Great Relationships – What’s the Secret?

Most of us realize that our close relationships need attention and nurturing.  If you are a parent, you do your best to spend quality time with your kids on a daily basis. If you’re married, you create time to share with your spouse. And the same goes for close friends, siblings, and parents. Why is it that we don’t create the same space in time to commune and communicate with ourselves?

Most of my clients, when they begin working with me, admit that they don’t take time to “sit” with themselves – and that mostly they don’t know how to do it. I would like to address the importance of an intimate relationship with oneself. If you cannot understand yourself, you cannot accept yourself; you don’t know how to guide yourself, and ultimately, you cannot find love and compassion towards yourself. Disconnection from you means disconnection from others.

In order to be able to be open, honest, and authentic with others, you have to be able to
be that way with yourself.  A relationship with oneself, just like any other relationship, needs consistent investment of time, attention, and care. When I watch the news or observe people who are destructive to themselves and others, it is clear to me that
they don’t have a caring relationship with themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t compromise themselves and the lives of others. Lack of self-caring can take many forms:  take a minute to think of the ways you are treating yourself or feeling about yourself.

Are you critical, harsh, or rejecting towards yourself?  Are you neglecting?  Are you
avoiding your feelings, needs, and desires? Are you disrespecting yourself and allowing others to disrespect you? Ask yourself what needs to be different – what needs to be nurtured? In the next couple of blogs I will offer you ways to cultivate a caring connection with yourself.

Whatever you feel, think, and do, affects –believe it or not – our dynamic global ecosystem. Maybe you think this sounds a bit grandiose, or even unbelievable, but think about it this way: How many times have you stepped into a meeting with a chip on your shoulder, and somehow the entire atmosphere shifted from one of excitement and joyous buzz to that of sullen blandness?

 

My point is this: Whether you do or don’t love yourself, your attitude causes a ripple effect in the universal emotional realm. And to be generous and care for yourself, first is to be generous and caring for the rest of humanity.

 

To love someone properly, you need to know them – know what they need. Know what they appreciate and desire. When you have a basis from which to reach out, you can meet their emotional needs as a supportive friend and loved one.

Stay tuned next week for steps that will help you become that trusted friend to yourself.

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Vacations & Achievements, More Related Than You Think

I, like many of us, look forward to a vacation; a moment to pause, to rest, to empty the mind and open the heart to the simple delights of life.

No matter how hard we try to balance our lives, most of us are constantly rushing to meet deadlines and complete projects. Gates of Power® Method emphasizes the importance of balancing quiet, internal, “me time”, rest, play, emotional and physical care with life path, projects and goals.

I am deeply committed to this balance in my personal life. Despite my daily balancing act, I know when I need to just do nothing; to feel like a four-year-old with no to do lists, no responsibilities, nowhere to go, and nothing to do that is required. That kind of emptying out takes me naturally to my sense of joy and appreciation for my moments.

A vacation state of mind is one of ease of being. It took me a few good years to deeply embrace that mindset; I was steeped in the achievement one.

So, “what is wrong with that?” You might say. Yes, achievement is great if it is done with ease of being. It takes some mastery to marry these two, achievement and ease. Ponder for a minute what is most important to you on the path of life? I say, experiencing and enjoying your moments is living. If that quality of living is compromised by stressful efforts, originating from insecurities, it is wise to take note of it and find a way to shift it. Many times, we confuse true passion for achieving something with a desire to prove that we are worth it.

When we stop, breathe, and open up we make new friends, we see things we didn’t notice before, and we realize our love for people and the world all over again.

We feel at one with life. Somehow, in this very troubled and divided world, our simple sense of safety has been robbed. A vacation can end up in a tragedy… Still because of it, and despite it, we must not allow fears of the unknown dissuade us from exploring. Instead, learn to revisit that relaxed innocent space of a vacation. Take yourself there. Every day, maybe even every moment, give yourself that gift.

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The Tragic Results of Validation Addiction

The other night I went to see the movie “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” Directed by Joseph Cedar. Richard Gere gives a profoundly moving performance. He captures the essence of the very vulnerable, displaced, older man Norman, who is desperately trying to belong. He is a New York Fixer, a wheeler and dealer who tries to connect people and push “good deals”. Wheeling and dealing is his ticket to a sense of belonging, his attempt to be “someone” who matters. He strives desperately to get attention and recognition through offering “good deals” and personal connections. One of his attempts lands him a connection with an Israeli high official. He buys him a gift, a pair of very expensive shoes. This connection and the sense of warmth and trust that follows changes his life for better or worse…

What moved me while watching the movie, was the recognition that Norman actually represents each one of us. We all need to feel that we belong and that we’re valued for who we are. We can look for that affirmation outside of ourselves or train our eyes to see it inside. The inside job takes dedication, awareness, and internal work. Mostly, our commonly tendency is to look for the affirmation of self-value outside. We devote much effort to get people to like and appreciate us, to get noticed by finding fame, fortune, political power, or at times destroy and distract. Whatever works to get attention.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, these costly efforts don’t truly establish an internal sense of personal value. What does is loving connection and acceptance of ourselves and authentic connection with others. When Norman felt the warmth and connection with the Israeli high official, he felt, maybe for the first time, truly appreciated. Was that enough to bring him peace?? Maybe it ushered a beginning of self-acceptance? It also opened him up to betrayal.

Investing in the discovery and realization of our inner self has the highest return. I highly recommend the art of looking inside and learning to accept, respect, and nurture the self within ourselves. Our deepest drive is to fully express our being and touch lives. Knowing our value, empowers us to be and do just that.

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Desires Gone Wrong

The bombing that happened in Manchester this week is a disturbing example of how powerful our desires are. The human heart is a furnace of desires and that is its power. Within the fires of the heart, there are desires for power, control, revenge, manipulation, and domination. These same flames within the heart inspire desires for love, compassion, creativity, and beauty.

Indulging in desires for domination, revenge, and control originate from a weak sense of self. When one feels less than, victimized, and insecure one faces two choices. The first is positive and proactive and that is the choice to get on the path of self-growth and self-development. The second choice is destructive and depleting, the path of blaming others and doing your best to victimize and diminish them in order to feel better. Indulging ourselves in this second choice will leave us empty and broken inside.

We are yearning for a sense of inner strength and that is natural. We can tap into a true sense of security, wholeness, and inner strength, it just takes some dedication and commitment. Fortifying a false sense of self at the expense of others eventually shatters and leaves us depleted. The young person behind the act was fueling his desire to terrorize and control through fear and destruction. A revengeful thrill that cost people their lives and their health. In the long run, this type of hatred ends up consuming and debilitating its source.

We have a choice which desires we’re going to fulfill and how. We should choose wisely.

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Very Poor, Very Rich

On our visit to Rio De Janeiro last month, I was stuck by the appalling gap between the very rich and the extremely poor. I was walking along the beautiful beaches of Copacabana, then Ipanema, and reached Leblon, the very affluent part of the city. Out of curiosity, I decided to visit the famous mall, Shopping Leblon. A place where all the famous labels claimed their stake and charged as much as the highest price on Madison Avenue if not more. The food court there could compete with some of the high-level restaurants in New York City. In short, you needed plenty of money to buy anything there

On the other hand, I visited one of the 700 Favelas (ghettos) where people live in crumbling huts 6-7 in one room. We walked the tiny, dark alleys that were mice and rat infested and flooded with sewer water. People who live at the Favelas don’t have addresses. They are the outcasts of society. Most of them do their best to work in town, earn money, and have semi normal lives. The drug lords are the lawmakers while the police show attendance and get paid to be quiet.

Knowing that this disturbing reality is present in some form almost anywhere throughout the world, I ask myself, “How is this effecting our existence, our wellbeing as people on earth?” Any extreme imbalance anywhere (physical, mental, social, political) ends up in eruption and disturbance. The natural order of life is consistently driving towards balance. Balance creates strength and unity. Nature is wise enough to know that.

What are we doing to ourselves? Why? What are some of the solutions we might look for to create a better balance politically, socially, and spiritually? I cannot say I have the answers; I am definitely in search for insights. Please feel free to write me your thoughts.

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The Travel State of Being

This last month, I visited Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
A town nestled within lush mountains and wide waters. An earthly haven, indeed, with beaches long, white, and clean (yes clean). A place with people who are true lovers of life and samba and people who have been used and abused by greed and corruption, generation after generation…more about that in another moment.

Being there, I was reminded of what I call “the travel state of being”.
One of my most favorite things in life is traveling to new places. The door to the world of freedom and adventure opens up. I am out of my usual routine metrics. We all know that habitual patterns can put us to sleep emotionally and spiritually. Traveling, one really needs to be present (since half the time, you need to figure out where you are and where you need to go).

Being in the here and now becomes a palpable reality.
All my senses open up. Colors are brighter. Sounds and smells are welcomed. New tastes are so amazingly interesting. Faces and shapes become delicious. I feel like a child in the playground of life.

All the spiritual and emotional guidance of the sages, is an attempt to take us to a place where we are one with life and people, allowing our spirit and soul to flow gently while exchanging loving creative play with others.

Years of spiritual work can be accomplished in one simple travel adventure, if we’re willing to embrace the opportunity.
I love communicating with people when we don’t speak the same language. I discover over and over again, the magic of communication. Yes, we can understand and enjoy each other without language. I love doing things I never did before, learning about other ways of living and being.

While in Rio, I visited one of the most poverty and drug stricken places on the planet, Favela. We were guided by a man who has lived there for the last 50 years. It was a delightful surprise to share his intelligence, knowledge, and joyful ease of being. Go figure.

Travel opens your mind and heart to experience the true essence and resilience of people. The true essence of you. A child of life here to love play and create.

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The 4 Magic “R”s

Joel Goldsmith is one of my favorite writers/teachers. In his book, Beyond Words and Thoughts 8 (Goldsmith, 1998), Goldsmith states: “… we receive certain facets, realizations, and principles of truth which are continually flowing in, in proportion to our receptivity and openness.” Silence helps us create that open state of receptivity. When we visit the realm of inner silence through a state of meditation, we open our soul’s mind to the truth that lies beyond the world of the senses and the thoughts. We learn to feel and know the truth within the heart. Slowly, we find a way to trust and surrender to it until we become it. We come to realize that we are the truth, a breathing, living expression of Spirit, beyond our body and mind. We accept the infinite as the being of every being, and we can let it function and express through us. We gladly allow its power, abundance, and grace to flow through our lives. Our prayer becomes a grateful receptivity, a listening and a communion. The only thing that’s left is to become a clear channel through which grace flows and truth expresses itself.

Your Expanded Self is the individual channel through which divinity and wisdom are heard. As we learn to lead our daily lives from the spiritual understanding of our Expanded Self, we come closer to our God-like nature. Eventually, the truth begins to dawn in our consciousness.We understand that we are not the doers but the vessels of all that is true.

I’d like to introduce the Four Magic “R”s (Relax, Release, Receive, Rejoice). These help us replenish and expand. The Four Magic “R”s are deliciously refreshing and there is not much to explain about them.

1. Relax
We all know the importance of relaxation.

2. Release 
What are we releasing? In this case, we are releasing worry, anxiety, over-planning, and over-thinking.

3. Receive 
The ability to receive, be receptive, is as important and maybe more so than being active. We want to be open to receive love, abundance, healing, insights, ideas, inner guidance, and so on.The Hebrew word kabbalah (the Jewish mystical teaching) means “receiving.” We are vessels of consciousness, and if we are open to receive, we can know the truth and be transformed.

4. Rejoice
Not much explanation is needed. It is nourishing to feel joy in living. Whoever can rejoice and appreciate all of life’s experiences—the difficult as well as the sublime—has mastered the art of living.

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How Meditation Changes Your Life

Last week we talked about stillness and mindfulness. This week we’re going to focus on how mindfulness works in tandem with meditation to positively effect your daily life.

Mindfulness is one way of cultivating a meditative state.
There are many forms of meditation: sitting, lying down, moving, drawing, writing, breathing, chanting, creating, and so on. In my practice and workshops, we experience all these forms of meditation, and more. The two common threads present in all these forms of meditations are (1) dropping the “Monkey Mind” and (2) being in the moment.

Dropping the Monkey Mind
The Monkey Mind refers to the obsessive, compulsive currents of thoughts that race across our minds. They are called the Monkey Mind because, as the name suggests, they are restless and jumping. When we are in the throes of the Monkey Mind, it is as if we are tied up and dragged around by the monkey’s tail, pulled helplessly to places we don’t even wish to go. There is very little respite or inner quiet in that place. Meditation teaches us to disengage from the Monkey Mind and detach from its frantic pace. Slowly, we learn to free ourselves from its grip. Underneath the Monkey Mind lies the creative mind, and beneath that lies the Zen Mind, or the True Mind. The True Mind is still, accepting, and observing. It is nonreactive. It is peaceful. Needless to say, it is a great relief to abide in that mind. It is just that it takes practice and mindfulness to get there.

Being in the Moment
Being in the moment is the ability to be fully engaged and focused in the present moment, whether we are in the midst of an activity or at rest. When we are in the moment, we are enjoying, accepting, and flowing with what is. We all long to experience our moments and enjoy them, but hypnotized by a sense of urgency, we frequently forget how. We feel we must be [better, prettier, smarter], must do [more, less, different], must have [a bigger house, a nicer car, a new job], and everything needs to happen right now. We stress ourselves out, and many times overwhelm ourselves, with our lists of “musts.” It is difficult to simply smell the roses when we are jogging breathlessly on the treadmill of self-imposed, and at times unnecessary, expectations and demands. We long to live peacefully within our skin, challenging ourselves, but from a place of love and self-acceptance. We long to be, to breathe, to take in life, to smile with it, to gently flow and feel the rhythm of nature. Meditation helps us learn the art of being.

Don’t Resist the Moment
Why do we resist the moment? The simplest explanation is because we resist ourselves. I have heard this over and over from clients: “I don’t feel that I am good enough.” “I am not capable enough.” “I am not talented enough.” This sense of not being “enough” drives us in an unhealthy way to “fix” ourselves. The truth is that there is nothing “wrong” with us, other than thinking there’s something wrong and living with the continual fear and stress that this belief evokes. Yes, we all have lessons to learn and growing up to do, but that does not mean that there is something bad, missing, or wrong with us. We’re just human beings in progress. We are evolving. If we accept ourselves, lessons and all, we can accept others, and life. We can stop the fault-finding and the criticism that we torment ourselves with, and in so doing, we can stop the judgment we spill onto others, and life.

Self-acceptance is Key to Inner Peace and Relaxation
Mindfulness helps us accept the moment and what is. I remember thinking as a young person that accepting meant giving up. It took me a while to understand that it is quite the opposite. Acceptance is the courage to sit with what is and appreciate it. Out of that wisdom, right choices and right actions emerge.

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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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