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Some thoughts from GraceWatcher - 3-30-2006

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  • gracewatcher@yahoo.com
    Being Aware of Our Gift Each of us has the opportunity to accept and welcome the gift of living fully in the present. When we awaken to the eternal here and
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2006
      Being Aware of Our Gift

      Each of us has the opportunity to accept and welcome the gift of
      living fully in the present. When we awaken to the eternal here and
      now, we feel alive, mobilized, our senses quickened. Each moment fully
      experienced becomes an integral part of the sculpting of our future.
      As we live today, we create our tomorrows.

      Today we may choose to be happy, cheerful and kind, to do our creative
      best at work, to relax in play. We may embrace life, accept and learn
      from the good and the not-so-good moments, appreciate and understand
      our family, friends and colleagues and support and forgive one another
      when difficulties arise.

      All of these choices represent a creative way of living the fullness
      of our day. When we spend a day that way, we feel great when we go to
      bed. We have done our part to create a happy, productive tomorrow.

      By contrast, if we spend the day grumbling, groaning, sad, depressed,
      resentful, withdrawn, fearful or angry, we're not having a very good
      today -- and we are definitely not creating a good tomorrow.

      Think about it. We are offered many choices. We choose how we perceive
      and handle life's happenings. We choose how we want to respond to each
      experience in our life. With every choice we carve another aspect of
      our future.


      Pain as an Essential Inner Teacher

      We can actually reach a point where a sudden happening and the
      accompanying loss or pain is not such a big deal. We accept that pain
      is simply a part of life. We cut our finger, and it heals. We lose
      friends and gain new ones. We smart from the hurt of someone's unkind
      action and either work it out with that person or decide to let it go.
      Wounds, losses, pain -- yes, they do hurt, but pain itself is a part
      of the healing process.

      Think of people who are born without pain receptors, who do not feel
      pain. They often injure their bodies terribly. They can put their hand
      on a hot stove and not feel it and come away with the tissue totally
      burned. So pain is a teacher; pain is a warning; pain is a signal.
      It's a type of inner radar that says, "Hey, there's something
      happening you need to pay attention to."

      As the Tibetan Master, Djwal Kul, once said, "Pain has no dominion
      over you, but pain is an essential teacher.... Embrace her, move
      through her, beyond her and find your manifest reality."'

      When we are faced with pain, we may choose to explore it, to
      understand it and to learn the soul lesson inherent in it. The secret
      is keeping our heart open. Think of the avatars and the saints. They
      kept their hearts open even when they suffered great pain. Jesus and
      Gautama kept their hearts open. Padre Pio, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother
      Teresa kept their hearts open. We may choose to walk in their footsteps.

      As we allow ourselves to realize we are wounded, to be aware of the
      pain and go deeper and deeper to its source, we reach deep into the
      well of our being to release old hurts, old poisons. That's why we
      embrace pain. It's not because we love the fact that it hurts. Nobody
      likes to hurt. But we choose to embrace pain because it's a piercing,
      an opening of a wound that allows the hurtful poison to be released.
      Then we can let it heal.

      Think about that for a minute. Isn't it true that we tend to hold on
      to what we have? Even if it's poisonous, at least it's familiar. So we
      hold on to old wounds, old ideas, old grudges by thinking about them,
      recreating them. Whether it is a person, a lifestyle, family, friends
      or simply our way of doing things -- whatever we hold on to gives us
      pain when it goes its way. When we release our attachment, we feel
      surcease from the pain.


      Being Awake

      The Buddha as the Enlightened One taught nonattachment because he
      understood this process. How did he get there? Through communion with
      God and his determination to be awake. The Buddha said we all need to
      be awake! We need to be awake to greet the new day -- with new eyes,
      new perspective, new hopes and dreams.

      We deny ourselves this awakened state when we stay stuck in our pain.
      Our awareness doesn't extend beyond the pain and the fixed ideas we
      may have about what is causing it. Or it may be that we try to hide
      from our feelings, from fully experiencing the pain. When we do this,
      we feel upset, tense, boxed in. Yet it is a box of our own making.

      It's as if we are holding tightly to the past with our eyes firmly
      shut to the present. Of course, with closed eyes, we can't see the new
      day, the new opportunity, the possibility of a lesson learned, a gain
      of new perspective. What to do? We may choose to open our eyes, even
      as we open our hearts and turn on the awareness of our five outer
      senses and our sixth sense -- our intuition.

      What is intuition anyway? It's that sense of inner knowing that comes
      from being "awake." Buddha's state of awakeness is not as far from our
      grasp as we might think. It is the awakening of our soul to inner
      perceptions, inner truths, inner wisdom. You have probably experienced
      this state many times in your life without even realizing it. It's a
      part of our spiritual nature that we sometimes take for granted. Life
      sure is a lot easier when we allow our intuition to guide us.

      Of course, this doesn't mean that difficult life situations are always
      going to "come up roses." But every time we meditate, pray,
      contemplate and take positive action, we learn and grow. Our victories
      strengthen our faith, and defeats bring lessons our souls need to learn.

      Either way, when we choose to be awake, aware and grateful in the
      present moment, we offer ourselves the best opportunity for happiness
      today. In so doing, we create a better tomorrow. And you know what? We
      may catch a glimpse of the angels smiling.


      Humor in the Ups and Downs of Life

      Our sense of happiness also has to do with the way we choose to look
      at misfortune. We may look only at the downside or we may choose to
      discover an upside. The choice is up to us.

      Do you remember the folktale of the old man whose only horse
      disappeared? When his friends tried to console him, the old man said,
      "How do you know this isn't a lucky omen?"

      Sure enough, after several months, the lost horse came back home
      accompanied by another excellent horse. Now he had two fine steeds.
      When the old man's friends congratulated him on his good luck, he
      replied, "How do you know that's not a bad omen?"

      Sure enough! One day the old man's son fell off the horse and broke
      his leg severely. It left him crippled. When the old man's friends
      called to tell him how sorry they were, he responded, "How do you know
      this isn't a good omen?" As the story goes, shortly after the man's
      son broke his leg, all the young men in the land were ordered into the
      army to fight a war far away. However, the old man's son, lame from
      his accident, was spared.

      We could carry this story on and on. It illustrates the ups and downs
      of life, which we may view as misfortune or opportunity, depending on
      the way we look at them. Some times the seemingly tragic or insolvable
      dilemma of today is only a prelude to a great opportunity of tomorrow
      -- especially when we choose to look at it that way.

      When we accept the misfortunes of today as a potential blessing for
      tomorrow, we put in motion positive energy that helps make it happen.
      It's like noticing the silver lining of the clouds -- when the clouds
      move on, we discover the sun has been shining brightly all the time.
      In our inner world, we begin to move the storm clouds along by
      focusing on loving, creative thoughts and feelings.

      Another way of nurturing a hopeful attitude in the present is to keep
      your sense of humor alive and well. A good laugh relaxes our body and
      mind even as it lifts our spirits. A sense of humor about the slightly
      ridiculous aspects of life generates laughter, and the joyful energy
      of laughter brings a brighter perspective.

      When we stay in the here and now of the present, we find more laughter
      and fewer tears. The problem for many of us is that we bury the tears
      of yesterday and carry them into our tomorrows. Instead, let's choose
      to cry when we are hurt, smile when we are happy and welcome each new
      day with hope and humor.

      Now you might be thinking, "I don't usually wake up feeling hopeful
      and humorous. In fact, until I get my first cup of coffee, it's better
      if I don't talk to anybody." Let's take a look at this: You could moan
      and groan all day -- especially if you discover you are out of coffee.

      Or you could see the funny side of the drama: "Hmmm, here I am basing
      my whole day on passing feelings and a cup of coffee. That's pretty
      ridiculous!" Cartoonists are masters at taking the minor mishaps of
      our lives and satirically showing us the humor of our ways.

      What does it take to cultivate a sense of humor about our mishaps?
      Perspective. Adopting an attitude of positive expectancy instead of
      gloom and negative pronouncements. 

      Planting Seeds of Love and Hope

      People have written and talked about this phenomenon as having a
      "positive mental attitude. " I believe it is a natural law of the
      universe that whatever we send out to life returns to us. We know this
      from our interactions with people every day. When our heart is full of
      love, everything seems to move along harmoniously. When we put out
      negative vibes and verbiage, we get it right back. We would do well to
      follow Thumper's advice in the movie, Bambi. "If you can't say
      somethin' nice, don't say nuthin' at all!"' The lesson here: Whatever
      we send out, we get back. Karma is our teacher!

      Each of us puts on many faces, sometimes all in the course of a day.
      We take on different outlooks depending on our circumstances,
      companions, thoughts and desires. As Piero Ferucci puts it, "Life may
      appear to us at any time as a routine, a dance, a race, an adventure,
      a nightmare, a riddle, a merry-go-round, etc."'

      In a word, we have the opportunity to see life as a cup half-full or a
      cup half-empty. When we see our cup of life half-empty and draining,
      we feel drained and empty. When we see our cup of life half-full and
      filling, we feel energized and overflowing. It is all a matter of the
      perspective we choose.
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