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The Meaningfulness of Meaning: Living a Life Worthwhile

In this edition of Soul Notes, we explore the concept of meaning and what that constitutes in terms of a meaningful life.  In this article, I’ll make references to one of Viktor Frankl’s books, originally entitled From Death Camp to Existentialism, now more commonly known by the title: Man’s Search for Meaning.

A doctor of psychiatry, Viktor Frankl (Frankl) is the founder of the psychotherapeutic school of thought he named logotherapy.  In contrast to Sigmund Freud’s focus on human instincts and the human drive for pleasure, Frankl focused his work on man’s (humankind’s) quest for finding meaning in one’s life.

Part One of Man’s Search for Meaning documents Frankl’s personal experiences as an inmate in concentration camps during World War II.  In Part Two of the book, he elaborates on logotherapy and how his experiences in the camps provided the backdrop for himself to become in effect his own best patient.  Part Two includes examples of patients he treated outside of the camps along with scientific and statistical data to illustrate his points.

Prior to being captured, Frankl had already written the manuscript for his first book, The Doctor and the Soul.  He had tucked the manuscript into his coat before being forced onto the train for Auschwitz.  Once at the camp, he and all the other prisoners were stripped of their personal belongings.  Accordingly, the manuscript he had hidden in his coat was quickly confiscated.

Adding then to the already deep poignancy of Frankl’s observations made during the Holocaust, is the fact that he by necessity documented them all from memory.  He kept his mind sharp by reconstructing in his head the original manuscript of that first book that he would later rewrite and publish.  The only physical remnants of the original manuscript that he had been able to reconstruct while in the camps were in the form of key words and phrases that he would surreptitiously scribble on tiny scraps of paper.

Beyond the Physical:  Love, Spirituality, and A  Life Mission

Physically separated from his wife in the concentration camps, Frankl didn’t know if his wife was still alive.  It was in his mind’s eye that he would hold onto an image of her.  Just as through love he would cling to an image of his wife –- through a sense of commitment to his life’s work and overall life’s mission –- Frankl with devotion clung to the hope and intention of (re)writing his manuscript and publishing his psychological findings, all to the benefit of his profession and mental patients worldwide.

According to Frankl, love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. Love finds its deepest meaning in one’s spiritual being, within the inner self. He also said that even during his time in captivity, glimpses of nature, music, and humor helped him and others to survive.  They were grateful, he said, for the smallest of mercies.

Frankl further went on to contend that by devoting oneself to a cause to serve or another person to love, that the more human and actualized one becomes. In view of the possibility of finding meaning in suffering, he suggested then that life’s meaning even can be potentially unconditional.

If and when conditions get tough on the outside, spirituality can play an even more important role from the inside:

“In spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen. Sensitive people who were used to a rich intellectual life may have suffered much pain (they were often of a delicate constitution), but the damage to their inner selves was less. They were able to retreat from their terrible surroundings to a life of inner riches and spiritual freedom.” (Man’s Search for Meaning, page 36, emphasis added).

In other words, the type of person each prisoner would become resulted more from that person’s mental and spiritual state, than purely his physical state.  Profoundly, Frankl maintained that one can decide to keep (and benefit from keeping) one’s human dignity, even in a concentration camp.

The Meaning in Suffering

Frankl was not suggesting that to have a meaningful life, one must suffer.  He did profess, however, that if there is meaning in life at all, there must certainly be meaning in suffering.  According to Frankl, those prisoners who discarded their inner morals, and who concluded that their lives were pointless, and thus “gave up” psychologically, were those who “forgot that often it is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself.” (Man’s Search for Meaning, page 72).

The Importance of Having Faith in the Future and the Power of Personal Choice

Frankl also understood the importance of having faith in the future. Without a belief in a better future, he said, a prisoner was subject to losing his spiritual hold, and thereby made himself more susceptible to mental and physical decay at a much more fervent pace.

So, what to do?

We may not be able to change every situation that we face in life.  We can, however, change ourselves and our approach.

Through our attitudes, choices and decisions we make and the actions we take, we can rise to any challenge and accept the opportunity to infuse any situation with meaning, even the most difficult ones.  Meaning is possible with or without (although perhaps most strikingly during times of) suffering.

Our lives are lived in moments.  And every human being, as exemplified by Frankl, has the freedom to change themselves — and their experience of any situation in life — in an instant.

 “[E]verything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” (Man’s Search for Meaning, page 66).

Each of us gets to decide what our existence will be in any given moment, and what we will become in the next moment.

That is true freedom.

Freedom Plus Reasonableness

Freedom alone, however, is not enough.  Frankl makes clear that freedom to choose must be combined with responsibleness.  Otherwise, as a race, the human race, we are destined for destruction. Every person has both potentialities within us – to be either a swine or saint, he said.  Which one is actualized, says Frankl, depends on the decisions we make, and not on the conditions we face.

So the beauty and the promise of Frankl’s work and legacy I would say is this:

Each of us has the challenge and the opportunity to bring with us the values of our past, make empowered choices and take responsible actions in the present, and thereby create futures of the highest value to humankind.

With that, we find meaning.

All is not lost.

Much is gained.

 

For your consideration:

What makes life meaningful? Can there be meaning in suffering?  Is suffering required?

Okay, your turn:

What has helped you bring a sense of meaning into your life?  Was suffering a part of it?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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There are messages in the water

What about the water?

Varying to some degree only by age and gender, our human bodies are approximately 70 percent water. Water is the primary building block of human cells. And, water covers nearly 71 percent of the Earth’s surface.  It’s vitally important to our existence, as individuals and as a species. And yet, or perhaps precisely because of its prevalence in our world, we tend to take it for granted.  You’d think it would be difficult for us to ignore, but somehow we do?

What if we pay more close attention to the water?  What can we learn from the water?  And, what can the water learn from us?  What impact, if any, do we have on each other?  Is it unidirectional or bidirectional?   In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s dig a little deeper, and dive beneath the surface, if you will!

The truth is in the water

“There are messages in the water.”

During a quiet, self-reflective meditation session not too long ago, I distinctly heard these words:  “There are messages in the water.”  I didn’t know what that meant.  What I did know, however, is that I would be looking to the water, in all its many forms, for clues.

And, as I sat down to outline this blog post, I was reminded of the set of water crystal experiments conducted by Dr. Masaru Emoto.  I decided to look up his written works, and smiled as I discovered that one of his volumes is entitled, “The Hidden Messages in Water.”  Not one to overlook a good cosmic coincidence, I quickly ordered a copy of the book and devoured it before sitting back down to finish writing this article.  The book is replete with high-speed photographic images of frozen water crystals, observed and amplified under a variety of conditions.

The Emoto experiments

By putting bottles of water on a table, and then freezing them while exposing them to a number of pre-set conditions, and then taking high-speed photographs of the resulting crystal formations, Dr. Emoto was able to test for certain variables such as: exposure to chlorine in the water (common in some communities’ tap water); exposure to music, including Beethoven and Mozart’s symphonies; and exposure to written words such as “Thank you” compared to “Fool”.   Each resulted in specific shapes and formations, some beautifully complete, and others blurred, ill-shapened, or even completely fragmented.

From these experiments, Dr. Emoto concluded that our thoughts can influence water and that words have spirit. Water definitely responds!  We can impact the very structure of water – to our betterment and to our detriment.  That goes for each of us, and for the planet as a whole.

So, what does that mean, if and when we hear the universe whispering to us that “there are messages in the water?” What if the opposite is also true?  Can the water influence our thoughts?  Can the water affect our mind, body, and soul?  What about its potential to impact our joie de vivre, our very experience of life?  Or, how about its effect on our next course of action?  Maybe it’s not only what we say, but what we hear? I would suggest that both propositions are possible.  It’s a magical, mystical dance in which we, with consciousness, shall benefit from being willing participants.

(For a refresher on the importance of listening, click here for the previous edition of Soul Notes, entitled, Trust what you hear when you listen. In the Jap Ji, the 8th stanza translates in part as: “All my pain departs listening to my heart.”  Your heart in the physical sense also benefits from water, as it is a major component of what flows through the blood in your veins and arteries.  Blood is 92 percent water by weight.  Water is our life blood.)

“I have no doubt that water crystals will become a common focal point for people all over the world who are trying to make sense of chaos.” 

— Dr. Masaru Emoto

The truth is in the water.  It is such a fundamental element of our existence, how can there not be wisdom in it? I say we pay attention to it.  Why?  Because as Dr. Emoto posits:  It, like many aspects of the natural world, is a way for us to make sense of the chaos in our human existence.

The self-organizing nature of nature

In its natural form, water when frozen forms into hexagonal (six-sided) shaped ice crystals.  The details within the outlying formation do vary (you may have heard the expression “no two snowflakes are exactly alike”) – but what remains constant in nature is the self-organizing pattern of six-sided frozen water crystals.  There’s lots to explore with regard to sacred geometry (beyond the scope of this blog post), many aspects of which have been observed and studied over the past many centuries. It’s not merely a coincidence that many parts of nature, left to their own (divine?) devices, fall into recurring patterns.   It’s the intervention of humankind that threatens to, and often does, however, disturb these naturally occurring patterns – as the Emoto experiments demonstrate.

So, the invitation is to observe the water, and to listen for its messages, as well as reflect on ways we can enhance the experience of those around us – by the ways we interact with one another.  As everyone is comprised mostly of water, think of the impact we have on each other, physically and spiritually?

What have I heard?  I’m still listening.  And, listening.  I listen in my morning and evening practices.  I listen in the ocean.  I listen in the shower.  I listen in the bath.  I listen in the rain.  I listen in the garden. One thing I heard clearly was this:  “Make water the next topic to be explored in Soul Notes.”  And, so it is.  Welcome to the conversation!

For your consideration:

We tend to bless our food.  How about we remember to bless our water, too?  We each have that choice, and we have good reasons for making that choice.

Okay, your turn:

What lessons are there for you in the water?  Is it time to start paying attention?  Is it time to start paying more attention?  To what end?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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What does it mean to live and lead from the feminine?

Marching to the beat of a resurging drummer

This edition of Soul Notes is devoted to the seemingly ever-emerging resurrection of feminine leadership.  By this, I mean not only the women (and men) who are stepping into leadership positions where they embody feminine principles (creation, co-creation, cooperation, and the like); by this I am also suggesting that each person has the opportunity to “lead with” and from a foundation of feminine principles in their own lives, in their families, and in their communities.

Allow me to clarify that this is not in any way intended to discredit the masculine.  It’s merely an observation that the time has arrived where we’re seeing an uprising toward “tipping the scales” back a bit more toward symbiosis.  The yin yang symbol itself, for example, represents this well, in my opinion.  It’s a swirl of two mirror image shapes of the same size, embracing each other within the one circle.  They complement rather than compete with one another.  They hold each other in balance and securely in place.

So this is what leading from the feminine looks and feels like

As I joined hundreds of thousands of other marchers in Los Angeles on January 21st, it struck me how much this experience represented for me what leading from the feminine looks and feels like.  I found myself coining my own phrase for it – what came to me was:  power humanified.

Power humanified

Although I anticipated that discord and perhaps even violence may erupt on the day of the March, especially in a large urban center, and during such a highly charged political climate right now – I was filled with a reassuring contrast, from start to finish throughout the day.

I found myself immersed in a completely peaceful, collaborative, supportive, and nonviolent expanse of humanity.  From the trains to the roadways to the downtown street crossings, to security officers to the marchers, to the weather even (!), all seemed to be cooperating.  Now, I wouldn’t say that this type of energy is at all limited to one particular gender.  And, I realize that this day may have been an isolated occurrence whose energy and peaceful activism may not last in the coming weeks and months.  Regardless, I can say that at least it is possible; I was there; I witnessed it; I experienced it.  It happened.

It was striking to notice, too, that the men who attended seemed to feel ‘free to let down their shield’ so to speak – the stereotype of men having to be forceful, stoic, and nonexpressive, truly seemed to fall to the wayside.  I watched as the men among us enjoyed being supportive and feeling supportive and supported themselves.  They were welcomed into the fold, and walked side by side, not charging ahead or showing dominance in any way.  This was equal footing.

And let me say a few words about American privilege, whether you are a man or a woman.  Yes, I am an American, born and raised.  I’ve traveled to other countries and other continents, and yet I do not presume to understand fully the experience of women (or men) who have been raised outside the United States.  I do recognize that I’ve been able to travel by way of means and access not readily available to women in many countries. What I find a bit difficult to accept, though, is the suggestion posited by some that because women in some non-American countries suffer unimaginable violence and abuse, that this somehow diminishes the need to increase awareness of the injustices and inequities in our own land.

While twenty-two countries from Argentina, to Chile, to Croatia, to Denmark, to Germany, to Jamaica, to Norway, for example, have had women leaders in recent years as their head of state (Presidents or Prime Ministers), America still has had none.  For a century and a half after the nation’s founding, the women in the United States had no legally recognized right to vote.

Is it about ensuring that any  woman attain the highest office in the land?  No.  Unequivocally, I say no.  I would suggest, though, that a woman who brings abundantly more experience and depth of knowledge than the other frontrunner (man or woman) running, then yes.  I say yes.

Words, and symbols hold power in them

In response to the proliferation of pink hats worn during the marches, a friend of mine posed the following question:  “Isn’t that merely perpetuating gender stereotyping?” My response to his question is this:  When you’re a member of the stereotyped group, there’s power in taking back the words or symbols that have been misappropriated by those who are not members of that group.  There’s strength in reclaiming those words or symbols that have for generations been used to demean, belittle, or make dismissible the members of that group.  So, to that end, I say yes, pink is ours…you can have it, too, thank you kindly, if you would please do so with honor and reverence, and not with arrogance, disgust, or power-over.

Many women, and some men, each have their examples of being “put down” for their gender.  I’ll share one here.  As a civil litigator working for a defense firm in Los Angeles, I was a young associate and member of a three-attorney trial team (myself, and two male partners).  We had just returned from a successful day in court.  I was pleased that we advocated well for our clients, and had emerged victorious.

As the three of us rode back up the elevator together from the underground parking lot to our firm’s office suite, after returning from our day in court, this transpired:  The managing partner, in front of the other male partner, turns to me and says:  “You did a nice job in there today…for…a girl.”  A few minutes later, the two partners then took off to have a celebratory dinner on their own, leaving me to stay at the office to continue working that evening.

Women are “girls.”  And, men are well, men (or ‘dudes’ when leaning toward the more casual).  And, they’re held to different standards of what’s acceptable.  [There’s a case in Northern California, for example, where the judge has issued sanctions against the male attorney who made accusations that the female opposing counsel had purportedly displayed “unlady-like” behaviors during a deposition.]

Even the word “guys” has been blurred to include men and women in ‘mixed company,’ because, well, its true counterpart “gals” doesn’t seem to stand on equal footing, either.

Often men are referred by their last names, while women are referred by their first names.  Women themselves often perpetuate this disparity in usage.  Many have come to accept it simply as commonplace.  A way too subtle, picky difference over which to make a fuss, you may say?  Maybe.  It’s the very subtlety of it, though, that makes it that much more able to escape scrutiny.  It’s not as blatant as “bitch” or “chick” (both of which are animal references, and as such are used as a way to dehumanize).   So, it’s sometimes easier to let slide.

Nonetheless, this pervasive belittling, whether overt or covert, brings with it a price.  That price is the ability of all people to embrace and exhibit all of who they are, with authenticity and dare I say even wild abandon.  Society as a whole suffers.  Repression costs us all.

Vibrating resonance

Despite what some may contend, I vote for the continuation of the conversations that have come to the forefront during this recent election cycle, and its aftermath.  I’m suggesting that the marches worldwide on January 21st were not an isolated moment in time.  Although a powerful day on its own, I’d say it started a “reverb” like no other, at least since perhaps the Civil Rights movement.  As with strumming a guitar, the sound continues its vibration well after the first chord or note is struck.  January 21st was a strong strum heard ‘round the world.

May we continue strumming.  And may we lead from the feminine.

Oh, and remind me to share the story sometime – the one about when I showed up on the lot at Paramount Studios to be an extra in a movie, and ended up playing a suffragette who marched in the streets during a President Wilson campaign rally.

Yep, that happened.  And, so did the marches this past weekend, millions of people strong, worldwide.

Power humanified.

Okay, your turn:

What, if anything, did you take away from the recent marches around the globe?  To what extent do you feel there’s a resurrection of the feminine?  Is this merely spiritual mumbo jumbo, or evidence of a real shift, rooted in practical reality?  What would you like to see more fully emerging in our world going forward?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Trust what you hear when you listen

“Trust what you hear when you listen.”

— This is a line repeated in the Japji (Song of the Soul), as translated from the original Sanskrit.

What does it mean to truly listen? And, to trust what you hear? In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we dig into this spiritual concept and practice.

Truly Listening

Truly listening — to the sounds of your soul, and to the souls of others – is what allows trust to develop.  It cuts through the egoic, often times camouflaged or staged fronts that come from the mind.  It’s a matter instead of tuning into the heart.

“Trust what you hear when you listen.” – Japji

Trusting what you hear when you listen means listening for and trusting your intuition:  Your inner truth will sound beautiful, satisfying, and fulfilling – you know, “the nodding your head, ‘uh-huh’ ” kind of truth.  It will ring true – it will be harmonic and resonant.  With practice, you’ll notice and KNOW the difference.

When you’re truly listening, your truth will be recognizable by its purity. It will sound and feel loving and expansive.  In contrast, your inner untruth will sound false, faulty, and anything but resonant.  You’ll feel yourself contracting or worse yet fleeing from your peaceful, respite place.  It will seem as if someone suddenly changed the serenity channel to something that grates on your nerves, throws you off-balance, and disrupts your inner harmony.  That, dear one, is the critical mind calling – don’t pick up that call!  Let it go to your spiritual trash bin to be discarded and composted away.  There’s no space for it in your inner sacred harmonic energy field.  Say to it, “No Thank You — There’s no room for you at THIS inn”!

Or, it may not sound critical per se – yet, it may nonetheless still sound or feel “off,” meaning that it’s not the sound of your own voice calling, but that of someone else.  What you’re hearing may be their truth, but not what’s true for YOU.  This takes discernment.  With practice also comes discernment.

As with most things worth your devotion and attention, trusting what you hear when you listen takes consistent, ongoing practice.  Fine tuning your listening skills and hearing what your intuition has to say — to reveal, and to divulge to you from your innermost being – that wisest part of you —  gets stronger and stronger over time and with frequent repetition.  Accordingly, leaving it alone too long between sessions, without engagement, results in it becoming out of tune just like a piano, guitar or violin. So, keep at it!  It’s worth it.

The benefits and ways to get started:

 

To be able to trust fully in what you hear when you listen, it helps to get quiet, still, and free from distractions if at all possible.  Dedicating even a few minutes a day to this practice will engender worthy results.  Bring your full presence to the moment at hand.  Engage your mind, body (your heart) and soul.  Tune into the silence, and be open to hear what comes through the quiet solitude.  Treat this as your own soul session, your own meditation, just for you! Listen for the voice of the DIVINE WITHIN yourself!

Allow words, images, symbols, or even just a ‘hunch’ or a ‘gut feeling’ to come through.  Some messages will gain further meaning afterwards, maybe even hours or days later.  What’s important is setting the scene so that you truly hear the messages.  You can decipher them over time.  There’s no rush, only devotion, dedication, to spirit, and the messages and meanings that are intended for you.

Feel free to journal what comes through – or draw, or compose a poem or sing a song…whatever feels best for you to express what you heard.

Listening this way is what truly allows divine messages to come through.  Deep understanding results.  Then, you can take action from THAT place, and not from a place of disruptive self-flagellation, and nasty untruths.  Inspired action feels enlivening, and uplifting, and not disheartening.  Heart engaged?  Check!  All soul systems go!  Use THAT as your energetic and spiritual launching pad.  That is: Divine Lift-Off.

Your soul and the divine are available to you “24-7” – you just need to connect via the proverbial wi-fi.  It’s one of the special, beautiful technologies uniquely available to us as human, spiritual beings.  It’s already encoded within you.  Embrace it.  Enjoy it.  Welcome it in all its glory.

Given any situation you may be contemplating, or for which you seek clarity: Surrender yourself to the experience.  And, be prepared to and do, take inspired action based on your new, finely tuned, receptivity. As from a stone skipping across a pond, circles of understanding will continue to ripple outward from within.

For your consideration:

I leave with you these words, from the Japji:

 “Trust what you hear

When you listen,

And bring all your loved ones

Along.

Trust what you hear

When you listen,

You will swim across

All difficulties

And your very presence

Will carry others

Across as well.”

Okay, your turn:

In what ways have you been tuning in and listening for your own truth?  What do you notice when you get still, quiet, and really listen?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Envisioning your desires fulfilled!

Are you ready for the new year?  Are you ready to envision your best year yet?  Let’s adventure together into the world of deeply seeing what your soul has in store for you!  On this edition of Soul Notes, we explore the concept and practical ways of visioning your desires into reality.

Why Vision(ing)?

Visioning helps you access information you may never be able to elicit through a quick ego-centered, mind-centered “checklist.” Visioning involves seeing by connecting to the unseen world. It is a beautiful, spiritual, nonphysical way of seeing – allowing you to gain insights, wisdom and guidance in a way that nourishes your soul. Visioning facilitates decision-making as to which direction to take next in your life, or with regard to a particular challenge, question, or inquiry. It helps propel you forward from a place that feels grounded, inspirational, and authentically YOU! Visioning ensures that your next steps come from a place of alignment, not misalignment. (For a refresher on alignment, and why it’s important in your day-to-day life, go here.)

What Happens if You Don’t?

When you don’t take the time to dedicate yourself to envision what’s best and next for you in your life, you run the risk of:

  • Suffering from the tendency to react compulsively or unconsciously.
  • Agonizing about making your next move (or making no move at all), from a place of fear or anxiety.
  • Engaging in seductively destructive behaviors.
  • Hiding under the illusory cloak of safety while life passes you by, and your dreams stay truly dormant and put “on hold.”
  • Proceeding through your next venture, juncture, year, or life chapter without even noticing if it’s right for you.
  • Failing to identify even what, if any, of the available choices, are even what you TRULY want, seek, or desire!

You can dive in and write a list of resolutions or mark out an instant action plan all you want. You can draw up blueprints for your year, and your life – but be careful what you’re drawing up.

During a drafting class when I was in junior high school, as part of a class assignment, I put together a blueprint for a house. Without taking a step back to envision what the house would really be like, I jumped in with my T-square and starting drawing. By doing so, I ended up putting a fireplace in one location on one floor, and another fireplace on an entirely different location on the second floor. Well, unless I was going to build two chimneys for this house, that could pose a problem! How was the smoke going to make it from one fireplace to the other and out the rooftop, if the flue(s) didn’t connect? If I had allowed myself the time and space to envision what actually LIVING in that house would be like, then likely I would have discovered the chimney dilemma. (My dad, by the way, was an architect and a builder, and right away noticed the flaw in my plans, when I showed them to him back then. He found it to be rather amusing!)

I remember around that same time period my dad was sent by his company to Japan to help build pre-fabricated housing. Before my father arrived on site, unbeknownst to him, the concrete foundation had been set using the metric measuring system. Here’s the catch: the pre-fabricated walls that were being shipped over to Japan from the United States had been cut in lengths that were measured using the British imperial units (inches/feet) system. As you can imagine, that pretty much defeats the purpose of pre-fabricated housing, if the pre-fabricated pieces don’t fit!

So, where do the pieces fit in your life? Where do the pieces not fit in your life? Do your chimneys, the hearth of your home, line up? The very foundation and starting place proves critical! So much of your soul shining success (or lack thereof) stems from envisioning, creating and drawing from the appropriate foundation.

In other words, resist the impulse to “jump in” and create from a place of “got to get it done.” That forceful energy threatens to bring with it a bulldozing effect that obliterates everything (including all the good stuff) in its path. That take-action energy has its useful purpose – but it’s best invoked further down the line, and in a more strategic, focused way.

Otherwise, the whole house (of cards) collapses. You feel overwhelmed. You feel pressured. You feel “forced.” You feel UNinspired. You risk facing unintended, adverse results.

It’s not about checking off a to-do list. It’s about allowing your dreams and desires to take front and center stage, and enjoying the journey as you experience them unfolding.

Is this year ahead, 2016, a time for you to move forward in envisioning and creating your best life? Are you going to allow yourself to spring forth into your fullest potential? Or, is it a time that by choice or by default (which really is a choice, by the way) – your new year ahead, like most New Year’s resolutions, sputters out and comes to a crawl or even a stagnating halt altogether?

Which is it? Claim it now, and if you’re open to learning more about how to get cracking, read on!

DARE TO DESIRE!

“I’d LOVE to, but I could NEVER…!”

First off, let go of any preconceived notions of what is or isn’t possible for you. Loosen up the reins! As you would when riding a horse, release your grip some, and allow for a good gallop!

A number of years ago, I had moved from an apartment in Los Angeles that was several miles inland, to a place within a few blocks of the Pacific Ocean. I moved to a building right up the hill from the beach front where they used to film the television show “Bay Watch.” [Okay, maybe that’s not the most spiritual reference I’ll ever make on this blog, but you get the idea! If this makes you feel better (it did me), it was also right next to a self-realization center. On September 11, 2001 (now known as 9-11), I went there to meditate — and I felt blessed to have the luxury of walking around their gorgeous, serene grounds, on such a tragic and deeply somber day.]

My commute to downtown Los Angeles back then meant driving along several miles of ocean front along Pacific Coast Highway. I could smell the salt in the air, and feel the sea breezes. From as young as I can remember, I had always enjoyed the beach and the ocean.  And yet, when I first moved in, and sat out on my balcony overlooking our shared swimming pool, I thought to myself – “Why did it take me so long to move here, this close to the beach?” I grew up in Southern California, and yet I always seemed to think that I needed to live somewhere inland, and then drive to the ocean. Somehow, I had convinced myself that only really wealthy people lived by the beach. I also realized in that moment, that truth be told, I somehow had been accepting the sad “fact” that I didn’t deserve to live in a really cool apartment in a tony section of Los Angeles. I didn’t think it was possible for me. And there I was — not only was it possible, it was happening, as I sat there on my balcony. For months, it still felt a bit surreal living there, and I found myself “growing into” an expanded self-realization of my own, I suppose you could say.

I would some years later again move on, and purchase a home (also something that for a long time I didn’t believe was possible for me in my lifetime) in another part of town. That apartment by the sea, however, will always hold a special place in my heart and soul.

So, the lesson here is this: If I hadn’t let go of the notion that “I’d love to, but I could never…,I would have stayed cooped up in a stifling apartment miles from where I yearned and dreamed to be.

Envision what you truly desire, and follow those clues. There’s often something truly heart telling in there. That’s where inspired actions stem from, originate from.

Visioning also involves listening

Visioning is not limited to one or any of the physical senses. It involves all the senses, along with every bit of your inner knowing.

Visioning involves deep soulful listening. Through meditation and other guided internal processes, you can tap into your essence and true desires. Your guides are there for you, whispering to you their soulful wisdom. Are you quiet enough to hear them?

Commit to yourself and to the true desires in this coming year that you will uncover through this higher vision for your life, and enjoy the journey!

Where to start?

You may not know exactly, right in this very moment, if what you truly desire to create will actually end up coming into fruition — because you haven’t created it yet! You have had other experiences, however, where you do know how wonderful they made you feel. Accordingly, I would encourage you to use what I would call the “Yes, more of that, please!” test. What is your heart drawing you toward? What are you excited about welcoming into your life?

Listen to your own (intuitive) guides, and allow yourself to get quiet to hear what they have to say. They are always available to you. They are your very own!

Reinforcement

You can choose to bring forth what you desire, and consistently tap into and recreate those good emotions. Conversely, you can focus on and reinforce what it is that you don’t enjoy feeling.  The “Yes, more of that please!” barometer is always available to you, at the ready. Simply remember to invoke it. Consistently. And often.

Dare to dream.

Dare to desire.

Dare to vision.

Dare to make it all come true.

 

For your consideration:

What would listening to your yearnings and desires, and envisioning them into reality, mean to you? How has or would your life be changed upon doing this type of practice? If you haven’t done this type of visioning so far, how about giving it a try? What if anything is stopping you?

Okay, your turn:

When is the last time you set aside the time and space to determine what you truly desire? What is something you would like to see yourself bringing forward into your life this year? I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

 © 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Remember, you have the music in you!

Yes, you have the music in you!

“When the night is falling

and you cannot find the light

If you feel your dreams are dying

…Hold tight.

You’ve got the music in you.”

–The New Radicals, You Get What You Give

As we approach Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere, daytime shortens and nighttime lengthens. The natural world settles in for rest and rejuvenation before it springs forth at the next turn of the wheel. It is also a time of Christmas lights and Hanukkah lights.

This time of year is also one of carols, hymns, and other songs and types of lyrical merriment.  It’s also a time when the muse moves through each of us.  To turn a phrase:  As without, so within.

In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s allow ourselves to breathe in the beautiful music that surrounds us this time of year – and at the same time, let us behold the music that stirs within us. Music from the outside and from within:  One is physical; the other, metaphysical, perhaps? Spiritual, for certain.

As the year draws to a close, I invite you to take an accounting of the music within you that you have already “let out” this year, for all to hear. At the same time, consider this:

What music is still within you, that has been laying dormant, that is ready to rise to the surface and be expressed? What have you been subduing, that you may benefit from bringing forward into next year, and out into the light?

You’ve Got the MUSE-Ic in YOU

In Greek mythology, there are nine muses, all dedicated to and presiding over the arts and sciences, one of whom is the goddess of music.

There are various etymologies for “muse” and “music”.

Suffice it to say, however, that it is not sound, by itself, which makes “music.” It is the feeling of satisfaction that it invokes within the person receiving and perceiving the sound. It is the stirring of deeply felt emotions which constitutes music, and that separates it from noise. As with the muses themselves, music inspires. It brings forth beauty. It encourages the heart.

InSPIRation

From the inside out

Creation

Moves through you

Out into the world

You feel it in your body

Sensation

Vibration

Rings

Rattles

Roars

Harmony

Evoked

Alive!

It spurs on a deeper and richer experience. It touches and awakens your spirit, your soul.  Nineteenth century physician (and member of the “Fireside Poets”) Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. offered up this spiritual prescription:

“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

He also said that most of us go to our grave with our music still inside us. It is not about getting ready to live.  It’s about living fully expressed, before our time runs out.

So, as you embrace this time of year, I invite you to find some quiet moments to reflect on what you desire to bring out from the darkness into the light.  Is it a book?  Is it a composition of another sort?  Any other creative endeavor? A new way of showing up in the world?  In your community? In your relationships?

I’ll be doing the same.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Wishing you and yours all the joys and blessings of the season.

For your consideration:

Get quiet, and reflect for a moment: When has a particular piece of music moved you?  What was it about it that touched your spirit, your soul?

Okay, your turn:

When has music inspired you? In what ways?  What about your own MUSE-ic inside you?  What within you is ready to be expressed?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.