Tidying Up

Lately I’ve been fascinated by a Netflix seeries called “Tidying Up” — a show about Marie Kondo.  

Marie is the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever, which has sold millions of copies and been translated into dozens of languages.  

It’s perfect inspirtion for spring cleaning!

In each episode, Marie works with a family that has piles and piles of clutter in their home. People whose lives and relationships are choking on their stuff. People who desperately need to declutter and they know it.

Marie is great. Marie does not judge. She enters their home with sweetness and light. She teaches the family how to organize methodically, one category at a time.

We watch as the family sorts through their things, item by item: clothes, books, kitchen, papers and so on.  

We witness as they confront the failed promises of consumerism. Our culture teaches us that we can purchase the solution to all of our problems. It’s not all that surprising that so many people end up with closets, homes and garages literally stuffed with things. After working with Marie, we see most of these items stuffed into large garbage bags, headed for charity or landfill. 

In many ways, our possessions reflect our lives — our hopes, our dreams, our successes and our failures. So when we sort through our belongings, we are sorting through our lives.  And when we release things, we are releasing the past.

Not only do these people end up beautifying their homes, they transform their lives in the process.  They talk about having space for the first time, having air to breathe.  Feeling lighter, feeling free.

This is what I find so striking . . . 

The results are remarkably similar to what people experience with forgiveness.

Unresolved emotional debris and inner conflict also accumulate in our lives, much like old clothes in the back of our closet. They too need clearing out every once in a while. For example:

  • Those things we haven’t said to our loved ones
  • Areas of procrastination
  • Regret over past decisions
  • Guilt as a parent/child/sibling/mate
  • Emotional eating/spending/avoiding
  • Incompletions in relationships

Marie offers one simple rubric for sorting:  Does the item spark joy for you? 

If something sparks joy, it’s a keeper.  If not, she says to thank the item for what it’s given you and release it. Through her process, Marie is teaching people to attune to the spark of joy so they can recognize it more easily. 

What if we could do this in other areas of our lives?  

With disappointments and mistakes from the past, what if we could simply thank the situation for what it gave you, give thanks and let it go?

When relationships end, we often experience difficult feelings such as hurt, abandonment, disappointment, and grief. But if the time has come to part ways – whether through our own choice or not – what if we could focus on the love and joy that was shared instead?  

There is a deep honoring in Marie’s approach.  She honors the people, the home, and their things — even the rejects.  In the process, she teaches people to focus on gratitude and cultivate joy. And as Marie says, joy comes from the inside, not the outside.

About The Wall

I want to talk about inner walls. Emotional walls.  Walls meant to protect and keep you safe. Walls that have been there for so long, you may barely know they are there. 

Maybe you created the wall because your heart was broken at some point, and it really really hurt. Maybe you learned the hard way that you shouldn’t trust people and definitely shouldn’t trust love. 

You might not be aware of having a wall, but I guarantee if you are presented with the opportunity to receive more love than you ever have before, you are likely to come face to face with your wall. You might experience it as resistance, discomfort or outright pain. You might believe that something is wrong, and feel a strong urge to pull away.

I’ve seen this many times, because this often occurs when people forgive. We come face to face with the prospect of receiving more love than we have experienced in a long long time, or maybe ever. It can be uncomfortable, and you might have a profound moment of reckoning: “Do I dare take the risk of opening? Can I trust this?” 

Or maybe, if you’re lucky, your heart will simply burst open before your mind has a chance to stop it. It still might feel painful around the edges, and there will often be tears — much like any birthing process. But let them be tears of joy. Yay! You’ve had a breakthrough.  

And then, when the floodgates burst open and love is flowing, don’t forget to forgive and thank your messenger — the person who delivered you to this moment of forgiveness by triggering something difficult and painful in you.

This is what Marianne Williamson wrote about inner walls in her wonderful book, Return to Love:

People who have the most to teach us are often the ones who reflect back to us the limits to our own capacity to love, those who consciously or unconsciously challenge our fearful positions. They show us our walls. Our walls are our wounds—the places where we feel we can’t love any more, can’t connect any more deeply, can’t forgive past a certain point. We are in each other’s lives in order to help us see where we most need healing, and in order to help us heal.  

Every time we forgive, we have the opportunity to let more love in. We have the chance to heal old wounds, let our walls down, and release whatever has separated us from love. 

blessings,

Eileen

Path With Heart

Image result for public domain images of heartsOne of my favorite book passages is from The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castenada. His teacher tells him there are a million paths in life.  Castenada asks, “then which shall I choose?” to which the teacher replies:

All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

This can be applied to many things in life, and it can be applied to forgiveness.

The Path of Forgiveness is a path of the heart. It can be very frustrating for those who want to figure everything out with their head. (It’s not possible.) This used to be a frustration of mine as well. But I’ve learned over the years to trust my heart much more than my head.

The Path of Forgiveness is a path that also requires us to develop emotional awareness and intelligence. This is not easy either, given our cultural emphasis on mental prowess and scant attention to emotional development.

This is well explained by Michael Brown in The Presence Process:

In life, we automatically grow physically by putting the correct or appropriate nutrition into our body. Our mental growth is also spoken for when we enter and attend the basic schooling experience. Yet our emotional growth, which usually begins to slow drastically at about seven years of age, receives no real attention as we move into and through adulthood. In this world, we have proven ourselves to be remarkably physically adaptable. In the last hundred years, we have also become mental giants, but sadly, we have also become increasingly emotionally dwarfed. The turbulent state of the world we live in today is a testimony to the fact that it is the playground of the emotionally immature.

In other words, it’s time for us to grow up emotionally!

This is especially important for those on a spiritual path. It is the emotional experience of love and devotion which enables us to make contact with our spiritual selves:

This emotional experience fuels our ability to penetrate the vibrational realm. Meditation in its purest form is a tool intended to drive us out of this physical world experience along a mental pathway into our hearts. When we are in our hearts, we are one step away from our Divine Presence. It is our Divine Presence which then oversees our entry into the vibrational realm.

The key is in shifting our emphasis from mental understanding to emotional truth, i.e., to feeling. It is committing ourselves fully to the journey. And always but always choosing the path with heart.

Happy Thanksgiving!

warmly,

Eileen

My Experiment With Money

Earlier this summer, I found myself struggling with money — just getting by, worrying about having enough to pay my bills, and feeling anxious about it. I decided to write about this because a) I know I’m not alone in this and b) I’ve had a big breakthrough! 

I’ve had an up and down relationship with money for most of my life. Sometimes things are great, and other times not so much. I could see I was in an old, fear-based pattern. One thing I’ve learned from the path of forgiveness is that whenever we are struggling, there is something we need to learn, something that needs to heal.

So, I got curious. 

I started listening carefully to the hooligans in my head. Just beneath the surface, were quiet little voices: “I’m not worthy.” “I don’t deserve.”  Once these core wounds were illuminated, my inner work began. And this is what I learned:

Nothing outside of yourself can give you your worth.
No person, no job, no amount of money. 

Most of us think it’s up to someone else to decide how much we get in life, but that is wrong. You are the one that decides how much or how little you get to have. 

You are the one who decides! You have to give it to yourself. Claim your worth. See your own worthiness. No one and nothing outside you can do this for you, but no one and nothing outside you can take it away from you either.

And let me be clear – I’m not talking about saying affirmations over and over, and putting post-it notes on the mirror. That’s not it.

It’s about actually getting from within yourself that you are worthy. It’s about an experience of self-love that allows you to recognize your worth. And your deserving. For real.

My breakthrough was seeing this clearly and then bearing witness to my own worthiness. If I’m the one that gets to decide, I say yes. Hell yes! I give myself more. Yes, I deserve more. Inner validation creates room to receive.

So, I’ve started moving forward with faith and confidence. Just a few weeks ago, I took an action I’ve been afraid to take, which is hiring an assistant. I put out a call for help and very quickly found someone who loves the work I’m doing and is helping me take it to the next level! Within days of hiring her, my phone started ringing off the hook. Money is flowing and so is gratitude.  Big time.

I’m not saying it was easy. But I am saying it worked!

Forgiving #MeToo

Easter Sunday I was invited, as a forgiveness teacher, to a beautiful ceremony honoring the Divine Feminine. 

At the start of the event, a group of men come forward to the stage.  As the first man began to speak. I felt guarded (why does every event have to start off with men speaking?), but I was willing to listen. 

The men said they had an offering for the women. One of them said this:

If there is any woman here who has ever felt demeaned, belittled, made wrong, made small, dishonored, put down, violated, abused, or treated as less, on behalf of ourseves and on behalf of all men, we apologize. 

We apologize.

I could scarcely believe my ears.

I was still skeptical.

But then, the men did something extraordinary.

They got down on their knees. They were humble. They said they were committed to listening to the women, hearing us, helping us heal, and serving us.  

Many tears and sobs could be heard in the room.  The words of the men touched something very deep in the women.  For me, it touched the edge of a place that was numb, buried deep within, that hasn’t been felt for thousands of years.  

Eventually I wondered, what about forgiveness? Am I ready/wiling to forgive men?  

The answer for me was “not yet.”  “Not yet” because I do not yet even know all of what this

Forgiveness is Sexy

Ok all you forgiveness lovers, here is our favorite reason to love forgiveness – 

Forgiveness is Sexy!

Think about it for a moment ….

Relationship problems can almost always be traced to emotional issues that cause us, often unconsciously, to push people away and create barriers to fulfilling intimacy. Dissolving these barriers and healing our deepest wounds is what forgiveness is all about. 

Without forgiveness we hang on to our painful past. We feel angry, resentful, bitter, depressed, closed down. We complain and blame, and judge the other person and ourselves. Depending on our personality, we lash out or withdraw. Either way, none of this is very sexy, right?

On the other hand, forgiveness brings you into the present moment where you can reconnect with your true self and shine your light brightly. Forgiveness enables you to embody self-love and wholeness, standing in the flow of love.

Ulysses Slaughter, a forgiveness teacher from Philadelphia, nails it: “Forgiveness is sexy because it creates magnetism, a powerful force that draws people to you.”  

It may not happen overnight, but when you walk the path of forgiveness, you experience gradual shifts. First you notice you  have less unhappiness and suffering. Then one day you find yourself feeling happy –  a sense of inner peace and contentment – maybe for the first time. After that, you discover joy and moments of bliss. And, you want nothing more than to share this with others. 

Is forgiveness sexy? You bet! I’m not saying this is the only reason to forgive, but it’s certainly icing on the cake!

Speaking of cake …. for Michael’s birthday, I decided to create a “Forgiveness is Sexy” T-Shirt for him.  Then, some of the folks at Esalen wanted them, so we made more … we’ll be selling them while supplies last. To get yours, use the link in the right-hand column to order!

 

Let Your Break Up Be A Wake Up

Use your break-up to wake-up!

If you do, someday you will be grateful for your broken heart.

Seems like an outlandish think to say, doesn’t it?

The loss of a relationship can be one of the most painful experiences, that leaves us feeling dazed and heartbroken, with a thousand questions left unanswered. What if I had ….? Why did he ….?  Why didn’t she?

We probably experienced more love with this person than we had ever felt before. And now suddenly, they are gone.

You replay events over and over in your head, wondering how and why you ended up here. You start to question yourself. It must have been my fault …. There must be something wrong with me …. Maybe I really am unlovable …. Your hopes and dreams are lost at sea, drowned out by endless waves of anger, sadness, despair, fear and depression.

If your heart has ever been crushed, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The loss feels devastating. And sometimes we get stuck here, feeling the sorrow for years, unable to move forward.

Consider the possibility that your break up might just be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Here’s the thing – your heartache is showing you the emptiness and pain that live in your heart, pain that has probably been there for a long time. This gives you a life-changing opportunity.

Now you have the opportunity to heal your heart at a profound level.

You may not know how to do that, but you can learn – anyone can. The Path of Forgiveness is dedicated to teaching people how to do this, step by step. 

It’s a choice – it’s up to you. But I promise you this. If you follow the path of forgiveness, you will discover more love than ever before.

So let your break-up be a wake-up. It is time to heal your heart!

Healing the Heart

broken-heart-broken-hearts-6853604After being in a self-imposed news blackout for many years, I recently decided to start reading the paper again. Oy. Things are really messed up out there!

I see it every day in the news and I’m sure you do too. Terrorism. Suicide bombers. Mass shootings. War. Violence. Sexual predators. Human trafficking. Corrupt politicians. Greedy corporations.  

And then there are the folks ranting about how awful things are, inevitably pointing fingers and assigning blame. Then come the usual “solutions” — like passing more laws, harsher penalties, etc. As if …. Sure we can pass more laws, put more people in prisons, torture more terrorists and even kill more people. I guarantee you nothing will change as a result.

I also know nothing will change as long as we tell ourselves we are powerless.

Are you willing to consider the possibility that we
have the collective power to change things? 

As Nelson Mandela famously said “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” He should know. Mandela went from being a maligned political prisoner for 27 years to becoming the first democratically elected President of South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and global hero. He helped bring about the ending of apartheid, which I’m sure seemed impossible to many.

I think about my forgiveness clients – courageous souls who are healing their hearts using the power of forgiveness. I am reminded that so much (maybe all) of the wounding starts in childhood. Is it possible that unhealed hearts are the root of all evil?  

I’m starting to believe healing the world must start with healing our hearts. Someone with a healed heart does not destroy the environment, intentionally hurt others, ignore the plight of others who are suffering, or harm children – their own or anyone else’s.

And this is what forgiveness boils down to. Forgiveness is the means by which we heal our hearts. It allows us to return to love, no matter what has happened. 

If you want to make a difference, here are a couple of ideas.

Use the power of thought. As Wayne Dyer said: “If you can conceive it in your mind, then it can be brought into the physical world.” Let’s envision a world in which humans everywhere feel whole and connected to love.

Be the change. Commit to healing your own heart. Practice forgiveness. Reconnect with love. Cultivate self-love, gratitude and kindness. 

The Tao of Forgiveness

Here is a wonderful pearl of Taoist wisdom from author Derek Lin:

One day, the sage gave the disciple an empty sack and a basket of potatoes. “Think of all the people who have done or said something against you in the recent past, especially those you cannot forgive. For each of them, inscribe the name on a potato and put it in the sack.” The Sack-of-potatoesdisciple came up quite a few names, and soon his sack was heavy with potatoes. “Carry the sack with you wherever you go for a week,” said the sage. “We’ll talk after that.”

At first, the disciple thought nothing of it. Carrying the sack was not particularly difficult. But after a while, it became more of a burden. It sometimes got in the way, and it seemed to require more effort to carry as time went on, even though its weight remained the same.

After a few days, the sack began to smell. The carved potatoes gave off a ripe odor. Not only were they increasingly inconvenient to carry around, they were also becoming rather unpleasant.

Finally, the week was over. The sage summoned the disciple. “Any thoughts about all this?”

“Yes, Master,” the disciple replied. “When we are unable to forgive others, we carry negative feelings with us everywhere, much like these potatoes. That negativity becomes a burden to us and, after a while, it festers.”

“Yes, that is exactly what happens when one holds a grudge. So, how can we lighten the load?”

“We must strive to forgive.”

“Forgiving someone is the equivalent of removing the corresponding potato from the sack. How many of your transgressors are you able to forgive?”

“I’ve thought about it quite a bit, Master,” the disciple said. “It required much effort, but I have decided to forgive all of them.”

“Very well, we can remove all the potatoes. Were there any more people who transgressed against you this last week?”

The disciple thought for a while and admitted there were. Then he felt panic when he realized his empty sack was about to get filled up again.

“Master,” he asked, “if we continue like this, wouldn’t there always be potatoes in the sack week after week?”

“Yes, as long as people speak or act against you in some way, you will always have potatoes.”

“But Master, we can never control what others do. So what good is the Tao in this case?”

“We’re not at the realm of the Tao yet. Everything we have talked about so far is the conventional approach to forgiveness. It is the same thing that many philosophies and most religions preach – we must constantly strive to forgive, for it is an important virtue. This is not the Tao because there is no striving in the Tao.”

“Then what is the Tao, Master?”

“You can figure it out. If the potatoes are negative feelings, then what is the sack?”

“The sack is… that which allows me to hold on to the negativity. It is something within us that makes us dwell on feeling offended…. Ah, it is my inflated sense of self-importance.”

“And what will happen if you let go of it?”

“Then… the things that people do or say against me no longer seem like such a major issue.”

“In that case, you won’t have any names to inscribe on potatoes. That means no more weight to carry around, and no more bad smells. The Tao of forgiveness is the conscious decision to not just to remove some potatoes… but to relinquish the entire sack.”

 

Slaying the Three Dragons of Forgiveness

I’d like to share a teaching from Deepak Chopra that was forwarded to me by Michael Gelbart. Chopra says forgiveness is often thought of as the domain of saints and religion, but needs to be brought down to earth for everyone:

3-dragonsTo begin with, forgiveness comes at the end of a process, not at the beginning. In order to forgive yourself or another person, three obstacles must be overcome. Let’s call them the three dragons of judgment, anger, and blame. Each has had powerful effects in everyone’s life. Millions of people feel justified in clinging to their own dragons, and it takes conviction to realize that nothing about judgment, anger, and blame actually serves anyone’s self-interest.

Chopra encourages us to move beyond the three dragons and become “units of peace” by walking the path of forgiveness.  He offers these practical steps for doing so:

A Path to Forgiveness – 7 Key Steps

  • Find your own peace through meditation, yoga, or other contemplative   practice.
  • Renounce the illusion that you can change someone else’s morality or worldview.
  • Know that you can do more to change the world by who you are than by anything you can say or teach.
  • Take responsibility for nonviolence in your speech and actions.
  • Address the issues of judgment, blame, and anger in yourself.
  • Associate with like-minded people who are committed to peace and forgiveness.
  • Adopt a vision of the highest possibilities for humankind.

For more elaboration, I encourage you to read Chopra’s article here.  He has more to say about the dragons and shares a video on self-forgiveness as well.

I hope this season brings warmth and cheer to your heart. Please be gentle and loving with yourself, especially if you are struggling in any way. May the New Year bring more light and more love into your life and those around you.