Why a Mantra?

“Like a seed planted with the intention of blossoming into a beautiful perennial, a mantra can be thought of as a seed for energizing an intention. Much in the same way you plant a flower seed, you plant mantras in the fertile soil of practice. You nurture them and over time they bear the fruit of your intention.” ~ The Chopra Center

A mantra is a spiritual affirmation. It is a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated. Mantras affirm what we believe or what we seek to believe. Mantras are used in prayer, in mediation, and in yoga. Yet, mantras can also be spoken silently or aloud throughout our day. Mantras center us and guide us.

Om is the most used and recognized traditional mantra. Om shanti is what I lift up these days because this mantra is a prayer for peace. We send peace out into the world as we whisper om shanti“Om has no translatable meaning, but is believed to be the sound of the universe, referred to as the cosmic vibration. Shanti is a Sanskrit word that means ‘peace,’ but is also translated as ‘calm’ or ‘bliss.’….The mantra, om shanti, therefore, calls forth the cosmic peace.”

“As a greeting or parting salutation, om shanti is repeated . . . . as a way of wishing others divine peace. . . . . Two typical mantras are ‘om shanti om’ and ‘om shanti, shanti, shanti.’ The latter symbolizes three forms of peace: peace of the mind, peace in speech and peace in the physical body. It is also thought to represent hope for individual peace, collective peace and universal peace.” (Yogapedia)

More modern or Western mantras take the form of affirmations. They feed your spirit as they encourage your emotional well being and spiritual growth. They are mantras too. They are guides and intentions. Think about what you repeat often to yourself. Do the words guide you to a better place? Do they help you to grow in spirit? Unsure? Google mantras. Google affirmations. Seek and use what is good and true for you. Say it often and with intention.

Be brave.

 

 

What Is Success?

To laugh often and much

to win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty,

to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better,

by a healthy child, a garden patch,

or a redeemed social condition;

to know even one life breathed easier

because you have lived.

That is to have succeeded.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Practical Dreamers

It is interesting that we call something good a “dream,” but being called a “dreamer” is somewhat of a putdown.
Without dreamers, no dream would ever be given reality, and we would live in a very small and shallow world.
If you are a secret dreamer, it’s your time to announce yourself.
~ Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Head in the clouds, yes. But we may be looking for rainbows where others can’t see them. We’ve got great and vivid imaginations. Our gift is to see the storms of light and the glow of light in ourselves and in others. All the time. Empaths are born dreamers.

As sensitive children, it can be tough. We feel buffeted around by the emotions of others around us, but we don’t know that yet. Sensitive and empathic children may be climbers or runners or readers or dancers or musicians or you name it. Whatever takes you up and away from the onslaught of emotions surrounding a child in their family, with their friends, or in school. Sensitive children need a reliable outlet for escape to express the swirls inside that they are feeling. So we are great daydreamers.

And adolescents. We can be emotional junkies. Seeking intense experiences, often with a sign on our backs. We may end up in places that we never planned on going to. A lot. The highs are high and the lows are low, and we begin to learn about boundaries. We recognize that we seem to have some healing energies that others may not have. We seem secret dreamers longing for a better world.

We can become practical dreamers. As adults, empaths have seen, felt, and experienced enough to understand ruin and heartache, but also hope and healing. And we want the latter for our children, our friends, our world. We stubbornly hold on to hope. Empaths have the job and the destiny to hold hope out for others too. (We often work in the helping professions.) We know your feelings, and we will hold your hand and bear witness for you as you re-group and re-dream.

Practical dreamers with one foot in the world and one in the clouds. Yes, indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Grow, Not to Sort

Labels. We all have them. We all use them. They are helpful. Until they are not. I’m not talking about the labels on things. I’m talking about the labels we put on people, and the labels people put on us.

Don’t think you have any? You do. We all do. Start with your family. Are you the middle child? The oldest? The youngest? The only? That’s probably label number one. Then are you the smart one? The funny one? The pretty one? The flaky one? The dependable one? Etc. Then come the school labels. Hard worker or slacker? Gifted or slow? Athletic or non? Good test taker or not? Etc. Friend labels next. Good listener or know-it-all? Giver or taker? Fun or not? Quiet or loud? Etc. Then there are occupational labels, medical labels, special interest labels. Etc.

Want to know a secret? There are very few forever labels. Unlike the ingredients on products, the labels on people can change. Because people can grow. We are not stagnant. We change. And we have the power to make our own determinations about what a label means for us. We can live up to it, live down to it, or get rid of it altogether. The key is not to let a label limit you. Embrace the labels that help you find your place in the world and grow. Discard the misnomers others may throw at you.

Labels may be universal or specific. Labels can narrow your view to self limiting or can widen your gaze and broaden your compassion. They can also connect you with others who are like you. The web is full of pages and people to learn from, and it all starts with the label or topic you type in. Do you see where I am going with this? Use your labels to grow, not to sort. Use labels to connect, not to disconnect.

We can adopt and discard labels as we grow and change. Our families, our jobs, our health, our homes, our world views, our inner lives, our special interests will grow and change. We will self-define differently, and labels can give us an outward starting place for connection, investigation, and exploration. They also can give us a starting point for understanding and compassion toward others. And sensitivity and compassion are signs of being an empath. Empath. Now, that’s a label I like.

Thanksgiving, Past, Present, and Future

The past was the past. Childhood was largely out of your control. Those holiday celebrations? Not of your creating. You were a pawn in a larger family game. And the pawn is forced to show up. If this notion is foreign to you, then I am happy for your childhood holiday experiences. If this notion is familiar to you, then I am here to remind you to take heart and take charge. You can re-write the script and change your holiday. You get to determine who you are with and who you are not with. You get to determine where you are, what you do, what you eat, and how to celebrate (or not). Allow me to illustrate….

Thanksgiving was awful when I was a kid, and I hated this holiday for a long time. We had to go to my alcoholic grandparents’ house. Where the tension between people was palpable and where more was unspoken than spoken. (This little empath spent the day sad and confused.) Their traditions included a catered in meal, a fancy table, and for us to be seen but not heard. If we were chastised and cried, my step-grandfather pulled out his “crying balloon” and made it whine while laughing at us. They tried to make us eat exactly what they served, but after I threw up in the water glass, I got a pass on that one.

As an adult, I ignored the holiday for a while. And then I decided to re-write it. With MY family – my husband and my children. I vowed to always cook a nice, simple meal to share at home. I vowed to let everyone relax and be comfortable for the day. I vowed to savor our time together. To be thankful. And that’s it. No big production. Short, simple and very sweet.

The hardest part was changing my feelings about the holiday. That is always the biggest hurdle for an empath. But it is doable. If you have a rattling ghost of bad holidays past, I encourage you to banish it and take away its power. You can create your own form of celebration however traditional or non-traditional you so choose.

As for future holidays to come, we can re-invent that too. Perhaps a destination holiday….hmmm….

 

The Walking Wounded? or Pillar of Strength?

Am I the walking wounded or a pillar of strength? Yes. To Both. We all are. Because we are human, and we are living the human experience. We have encountered good and evil. We have been scarred inside and out. And the longer we live, the more scars we have. But remember that scar tissue is strong, very strong.

Think about the expression “Learning the hard way.” Isn’t that just learning to handle what life dishes up? There is rarely a “learning the easy way.” We learn by having experiences. With others. Who are flawed. Like us. We interact, we connect, we disconnect. Harder when we don’t want the same things. Harder when our goals are completely different, and when are visions are completely different. This is daily living with problems that may come and go, but mostly we learn to manage and bounce back from life’s disappointments.

But what about the big ones? The ones that knock us off our feet. The ones that are unjust and leave us screaming no or cowering in fear. The ones that leave the deep scars. The ones that leave us at the bottom of the pit that we think we will never get out of. Even if we learn to stand again, we feel like the walking wounded.

The miracle of life is that yes, you were in the pit, but yes, you got out. Because we can climb out of the pit, but it’s really, really hard. When you are pushed down, it is hard to get back up. The key is getting that hand off your back that is keeping your face to the ground. The key is to get your strength back and to start that slow climb up. You will need to alter your life to get that hand off you and get away from whatever is knocking out your soul.

You will still walk with your wounds, but you will also have gained strength from your journey back up. Commit to healing, and healing experiences and people will enter your life. Seek and embrace them.

I have a lot of scar tissue, but I have met some extraordinary people who helped me out of the pit (several pits actually). I acknowledge that sometimes I do still feel like the walking wounded, but most times I feel like a surviving pillar of strength. I focus on that. Strength.

 

 

The Quiet Achiever

Empaths lead with our hearts (not with our mouths). We know by intuition. We know by feeling. We go down the path by following our emotional instincts. This leads to some surprising encounters in life because we know to keep walking, but we do not know exactly what we will meet around the bend. No matter. We proceed. We are process oriented. We are in it for the journey. We are the pushers of depth of experience. And we often are the quiet achievers in life.

Why quiet achievers? Because our journey is inward first and foremost. We are guided by our inner light, our heart chakra. Sensitive souls are self-reflective by nature. Self-reflection is part of the whole empath gig. We move through waves of emotion daily, sifting and turning. Some waves rise, and some fall away, but our energies in our chakras keep spinning. We trust these emotional energies and follow them where they lead. Our emotional instincts will be our guiding light to manifest in the outside world. Do I trust this person? Do I take this job? Do I move here? Do I go there? Do I take this leap of faith? Etc.

When we trust our hearts, when we act on our “knowing,” we will excel in our chosen endeavors. They may be personal endeavors like parenthood. They may be professional endeavors like making decisions that effect staff and workplace. They may be quiet endeavors like creating a beautiful piece of art or writing a heartfelt song. They may be public endeavors like working on committee or presenting to an audience. But they will be ours, and we will be all in. (Thus, the “passion” in “compassion.”)

Sometimes we pick our endeavors, but often for an empath, they pick us. We recognize the call, and we answer it. Hello, Universe. I hear you. I’ll give it a go. (I can’t tell you how often I have had an experience and only much later figured out what it was teaching me or how to make sense of it.)

And we grow, and grow, and grow, when we follow our intuition to new lands. And we achieve, quietly. Because we are in it for the journey, not for the glory. We are in it to connect with our fellow travelers. Our lives, and the lives of those around us, will be enriched for having done so.

Good at This, Bad at That

We all have natural ability areas and challenging areas, but when we say, “I am good at this and bad at that,” we limit ourselves terribly. We may not even know that we are doing it. We keep doing what we seem to be good at, and we start avoiding what is harder for us to do. We sort ourselves into two boxes. One box (the stuff I’m good at) gets filled to capacity, and the other box (the stuff I’m bad at) gets doomed to emptiness, perhaps forever.

Don’t get me wrong, enjoy your gifts and natural talents, and make the most of them. However, look at the flip side too. Don’t limit yourself. I’m suggesting that no matter your age, you keep your options to grow open.

Unfortunately, the good at – bad at trend starts early. In childhood. In families. In friendships. In schools. Our natural talents are visible, we get praise for them, and we naturally choose to develop them. The “good at” grows rapidly, and we learn self-confidence and self-worth, which is a good thing. But the flip side is that we learn to avoid other things that we COULD become good at. Or that we could become okay at ~ but immensely enjoy.

“Yet” and “sensei” are two words reflecting concepts that can help shift you to become better at something that you think that you are bad at. Pick something that is hard for you and that you wish you were better at. Say your phrase and add the word “yet” at the end. “I am not good at ______________ yet.” You’ve just started your growth mindset. By adding “yet” you recognize that you are a work in progress and willing to grow. (You are shifting from the belief that you are not doomed at ____________ forever!)

Next, find a “sensei” (or more than one) to help you improve. Sensei is the Japanese word for teacher/mentor/expert/wise specialist. Seek someone who can teach, guide, and stretch you in your new direction and support and advise you as needed. Someone who can dedicate the time to you as you learn and practice the skills needed in your growth area.

Me, I’m working on my computer skills. Right here, right now. A work in progress. What’s yours?