. Focusing on gratitude will help shift the focus off of “why is this happening to me?” towards “how can I see the purpose in this?” That shift changes everything.

Healing and Releasing Painful Memories

Painful memoriesSomething I have personally learned is that when people are hurt badly by an experience or a person they tend to cling to it and even begin to identify themselves with that pain and that experience to a large degree. It is not possible to stop forming your identity around that pain and that experience until you forgive the person or persons and let go of the experience that caused your hurt. It has to be released before it will stop hurting you over and over. It is the only way to really care for yourself and heal. Purposely going back and revisiting painful experiences and holding onto hurt feelings is dangerous. You are recreating that pain anew each time and this is only destructive and will lead to anger.

Memories may resurface, but there is no need to dwell in them. Very painful memories can tend to flood us with overwhelming amounts of emotion and it seems to only grow stronger over time when we allow ourselves to stay with the thoughts. Our perception of the memory is not the same any longer. It begins to take on a life of its own and this is how we can form our identity around it. When children have started forming their identities around painful memories, like loss, then it is even more difficult for them to comprehend how to break this cycle and heal. This understanding must come as an adult for them, and it will be a struggle as they continue to cycle back through the pain, thinking they are doomed to live in misery forever. This thought itself perpetuates the cycle and leads them into more difficulty.

Not continuing on with thought processes or speech patterns that follow this cycle can help break it and that is an important thing to do for healing to begin. As long as a person continues to feel that they were wronged, or that something should have gone a different way than it did, that person will continue to feel miserable. Railing against your loss or your suffering in anger and sorrow, no matter how long you do it will never change what happened. It only makes feelings of suffering and anger stronger and the experience of loss or suffering is essentially being relived inside. This can only lead to further harm. It also leads to us creating many incorrect perceptions based on the flooding of pain from previous life stages and previous states of perception. It becomes very difficult to see the peace and happiness that can be found in your present if you are looking at things through a lens of altered perceptions fostered by revisiting painful memories.

However, starting in the present moment and recognizing good things with gratitude is helpful and begins the process to healing and breaking the cycle of going back to pain. Focusing on the small things, like breathing, gradually brings awareness back to what you are feeling right now. This awareness can be used to acknowledge and accept the feelings as they come, learning how to feel them and let them pass without holding onto them. Emotions about very difficult events arise and these emotions are not easy to feel without dwelling, especially at the beginning. Taking five or ten minutes of quiet time in which you can sit alone and let these feelings come is helpful. This is short enough to not be difficult to find in a day and to not allow time for ruminating on the feelings that come up. Each one comes, is recognized, and then is let go. This begins to allow for sorting. The recognition will also come that thoughts and emotions arise but they also fade to the background. This can give a sense of peace that the true inner self is not truly as rocked by external events as we tend to believe.

Surrender: Non-Attachment & Peace

peaceWe all want things to go the way we believe they should go.

We want things the way we want them. While we may sometimes allow some room for discussion and potential compromise, ultimately, we tend to think we know how things should turn out. We seek that end goal and lose sight of appreciating the process it takes to get where we really need to be.

What we all need and want on a deep level is safety, comfort and peace. When things get difficult, as they inevitably do in life, we want to feel better. Now.

We can talk about releasing the need to have immediate relief all we want to, but when we are the ones hurting, afraid or angry, it gets very difficult to keep peace in our hearts and surrender to the next moment.

The paradox is that it is that very act of letting go of our need to control the situation that brings us peace and comfort and often leads to our safety.

When I was a young child, I played in the woods of Arkansas every day. I ran through these woods, jumping over fallen trees and skipping through creeks. I was not afraid of anything, despite my mother’s constant warning that I should be afraid of rattlesnakes.

Instead, I learned respect for all the creatures of the woods, including the rattlesnakes. I came across rattlesnakes occasionally, but I never let myself give over to my fear. I knew that fear of the snakes would make it more likely that I would react in haste and therefore be bitten. Instead, I always stood quietly in my place, looking peacefully at the snake. I sent calming thoughts to the creature and backed away slowly.

If I had reacted with fear of being bitten, energetically, I would have sent that signal out to the snake. When we know another is reacting out of fear, we tend to be fearful of them and prepare to protect ourselves.

The thing is, if both parties are doing that defensive dance, it leads to hostility. Someone gets hurt. Someone has to be willing to let go of their fear and detach from trying to control the outcome. It makes it less likely that anyone gets bitten.

Applying this to a real world practice we all experience, we can use the example of showering. No one wants the water or soap in their eyes. It burns like hell. But, have you ever noticed that when you squeeze your eyes tightly closed you actually force the water and soap into your eyes? The best way to prevent getting soap in your eyes seems to be to relax.

Of course we don’t leave our eyes open and just let the soap run in, but when we gently close our eyes (no squeezing!) the soap runs harmlessly right over our eyelids.

Yoga practice gives us another daily life exposure to non-attachment. When we are trying to force our way into a pose, we make it that much more likely that we won’t be able to do it. Or, we hurt ourselves and feel frustrated at our efforts.

When we practice surrender, we are able to remember that it’s the practice that is important, not the ability to achieve a specific pose.

We are able to keep softness in our muscles and pay attention to our breath. The paradox is, when we do this, we often achieve our poses with more ease and less pain. We go to the edge of discomfort, but we don’t force through to pain.

It is much more difficult to practice taking this attitude of surrender into our relationships, our work and our finances. These are the things we fear will cause us the most harm, so we struggle against them the hardest.

But, this fear and struggle is what creates and perpetuates the many issues we all face in our day to day lives and we are all waiting for the other guy to lay down their weapons first.

We want to make sure that we are the ones with our mental guns always aimed and ready. We are expecting pain and clenching on that fear. No wonder we keep seeing and experiencing drama. We haven’t completely let go of it, ourselves.

Of course, our own way dealing with the world becomes the way that our family and society deals with the world. We are reflection of each other. There is no they, only us. Each of us is a part of the greater “they.”

We are like cells in a body—tiny parts that make up the entirety. Each cell responds in unity with each other in order to ensure their own survival and the survival of the greater whole. When cells fight each other for their own survival, at the expense of the whole, we call it disease.

If it goes on indefinitely, everything dies, including troublesome cells.

None of us knows the ultimate good of even our own lives, let alone the lives of the entire world. It seems the smart thing to do might be to admit this and relax in the knowledge that we don’t have to control the outcome of everything.

We only have to be responsible for our own inner harmony.

The result is not our business.

But, when we breathe and soften, we are more likely to get where we all want to be.

Originally published at http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/09/surrender-non-attachment-and-peace-angie-webster/

Finding the Body Temple

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I love the idea of the body being a temple. The body is the soul’s mode of transportation, the vessel through which we operate, learn, grow and expand. Without a body through which to experience, our ability to understand ourselves, each other and the Universe would be greatly altered and limited. Physical form is a way for us to learn to express love and gratitude. We become humble and expansive through being here in these bodies.

Since our bodies are so important, it is vital to take very good care of them. Honor them with appreciation and love. Accept everything about your body as a gift to you. All of it helps you to perceive your soul more clearly. This includes pain. Pain is a signal. As such it helps us see that something needs attention and care. This is as essential to us as air or water. When we trust this, pain can flow through us as easily as air and water.

I am very familiar with pain and illness.

I have had to re-learn how to care for and protect my body, and to respect it. I spent most of my adult life very sick and in a great deal of pain. Many days I wasn’t able to get out of bed without help. I was chronically exhausted and had fibromyalgia and early onset arthritis. I had seizures, sometimes several times a day and excruciating headaches. This became so bad that for awhile I was unable to form new memories, so I couldn’t keep track of what I had done already, or often where I even was. I have had a total of 13 surgeries, eleven of them abdominal, one on a breast mass and one on a knee. I was 130 pounds overweight several years ago. I was depressed and felt I had no function in the world. I spent an entire summer bedridden with one health problem after the other. I had two surgeries in less than a year. I was told my spine was deteriorating and my knees would need replacements within a decade. I couldn’t walk even half a block. Part of me wanted to quit. Instead I started loving myself.

Then great things started to happen for me.

Exercise, healthy food, water and fresh air are all needed to keep our body temples functioning well. For me, meditation and regular sleep patterns have helped a great deal as well. Once I decided to love myself, exactly as I was, all the things I needed to be well started falling in line almost effortlessly. I had spent years fighting my body and my mind. I often said I hated them and couldn’t wait to be released from what I thought of as a physical prison. I fully knew that I am not my body, but I wanted OUT of my body.  Things shifted when I stopped expecting my body to be different.

I quit weighing myself, something that I did nearly every day since I was a teen. I started a journal to write down 3 things I was grateful for each night before I went to sleep. I discovered that I needed to eat gluten free. Hard as it was, I made the change. I began working out—yoga, Pilates, cardio, whatever felt good to me that day.  I wanted it to be fun, not work. I only asked myself for ten minutes each time, but I found it felt so good and was so enjoyable that I usually kept it going for 30 minutes or so. I began meditating every day for at least 5 minutes. I allowed one stress free hour before bed each night and I went to bed at the same time each night. I opened the curtains each morning and let the sun in. Soon the difference in the way I felt was amazing. I was able to discontinue several medications within 6 months. The seizures stopped and I haven’t had one since.

Then I began noticing that many of the gluten-free foods were also natural and organic. I wondered if this could be contributing to my improved health and feelings of well-being. I began including more and more organic foods in my diet. I also decided to stop eating processed foods. Initially, this was mostly because I wanted to shift my food budget more toward organic foods. There wasn’t enough money for these and gluten free processed foods.

A new culprit appeared as I continued weeding out.

I kept soda for awhile longer, though I switched to caffeine free. I noticed even more improvement in my mental and physical state. Around this time, I noticed that on the days that I drank soda with food dyes in the (orange, grape, etc.), I felt an extreme change mental change. I was anxious, irritable and wound up. I also noticed that I had urinary inflammation similar to a low grade urinary tract infection when I consumed these. These were exactly the symptoms I had hoped to rid myself of by stopping caffeine. I did several tests on my theory and realized I needed to stop food dyes also. My husband was not convinced, until he tested this out on himself and the colored sodas had the same effect on him. Things improved even more. I was down to two medications.

My weight stabilized at a healthy place. Overall I felt very well. My pain had almost completely disappeared. I still got sick frequently with infections. And I was still tired most of the time. I knew I was borderline diabetic, but I had never done much to take care of it. My blood sugar would plummet frequently, leaving me faint, shaky, nauseated and with an intense headache. I tried going sugar free, but I knew the artificial sweeteners caused me other problems. The only way I knew to do it was by going without anything sweet for awhile and then reintroduce sugar to test the difference. My energy level came way up and I noticed I stopped being so susceptible to infection. I missed sweets, but I decided it was worth it to find a way to cook without sugar.

These days, I do yoga for about 30 minutes day, most days. I eat mostly organic (lots of veggies and fruits) and gluten free. I am eating sweets more often, but I sweeten them with organic Stevia, honey, dates or occasionally maple syrup. I meditate for 20-30 minutes every morning. Most of all, I have continued to cultivate my love of life and of myself. I can’t imagine not taking good care of my mind, body and emotions as I do now.  These days, it’s hard to imagine I used to live in such a miserable state. I’m glad it’s behind me, but I am grateful for the experience. It taught me to love myself just as I am. It taught me that love is the key. Like a butterfly I have emerged renewed.

**Editor’s Note, 11/13/15: I have since chosen return to no sweets or high sugar fruits, as my body felt best eating this way, in the long run. Blog posts about this coming soon.