How Chris Brogan Changed My Life

Chris Brogan changed my life. Well, actually, I changed my life, but Chris was a catalyst. It was a simple email exchange discussing how we have impact. I mentioned that my impact was softer now that I was 81 and a little harder to identify. Within his reply, Chris asked, “I wonder what you’d like to tackle in the next 30 years.” And my vision of what is possible exploded.

 

Eliminate time as a constriction

As I got older, I used to kid that my five-year plan was to simply still be here. Yet on the other hand, I kept making plans to live to 114 because anything else was too close. There are many reasons I stopped thinking long term, mostly because I moved into a culture of seniors where the majority of the residents merely exist. But the fact is that I want to be productive, I need to be creative. I want to feel useful, heck, I actually want to feel valuable and I wasn’t certain exactly how to do that. Chris’s idea of the 30-year plan eliminated time as a consideration and freed me to actively continue dreaming, planning, creating and figuring out how to touch more lives. If you feel stuck, if you feel unproductive, raise your sites  and make a grand plan for the next 30 years. How are you going to be in service?  What passion will you express? What new skills will you develop?  How will you change? How many lives can you touch?
 

Release what is keeping you stuck

I’m not the greatest marketer in the world so there always seemed to be effort around selling my stuff to others. I do fabulous work, but I often felt like I was asking a favor or promoting something instead of simply interacting. Earlier this year I decided to give all my books away free and it was a huge relief. I can now let the energy of the books speak for themselves and there is no barrier of money between wanting and having for those who are interested in what I have discovered. I made it easy for people to share my ideas. In addition, it allowed me to cut back on the yearly fee of my shopping cart because all I needed was the autoresponder package to keep my community going. The books I am currently completing will also be free and that means I can share them with people without any motivation for making sales or getting publicity. I can simply write what I want to write and share it with those who resonate with my thoughts and ideas.  I find myself in a true place of service that is extremely rewarding.
 

Reposition yourself by following your passion

I was a content development coach before I retired. After I took time off to do some old-person physical correction stuff, I found I didn’t want to coach anymore. What I passionately wanted to do was to understand change, change like the one I was going through, change that was hard for me to make. I had a need to reinvent myself, to change the focus of my work. Who did I want to be? What did I want to learn? What would I explore? I started writing about change – what it meant, how to do it, what stood in my way. Learning to create positive change became my passion. That, in turn, became the focus of my current work.

 

Teach what you want to learn

I’m doing all this writing for me. I want to learn about change. I want to figure out how to apply the qualities of mindfulness and unfolding to my life. I read the phrase “deeper song” in The Prophet and wondered what that meant to me. I’m writing a book “I Want to Sing a Deeper Song”. I made a workbook to go with it. There are thoughtful piece in it like “Practice Moving Your Gaze and “How To Live A Wider Life.”  Those are all principle I want to apply and in order to figure out how, I wrote about it. What do you want to learn that you can teach through your business?  What are you passionate about that you are burning to immerse yourself in? Move in that direction.
 

Think global

I now live in the mid-west. I’m actually a liberal, metaphysician in a very conservative area. I am also a vegan in cow country. That’s not necessarily a natural fit. (Yes, I loved living in New York City. I loved living in Santa Rosa California, but two of my children are here and it seems a prudent place to be at this point in my life.) However, in order to find like-minded people I have to go on the internet. I have to find bloggers to follow like Chris www.chrisbrogan.com..  If you do not have supportive, like-minded people in your close-up life, go find them out in the world. 
 

This free thing

I don’t know how to translate this freedom of giving things away free into creating an income. Marketing is not a comfortable mode for me so now that I am free of this concept of selling something, I am happily giving my books to anyone and everyone because I want nothing back. But what if you need to get something back, like income? It looks like one model is to give much of our writing away free and then build paying workshops from the community our writing attracts. We’ll have to ask Chris about that. I do know that my email exchange with Chris prompted him to interview me and that interview created new exposure for my work. Yet he was drawn by my ideas, not what I was doing or selling. A simple e-mail began our connection. We are both philosophers and our interview connected us on a deeper level. If ideas are the coin of the realm, how will you exchange them? How can you put yourself so deeply into service that income flows effortlessly to you?
 

Know the value of your work.

However, the words from Chris that brought me to deep, racking sobs were “Your work is very important. Leave none of it undone. Generations will depend on it. :)”  Oh, how I want that to be Oh, how I KNOW that CAN be. I just need to stay productive for the next 30 years.
 

Let it unfold

I don’t know what opportunities my current activities will create, but I’m open. My 30-year plan is not goal oriented or laid out step-by-step, it is the idea of having 30 more years in which to participate in life that has opened up my life. What can I do? What will I do? I have no idea what’s going to show up. However, I do know that I just received a great gift of an idea that jump-started my life again. Thank you, Chris Brogan.
 
Here my interview with Chris here: http://cbrogan.me/omradio  It is entitled “LOTS of Smart People. “7/10/14  15. Coach Sean Brawley, Alan Jackson and Cara Lumen
 

 

Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

Practice Moving Your Gaze

Change is as simple as moving your gaze. When you look at a situation or a person from a different perspective, you discover new options, new motivations, and unique solutions. 
 

Examine a small point of view

I am often prompted to move my gaze by something I read. A phrase, a concept, or a word resonates deeply within me and I stop what I am doing to consider it. What does that mean? How would l apply that in my life? What would I discover if I changed my perspective? I have entire articles and books and poems that have emerged from the impact on my thinking of one small word or phrase. What resonates to you out of the whole? What small concept would you like to incorporate into your life? 
 

Change your viewpoint

I have a rocking chair in my living room. In the normal usage of the room, it faces the center of the room and thus the other chairs. I sit in that chair a lot to read. Recently I turned the chair to face a different direction. It was in the same place, it was simply turned to face another direction so that when I sat in it to read, I could easily glance up and see the birds at my feeders, or the clouds moving across the sky or the birch tree branches moving. Moving the direction that chair faced a mere 45 degrees allowed me to enjoy an entirely different view, one that had been closed off to me when I faced the “expected” direction. A different view can come from moving your gaze only a few degrees. How can you change your viewpoint? 
 

Gain a new perspective

I avoided getting old for a long time. I hung out with younger people. I didn’t even go to the doctor because I wanted to keep holding a positive view of my life. Finally, I had to move to get closer to my children. I went through some physical stuff like knee replacement and cataracts, but then there I was, in a home with a lot of seniors wondering who I was. And I began to joke that my 5-year plan was to simply be here. That viewpoint did not lead me on any adventures. It did not open any doors. And it certainly was not at all satisfying. When a friend asked what I would like to tackle in the next 30 years it opened up such fields of possibility that my entire life changed. I had a purpose. I had interesting things I wanted to explore. I had things I wanted to produce and share. What do I want to achieve in the next 30 years? That’s a long time. How can I make an impact? How can I enrich lives? I have many skills to bring forward. I have lessons I have learned from my past. If I want to make an impact, what group of people do I want to impact and how do I want to do it? What happens if you raise your eyes and look at the next cycle of your life?  How can you impact others? How many lives can you touch? What do you want to tackle in the next 30 years?  
 

Move a few boulders

 Move some of the fixed objects in your life, if not in reality, in your imagination. One boulder might be in the form of a physical activity you can no longer do the way you did when you were younger. Choose a smaller boulder to conquer. 
 
Another boulder may be a difficult person in your life. Look for ways to flow around that barrier. Figure out ways to turn away from and go around that person. 
 
Most boulders are placed there by you. They come from your beliefs, your fear, and your interpretation of a circumstance. That makes them extremely easy to move – you simply have to change your own thinking.
 
I wrote these poems 18 years ago.
 
On Prospective
I came to a hard place.
It was more than a bump.
It was more than a boulder.
It was like a river—
A wide gulf I could not cross.
 
Until I made it less significant.
Until I saw it as a creek.
As a trickle.
As a dew drop.
 
Then I could cross over.
 
© 1996 Cara Lumen
 
Along my path
 
Along my path there are many objects.
There are steep places.
There are low places.
There are boulders and ledges.
There are rockslides and canyons.
Along my path.
 
Sometimes I struggle on my path.
To get over or around.
To by-pass or leap over.
But always I move on.
Always I move forward.
Along my path.
 
When I know myself as simple energy
I can be like the fog.
Moving forward.
Filling every crevice.
Expanding into every hole, every space.
When I am energy.
 
When I know myself as simple energy
There is nothing to climb over
or go around.
There is simple flowing -
Flowing my energy out.
Reaching the boulders and the bumps.
Filling the ditches and the canyons.
When I know myself as energy
 
When I know myself as simple energy
There is no stopping.
There is only
a soft,
gentle
movement
forward.
 
© 1996 Cara Lumen
 

Get off the “safe” path

It is safer to follow the beaten path of your profession, but it certainly can be dull. What if you went exploring? What would you find? There are so many opportunities today to deeply pursue an interest, to find like-minded people and to participate with people all over the world. Look at the detours that show up and take a few of them. Explore your own potential to see what uniqueness you have to offer. Great adventure awaits you off the beaten path. 
 

Let go of perceived limitations

It’s very easy to wallow comfortably in your present circumstances. I am surrounded by people who are simply watching where they take their next step. They never look up, they never look ahead.  I nearly fell into that trap of low expectations for my life. The idea of a 30-year plan has turned me into an aging but rejuvenated energizer bunny. I have let go of all concepts of that limitations that might come with age and continually make plans to move forward as if I had all the time in the world and all the tools and insight and stamina I need to make a difference. What limitations do you perceive for yourself? 
 

Know Yourself

If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never get it. If you don’t know what nourishes you, you’ll never attract more of it. Strengthen your practice of self-cultivation., Create your own spiritual journey.. Learn to interpret and trust your intuition. Notice how others response/react to you. Notice what they seek from you.   How do you want to be in service? How do you want to shape your life in this next cycle? 
 

Uncover your options

The best place from which to choose an option is where you are right at this moment. Explore your emotions. Examine your successes and your failures and absorb their lessons. Look into your heart and see where you want to go next. Then examine the options laid out before you and measure them with the criteria you identified. Examine how you feel right now. What do you want more of in your life? What could you do without? When you practice moving your gaze, you will begin to see all manner of new opportunities. Then you have only to choose. 
 

Raise your expectations

My goals are simple. I want to educate, motivate and inspire people until I’m no longer in physical form. And I would love it if my words kept touching lives after that. My major purpose is to meaningfully affect lives so I’m now giving all my writing away free. I wouldn’t mind knowing of some results, like emails from readers letting me know what changed for them. That would help me better meet their needs. I expect to soar. I expect to discover new concepts, I expect to change, I expect to be a better friend, I expect a deeper spiritual life. What do you expect? 
 

Notice how you feel

The most important part of moving your gaze is to see how you feel about the new position. When you work within your passion, when you have an impact on the people you really want to serve, it is unbelievably rewarding. If what you are doing does not feel richly satisfying, go do something else. Move your gaze. How can you better honor your talent? What new skills do you possess that could take you in a new direction. Who needs what you have to offer?   Create your area of service around your strengths. Spend the majority of your time doing things that make you feel enriched.The freedom to choose and to change belongs to us.  Practice moving your gaze and see where it leads you.
 
Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

How to Create a Fertile Field for Positive Change

 Life is a cycle of continuing changes. You can’t force change, but there are specific steps you can take to create a fertile field that will encourage positive results.

Become more self-aware

You have to know what you want. You have to know where you want to go. Take time to become more self-aware. Take time to become more reflective. Know yourself. Accept yourself. Understand yourself Begin to examine your circumstances and opportunities more closely – uncover what, how, why, who and when? What do you want? Who nourishes you? What talents do you want to develop? Knowing these answers will help you make informed choices that create the fertile environment for those changes to develop.
 

Enjoy the detours

Keep your mind open as you explore new options. I would never have arrived at the serenity of my current life without all the detours I’ve made in my life and the lessons I learned during my journey. I question what I discover before I decide to embrace the concept and move on, or I discard it as not being aligned with my personal path. Each time I explore a new idea I have to question the concepts I currently value. Have I grown? Have I changed?  How are my circumstances different? What choices can I make that help me move in the direction I desire? You progress by consciously building on the distance you have come and the detours you made along your journey. 
 

Learn to utilize what you discover 

Studying a concept is just the beginning. Living it, learning to apply it to your daily life, makes you own it. Sometimes a word or phrase holds such intense appeal that it stops me in my tracks. They spark an idea or a question that I choose to explore more deeply.  What does that mean? How do I add that to my life experience?  A great deal of my writing is my way to figure out what an idea means to me and how I might embrace it. For instance, this article is written to help me figure out how I personally can build a more fertile field for positive change. Notice the ideas that call to you. Take time to figure out how you might absorb that concept in your life. Go exploring. Question what appeals to you. Select what aligns with your vision and figure out how to express it in your life. 
 

Embrace a willingness to change

You cannot prevent yourself from changing. Change is going to happen whether you want it to or not. Begin to notice how you hang on to the old ways, keep the familiar close by, and reject anything new that shows up. Hanging on to the familiar, the past, the outdated, is hard work and only makes the natural on-going process of change more difficult. When you embrace change, when you accept change, when you are willing to let go of the safe and familiar in order to go exploring in whatever shows up, you will find unexpected insights, welcome support, and the peace that comes from allowing life to organically unfold.
 

Re-choose your values and principles

As you grow more experienced and become better at defining yourself, you may elevate new values and principles to guide you. “Mindfulness” is a quality I’ve often thought about along my journey, but only in the past years have I made it one of the top qualities I embrace. The principle of “unfolding” is turning my life around as I learn to let go and simply shape things as they come. What values and principles are relevant in your life today?
 

At every crossroads tale time to rethink

A major change always calls for a re-evaluation. When I retired, I had a difficult time redefining myself. I was no longer my business. Then who was I? How can I express my life purpose in these new circumstances? What values and qualities do I want to have at the forefront of my life for this next portion of my journey? It’s important to do some soul searching when you begin a new cycle of change to see what you have and determine what you want. There are cycles within cycles. Identify where you are and watch for the crossroads where great change is possible because of the opportunities you see and the choices you make. 
 

Seek alignment 

When you move through life with conscious awareness, the world becomes richer. You become more observant of what you say and think and do. You understand how profoundly those choices affect your life and the responses of others. When you become more aware of how you are perceived by others you discover aspects of yourself you might choose to adjust. Question your beliefs to decide if they are still meaningful and relevant to your life. Tune in to your surroundings and monitor your responses for their appropriateness. As you align yourself with your values, principles, goals and circumstance, you learn to cherish and utilize the freedom you have to choose your own destiny.
 

Develop self-discipline

You are the only person who can change your life. Your decisions, your choices, and your actions reflect in the life you lead today.  If something is not working – change it. Self-discipline is about perseverance, resolve and determination. It is about taking small steps that move you nearer your goal.  It is about finding what works for you, what you are willing to do, and wanting to achieve the final result so deeply that every choice you make keeps you moving toward it.
 

Cultivate your fertile field

Nurture the growth that appears in your life. Cultivate it, feed it, water it, and give it room to grow. In my fertile field, I grow more patience with my own unfolding process. I have tossed aside goals and objectives and simply allow my writing projects to unfold in their own unique time. I am more aware of how others perceive me and I continue to soften some edges. I am nurturing my body, my mind and my spirit as I add, subtract, and try out new approaches to my self-nurturing process. 
 

Each new growth has a purpose

Are there weeds in your fertile field of change? A weed is simply a plant that is growing somewhere you don’t want it to be. What makes a weed undesirable is that it chokes off other plants, it takes over, it is more aggressive than other plants. I examine each new “plant” that grows in my field and decide where it best fits into my overall field of change. Then I transplant, or prune or discard it according to the change I want to accept in my life. What are you actively cultivating in your own field of change?

 

Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

Wander Beyond All Paths

Years ago, I veered from the norm. I “took the road less traveled” and that has indeed made all the difference. (Robert Frost) I only know vaguely why I did it. I have no idea where the courage came from that empowered me to make the unprecedented change. I only know I made a choice 40 years ago, that both saddened and enriched my life. I would make the same choice again for it led me to unexpected gifts of insight and understanding, the development of my talents, and a soul-satisfying journey that continues to nourish me today. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail,” says Emerson. I did explore. I did take a unique journey. I did change lives. It was exciting. It was adventurous. It was lonely. It was lovely. And somehow, I was never afraid, I never altered, I stayed true to myself/ I explored. I absorbed. I choose. And I learned. Oh, how I learned.  It was a path that only I could take based on where I was when I started on this path and what I needed to invite into my life in order to live my fullest.
 
Your path will be uniquely different because your “take” on life is unique from anyone else’s. Your path will depend on what you need, what you want, what skills and talents you develop, and the choices you make. Continually search out what works just for you. What will you discover if you go exploring? What will you learn? How will you change? Where will you end up? Unimagined adventure lies off the beaten path. 
 

Your current world reflects your past choices

The choices you make today influence what shows up in your experience tomorrow. The form of your present life is the result of the responses, reactions and choices you made along your journey. Your current life experience is based on conscious and unconscious belief systems you have developed over the years.  The manner in which your life unfolds is a combination of what you believe can happen and what you believe you deserve. If your current world needs changing, you must change your own belief system and adjust your expectations. Keep what you like in your world. Tweak what almost works and release what no longer serves you. Your current experience is a reflection of the beliefs and expectations that you currently hold. Is your current world exactly the way you want it to be?
 

Embrace a freedom of spirit

He is planted in his own integrity, and there he stands, gnarled and knotted, perfectly at ease with himself, his roots deep in truth, his branches held up to let the light in.   Stephen Mitchell, Second book of Tao 19
 
Oh how I want that to be me! Can you imagine anything more powerful than a person who never wavers from the values she has embraced that make up her own unique truth? How strong. How steady. How inspiring. To stand in your own strength you have to be willing to stand alone. You have to be willing to be different. You have to question everything. You have to deepen your self-awareness. You have to be true to yourself and take full responsibility for everything you say and do and experience. Standing tall in your own integrity is a freedom and it is a responsibility.  Notice how tall you are standing and where you are rooted. If you desire change, go exploring on a less traveled path and see where it leads you.
 

Question everything

Fortify your personal foundation. How can youevolve your spiritual practice?What qualities are most important to you at this point in your life? How will you cultivate them? Continue to develop the qualities and values you wish to live by. Continue to push boundaries, explore unknown avenues and wander beyond all paths. Embrace the adventures that show up. Explore the choices that appear. Examine and question everything and make only choices that expand your personal potential.
 

Follow Your Intuition

Intuition is the universal mind in each of us. It is a source of wisdom, and guidance. It is your connection to the natural cycles of life. As you learn to listen to your intuition and trust its guidance, it will help you expand your boundaries, increase your expectations, and teach you the lessons that only you are ready to learn. Watch for the signs and signals that surround you and learn to interpret them. Listen to the insights of your intuition and follow them. Trust your instincts. Be open. Be receptive. Be adventurous.
 

Allow the way of today to simply be the way of today

“Everything is ready when one is ready. Nothing is ready when one is not ready. Hau Hu Ching, tr. Ni, Hu Ching 78
 
You can’t go exploring until you notice unexplored paths and you hear them call to you. You can’t decide to pursue an opportunity until you become aware of it. However, you can encourage new paths to open up. Continue to evolve your spiritual practice, practice mindfulness and stillness, encourage your intuition and become more consciously aware in every moment. New doors are always opening. New junctures in your path appear around every choice you make. What you do with an opportunity alters your direction.  Not acting is actually an active choice. You pass someone in the hallway and you speak or you don’t speak. You think about deepening a relationship and you either do or you don’t take action. You consider changing jobs and you start either looking or training for a new one or you keep doing what you’ve been doing. The way of today is whatever it is. Utilize every moment of it.
 
Embrace your lessons
Everything is a lesson. Every encounter is an opportunity. Every choice leads in a new direction. Every difficulty is a preparation for victory. Begin a gratitude list for the difficulties you have encountered and add to that the lessons you learned and the benefits you have gained from that lesson. When life seems discordant, return to the center, to your inner self, to the peace within. Contemplate what you have learned and consult your intuition before you proceed.
 

Travel the unexplored path  

My dreams are not dreams of worldly conquest. My dreams take me deeper within. My goal, my vision, my purpose is to sing a deeper song, whatever I figure out that means to me. Moving along my chosen path becomes a very personal journey. The results and affects of the twists and turns I take are unknown until they appear. As I focus my intentions and make my choices based on my beliefs and needs and wants, I find myself on paths I never knew existed. The path I choose takes the wanting and yearning out of my life as I stay ever-present as I journey along my path. My newly discovered path allows me to remove any regret about what was left undone. On my personal path there is only now. And in this now, there is everything. If how I express myself in this world makes a difference in the lives of other people, all the better. However, I know my major work lies deep within on the path I have yet to explore.
 

Apply your new insights to your life

In order to understand a concept you have to live it. You have to embrace the idea that resonates and figure out how to apply it to your life. As I begin to embrace the diversity of my surroundings, I write to gain understanding of what action I can take to expand my awareness and increase my ability to accept the beauty of unique self-expression. The study I do becomes an interactive connection from the physical plane to the spiritual plane within me. Although the reading stimulates my mind, understanding comes only when I can live the concepts from within.  Every day I practice applying the insights I have discovered. Each day I meditate. Every day I increase my moments of mindfulness. Each day I get better at letting life unfold. It takes practice to incorporate your new insights. It takes patience. It takes perseverance. Go exploring. Take what you want to learn and apply it. That’s how you change.
 

Reside in your center

Think of one of those magical moments when whatever you are doing is so in alignment that the act is effortless. That is how it feels to be centered. You want to reside in your center. A comment can pull you off center; an unexpected circumstance can put you off balance. Fear, emotions, worries, judgments or anger can jar you away from the serenity that is always present within. Only you can return yourself to the stillness of your center. Avoid circumstances that pull you askew. Cultivate habits and awareness that help you stay in each moment. Learn to monitor your emotions and control them. Abide in the center of your being.
 

Flow like a river

Be like a leaf floating on the surface of life, enjoy the dips and swirls and trust the current to support you. Be like a cloud floating in the sky with no agenda other than to be. Become the stone standing strong and allow the river of life to flow around you. Be the stream than joins another stream to increase your power.   Flow along in life and embrace whatever shows up.
 

To wander beyond all paths means being open to change

When you live in the moment, when you simply shape things as they come, you acquire a flow to your being, a serene readiness, and a conscious presence.  Welcome change. Move with the flow. Be mindful. Be accepting. Wander beyond all paths and you will find adventure, knowledge, wisdom, and the new power of being true to yourself.

 

 

Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

Create Your Own Spiritual Journey

Religion and spirituality though related, are not synonymous. Religion is the creation of people and cultures. Spirituality is your direct personal relationship with Tao, the All-That-Is. Deepening your spirituality is your personal responsibility. No one can do it for you. You select parts and pieces from numerous sources that inspire you to feel more deeply. You adapt, absorb and weave those concepts into a personalized spiritual program that deepens your inner awareness and amplifies your innate sensitivity to the natural rhythm of things. Do not compare your path with others. Each path is unique and personal.

 I have a strong spiritual practice that I lovingly do every day. It is comprised of components that work for me. It changes as I change. It shifts its focus as I seek a new lesson. It is up to each of us to create our own spiritual path, We do that by designing our distinctive practice of self-cultivation.
 

Become a nonconformist

In order to create your own spiritual journey, you must be willing to see yourself as a nonconformist. You learn to listen to your inner voice and trust it. You learn to respond to your inner urges. Your unique spiritual journey is a solitary path that allows you to continually expand your personal relationship with Tao, the All-That-Is. As a child, I was Presbyterian. As a young mother, I was Episcopalian. Gradually I evolved into a metaphysician who studies and embraces concepts from all the words’ great religions. I became a spiritual practitioner in the Center for Spiritual Living.  Eventually I simply wrapped it all up in the package that is me, and used what resonated and expanded my connection and released the rest. To this day, I am exploring. I know how to chant, work with crystals, move energy through my hands, visualize, use affirmations, and direct qi energy. Along my personal spiritual journey, I have learned many ways to deepen my spirituality. I explore whatever calls to me. I keep what works and discard the rest. I adapt, I tweak, I repurpose. I experiment. I change my spiritual practice as I change and grow and develop new needs.
 
It’s scary to question the religion of your birth. However, it is the religion of your parents. Ultimately, your spiritual path is your personal choice. You have the opportunity to encourage your own spiritual evolution as you continue to find new ways to deepen your connection with your inner self. 
 
“Being different is what makes you who you are. It means you’re daring to live your own life, on your terms, with your values. It means you have courage to stand out from the mainstream. It means you’re interesting. Hug those differences, be grateful for them, own them. Be proud of them. “ Leo Babtua, www.zenhabits,com .
 

Make silence a cornerstone of your spiritual practice

We are Tao. All we need do to experience Tao is open ourselves to it. We do that through silence.That eternal connection is always there waiting to guide and inspire us. We simply need to learn to listen. Silence opens the connection to your inner wisdom. Silence is how you learn to interpret what you find there. Silence may mean meditation, or prayer, reading spiritually uplifting words or writing. It may mean being in nature. The purpose of all spiritual practice is to reach in and touch the power that resides within you. Allow your inner wisdom to guide you in creating your personal spiritual practice. Begin the shaping of your personal spiritual journey with regular periods of contemplative silence. Take time to sit in silence and simply be.
 

Be

Let go of your mind. Your mind encourages duality and separation. Move into that serene space where you are one with the Tao, the Universe, the All-That-Is, whatever you call it. 
Listen to your intuition, that sudden understanding of a situation, that insight, that ah-ha moment   Learn to interpret your urges, that unexpected desire to turn left instead of right, or go up instead of down. Begin to live more deeply by following the guidance from the voice within.
 
My relationships have changed since I began listening more attentively to what people are saying, and using my intuition to hear what is unsaid. Being present helps me make certain my responses are appropriate for that particular moment. Mindful eating, mindful action and mindful listening are powerful catalysts for simply being. . Be present. Be aware Be compassionate.  Be.
 

Reflect

Your inner world is one of extraordinary perceptiveness. It is there that you receive insights that seem to come from nowhere; where you suddenly view circumstances from an unexpected perspective. The insights you receive are yours alone. They are for your singular interpretation, your personal use. Whether you journal, write poetry, paint, compose music, walk in nature, or sit in the sun, time spent in reflection is precious. Take time to question your beliefs. Why do you believe what you do? Do you still believe that? What values are important at this point in your life?  Reflection helps you become more self-aware.
 
Create specific times for reflection in your spiritual practice. Avoid distractions. As I simplify my life, it is easier for me to increase my spiritual awareness. It can be lonely, this journey of self. There is no one who is building his or her own spiritual path exactly like yours. Those who want to sing a deeper song are in a constant state of exploration, discovery and receptivity to change. A simple idea you develop or a phrase you explore can become major turning points in your life. Learn to dwell in the nothingness within, and let the response you find there guide you. 
 

Shape your personal practice

Shape a spiritual practice that nurtures you.How you practice your self-cultivation is very personal. My spiritual path and personal growth have increased rapidly now that I am retired and can spend more time in self-cultivation. A new mudra deeepended my meditaion . A book taught me the form of Qi Gong I practice (The Way of Energy: Mastering the Chinese Art of Internal Strength with Chi Kung Exercise (A Gaia Original))., The poetry of Rumi and Gibran (The Prophet) have offered up insights that guide my life. I am inspired by Emerson’s Essay on Self-Reliance.   The Stephen Mitchell translation of the Tao Te Ching now shapes many of my life choices. I am guided by the books of Deng Ming-Dao. 365 Tao: Daily Meditations  Whatever works for you – do it. Combine a bit of study with meditation or journaling. Add moving meditation that opens your communication with your body. Write to figure things out for yourself. Shape your personal spiritual practice to fit your needs and your desire to deepen your song.
 

Develop perseverance and flexibility

Keep experimenting. Try different things at different times of the day. Try different versions of a concept. Journal your subtle progress.  Notice what works  Replace anything that doesn’t work. Cultivate patience,  planning and timing. Be aware of what shows up and use that experience as the ultimate teacher, creating and adjusting as you continually move forward. We need to nourish what we set in motion and adjust our course as needed. 
 

Be Open

When we live mindfully in the present moment, we embrace the best of what each day offers. We stand tall on our spiritual path. We personally select all the beliefs, attitudes, responses and reactions that color and shape our lives. Whatever you do, do it to the fullest. Embrace it fully. Then go within and become aware of what you learned and how it helped you grow and what you want to do next. 
 
Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

The Spaces In Our Lives

Space leaves room for dreaming.  Space allows room for contemplation.  Space makes room for adventure and discovery. The beliefs, values and choices we add to our space provide a foundation and a framework upon which we build our lives.  The pauses in our life, what we choose to think and do and contemplate in each moment, create the texture of our lives.   
 

The space before you speak

Oh for the times that I should have taken a moment to think before I spoke, to really listen to what was being said, to let go of my personal “stuff” so that I could move the conversation ahead in a more compatible pattern. Take a breath before you speak. Absorb the words of the other person and look beyond the words for their underlying meaning. Consciously utilizing the space before you speak will improve your relationships
 

The space before you act

Sometimes impetuous actions work out. Sometimes I wish I’d given the situation more thought. And sometimes I give my choices so much thought that I never take any action at all. Learn to respond rather than react. Know yourself well enough to be able to make supportive decisions in every circumstance. If you need to make a list of pros and cons, do it. If you need to learn more, learn it. Become aware of your pattern of action: what you need to understand, what your guidelines are, and even how you are perceived by others when you act a certain way. Then use the space before you act to make the most positive choice.
 

The space in your inner work

I cherish the space I give to my inner work. It nourishes me. It guides me. It deepens my song. The most important space you can create is the time you devote to your self-cultivation. Those moments of meditation or reading, of walking or writing, whatever you have developed that lets you become more connected with your inner voice of wisdom. One of the most thrilling inner connections I make is when I’m writing and words and ideas seem to flow from somewhere other than my human mind. I simply sit here and type and learn by reading what shows up. I let go and enjoy the ride. We all have intuitive moments. We all have access to our inner wisdom. Practice with those intuitive urges and learn to trust their guidance.
 

Space as a foundation

How I fill the spaces of my life nurture or crack my foundation. If I spend time being angry or fearful, my foundation will suffer. If I focus on the positive, expect the best and make every choice support my foundation, I will expand my consciousness.  We can add to our foundation. We can reinforce our fountain. We can tear out parts that don’t work. We can even leave spaces in our foundation so we can add something unexpected and exciting. How are you filling the spaces of your foundation? What qualities? What values? What beliefs? What insights?
 

Space as a framework

A framework holds a building together. How I design my conscious space affects how steady I am, how flexible I am, how I express myself, how I am perceived, what I accomplish, who I become, and even how much I love myself. Put doors and windows in your framework so you can enjoy the view. Take pauses to study the effect you are creating, Redesign your framework to make life more exciting. Look in another direction. Sit in a different room of your inner space. Don’t bring a lot of clutter into your inner space. Allow in only what nourishes and nurtures you.
 

Space as Tao

Ruimi tells us to "Live in the nowhere that you came from, even though you have an address here." Tao is not a static discipline, but rather a progressive means of spiritual living. It embraces cycles, oneness, and stillness. We are Tao. Tao is within us. Our job is to become more aware of its presence within us and in the world around us. Use your space to simply be. Use your space to experience your oneness with all that is. Learn to reside at the center of the cycle of your life.

 
"The Master sees thing as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle."
Tao Te Ching 29 tr. Stephen Mitchell
 
Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

How Wide Do You Live Your Life?

 “You do not want to come to the last moment of your life and find you have simple lived life’s length. You should also have lived its width,” suggests Qiguang Zhao in “Do Nothing and Do Everything.” That stopped me cold. I’m 81. I’m doing length. But am I living wide? What does that even mean?  

Wide and deep seem similar

My first thought was that to live the width of my life I need to be more aware in each moment. I need to be present.  I need to let life unfold and respond from the center of each moment rather than react from outside myself.  I need to make thoughtful choices and take mindful actions that are productive and beneficial. The only way I know to do this is to deepen my spiritual practice. How do I recognize “wide”? How can I tell if I’m living a wide life?
 

Notice the little things

It seems to me that living wide begins with mindfulness. When you live wide, you encourage moments of thoughtful contemplation. You pursue meaningful conversations. You dig deeper to find understanding. You practice in order to absorb the concept into your life. Living wide means being present in the moment and being aware of your spiritual connection as often as possible.  I eat all my meals mindfully in silence. I savor the taste and texture of the food I have mindfully prepared. I notice how it nurtures me. I honor my sense of fullness. I look outside while I eat. I watch the birds talking over their breakfast. I see the squirrel choosing seeds from the ground and the small rabbit that joins her. I watch the butterflies, listen to the wind in the trees and meditate in the warmth of the sun.  I notice the little things.
 

Listen for the nuances

In conversations, I’m learning to still my own responses and listen to the unspoken needs of the person who is speaking. I’m not very interested in listening to the old memory stories of my senior population, but if I start listening for the pleasure it gives them to remember, or boast a little, or recall a nourishing emotion, them I can learn to be silent and listen for the nuances – to live the moment more widely.
 

Individualize your own spiritual life

I am drawn to Qiguang Zhao’s response to the question, Are you a Taoist? He replies, “I am influenced by Taoism but I keep my spiritual freedom and my right to fly without confinement.” I love that. It’s what we all are to do, find our own version of our personal, individualize spiritual path. It can come from any source. If I’m living wide, I go exploring. From my first Comparative Religion course my senior year in college, to the present, I have taken what works for me and moved on to explore other approaches and insights. I’ve absorbed spiritual elements of China, India, and Persia. I learned chants while studying yoga; I learned mantras when I began to meditate. I work with the subtle energy of crystals and flower essences and essential oils. I’ve taught energy techniques like Reiki. I’ve led visioning groups and served as a spiritual practitioner. And I read. Kahlil Gibran’s “The Profit” penetrated deeply into my spiritual practice from the very begging of my conscious search for my own spiritual path and still does today. I keep reading new translations of Tao Te Ching. Rumi, Emerson, Deng Ming Dao and Stephen Mitchell all influence my spiritual beliefs and my spiritual practice. I am open. I am receptive. I listen with my heart.
 

Explore your responses

The concept of living the width of my life felt so profound, it brought me to a standstill. It resonated so deeply within me and sparked such curiosity that I knew I needed to understand what it was and how I might live a wider life. Listen to those moments that make you catch your breath. Those unexpected signals the Universe gives you that creates a stop-still moment. Take time to explore them. Incorporate the ones you need into your spiritual practice and your everyday life experience.
 

If it resonates, take notes

One of the ways I begin to “own” what I read is to take notes. In the study piece of my spiritual practice, I sit at my computer ready to type in my notes and my reactions. I read a section from the material I have chosen and either copy down a phrase that seems to express the essence, or write a meaningful sentence that encapsulates what I think the essence is. I have a “Phrases” folder on my computer where I keep these meaningful readings. I can compare translations of the Tao Te Ching. I can search for a word or concept and find insights about it. Phrases that particularly resonate with me have been printed out and each day I read and contemplate a different quotation. When an idea calls to me I put the idea into my “Write About” folder so I can figure out how to add it to my life and my awareness.

 

What does living “wide” mean to you? 

Living wide can include some things that you won’t do.  I can refuse to become caught up in insignificant things. I can refuse to worry about what may or may not happen. I can live wider when I stay in the moment, allow life to unfold, and simply shape things as they come. I can strive to make my actions considerate, thoughtful, aware, meaningful and full of purpose. 
 
“We are artists who apply our knowledge to our lives.,” says Qiguang Zhao. That may be what living wide is all about – using the brushstrokes of our talent and skills, our insights and understanding, to reach across boundaries, touch lives, and make a difference in our world.

 

 

Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

How Do You Nourish Your Roots?

 Life is aseries of cycles. When one cycle ends, another begins. How do we gather our strength for a new beginning? How do we nourish the roots that support new growth? 

What are my roots?

Begin the search for your roots by identifying the qualities you stand on at this point in your life. What values are you using as guideposts? How are you prioritizing the elements of your life right now? When I was in the cycle of being a Content Development Coach, I focused on the qualities of service and creativity and kept attuned to the cycles of growth in others. The cycle I’m in now is retirement, which is focused on deepening my own spiritual awareness and sharing the concept of positive change with others through my writing. The qualities I currently focus on are unfolding, mindfulness and awareness. I want to add the quality of stillness to that.  As I find myself being more social than I have ever been in my life in a population that is new to me (seniors), I need to nourish my ability for compassion and patience. Perhaps your roots are focused on your family, your work, or your health. What roots do you need to nourish for this next cycle of your journey?
 

How will you nurture your roots?

I’m feeding my roots from the inside out: Qi Gong, meditation, study that deepens my relationship with Tao. I have a ritual around those choices, certain things I do every day that nourish me, increase my awareness and help me bring these chosen qualities to the forefront of my life. In my work to move from my happily introverted self into a person that can interact more easily in social settings, I practice. I practice listening more deeply. I pause before I speak. I continue to identify what I need in this next cycle. What steps can you take to nurture your roots in preparation for the upcoming cycle?
 

Discard the dead wood

Pruning makes a plant stronger.  It eliminates the dead wood and leaves space for new growth to flourish.  What do you need to prune that will help your roots grow stronger?  I keep letting go of possessions and old beliefs. I structure my life to include only what nourishes me. I volunteer only for work and activates that I truly want to do. I make room in my life to welcome in the new cycle.dead wood can you cut away in order to nourish new growth in the upcoming cycle?
 

Let your new cycle unfold.

You often can’t clearly identify what your next cycle is, especially since there are cycles within cycles. I’m in the beginning of a cycle of retirement. I’ve been through a cycle of letting go of what I used to do and who I used to be. I’ve been in a cycle of searching for ways to deepen my spirituality. I’m in a cycle of studying change and how to do it gracefully and end up with positive outcomes. And woven throughout all of that is my emergence into a diverse senior population that has created many opportunities to learn more about myself and to adjust what doesn’t work. The cycles overlap. I can only watch them unfold and do what I can with what shows up. I’m always looking for a lesson in a circumstance and I always find one. Watch for signs and signals that suggest options and new possibilities. Notice what calls to you in the moment and explore that. Look at choices as an opportunity to explore, not a concrete path to follow.
 

Nourish the roots you need for new growth.

If you need a new skill, develop it. If you need to change a belief, change it. If you need to find a new circle of friends, find then. If you need to change your job or your business, change it. The nourishing of my spiritual evolution is what is serving me most in my life right now. It has manifested in the incredible calm and serenity that continues to deepen with every day. I solve problems in a quiet, patient manner that allows others to unfold at their own pace. My own responses are less emotional, more accepting. I’m nurturing my whole being with a plant-based diet, the practice of Qi Gong, daily meditation and on-going study of the principles of Taoism. That’s the combination that seems to be working for me. How will you nurture the roots you need for new growth?
 
Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

How to Identify and Release Your Restrictive Ways

 We sabotage ourselves in subtle ways. A long-held belief or an unnoticed habit may lead us in the wrong direction. A personal interpretation of something we heard may be incorrect. There are many ways we stop ourselves from success. These are our limiting, restrictive ways and we have to become aware of them in order to change them.

 

We shape our own life

We are responsible for our thoughts, our words and our actions. Our choices shape our life experience. We limit ourselves in subtle ways by our expectations, our judgments, our desires, or our response to an action taken. Self-restrictive ways keep us from making that small shift within ourselves that will change our lives. When we become aware of our restrictive ways, we are free to alter them in order to achieve a different outcome of our life. The first step to freedom is to learn to identify some of the beliefs and habits that are holding you back. 
 

Move your boundaries

“Restrict” means to keep something within strict limits. Unless we allow our imagination to move outside the boundaries and limitations we have set for ourselves, we will not know what else is possible.  How can I expand my boundaries? I can let things unfold. I can take events as they come and mindfully shape them in the moment. I can spend more time exploring, examining and rethinking my options.  I can go exploring, following my curiosity wherever it takes me. I can be open to the lessons and experiences that are present in every aspect in my life.  I can identify my boundaries and give them a hefty shove toward expansion!
 

Become aware of your unconscious habits

We have many damaging concepts in our unconscious. Old beliefs we adopted as a child that we failed to question as an adult. A habit we have fallen into and have failed to consciously change. A circumstance we find ourselves in that looks and feels restrictive but can be a powerful learning experience if we alter how we approach it. An unconscious habit or belief can restrict you.  A circumstance may appear to block you when in fact it is simply offering you a new choice of direction. Once you recognize your restrictive ways, you can choose to change them.
 

Identify your restrictive ways

Look at what stops you from doing something you would like to do. How does your persona affect others? Observe yourself though the eyes of others, at work, at home, in the world. What belief or judgment is holding you back? We may restrict ourselves because our expectations of what is possible are too low. What narrow expectation is preventing you from trying something new? What are your restrictive ways?  Which ones are you willing and ready to change?
 
Work through this exercise in one uninterrupted session. That will allow answers to emerge from deep within. To begin to change your restrictive ways answer these questions:  
 
My Restrictive Way
How to Move Out Of It
Key Word
What That Will Feel Like
Key Change
 
My Restrictive Way. This can be a physical condition, a personality trait, an old belief or an emotional restriction. Look at the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes to list some of your restrictive ways.
 
How to Move Out Of It. Make this a doable step, something you can achieve, specific accomplishments that can identify your progress. Start with a small goal. Take steps that fit your willingness, your time and your desire.
 
Key Word. Find one word that will remind you to change your restrictive way. Use it to keep aware of the choices you are making.
 
What That Will Feel Like? The degree of emotion you experience about a choice or action is key to your ability to move and break through boundaries.  Can you actually feel yourself on the other side of the change? If you are shy and decide you want to be more sociable, how will it feel to walk into a gathering and simple be comfortably present? What are the new experiences that await you on the other side of the boundary you want to cross? How will you recognize that you have changed? What will you feel when you expand that boundary?
 
Key Change. Your life will look and feel different after you move through a boundary. Will you have more time, more friends, more money? Will life be more loving, peaceful or exciting? What is it you want and how will releasing this restriction free you? Describe the change you expect to happen when you release your restrictive way.
 
Begin the exercise. Find something you feel is restrictive in your life and begin to explore it. 
 

Here are some of my restrictive ways

 
One of my main restrictive ways comes from my constant curiosity and desire to learn. Not everyone has that. My restrictive way is that I too often become impatient around cautious or un-inquisitive people. There is judgment thrown in there too. One of my restrictive ways then is impatience with people who are not inquisitive. 
 
Another of my restrictive ways comes from being an introvert. It is so much simpler to hang out by myself. I did learn that as an introvert, if I have a job to do in an environment I feel great. So one of the steps I can take to move out of my restrictive introvert behavior is to volunteer and get to know others through service.
 
I can change my restrictive tendency to be alone by following my enthusiasm for going deeper within myself for understanding, writing about what I discover for personal clarity and searching for like-minded people on the internet to help me continue my exploration. I write with the purpose of connecting with others.
 
I change my restrictive intensity by being mindful of the manner in which it shows up and consciously modifying it for the circumstance. 
 

Here’s an example of the exercise applied to one of my restrictive ways:

 
My Restrictive Way: I sometimes contribute to detrimental gossip by adding my version or opinion.
How to Move Out Of It: Consciously keep my mouth shut. Look at why I feel I need to add fuel to the fire and find a way to understand why I even feel the needs to contribute to judgmental observations.
Key Word – diversity.  I will begin to appreciate the diversity that surrounds me and look for its beauty and purpose.
What That Will Feel Like. A huge difference as I let go of judgment and impatience, and any need I have to feel I am “right.”
Key Change: I will begin to look for and see the contributions every person makes and begin to appreciate them.
 

Use your key words to release your self-imposed restrictions.

As you move into a situation that needs to be expanded, take your keyword with you and use it during the experience. I could take the word “mindfulness” into any situation and find that I have a different experience. Think what “unfolding” will do for an assertive personality.
 

Adjust these steps as you push away your restrictive ways

As you create change, as you become more aware of how your presence is perceived, the words you use and the actions you take, revisit this exercise to continue to expand your boundaries.
 

Release your restrictive ways and allow change to unfold

Stop limiting yourself! Look hard at what you allow to restrict you. Restrictive ways don’t come from the outside. They come from an inner, subtle restriction you have created for yourself and one that you can easily release. Look for the concepts, judgments, desires, and expectations that obscure and narrows reality. Become aware of the times you restrict your thinking or your action and make a choice that allows you to push the boundaries and release your restrictive ways. When you are willing to move out of you restrictive ways, your thoughts and ideas, and be transformed
 
What restrictive ways are you ready to change?

 

Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change

If You Were An Arrow, Where Would You Aim?

What we focus on we attract. If you were an arrow, where would you aim your thoughts, your intentions, and your expectations?
 

Taking aim is a powerful step.

If I aim my arrow at negative thoughts and actions, that is exactly where my thoughts will go. If I aim my arrow toward attracting a new opportunity, it will direct my actions, thoughts, and expectations toward that objective. You can aim your arrow in any direction you choose. To understand why you are attracting what shows up in your life, notice where you are aiming your arrow with your thoughts and intentions. 
 

Consciously aim your arrow at one area of your life at a time

One arrow can’t hit multiple moving targets; you must focus your aim on only one target at a time. It can be your health, your spiritual life, your place of service. If you were an arrow, where would you aim? I currently have my arrow pointed toward deepening my spiritual life. It enriches the personal journey upon which I travel every single day. Enhancing your self-awareness is actually a good place to begin because any self-cultivation magnifies itself in all areas of your daily life. What part of your life will you focus on today?
 

Can you aim for the future?

If the target you aim for is far away, you have to be a really good shot. When you have a long-term goal, you need to allow for changes in the wind and the circumstances. You might want to practice on a target that is closer in order to increase the accuracy of your aim. I found great relief when I began to focus simply on creating one insightful post at a time rather than working on a whole book. The target was closer and easier to hit. By focusing on writing short, meaningful articles, I find it is easier to edit and complete them and I post more often because. I often aim my arrow at qualities – mindfulness, allowing life and circumstances to unfold, compassion and patience. Those are subtle targets but reaching them has a profound impact on my life.  Where are you aiming your arrow? 
 

Practice your aim

Your accuracy will improve as you practice. If I aim my arrow toward mindfulness for a day, I will notice how mindfulness impacts my life because that’s what I’m focusing on. If I aim my arrow toward letting my day unfold, I become mindful of how I do that and can clearly see the results of my non-action. You can never miss as long as you’re still aiming The power that supports you is Tao. You are the arrow.  You are also the archer, the one to take aim. Notice where your inner guidance suggests you aim and make conscious choices. Learn to accept where you land, especially if you are slightly off target. There is much to be learned from falling short. Keep your feathers trimmed and in good shape and ready for another flight. Most of all trust the Tao to place you where you need to be.
 
If you were an arrow, where would you aim?

 

Cara Lumen is a seeker, philosopher and author who educates, motivates and inspires you to sing a deeper song. - Catch the Winds of Change