The Surprising Benefits of Stillness

What is silence? The answer is seemingly simple: the absence of noise.
Sometimes in the middle of the night, one might wake up and hear silence. The world is quiet.

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the art of attention and awareness.
It lives in the present moment, which is the only moment we have. It is a form of nonjudgmental, relaxed awareness. When we are mindful, we are paying attention on purpose to the contents of this moment. We are noticing feelings and sensations. We are taking in the details of our external environment as well as the emotional and mental currents flowing within us. It also means cultivating a relaxed acceptance of what is. We learn to allow what happens to just “be” and observe it with compassion. We are witnessing rather than resisting, controlling or fixing.

Sounds easy? Not at all.
Mindfulness takes tremendous practice since we all are, to various degrees, anxious and reactive. We tend to live in the past, or in the future, going back and forth from one to the other in an effort, mostly unconscious, to manipulate life and outsmart it.Just being in the present moment feels very open and vulnerable. Most of us are too restless to fully relax into the moment. As a result, we end up being absent in our own life, a guest rather than the host.

Over the next 3 weeks, I will be going over the positive impact that 5 minutes of mindfulness, stillness, and meditation can have on our lives.
Isn’t it interesting that we forget that we are here in this life temporarily? We might not be here tomorrow. Our moments are precious, but we’re not living them fully. We are doing things automatically, half asleep, taking life for granted. Mindfulness reduces stress and enhances our ability to enjoy and appreciate life. It opens our hearts and minds to an expanded experience of life, and relaxes our tendency to contract away from what is.

Many books have been written about mindfulness. Many lectures and discussions have been held. None will truly convey to you the actual experience. Much like words cannot fully describe the experience of oneness, which is beyond words or thoughts, the experience of life through mindfulness is a personal one to be discovered and felt through practice.

Have you ever observed someone or something in a neutral way, without judging, rejecting, or analyzing but simply accepting?
No commentary, interpretations, or expectations. If you did, then you know what witnessing is. The experience of witnessing is rare unless practiced diligently.

Our monkey mind is part of our Defensive Self and is relentlessly commenting on everything we come in contact with. We file things in drawers according to our perceptions and categories. We have the “good” drawers and the “bad” ones; there we collect our likes and dislikes. While going through life, we are constantly hoarding emotions, ideas, information, and memories, putting them all in our overstuffed inner drawers. We are constantly bouncing between rejection and attachment.

We reject what we think is bad and put it in the bad drawers, and we get attached to what we judge as good.
It’s as if we need to know, on a moment to moment basis, what to discard and what to cling to. This reactive way of being does not allow for observation, awareness, or witnessing.

When we are driven by a sense of survival steeped in duality and fear, our mind can feel like a zoo and life like a circus. However, our inner witness, the cosmic “I Am” within our consciousness (the essence of our Expanded Self ), is the real ringmaster of the circus, and it does not identify with the shifts of the body-mind, the various dramas, stories, and interpretations flowing through.

So by cultivating our witnessing ability, our perspective widens, our mind relaxes.
Eventually the whole universe becomes our home, or to put it differently, the whole universe comes to live within our mind, and we can observe it peacefully, in a nonreactive way.

– Nomi

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Violence: A Look Within Yourself

I watched with shock and terror, the videos that have been released of a man being forcibly “re-accommodated” or thrown, injured, and dragged out of a flight. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the disrespectful, unprofessional, and cruel conduct of a company a large as United Airlines. If you cannot feel safe as a passenger on an airline, why would you want to ever fly with them? The aggressive behavior that is manifesting in so many areas of life is deeply concerning, from police brutality, to school bullying, to terrorist attacks, and social/political verbal aggression. Are we forgetting that violence brings violence? Are we forgetting that if we are instigating violence, it will inevitably affect us in some way since we are living in the environment? We’re not going to escape violence if it is what we are producing.

Every day while watching the news, I ask myself what makes people, nations, and groups violent?

Groups are made of individuals. Each one of us can contribute to either violence or peace. These contributions can be very subtle; every thought, word, or small action can elicit anger or joy. I would like you to take an honest look at yourself and ask yourself the question: what causes me to feel violent?

This kind of honest self-examination needs to become a daily awareness.

It is necessary to cultivate the understanding of what causes us to react violently. By saying that, I don’t mean an outward attack, such as hitting someone or throwing something. I mean a violent feeling within.

I found that when I feel victimized by somebody (that somebody could be me) or something, a fit of anger surfaces. I dedicated many years of my life to eradicating a sense of victimization. What empowered me to move away from the victim state of mind was taking full responsibility for everything I create in my life. Establishing myself as the creator rather than the victim shifts me out of anger into loving action and constructive communication.

It is extremely empowering to stand in the position of being the cause and the generator of your life.

Look at situations in your life in which you feel at the mercy of or at the effect of “powers” outside of yourself. Meditate on the ways that you participate in the situations that are unhealthy or upsetting for you. Ask yourself how you contribute to the circumstances of your life.

What can you do to shift your ways of being, doing, and communicating so that you can establish yourself in a place of conscious choice, integrity, and responsibility? This equals inner peace.

– Nomi

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Spring Clean Your Life

Spring Clean Your Life

Every Spring, I look for the moment that the buds start to bloom.

I love the magic of it. It always reminds me of my mother. She was born in Greece in the midst of war. She told us that she was born in the 7th month of her mother’s pregnancy, while fleeing the town. They had to cover her with cotton to carry her around; there were no hospitals or incubators. So obviously, no one recorded her date of birth. She didn’t have a birth certificate until later in life. From what she members, she was told she was born on the first day of the cherry blossoms blooming.

So to me, Spring and my mother are one and the same. When I think about my mother, I think of a heart full of joy and childlike curiosity for life. I think of laughter, poetry, kindness, and true expression. Our house was always filled with people who would come to see my mother; they knew they would have fun filled moments with her and real sharing. She would be the person to talk to about things or to just be silly with. My mother lived each day like it was a new and exciting chapter and that is what spring is to me, a new and exciting chapter. It is an opportunity to open up to life, love, and joy even further.

Spring gifts us a new beginning, a moment to celebrate renewal.

Renewal comes only when we can willingly release and let go of all that is no longer necessary. Are we ready and willing to do a total “spring cleaning”, inside and out?

It takes a choice, a commitment, and a discipline to get ourselves unstuck and to undue our self-imposed stagnation. As strange as it might sound, we are attached to our contraction; it feels safe and familiar, even though it is unpleasant. We hold on to our fears and pain because freedom feels dangerous. We simultaneously long for it and distrust it.

We can take ourselves out of the protective box and claim our aliveness.

We can take risks, open up, and express. Living with a passion for the truth and the courage to discover it, connects us to the power of transformation. This power lives within us, guiding our journey.

Spring is a time that we are reminded of our ability to renew. Nature gives birth to herself and we have an opportunity to open our spirit to new dimensions. The two spring holidays, Passover and Easter, are powerful symbols of this renewal and freedom. They are possibilities.

What are you willing and ready to say goodbye to? What new ventures and experiences are you willing to step into?

This is a great moment to reinvent yourself and your life. Go for it!

-Nomi

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10 Surprising Benefits of Getting Older

10 Surprising Benefits of Getting OlderLast month, I was asked to participate in a performance project called, “Maiden, Mother, Matriarch.” I was one of the women/performers in the Matriarch group. In preparation for the performance, we had a few heart-to-heart discussions about our experience of getting older

We spoke about health challenges. How do we keep ourselves joyful and active in spite of them? We spoke about the challenge of looking older. How do we maintain a sense of beauty in spite of an aging face and body? We spoke about the spiritual and emotional benefits of getting older

I shared that to me, the best and biggest benefit is a sense of inner freedom; freedom to be me, to express my truth authentically and be relaxed within my skin and my life. This sense of freedom was hard-earned.

Since a young age, I have been dedicated to the process of shedding fears, masks and unnecessary efforts to get love as a validation. Peeling these layers one by one can be painful and uncomfortable, but I have kept going.

It feels great to be free to be. Getting older isn’t anything to fear, the older you get, the more you celebrate your ageless spirit.

You Like Yourself

The older you get, the more you embrace and know who you are and you like yourself.You go through a lot and learn to turn trials into treasures. It took a little while to appreciate me being me. Emotional and spiritual vigilance helped me become my powerful self. I know you can/will be able to say the same.

You Appreciate Internal Beauty

You appreciate your beauty more as an internal one that shines through your appearance. Somehow, despite any accumulating wrinkles, you look at yourself and smile. You like the face you see in the mirror.

Become Your True Self

As time goes on, you learn to be true to yourself. You speak up and stand up for what matters to you. You earn your assertiveness and find your voice.

Know Your Worth

Knowing your worth and not letting people or situations compromise your happiness and peace of mind becomes second nature. You will find and embrace the knowledge that you deserve happiness and peace and will protect these unapologetically.

Recognizing How Precious Life Is

When you see time slowly slip by quicker with every passing year, you find that life is precious and is getting shorter. So, you become passionate about being in the moment, enjoying life to the last drop. You learn not to drown in the past or obsess about the future and are grateful for each day (You event start to look forward to enjoying it).

Being Open to Love

Getting older allows you to be open, to give and receive love, and to do it so much better. Loving yourself helps you give and receive freely. Each day is an opportunity to experience love.

Having Contributions to Make

That dedication you’ve always had to make a difference and to make a contribution becomes tangible and real. When you are rich in experience, knowledge, and compassion you are far more effective at making the world a better place.

You Go for It

When time is a treasure, you make sure you experience all you have dreamed of. You fiercely chase marking events off of your bucket list. No more ifs or buts; you just go for it.

Using Your Power for Good

You grow to understand the power you hold within the world and your circle of influence. Knowing and harnessing that power for good is a great feeling.

You Still Turn Heads

Surprisingly enough, you still feel sexy, sassy/charming, and love it. Your sex appeal simply evolves, rather than diminishes (contrary to how the media makes it seem).  The truth is that you still turn heads.

Look at the list and if one or more of these benefits is still a work in progress, know that you can take yourself there. You are only growing into your prime of power and wisdom. You are becoming an open, flowing river of love and creativity. Let yourself be.

What benefits would you add to this list? Is there a particular one that you have embraced? How has it let you be free to be? I invite you to write your own reflection about your experiences of getting older and sharing with me on social media @GatesOfPower

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10 Ways to Make Work Fun

10 Ways To Improve Work RelationshipsCommunicating constructively is not always easy. Even when we have the best intentions, we are not able to express them in a positive way that would inspire and engage the other. We all need to sharpen our communication skills, so that our relationships are enjoyable and fruitful. When we are honest with ourselves, in the silent moments, we recognize that life without positive relationships is empty, cold, and barren.

One of the most important areas of our lives is our work. We spend a major part of our day relating, creating, and cooperating with our co-workers. Our interactions with them can make a huge difference in our productivity, creativity, and daily enjoyment.

Investing in positive relating yields the highest emotional and practical return. If you want your work life to be effective, enjoyable, and passionate, you need to cultivate your relationships in the workplace.

One of the most important elements in cultivating positive relationships is communication. Most of us struggle to find our voice, sometimes it’s because we are too scared to speak from our heart, at times we don’t know what the heart wants, and at other times we get stuck in our pride and defensiveness.

Positive communication is the most nourishing and life affirming exchange. It is the spiritual currency that makes the world go round. I would like to suggest the following ten-commandments to help you communicate better, whether we are dealing with co-workers, parents, friends, or mates:

  1. Know yourself.

Find out how you feel, what you need, and what you believe in, so that you can communicate.

  1. Commit to creating connections.

Take responsibility for the success of your communications. Be the cause, the initiator, and the giver.

  1. Avoid reactivity.

When faced with strong emotions and intense reactions, take a minute to figure yourself out. Clear your mind and strive to create a constructive way to communicate.

  1. Cultivate empathic listening.

Extend that to yourself and others. Empathy helps you understand and accept. It enhances transformation and change.

  1. Be clear.

Be authentic and expressive and use the 4 “Magic I’s”: I think, I feel, I need, I want. When you communicate with another, express your feelings rather than pointing the finger. Avoid blaming, dumping, judging, or telling others what to do.

  1. Show appreciation.

Do whatever you can to validate your partners. Use listening and mirroring skills to show respect and consideration, at the same time, you can still maintain your beliefs. One has nothing to do with the other.

  1. Be reliable.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Integrity cultivates mutual trust.

  1. Learn to negotiate.

Create win/win situations. It is best for all involved.

  1. Tap into your humor and playfulness.

Bring enjoyment into your communications.

  1. Let go of the need to be right, in control, or on top.

Having authority doesn’t mean we need to be controlling or righteous. Interpersonal connection and the exchange of understanding are so much more fulfilling and yield better results.

Communication is an art. Keep experimenting and go through the trials and tribulations. You will come to enjoy it. Isn’t that the goal – to be happy, open, and expressive?

– Nomi

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They’re Threatening Our Freedom, What Now?

A sense of freedom has always been one of my most passionate pursuits. As a young adult, I  wrapped myself in the bondage of fears, insecurities, and doubts. My lifelong journey has been colored by my deep desire to find inner freedom as well as the freedom to express, create, and contribute. My journey took many curves, but it still continues to flower.

It pains me to hear that there are frequent on-going battles of freedom occurring all around the world. Within the past two years, millions of people in areas such as the Middle East and Africa have died trying to escape the oppression in their homeland and also to have a sense of dignity and a chance at a free life.

To my great concern, it seems like the fight for freedom has activated in our own country and society. We are experiencing extremely defensive and divisive ways of approaching policy regarding freedom by our own government. Each one of us needs to deeply take to heart what we are standing for and how we are fulfilling the vision that this country was founded on; which is freedom and equality to all people.

Watching the migrants struggle for a life of basic freedom makes me think of the struggle to survive as both a Jew and an Israeli. Knowing that struggle moves me to identify with all people fighting for their basic right to live dignified and expressive lives. This is not something I take for granted. I leave you with the words of the Dalai Lama, a true guide in these turbulent times.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document adopted by the United Nations in 1948 as a result of the experience of the Second World War. The declaration affirms that all human beings have the right to freedom from want and freedom from fear. These human rights are inclusive, interdependent and universal.

Whether we are concerned with suffering born of poverty, with denial of freedom, with armed conflict, or with a reckless attitude to the natural environment everywhere, we should not view these events in isolation. Eventually their repercussions are felt by all of us. We, therefore, need effective international action to address these global issues from the perspective of the oneness of humanity, and from a profound understanding of the deeply interconnected nature of today’s world.

Providing for equality under law, the declaration states that everyone is entitled to equal rights and freedoms without discrimination of any kind. Peace and freedom cannot be ensured as long as fundamental human rights are violated. Similarly, there cannot be peace and stability as long as there is oppression and suppression. It is unfair to seek one’s own interests at the cost of other people’s rights. Truth cannot shine if we fail to accept truth or consider it illegal to tell the truth. Where will the idea of truth and reality be if we push the truth and facts under the carpet and allow illegal actions to triumph?

Tenzin Gyatso, H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama

Please remember that humanity is a sacred and special thing. Cultivate your lives for yourself and others.

-Nomi

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Passions and Pleasures

All of us possess three important gifts that inspire our lives. These three gifts are handed to us by the Great Creative Source as an offering of unconditional love. The first gift is the ability to love and be loved. Even when we are having a tough time loving or receiving love, we are, deep down inside, capable of it, and are actually moving toward love. It is part of our innate nature. The second gift is the ability to feel connected to the whole, the great expression called life. We feel this connection through nature, culture, art, community, spiritual experience, a sense of unity, and the simple enjoyments of our daily lives. The third gift is our ability to create and express. We are all endowed with this ability; some of us make it a vocation, and all of us use it in one way or another.

On one of my blogs before the new year (see link at the end), I had suggested some steps for planning a successful 2017. I hope that you found the structure that I offered to be helpful. When we think of what truly gets manifested and achieved in our lives, we come to see that passions and pleasures are on the top of the list. So lets flesh out our passions and pleasures for this year. Since these generate a sense of excitement that fills us with energy, shooting us forward. Lets ride on their wave to our destination.

Live each day as a creative process. Commit to enjoyment and make choices that open you up to the magical in your daily moments.

I personally have a complete Vision Map of all my choices, commitments, and actions. I apply these to each one of the seven Gates of Power (r). I help everyone I work with create a Vision Map for themselves. We do not neglect to have two important lists added to our Vision Map. What am I talking about? I am talking about the list of passions and the list of pleasures.

I encourage you to make these two lists yourself. It is as nourishing to the heart as the thought of a great meal or a fun happening. The following lists give you an example of items or possibilities that could be on your lists.

Passions
People that I love and the heartfelt communication/events/adventures I want to share with them
Sharing my gifts with others
Creative projects
Plans for trips and adventures
Creating exuberant health and wellbeing
Enjoying moments of mediation and peace
Art, music, culture

Pleasures
Physical activities you enjoy
New foods
Great new books, music, movies
Laughing and chatting with friends
Nature
Games and silliness
Sex and affection

Please don’t deprive yourself from making these lists and treating yourself to doing at lease one thing from each one of the lists. You will end up reaching goals in a natural and pleasurable way. What is more important in this life than enjoying the three gifts? Love, connection, and creativity.

(View the last blog here)

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A Renewed You

A new year is a wake-up call infused with a sweet invitation from destiny to take the next step up. Ideally, we should have the habit of examining our lives weekly, asking the questions: What works, what doesn’t, why, and what is needed?  But most of us are not as diligent.

The New Year will flash a sign of “Stop and Think” in front of our eyes and whisper: “The clock of time keeps ticking away silently; you will not be here, in this version of yourself, forever.  It is time to take stock of your life and yourself.”

I invite you to take a minute and list your victories, personal and professional, a few great moments, and some great insights/revelations that you collected this year.  These are the gems you received from the passing year.

Now, going for the next level of growth ask yourself: “What area of my life is clearly out of balance and needs more attention right now?”

  • Is it your family?
  • Your creative projects?
  • Your health?
  • Your spiritual evolution?
  • Your emotional freedom?
  • Your finances?

Write down your answer on a sheet of paper.  This is the item highest on your priority list.  The one you are most passionate about.  The second question to ask yourself is: “How committed am I to creating a new level of possibilities in this area?” If your commitment is wavering, the third question is: “Why, what’s standing in the way?”

Here are the two important elements to create results.

One: strong emotional commitment is the key to manifestation. Actualized desires spring from our inner being. “As within, so without”: if you want love, you need to be love.  If you want health, you need to envision health, etc.

Two: to achieve growth and balance in the area of your life that you chose, you need to nurture your whole being.  All aspects of our lives are closely connected.  Your state of being is the soil in which all dreams grow and blossom, and you are the gardener.  Make sure you provide a fertile soil for your inner being if you want your dreams and wishes to come true.

Our inner being expresses itself through seven channels.  I call these channels The Seven Gates of Power®. When all seven channels are open unblocked, expressive, and energized, and when they work together in harmony, you are whole, powerful, and expressive.  You then enter into a state of being that supports the manifestation of your visions and desires.

Imagine yourself as a flower with seven petals.  All petals have to be nourished and open for the flower to fully express its beauty.  In the same way, all of your Gates need to be nourished, cleared and energized in order for your inner light to shine.

The Seven Gates of our being are:

  • The Gate of The Body (also includes all physical structures of life, home, care and finances)
  • The Gate of Emotions
  • The Gate of Dialogue (relationships with yourself and others)
  • The Gate of Creative Expression (adventure, playful and creative projects)
  • The Gate of Life Path (your life’s purpose and direction)
  • The Gate of Silence (prayer and meditation)
  • The Gate of Knowledge (learning)

If you neglect any one of these Gates, you compromise your inner balance.  All the Gates are connected and work together in synergy.

 Here are some tips for creating wholeness in preparation for the New Year:

  1. Take an honest look at each one of the Gates and ask yourself what you need to strengthen and cultivate in this area of your life.
  2. Match the area of life you chose as a priority with the right Gate.
  3. Make three clear commitments relating to each Gate.  For example, the Gate of the Body: How do you intend to strengthen your body in this coming year?  Nutrition?   Exercise?   Rest?   Grooming?  Or, the Gate of Emotion: How can you create greater emotional freedom and connect with feelings you are avoiding?  Express your feelings more, better, differently?   Learn to understand or accept certain emotions?

Once you finish going through this process and you have made three commitments under each Gate, you are ready to chart your plan for renewal and empowerment.

I suggest that you create a colorful chart with seven columns and three commitments under each column.  Now that you are clear about your commitments, it is time for practice.  You will need to consult your chart on a daily basis to create small steps leading to the accomplishment of your commitments.

If you are making a bold move out of your comfort zone, and I hope you do, be prepared to encounter fears, self doubts, and resistance.  This is the natural process of growing.  There are always breakdowns, small and large, before breakthroughs.  Keep working consistently through these.

This is a sacred labor of self-love; the rewards of your efforts will deepen your understanding of yourself and your ability to nurture and empower that self.  It is your creative gift to yourself for the New Year.

I wish you a year of health, joy, and renewal.

Nomi

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I am of the Earth

In one of the quiet nights when the world was deep asleep, I was wide awake. A slow string of memories was moving through the sky of my mind like tear loaded clouds. Somehow all the lonely, orphan like moments of my past, came in to say hello (or maybe to say goodbye?). Memories of times I felt bone-deep lonely and soul-filled sad. I was young then and did not realize yet, how loved, protected, and guided I truly was. I was sitting all chilled in the midst of enveloping warmth, hopeless while in the arms of bliss.

“You are of the Earth,” I said to my soul, “like a tree, a fish, a bird, or a rock. How can you be a part of the earth and be orphaned? A piece of grass is always at home. A fish knows it is part of the ocean. It is time to know,” I said to my soul. “It’s time for the sadness to say goodbye to its old music and discover a new melody, time to find the peaceful trust in the embracing warmth.” “Yes,” said my soul, “Let’s do it!” “Ok,” I said, “How about getting some sleep?”

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Passion for Integrity: Lessons From My Cleaning Lady

My cleaning lady Joslyn is an amazing example of passion for integrity. She gets into all the seen and unseen crevasses of the house. Nothing escapes her scrutinizing eye. She is a stand for absolute cleanliness. Why am I writing about that? Because I believe that no matter what you do, you can do it with a passion for excellence and a sense of integrity. So many of us don’t. When how you do things matters to you, it means that you matter to you, others matter to you, and your projects matter.

I look at Joslyn when she works. She is totally in the moment. Very present and most of the time, singing something or another in a very untrained voice that is full of light hearted peace. She is an example of mindfulness and respect for her work. I am sure she did not read any books about mindfulness or integrity. She did not attend any workshops. She is just fully engaged and takes pride in her job and the subtle healing magic of clean.

A clean house breathes differently. A clean house lets you relax and be. It is a space for clarity and peace. To me, Joslyn’s work is house therapy. If each of us did what we do with thorough dedication and love, the world would slowly heal and life would come to be what it wants to be, a flow of creative exchanges.

  • Nomi
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