Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Is Honor?

Last week explored the concept of integrity and a lovely little bird sang in my ear that it would be good to explore the concept of honor next. So, what is honor?

If you look up the words honor and integrity in a thesaurus, they are synonyms of each other, and they are used interchangeably because they speak to similar qualities. But I perceive that there are some subtle differences.

Here is the difference I see between integrity and honor, and I look forward to reading your comments with your views.

Integrity is doing what you say you will do with honesty and heart, and in alignment with your true purpose for being here on earth. Honor is doing what you say you will do, even when difficult conditions arise, without needing to degrade or disrespect another in the process, and reverently addressing the consequences of the choices you make.

Here are some thoughts from others about honor that might have meaning for you. (As before, references to men apply equally well for women and references about men can also apply for women.)

I've got a woman's ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it. —Margaret Thatcher

Our own heart, and not other men's opinion, forms our true honor. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave. —Calvin Coolidge

Honor isn't about making the right choices. It's about dealing with the consequences. —Midori Koto

Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud. —Sophocles

He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable or dangerous to do so. —Walter Lippmann

Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself.
—Lois Bjold

It wasn't the reward that mattered or the recognition you might harvest. It was your depth of commitment, your quality of service, the product of your devotion -- these were the things that counted in a life. When you gave purely, the honor came in the giving, and that was honor enough. —Scott O-Grady

I have written before that one of the challenges we create for ourselves in our new age thinking is that something is right for us to do if it is easy. Somehow, we have made right and easy equal to each other. We have decided that if a choice proves to be easy, we are on the right path and if it is difficult we must be on the wrong path.

It has been my blessing to interview many individuals over the years as they reflect on their journeys in healing, career, relationship, creating prosperity, and spiritual awakening. Not one individual that has achieved something of value in their lives ever told me their journey was easy.

In fact, they have often confided to me that there were many moments when the journey was extremely challenging. Yet, they persevered because they knew they were following their guidance, and they trusted their intuitive insights.

They did not expect everything to be graceful, but rather they chose to move through their challenges with as much grace as they possibly could.

They did not expect life to be easy all the time, but rather, chose to see the gifts of opportunity in the obstacles that presented themselves.

They did not expect everyone else to bend to their will, but rather, bent like the willow to their own inner conscience.

They acted as best they could in accordance with their calling, doing their best to inflict no harm, while staying true to their mission in the most challenging of circumstances. And when another was harmed, they took responsibility for their choice and the consequences of their actions.

They choose what they know in their hearts to be right; not necessarily what it easy.

Can one make an honorable choice, in alignment with their purpose, true to their purpose, that is easy? Certainly that can happen and does. These same individuals would tell me how much they enjoyed their lives, and how much, even the challenges, have given them exuberance for life.

Where we trip ourselves us is when we make ease a condition of what is right. For those of us that have struggled and suffered, we perceive that struggle and suffering indicates something is wrong.

We may find it difficult to believe that what is right for us could also have its challenges. And yet, how do we transform the pain and stuckness of this planet if we are unwilling to move through those energies ourselves. There is a huge difference between suffering and struggle, and the willingness to diligently persevere on a course of action we know to be true and right for ourselves.

Have you ever believed in something so deeply that nothing could shake you (at least not for very long)? Have you ever been so passionate about something that you looked for solutions the minute a problem arose? Have you ever loved someone or something so much that you immersed yourself in your loving expression?

When life asks us to grab yet one more rung as we climb our ladder of life, we find out how much we want to achieve all that we are capable. We reach, and in reaching we discover what we deem to be honorable within ourselves.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Is Integrity?

One of our New Dream volunteers shared with me that she has been considering this question lately, and she thought it would make a good topic of exploration at New Dream. I agreed.

She said she began her examination of integrity from the perspective of upholding certain moral beliefs, but ultimately found this to be too narrow a definition. She then found herself leaning more toward the perspective of living in alignment with what you believe.

In contemplating the concept of integrity, she is in good company. Consider some of the following thoughts about integrity. Most of these quotes are courtesy of: Perhaps one of them speaks to your heart and mind. (Of course, where men are referenced, the concepts apply equally well for women.)

The voice within is what I'm married to. All marriage is a metaphor for that marriage. My lover is the place inside me where an honest yes and no come from. That's my true partner. It's always there. And to tell you yes when my integrity says no is to divorce that partner.
—Byron Katie

To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice. —Confucius

Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got. —Janis Joplin

Better to keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world. —George Bernard Shaw

Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn't know it must learn and find by experience that a quiet conscience makes one strong. —Anne Frank

The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out. —Thomas Babington Macaulay

Integrity -- Take the harder right over the easier wrong. —Kelly Perdew

The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology.
—Red Auerbach

Forcing yourself to think happy lies doesn't heal your dreams. Getting to the truth does. —Martha Beck

With integrity you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt. With fear and guilt removed you are free to be and do your best. —Zig Ziglar

There comes a time in your life when you have to let go of the life you planned and live the life you were meant to live. —Unknown

As you can see integrity has many faces. We value integrity when someone tells the truth, even if that truth is uncomfortable. We know integrity when someone hears their calling and follows it in dedicated faith and trust. We experience integrity when someone’s actions are in alignment with their beliefs, even if their actions are choices we would not have made. We honor integrity when someone fulfills their contract for this lifetime, especially if the challenges were great and the cost was high.

Living in integrity is not always easy. In fact, it can be downright challenging. But as Alexander the Great reminds us: Upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all. We might think those little slips, when we lack integrity, don’t matter in the larger picture, but they do. We know when we are acting outside of our integrity and that choice typically results in regret and guilt.

Regret and guilt can lead to all kinds of disruptive behaviors, as we try to cover up what we are really feeling. We pretend things are okay, but act aggressively or passive aggressively toward others as our inner frustrations look for ways to express. We become physically ill as the regrets and guilt eat at our emotional core. We make excuses for choices we regret, so that we won’t have to face the inner pain. Ultimately, living out of integrity costs us our happiness, and affects the lives of those whose lives we touch.

While living in integrity can be challenging, it is not necessarily more challenging than living outside of our integrity. For example, working a job you don’t like takes a toll on you. That job is probably not fully in alignment with your purpose and calling. That said, you might feel you need to do this job for now in order to create and maintain income in this challenged economy.

Are you honoring the integrity of your spiritual contract by creating a plan, or following your intuitive guidance, to move you into a career that is in greater alignment with your purpose? Are you making sure you are doing something to fulfill your soul’s contract to make a real difference in this world?

The soul needs alignment—alignment with your truth, purpose, beliefs and feelings. That is why it is so important to keep yourself clean and bright as George Bernard Shaw suggests.

When you are feeling particularly challenged in regard to your integrity, you might find it helpful to consider a role model. Who models integrity for you? Is there someone famous or someone close to you that you perceive lives in his or her integrity with great love and impeccability?

Do you have someone in your life that lovingly holds you accountable for your words and actions? If you don’t, consider if there is someone in your life that you trust enough that you would allow them to hold you accountable in a kind, yet honest manner.

Allowing yourself to recognize and incorporate the wisdom of role models that touches your heart, and allowing yourself held accountable for your intentions are two ways in which an individual enhances their lives as a person of deep integrity. When you are ready to incorporate these two elements in the development of your personal integrity, spiritual practice expands from desire into fulfillment. And so our volunteer, like many of you perhaps, is probably ready for greater fulfillment, as she chooses to explore the meaning of integrity in her life.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The More We Can Hold In Love; The More Free We Become

For many, many years, I limited the freeing experience of love because I was more committed to holding on to my sorrow and anger. I had been abused and I figured my anger was justified, so I held on to it, fed it and used it as a weapon whenever people disappointed me with even a hairline fracture of abusiveness in their demeanor or voice.

I fought for my right to be hurt and angry, and as I result I was miserable. I blamed others for my discontent, without it ever occurring to me that I was the cause of my own misery. When I finally did figure out that my experience of life was my responsibility, I turned the blame inward, justifying a deep-seated belief that I was completely unworthy to enjoy the life I wanted.

It took a long time for me to finally stop blaming others, myself, God or the world for how unhappy I felt most of the time. To allow an event to occur without blaming anyone was one of my earliest goals in honest self-responsibility.

This became particularly challenging when someone (myself or another) was actually responsible for an uncomfortable or difficult event. I didn’t understand you could hold someone else or yourself accountable without blaming. This is something I cover in greater detail in my book, The Root of All Healing: 7 Steps to Healing Anything.

Blaming includes a good dose of judgment, and it is the condemning judgment of another that causes us to break faith with our own hearts. But the heart has the capacity to hold ourselves and others in tremendous compassion, while also holding ourselves and others accountable for our actions. The key is to drop the condemnation.

We have the capacity to hold a great deal more in compassion than we often realize we can. This has become a consistent discovery at our annual Women’s Retreat, where we spend a weekend immersing ourselves in our capacity to discover deeper compassion for ourselves and others.

The more we can hold in love; the more free we become.

What do I mean by freedom? Imagine how much more happy you would feel every day if you were not blaming yourself and others. Imagine how good life would be if you could be compassionate with the people around you without surrendering boundaries that are healthy for you. What would it be like if you could express your opinions and desires without expectation that others feel the same way or make the same choices as you?

We create all kinds of limits to the full experience of love in our attempt to control others so that we will feel more comfortable or in the judgments we place. Intimacy can’t grow in an environment of condemnation. Nor can it grow in an environment where we do not feel seen, heard or recognized as who we truly are. Neither you nor the people you love can experience true intimacy in a reality where someone is constantly making you wrong.

Intimacy emerges in safety. In order to create that safety, compassion is required. The greater your capacity to hold yourself and others in compassion, the greater your capacity to experience the freedom that love gives us.

The freedom is wonderful, when you can make choices for yourself that expand your opportunities for intimacy. You feel free when you can love another without expectations about what they should or shouldn’t do—when you aren’t expecting a specific person to meet your needs. You experience tremendous freedom when you love yourself simply as you are, without any expectation to change.

In acceptance, you experience the depth and expansiveness of your love. You also gain clarity about what choices you need to make in order to continue experiencing that free and expansive state of love.

Your capacity to hold love is enormous. And most of us have only scratched the surface. If you think you love greatly, perhaps you would like to challenge yourself to hold even more. After all, in the Sacred Feminine way, the capacity to hold in love is limitless. That is why, the more you can hold in love, the more free you become.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

End of the Mayan Calendar—Planetary Stewardship to the Feminine

The Emergence of the Sacred Feminine

According to Dr. Carl Calleman’s research, October 28, 2011 (not 2012) is the day the Mayan Calendar comes to its completion. Others say it ends on the Solstice, December 22, 2012. Others refuse to give it a date. Others have decided to just wait and see.

This is what we do know. Nicaraguan, Mayan Grandmother, Flordemayo, of the International Council of 13 Grandmothers, tells us the final glyph from the Mayan story of creation shows planetary stewardship being delivered into the hands of the feminine.

So, regardless of the date, here’s the question you might really want to consider. Are you ready for that responsibility? Whether you are a woman or a man, are you ready to discover what the Sacred Feminine really is and how it helps you and all of humanity bring an end to human struggle?

Does this sound a bit dramatic? Well, it is. Whatever exact date the calendar ends, this is what our Mayan ancestors saw for the future and that future is happening right now. It is one of the reasons we are living here on earth during this time period—to awaken the Sacred Feminine within ourselves so that we can create balance between the Divine energies of the Masculine and Feminine.

If either of these energies—Sacred Masculine or Sacred Feminine—exists in an extreme, without balance, we experience chaos. Too much masculine, particularly if it gets caught up in fear, and you get symptoms like:

—achieving yourself to death
—aggressiveness and war
—a lot of talking and doing, but not enough listening
—and beliefs such as, “I am right and you are wrong.” or, “What I want is more important.”

Too much feminine, especially if it is caught up in fear, and you get challenges such as:

—nothing getting accomplished
—codependent, passive aggressive behaviors
—too much considering, and not enough action
—and beliefs such as, “I’m not worthy.” Or “I’m not ready.”

When I was a communications consultant I could usually tell whether the business I was consulting for leaned toward too much feminine or masculine energy. When the company was dealing with stressful issues that brought up fears, it was fairly easy to tell whether the company suffered from inertia or over-achievement.

Of course, both sets of unique challenges exist in humanity. In terms of planetary leadership; however, we’ve been leaning heavily toward the masculine, and now is the time to restore balance.

When existing in love, the feminine is the energy of stillness and contemplation. It is unconditional compassion and has the capacity to hold all potential for life in love. The masculine, when coming from love is bliss and ecstasy. It is the passionate and generous expression of life longing to know itself. Put those together and live from that balance, and you have a truly harmonious existence.

Since all life was born from the absolute dark, stillness of the cosmic womb, if we embrace within ourselves that still, quiet and compassionate capacity to hold all that we are and have created, the Sacred Masculine naturally emerges from that loving space, born anew in its expression. Action born from loving silence is blissful existence.

This is the gift of the Creation Meditation. It emulates the creation of life, which began in the primordial womb. Life was and is born from the stillness. And life is born anew when held in love.

This concept of holding in love needs to be learned, because there are ways to hold that can create more problems and ways to hold that allow us to be born anew. That’s why we created our annual Women’s Retreat—so that there would be a time and place for women to learn and perfect our ability to hold in the way of the Sacred Feminine.

Isn’t it fascinating that we intuitively chose October 28, 2011 as the day to begin our Women’s Retreat? Whether it is or is not the last day of the Mayan Long-Count Calendar, it is an auspicious time to honor the wisdom of the ancients and prepare ourselves for the stewardship of the feminine. The whole world is waiting for us!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Falling in Love with the Enlightened and Unenlightened Parts of Yourself

It is relatively easy, isn’t it, to love and appreciate the enlightened aspects of you? To love your ability to help people, your kind heart and generosity, your talents, and the wisdom you have acquired.

But what about your unenlightened parts? It seems to be more challenging to love the parts of yourself that are jealous, selfish, controlling, condescending, timid or addicted.

If you have had a journey at all like mine, you’ve probably spent some time trying to ignore those less than enlightened aspects of yourself. You may have attempted to overcome them, ignore them, or erase them from your consciousness and behaviors. The challenge is that they don’t just go away because we want them to, do they?

Yet, these less than desirable qualities exist for reasons. They are part of the whole of who you are, and they are a part of you because of the experiences you have had. They can’t just get up and walk away, and they can’t be ignored, fixed or trumped by more enlightened thoughts.

About the time, you think you have trumped an unenlightened aspect of yourself with a more awakened thought, those feelings of regret, resentment, righteousness, or anger come sneaking in, and there you are experiencing the pulls of your more unenlightened ways of behaving.

The unenlightened parts of yourself exist because they are aspects of you needing to be loved. Your deepest wounds and desires are screaming for your undivided attention. They don’t want to be fixed any more than you do. They don’t want to be ignored any more than you. And like you, they certainly don’t want to be treated as though they will feel better if they just act like everything is okay.

They are the wounded and desiring parts of you that want to be heard, recognized, understood and loved as you are in the moment. Unenlightened parts of ourselves become enlightened when they are met with love and grace. They become enlightened when they are understood as they are, from the very core of our being.

So what are we really saying here? The unenlightened aspects of you become enlightened when you are willing to love those aspects of yourself with the same regard with which you love the more enlightened aspects of yourself. They call you to love yourself, completely, without limits or judgment.

You might be asking yourself how you get to that kind of loving regard for yourself, when you just don’t feel it. (I remember how frustrated I was when I was first learning how to be self-compassionate.) You might find it helpful to read this article that I wrote for those of us that can feel stuck or numb about loving ourselves, When You Are Not Feeling Compassionate, What Do You Do?

Some of you may be reading this thinking, “I even have trouble loving the more enlightened aspects of myself. What do I do?” I think you will find the same article above to be helpful. It is a respectful way to lead your heart and mind to greater self-love and self-healing.

Imagine for a moment, how your life might open up, if you found even a little bit more love for you—the parts of you that are awakening and the parts of you that are still sleeping.

Think about a young child that you enjoy. Isn’t it wonderful to watch them run, play and thoroughly enjoy life? Isn’t it equally wonderful to watch them sleep, unaware of what is really happening around them?

That’s how it is in a spiritual journey. You are the observer of your life—the one who most sees and understands the uniqueness of you. You have an amazing opportunity to fall deeply in love with the parts of you that are awake and the parts of you that are asleep.

I use the term “falling in love” with clear intention. It is one thing to learn how to like yourself, and that might be perfect for where you are in your life right now. It is yet another step in spiritual awareness to love yourself, and yet another to fall in love with yourself.

This is not selfish or self-absorbed. Because you are the eyes, ears, heart and arms of the Divine here on earth, this is about seeing yourself as the Divine sees you. It is the grand gift you came here to earth to give yourself.

During the month of October, I will have the privilege of sitting in circle with women that have decided to explore the essence of the Sacred Feminine with me and with each other. The ability to hold oneself in love—all of oneself—the enlightened and the unenlightened aspects—is the very nature of the Sacred Feminine.

In this unconditional, accepting love, we discover who we really are. Another way we say this is that we shed our limited bodies to become our limitless selves, for in love, we are limitless.

You are invited to join us, and you can learn more about the Path of the Sacred Feminine Women’s Retreat here: