Opening Our Hearts Awakens Us to Our Authenticity

18488283_s“Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.” —Aberjhani

Opening our hearts awakens us to our authentic selves. Seeing ourselves through the eyes of our hearts, we can acknowledge that we are love and, therefore, whole and complete. In this state of awareness, we become our own safe haven, free to fully express who we are, for there is nothing we need to do except be love—at one with our source of love and at peace with ourselves. Seeing ourselves as love prepares us to cultivate loving relationships and live from the perspective of universal love. 
Opening our hearts to awaken to our authentic selves takes conscious awareness. Conscious awareness is our intuitive ability to tune in to spiritual information providing us with a broader spiritual perspective. Conscious awareness bypasses logical thinking and leads to an inner knowing through our hearts. It assists us in noticing and appreciating the information that comes from spirit. Through conscious awareness, we see and sense what is in alignment with our soul’s journey.
Awakening to our authentic selves as love leads us to letting go of who we think we should be and embracing who we actually are. Living as our authentic selves is like singing karaoke. At first we may be nervous; yet each time we trust ourselves and surrender our need for perfection we gain increased awareness of the value of living this way.  
To live as our authentic selves we must communicate from our hearts. We must speak our truth, our intimate thoughts and feelings, honestly and openly. When we communicate in this way, our words take on a more profound meaning to the listener. Sincere, honest, and loving words encourage people to listen to us like thirsty bees drawn to nectar.
When we communicate from our hearts, we feel secure enough to express our inner truths without fear of judgment, criticism, or retaliation. However, when we are feeling vulnerable we must rely on people who can support us regardless of our struggles, such as individuals on our energetic soul support team. As Brené Brown poignantly states, “We need to honor our struggle by sharing it with someone who has earned the right to hear it. When we’re looking for compassion, it’s about connecting with the right person at the right time about the right issue.”
Sharing our vulnerabilities with such loving, connected, and trustworthy people enhances our sense of safety and deepens our experience of trust and intimacy. For example, when I separated from my husband and needed to share my paralyzing fear of repeating my father and mother’s legacy of divorce I called my best friend. Shaken by feelings of shame that I had a failed marriage and anguish over putting my son through this ordeal, I opened my heart and shared my vulnerability with her.
I then experienced a flashback to the day I was told of my own parents’ impending divorce. My heart had imprinted the emotional pain of this past trauma, and it was now surfacing through my entire body like a quivering panic. I remembered lying on the bottom bunk of my brothers’ beds when my father entered the room and I knew by the worried look on his face that he was about to tell us something that would change our lives forever. Through his tears he made eye contact with me and haltingly said that he and my mother were getting a divorce. At first it felt like a shock wave moved through me, paralyzing me so I couldn’t speak. My father then spoke the words that have haunted my dreams ever since: “Who do you want to live with—me or your mother?” At that moment, I began to cry and heard my voice say to him through my tears, “I can’t choose, Daddy. I love you both.” Communicating with my friend about the connection between my past pain and my present problematic marriage elevated not only my spiritual perspective but also encouraged self-compassion and acceptance.  
Communicating about our vulnerabilities in this way and accepting our experience as valid and transformative, even when it may differ from the other person’s point of view, creates a loving relationship environment that supports us in acknowledging that the essence of our authentic selves is love. When we know our authentic selves as sources of love, we understand that our being is much deeper than our patterns, identities, and roles. Moreover, surrounding ourselves with such people, provided they listen well, respond meaningfully, and support our needs, helps us stay connected to our authentic selves.

Don’t Worry Be Happy: 10 Ways to Boost Your Well-Being

debpyramid “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” ~ Thich Nhat Hhan

     Many of us feel that the pursuit of happiness is elusive and unattainable. We think if we just had the right job, relationship, or an abundance of money that then we would be happy. Yet, contrary to this popular belief, happiness is a state of being-wellbeing that is within our grasp. And, we have always had the power to create it in our lives. We have known this internal power as children when we played in the puddles after a warm rain, chased after fireflies in the summer, or built forts or fairy alters in our yards. Sustaining a flow of happiness takes the same lifelong principles that we practiced as children.
  • Going with the Flow: Remember when you were so engrossed in creative play that you felt so present with the world around you? You can still feel suspended in time while exercising, painting, meditating, or playing music. It is here that distractions fall away, background noise disappears, and you feel completely immersed in the moment. Then, stringing together these moments of heightened, present-oriented experiences brings feelings of joy, inspiration and happiness.   
  • Sustaining a Positive Outlook: Remember when you looked on the bright side of life? You envisioned your dreams never doubting your innate power to fulfill them. When you sustain a positive outlook on life, you are more likely to manage life’s challenges, make better choices, support a healthy immune system and sustain a sense of happiness. Such a positive viewpoint also has helps you live longer and prevent certain diseases.  
  • Counting Your Blessings: Remember how your heart was open to give and receive at all times? You can practice gratitude by keeping a journal of things you’re grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you. As your day begins, bring to mind three things that you feel grateful for or happy about even if it’s being alive. When your day comes to a close, think about three things that happened during the day that you feel blessed about, and how you believe they happened.  
  • Engaging in Mindfulness Meditation: As a child, you lived life as a meditation. Rewire your brain for happiness. Meditation literally clears your mind and brings your body into a state of calm. It’s been proven to be the most effective way to live a happier life. Set aside quiet time to tune inward and center yourself throughout your day. Even setting aside a few minutes each day to open your heart and be present will begin your day on a positive note. Ten minutes is better than five, and 20 better than 10. 
  • Savoring Positive Experiences: Remember when you noticed beauty, artistry, and the wonder of life.Train yourself to become aware of, appreciate, and enhance the positive experiences in your life. Consciously focus on and mindfully attend to, and identify these experiences on a regular basis. Be in awe of nature or a meaningful soulful experience.
  • Practicing Random Acts of Kindness: As a child, you were kind and compassionate. Serve others at least a couple hours a week. Research shows that committing random acts of kindness promotes wellbeing. Be kind whenever possible and you will find that you will feel more positive, open and loving. It’s also important to engage in restorative self-care which are simple, sacred acts of kindness to yourself. 
  • Cultivating Healthy Relationships: The only thing that really matters is spending time with those you love. Surround yourself and spend more time with people who love, support, and care for you without conditions. Create an energetic soul team of pure love. Such love will support your happiness even if you are an introvert. 
  • Forgiving Often and Quickly: Remember when you were little you forgave often and quickly? Forgiveness allows us to create a clean slate so we can being anew. And, the more you forgive yourself, the more you will find it easier to forgive others. It will free you from the past and open the energetic space for you to create a better future. 
  • Exercising More: As a child, you probably played until you were exhausted. Physical exercise has a profound effect on our well-being. Research has shown that exercising only 7 minutes a day can profound impact our happiness and reduce anxiety and depression. It can help you relax, increase your creativity, and overall body image.
  • Spending More Time Outdoors: As a child you loved spending time outdoors. Make time to go outside on a beautiful day even if it’s for just a few minutes. It can boost mood, expand thinking and improve memory. Happiness is maximized at 13.9°C so head outside for your 20 minutes of fresh air. Use of this natural anti-depressant to create happiness.

Inviting in Soul-Hearted Relationships

     We create soul-hearted relationships by being love ourselves rather than going on a quest to find “the one.” It is about being fully accountable for the energy that we are in the universe. If our energy is toxic or negative, we will invite toxicity and negativity into our lives. On the other hand, if we radiate love and our authentic selves, we will attract love and connection with others.

     In my life, the pivotal moment of inviting in real love and connection came when I found the courage to let go of my second marriage and chose to love myself more than the codependent patterns that had held my relationship together. Sitting on the wobbly first step of my back deck on a cold spring day in March, I called my friend and spiritual mentor, thinking to myself, “I cannot compromise myself or my children any longer.” It felt like my feet were on the ground anchoring me in my current life while the rest of me was spinning out of control into my future. At the same time, I felt emotionally and spiritually depressed, having long been unhappy but having not allowed myself to feel the depth of my despair or make an alternative choice.
     Since the birth of my daughter over nine years before, I had felt as if I had been in emotional and spiritual limbo, going through the motions in my second marriage and my work as a psychologist in a mental health agency while setting my own needs aside for those of others. I knew this place well for I had lived here all my life, waiting for the other shoe to fall, for it to get better, and for the courage to leave. I had clung to my daily routines as a buoy so as not to slip into the black hole of despair that threatened to engulf me. I knew I needed to embrace my pain and let it guide me but I was too afraid to do so. I also knew that in choosing to make other people’s lives wonderful I had forfeited my own fulfillment, along with my dream of true love and connection with myself and a beloved partner.
     To create the space for a genuine loving and connected relationship, I had to fearlessly let go of the relationship I was in and release the toxic residue left in its wake. Like a cosmic cow catcher in front of a locomotive, I had to clear the track of anything that blocked the flow of love in my life. Therefore, if I wanted to live a life of authenticity I had to affirm that I was lovable and didn’t need anyone’s permission to express this love.
     It is our nature to yearn for authentic love and connection, yet we often stay in an unhealthy relationship beyond its time and purpose out of fear of loneliness, convincing ourselves that the relationship fulfills our need for love and connection and saying such things to ourselves as “I know he loves me, even though he can’t say it and can’t show it.” Unfortunately, we are often seduced by such a pseudo-connection, confusing it with authentic connections with lifelong spiritual companions.
    Developing deep connection with a partner on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level is difficult for several reasons. First, most people are terrified of opening their hearts and connecting with others in such an intimate way because they have been hurt, disappointed, or abandoned in the name of love. So instead they hide behind a mask, giving others what they think they want but still not feeling truly loved and connected. Second, many individuals confuse approval-seeking or people-pleasing for genuine love and connection. Third, many people try to fix what’s going on in the other person’s life instead of detaching themselves from their human process and compassionately connecting heart to heart with them. Fourth, many people meet someone who appears better than the last person with whom they were in relationship, think this is as good as it gets, and settle, telling themselves they were lucky to find someone. These kinds of behaviors keep them focused on their own egocentric concerns and insecurities rather than being love and thus attracting more love.

Releasing Resentment

10445482_s     Inviting in a new year gives us a natural place to clear our life of resentments and grievances, and begin with a clean slate. Confronting and clearing such negativity unleashes a flow of positive energy within us that we can direct toward shaping a more fulfilling life. At the beginning of 2015, we may have paused, reflected, and even made new resolutions for the coming year. This is beneficial, yet, for our new intentions to manifest, we have to clear our lives of any resentments that we may be holding toward others and even ourselves.  

      Like a cosmic cow catcher in front of a locomotive, we have the ability to clear the track of any resentments that block the forward movement of our lives. This healthy clearing process is an essential element for our physical, emotional and spiritual transformation. It’s like skin sloughing off dead cells that accumulate and block the growth of new cells. Animals, birds, and plants move through a regenerative clearing process as part of their natural development. Similarly, as we release unresolved business from our past, we open and see ourselves in a more loving, accepting way.   

     One useful tool in clearing body, mind and spirit is the mantra “bless and release.” Every time you notice a toxic thought, grievance or pattern, think or say “bless and release to dissipate any negative energy. Follow this mantra with directing your heart to soften and let go of whatever just surfaced. Wrap the person or situation in pink light to cut the negative energy on it. Another tool is a self-designed ritual of release such as a private prayer ceremony, the burning of old journals or a time capsule that can be buried with items connected to a past toxic relationship.

     A ritual of release that I used to release past resentment toward my mother, who abandoned me when I was young, involved fashioning then burying a miniature time capsule in the form of a coffee that contained items connected to my childhood. Following a year-long search for my mother after her twenty-six year absence—a quest that revealed past experiences of loss and pain—my search ended at the run-down apartment in Pittsburgh where I had last lived with her. I had with me the coffee can containing a photograph that captured my essence at age eight, the year my mother had left me, along with a letter to that little girl expressing my unconditional love for her. I had written: ”Dear Debbie, you are a strong, loving, and courageous woman. You are whole and complete light. This is how you came into the world and this is how you will leave. Remember, you have not been abandoned. I have always been there with you. You have blessed and released your painful past. Now, be free to live and express the light of your being.” These ritual objects acknowledged both who I was then and who I had become.

      I buried the coffee can in the backyard of the apartment building, symbolizing the clearing of unresolved grief relating to my mother. As a result of releasing my resentment and forgiving the past, I began to claim my true being so I could create a more positive and fulfilling life.

     Releasing resentments does not constitute a free for all to blame, attack, or criticize another. Rather, it is a loving exchange of honest and open feedback with ourselves and when necessary with others When given as positive corrective feedback, it keeps us from harboring resentment and supports physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy.  

Breaking Free of Our Comfort Zones

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly,
but rarely admit the changes it has gone through
to achieve that beauty.
—Maya Angelou
Comfort zoneBreaking free of our comfort zones challenges us to expand our range of spiritual understanding and stimulate growth. Perhaps an apt visual metaphor for such an expansion is the dispersal of a shipment of rubber duckies around the world’s waterways. In 1992, a Chinese freighter accidently dropped a crate of thirty thousand rubber duckies into the Pacific Ocean, which were later discovered on the coasts of Indonesia, Australia, South America, Alaska, the Arctic, and England, resulting in scientists gaining a better understanding of ocean currents. Metaphorically, their geographical movement can be seen as a means for breaking free of our comfort zones and trusting the current of life to carry us forward, enabling us to more fully develop our spiritual potential and contribute to a greater good in the future.
     We often become fixated on how others perceive and define us, and try to remain within limited parameters for fear of making mistakes, failing, or disappointing them because we desperately want their approval. But such behavior diminishes our sense of self-worth, limits our ability to make discerning choices, and undermines trust in our own experiences or the voice of our spirit to guide us in realizing our true potential. There is nothing enlightened about inhibiting ourselves so that others feel secure or fulfilled while we feel “shrink-wrapped.”
     When we are able to do this, we no longer feel we have to “hustle for our worthiness,” as Brené Brown states. “When we can let go of what other people think and own our own story,” she says, “we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness—that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging—lives inside our story.”
     Following is an example of breaking free of our comfort zones. Last October I traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and took my first class in NIA, a sensory-based movement practice that incorporates dance, martial arts, and healing arts. Originally, I was going to stay in my comfort zone by going to a yoga class; however, I wanted to experience my vulnerability, and taking the NIA class turned out to be a good motivator. As we began to move, my first thoughts were, “Am I doing this right?” and “Do I look like a fool?” I compared myself to everyone else, immediately felt five years old, and moved to the back of the room where I thought no one could view me before realizing there were floor-to-ceiling mirrors along the wall, enabling others to easily see me. 
    At this point, the teacher asked us to break out of our usual movements, calling out, “Are you doing anything new? Are you doing the same hippie arms? Are you staying in one place?” Of course, I was doing the same hippie arms in the same place, stuck in my habitual movements and afraid to transcend my comfort zone. Then summoning my courage I opened my heart and said to myself, “Oh, what the heck. Just trust yourself, Deb.” I surrendered to my inner dancer, experiencing a freedom I had never felt before on the dance floor and discovering a way to express myself that better reflected my authentic self.
     Like stepping outside the yellow tape outlining the body at a crime scene, we step outside the confines of our comfort zones to express who we truly are. We don’t think our way into becoming our authentic selves but rather love our way there. When we love ourselves enough, we courageously move toward what we fear and allow ourselves to let go of unhealthy patterns; break free of our familiar habits of resistance, avoidance, and control; and embrace change as a mantra for our lives.

Tapping the Power of Intention

15036386_s     Using the power of intention is not about setting a specific goal and focusing so much on it that you lose sight of other possibilities. On the contrary, it is about setting a goal, being open to the many choices that present themselves in reaching that goal, then selecting the ones most likely to bring about the desired outcome.

     Just as a plane is guided onto the runway, into the air, and to its destination by airline personnel and air traffic controllers, you, as copilot, can guide your intention into reality by co-navigating with your source. Making your flight plan a reality, however, necessitates being out in front of your intention, which means thinking and acting as if your intention has already manifested. Spirit assists in manifesting your intention by guiding the choices you make. You can be out in front of your intention by using creative visualization. Close your eyes and imagine how your manifested intention would look and feel in your life. Next, trust and affirm that your intention has already been manifested. Then expand your conscious awareness so you are open to the spiritual information that comes through your heart guiding the choices that bring your intention into reality.

     In addition, because any thought or spoken word functions as an intention, it is crucial to keep thoughts and words positive. The phrase “Be careful what you wish for” applies to the potential outcomes of thinking or speaking negatively. If you catch yourself thinking or speak negatively, shift your ideas, words, or tone to be more positive.

     It is important that our intentions reflect what we want rather than what we don’t want, because any intention has the power to manifest. For instance, if you complain to a coworker that you hate your job and wish you didn’t have to be there, you are setting a negative intention. In generating energy to support this intention, you may get your wish and end up being fired. For better results you could express your intention positively by saying, for example, “I want to use my talents and abilities to create a new career” or “I desire a job in which I can express myself more fully.” Having set a positive intention, you can manifest a new job by being aware of possibilities that will help you find it, such as talking to someone who tells you about another position, seeing a job advertised in the paper or on the Internet, or running into a friend who wants to start a business with you.

     Trusting the manifestation of our intentions transforms our reality and allows us to relinquish attempts to control our destiny, such as trying to physically, mentally, or emotionally manipulate people, thus helping us attain more peace of mind and work more cooperatively with others. The Serenity Prayer used in AA and other self-empowerment programs underscores this dynamic by stressing the advantage of accepting the things we cannot change (such as other people), having the courage to change the things we can (such as ourselves), and having the wisdom to know the difference.

     Familiarity with the transformative power of intention makes us realize that we have many more possibilities in life than we could possibly envision through the lens of old mindsets. In co-creating with our divine source, we can consciously choose what we want in life. And with new confidence in the innate power of intention to manifest our desires, we can trust in our ability to make our dreams come true.

Inviting in Blessings for 2015

      Invite in blessings for 2015 and let go of any fear, negativity, resentments or disappointments. Resolve to complete 2014 with love, forgiveness and gratitude for everything that has brought you to this moment in your life.    

     As we bless and release 2014 and invite in 2015, we continue to experience tremendous shift on a global and individual level. Most importantly, how we perceive and respond to these changes determines our future as well as the future of our planet. So instead of reacting from fear, anger, or resistance, respond to any challenge with an open heart and complete trust that these energetic changes are co-creating both personal and global transformation.         
     The shift that we all have been experiencing from the inside out is one we also observe from the outside in. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, financial, political, social, and environmental structures are dissolving so that any negative energy can surface and be released and new healthier forms can emerge. We can start from the inside out, inviting in blessings, making positive choices and letting our light expand out into the world.    
     Pay attention and stay centered, love yourself fully and use this powerful flow of light energy to clear your life of anything that is no longer appropriate to your being by making clear, discerning positive choices. Give yourself the freedom to follow your heart and allow light energy to move through you without trying to control or force anything to happen. By doing so, you will find this to be a more positive and productive way of operating in your life in 2015.   
     When you acknowledge love as your true state of being, you can let go of fear and disappointment and transcend any circumstance no matter how difficult it seems at the time. Directing the flow of energy in this way will create amazing shifts to happen in your life. This aligns with your soul journey and empowers you to be a force of light, wellness and all that is good. Be the light in the world that you came here to be…

The Return of the Light

  For millennia, winter solstice celebrations have heralded the return of the light and are a time of quiet reflection and intention. In many Native American cultures, tribes and families would gather to start up a new year at the solstice and have a special celebration where they would make a request to the Great Spirit to eliminate certain things that they no longer wanted in their lives. As a way of representing this, they would craft six arrows: three to represent the things they did not want and three for the things they did want. They called them “death” arrows and “life” arrows because they held respectfully, the things they wanted to be out of their lives and those they wanted to bring life to.    

One by one, they would each step into the ceremonial circle from the north, put arrows in the ground and say certain prayers, concentrating on that which they were willing to give up. Then they would go to the higher ground, and make the request to the Great Spirit for what they wanted to bring into their lives. They would leave the arrows standing for the Great Spirit throughout the year. During the sacred ceremony, what you requested to be taken out of your life would be removed, and what you wanted to come, came in. The Native Americans had unswerving faith that what they asked for would be granted through their intentions.

On the winter solstice, take the time to reflect on the things you want to let go of this year and the things you want to bring into your life. It’s an opportunity to name and release the situations or patterns in your life that are ready to be let go of and forgiven. Focus on what’s appropriate to your being at this time in your life. Sit quietly, open your heart and let the flow of energy move through you as you meditate on your intentions. If you feel inclined, write them down and put them in a special place to reflect upon at a later time. It is trust in yourself and your source that will manifest an abundance of all that is good, loving, and joyful in your life.

Practicing Self-Compassion During the Holidays

     Cultivating self-compassion during the holidays requires precious self-care—that is, nurturing ourselves with the utmost kindness and love, as we would someone we cherish. Such behavior is not self-indulgent but rather essential to enhancing our health, vitality, and our relationships. It increases our energy, brings peace of mind, and restores balance. Even setting aside just five minutes a day to nurture ourselves can help us reduce stress, calm the nervous system, feel renewed, and be more productive.

      Often we set aside our own needs while caring for others. Or we do not dedicate sufficient time and energy to self-care, due to the endless to-do lists, obligations, and distractions in our lives. However, disregarding our needs while instead focusing on the needs of others or on activities we consider more important takes a toll on us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It triggers such mindsets as “I must” or “I should” be doing for someone else instead of making our own needs as important as those of others. Putting off self-care may seem noble and selfless until we become stressed, exhausted, and even sick and lacking the energy to care for anybody, including ourselves—due to illness or compassion fatigue. The heart center is vulnerable to congestion because of the emotional processing that occurs there, especially for highly sensitive people, potentially causing health problems. And showing compassion to others while not to ourselves can result in loss of connection to ourselves as love source.

     Many of us who are deeply sensitive are dealing with compassion fatigue which can create feelings of spiritual depression. It is important to reframe these feelings as a time of “deep rest.”  Restorative self-care requires performing small acts of kindness toward ourselves, such as taking a few minutes at the beginning and end of every day to meditate, journal, or relax; transforming our daily shower or bath into a ritual to cleanse our energy field after a stressful day; or engaging in activities such as walking, yoga, massage, acupuncture, tai chi, or energy work to release tension, toxicity, and enhance the flow of positive energy. Making a compassion covenant with ourselves by agreeing to practice at least one act of kindness toward ourselves every day can sustain happiness, well-being, and self-compassion while also modeling self-care for those we love. In honoring our need for compassionate self-care, we have more energy to serve others.

     Cultivating compassion for ourselves by being kind, nonjudgmental, and nonreactive when we struggle, make a mistake, or feel unworthy supports our health and well-being. The more willing we are to treat ourselves this way, the more likely we will be to behave this way toward others. Such behavior generates a sense of universal love, inner peace, and spiritual attunement with everyone and everything.

  • Consciously chose to move through every moment with an open heart, with no expectations and operating as stress free as possible.
  • Celebrate each day no matter if the shopping lines are long, the traffic congested, and/or our interactions with people more challenging.
  • Practice loving-kindness and non-judgment with yourself.
  • Forgive yourself quickly and often.

       Let your mantra be to sow seeds of light and love where ever you may go so that you leave it a better place for being there. Shine your light so that others may benefit. Celebrate life, express pure love and sustain the light of your being.

Opening Your Heart in Gratitude

         Opening your heart in gratitude releases a continuous stream of positive energy that supports spiritual clarity, creativity, personal effectiveness, strengthening of the immune system, elimination of energy blocks, and the diminishing of fear, stress, and negativity. As such, it brings us into emotional balance so we feel less irritated or angry when someone cuts in front of us in traffic or our partner makes an insensitive remark. It also helps us better observe our reactions, stop negative self-talk, and cease judging others. In response, we can access our inner guidance to make discerning choices in our health, relationships, and finances. Most importantly, the overall quality of our lives improves because we wake up each day with positive energy, inspiration, and a sense of gratitude for all the blessings in our lives.

     When we are grateful, the heart and brain operate synergistically. With practice, we can improve and actively control this synergy to prevent stress-producing emotions and enhance mental clarity. We can initiate self-love that leads to loving others by closing our eyes, placing a hand on the center of our chest, and focusing our attention on our hearts. We can attain inner peace by going deep inside our hearts, quieting our minds, breathing deeply, and focusing on radiating love in the form of gratitude or compassion to ourselves or others. By breathing out negative thoughts, emotions, and judgments about ourselves with each exhalation, we can eliminate any negativity and clear energy blocks.  

     Begin every day feeling grateful for opportunities to open your heart. No matter what your circumstances, daily bless yourself, your fellow human beings, and the earth; then express appreciation for your unique gifts. This opens your heart and helps you hear the voice of spirit guiding your life. Expressing gratitude for such spiritual guidance inspires you with the knowledge that you are not alone in your journey through life and strengthens your sense of connection with the universe.

     An affirmation that can be helpful in this regard is the following by poet e. e. cummings reminding us to affirm ourselves and life in this way: “I thank you God for this most amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky: and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”

     Acknowledge the blessings of who you are and what you already have, even if you do not necessarily feel this way. You can start with feeling blessed for being alive, followed by other blessings in your life. Continue the practice by repeating the mantra “I am a blessed being” or “I bless myself, my fellow human beings, and the earth no matter what.” Keep a journal of things you’re grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others assist you.