In our search to find well-being (the balance of compassion and thought) we discovered the magic of meditation, the wonderful benefits of prayer, and the healthy infusion of mind, body, and spirit through the consumption of tea. Throughout these discoveries, we have come across various writings, videos, and artistic presentations which further this pursuit. To be of further service to you, we have compiled an assortment of these works which you may find beneficial. Please enjoy as we have.
How Forgiveness Can Serve Your Well-Being
POST WRITTEN BY Svetlana Whitener
Emotional Intelligence Executive Coach InLight Coaching. Let Emotional Intelligence enhance your career and relationships with EQi-2/360®!
Forgiveness is a strong word, and rightfully so. Often, it can seem like a monumental task to forgive others and almost impossible to forgive yourself. But it can be done.
As usual, let’s define what we’re talking about before we go on to describe what you need to do to accomplish forgiveness.
To forgive is to cease to feel resentment against another person. It is the act of feeling compassion for the real or imagined harmful acts of others. In other words, you see through the superficiality and externality of what has been done to see the offender’s inner humanity and universality. It is to look beyond foibles to understand and feel the other person.
Forgiveness can be transformational because it provides a sense of relief and purging. Therefore, it impacts your emotional intelligence (EI) and your moral beliefs by enhancing them both. Use forgiveness to become the “bigger” person constantly seeking higher ground, above the petty jealousies and harbored grudges, which make you small.
As leaders, a barrier to forgiveness is often our conditioning to see forgiveness as a sign of vulnerability and fear that others will take advantage. Deal with this barrier by realizing that exhibiting vulnerability is a sign of being brave, not being timid. Only confident people are unafraid to demonstrate their vulnerability and fragility. It takes guts to show it! When you show up as a victor, not a victim, you overcome the forgiveness barrier.
Step 1: Self-Forgiveness
You have two options:
1. Be timid and suppress your feelings of guilt, which would result in bad moods, irascibility and an inability to move forward; or
2. Be brave and own your conduct. This allows you to clean up your messes and move on with proud self-forgiveness.
To learn to become a generally forgiving person, you first need to learn to forgive yourself and release yourself from past mistakes. Freely admit your errors and transgressions, and take responsibility for the negative outcomes you have created.
To do this, quit being a perfectionist, and stop holding yourself to an impossible standard. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Recognizing that in yourself helps you to recognize it in others and makes you a more compassionate person.
Step 2: Feeling And Naming The Pain
Whether someone hurt you or you hurt another person, name the emotional experience, and describe it to yourself. Was it something that made you sad, angry or scared? Name it, and own it. Making something concrete out of it like this gives you a better understanding of why you feel or felt a certain way. It doesn’t suppress the underlying emotion, but it does give you something you can readily identify and deal with.
A lot of us were taught that human beings have survived so long because they are wired to avoid pain. But this doesn’t include emotional pain. Emotional pain must be dealt with by directly confronting it and going through the process of forgiveness. It is only through forgiveness that we can truly heal.
Step 3: Actually Forgiving
Now that you’ve gone through the first two steps, it shouldn’t be much of a stretch for you to apply the learning you used to forgive yourself in order to forgive someone else. Forgive by learning and incorporating the following:
• Willingness to forgive: Every act of forgiveness usually involves one or even two negative emotions: anger and fear. You can feel angry by refusing to forgive, and you can feel fearful by failing to let go of your hurt. Both are detrimental to your emotional well-being. Thus, it is in your best interest – as well as the best interest of others – to be willing to forgive.
• Unintentional hurt: The person who hurt you probably didn’t do it maliciously. Most likely, they justified their hurtful action in some fashion. Knowing this, your job is to examine their motives. Why did they act in a hurtful manner? If the hurt was unintentional, you need to recognize that.
• Naming it out loud: Say the name of the person, and then imagine what positive forgiveness will bring to your life. For instance, it might bring peace, calmness, gratitude, ease, etc. For example, you might say to yourself, “If I forgive Bill, I will feel a new sense of peace because I will no longer be focusing on the negative.” If you speak from your heart, you can let go of negative emotional feelings. The words will flow, and a smile will come easily. Get past your ego, reframe your resentful thoughts and allow your soul to speak.
• Acceptance of control: You can only be in control of your own actions. You cannot control what other people think, feel or do. If someone asks you for forgiveness, follow the steps set forth above to recognize that you are the one in control. Take all steps necessary to make yourself the “bigger person,” and let the chips fall where they may. If the other person doesn’t reciprocate in the manner you would have liked, so be it. You have done all you can. Be OK with whatever happens.
Step 4: Ingraining The Process
Learning how to forgive yourself and others requires practice and the ability to look beyond the initial pain to the long-term benefit. Like with most any tool, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So, learn how to forgive by labeling the negative emotions and figuring out how to process them faster, and then practice forgiveness again and again. When you do that, you increase your emotional intelligence, learn to impact your current mood and adjust your attitude toward others.
Forgiving is transformational because it serves your intention to stay in touch with your real values and adjust your beliefs in order to become the best version of yourself. Also, it’s part of practicing empathy.
Cultivating forgiveness is not easy, and depending on the offense, it might seem impossible. But you can do so if you are moved by empathy, kindness, or compassion, which are the enhancers of your well-being, rather than by anger, bitterness or resentfulness, which are the derailers of your well-being.
The Hidden Power Of Fasting
Why did our ancestors fast on a regular basis?
If you think about it, every major religion — from Christianity to Buddhism to Hinduism (to name a few) — holds the practice of fasting to be sacred and necessary.
Is it just a way of showing reverence to the almighty or is there more to it than that?
When we look beyond the religious texts, it becomes clear that this customary practice is not only good for our spirit, but is also highly beneficial for our health and longevity.
Fasting is an innate human behavior.
For our distant ancestors, 3 square meals a day were not always guaranteed. In many cases, the waking hours were spent hunting, gathering and trekking through the wilderness. There was often only one large meal eaten when food was available and the circumstances were safe.
7,000 years ago may seem like forever, but it’s a mere blink in time when it comes to the evolution of our human form. Is it possible that we’re more suited to these ancient eating habits than our usual routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner – with snacks and caffeine in between?
I’m starting to believe the answer is YES.
Fasting may seem like a tough thing to do, but believe it or not, we all fast every day (well, every night actually). The word breakfast literally means to “break” or “end” a fast. That period of 8 to 12 hours between dinner and your morning meal is a mini example of this primordial practice.
What is actually occurring in your body when you fast?
When you temporarily cut back on your intake of food, your body runs out of carbohydrates to use for energy and begins to burn the fat stored inside of you instead. This process is called ketosis – a new buzz word in the world of fad diets.
Beyond the obvious weight loss effects of this practice, there is a growing body of evidence that points to the power of ketosis to heal your body on a cellular level.
Recent studies have shown promising evidence that ketosis (and a ketogenic diet) has a healing effect on diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and heart disease (to name some of the big ones).
It’s also been shown to enhance brain function, including memory, clarity, focus, and the ability to handle stress and anxiety.
How to pick a fast that is right for you.
A disclaimer – I write this with a keen awareness that eating disorders have become a serious concern in the modern world. I propose this eating ritual as a temporary experiment to be approached with mindfulness and a degree of caution.
A fast can be as long or as short as you want to be, but the idea is to abstain from eating specific foods OR any food at all for a set period of time. This is often done for religious reasons, but I am about to suggest that you try it for your own physical, mental and spiritual wellness.
The holy men of old fasted to free themselves of distraction so that they could focus on prayer and connection to a higher power. In a way, that’s what I’m getting at here as well.
In addition to the scientifically proven health benefits of fasting, the act of simply noticing what it feels like to be hungry, then sitting with that sensation and ultimately making peace with it is one of the most powerful spiritual practices I know of. Often times those initial pangs of hunger are phantom sensations, disguising some other wound-based inner pattern that is waiting to be acknowledged and healed.
A sacred challenge for you this month – a two day fast. Now, I’m not asking you to stop eating for two days straight, but to create a consciously altered meal plan that eliminates one meal (or more) on both days.
As always, I will be in the trenches with you. In fact, I’ve been on an intermittent fast for the past two weeks. No breakfast, just my morning tea – then a big lunch after 12pm and a normal dinner at night. This is a great way to enter a state of ketosis and also piggy back on the 10 hours of fasting you have been doing throughout the last evening and early morning hours.
The act of fasting will help you quiet your mind so that your soul can speak more clearly to you. It’ll also awaken and begin to tone your body, giving you more natural energy, flexibility and overall lightness of being.
As usual, it appears our ancestors knew what they were doing – both spiritually and scientifically speaking. It’s time for us to remember who we are and where we came from.
Good luck and I’d love to hear how it goes!
Founder, The Sacred Science
Last week, I started reading “Living the Spiritual Principles of Health and Well-Being” by Drs. John-Roger and Paul Kaye soon to be released with book signings in Europe.
The book offers practical wisdom presented in several sections. One section that particularly fascinated me is “Causes and Cures of Disease.” Many illnesses have an underlying emotional disturbance causing them, and in my own experience, that has certainly been the case. I hasten to add that blaming an emotional response for an illness does not further health and well-being. Quite the reverse.
In the book, one of the causes attributed to disease is fear. Its cure is empathy. What if there were no real source of fear, although the feeling of fear is real enough? Your mind and emotions create the feeling of fear through imagining, for example, the worst possible outcome. You may be drawn to news items which focus on negative scenarios. News agencies make their profit through our attraction to drama and what a friend calls “awful-ization.” It is your thoughts about a situation that produce feelings of fear.
One of my most memorable experiences of fear was the first time I was in an earthquake, in Carpenteria, California. I was on my own in a fairly large house which we had rented for a few months. When the earthquake was happening and the house was rolling around (well constructed for earthquake conditions) I enjoyed the movement. I was in bed around 4:30 a.m. When the movement stopped and my mind started imagining what might have happened if … the walls had come down, glass had fallen all over me, I ripped in to my feet with broken glass and so forth, I felt really scared. I was more shaken by my thoughts about it than by the event itself.
The Law of Empathy is the fifth spiritual law. The first is Acceptance, followed by Cooperation, then Understanding and Enthusiasm. Spiritual laws, unlike the laws of the land, are those which guide and direct our loving. Spiritually, we are not punished for our sins or shortcomings. We are punished by them. That is to say, it is when we go off track, or are separated, from our loving nature that we tend to experience imbalance and dis-ease.
More often than not, we simply do not know what good might be right around the corner of any crisis. There are many who are viewing the current global disturbances as creative opportunities to effect solutions to the issues we are facing. This could well turn out to be the most creative and productive era of all human existence. No one person, or even inspired leader, is in direct control of what the future holds. Lack of control for many is scary.
I have noticed those who make gloomy pronouncements about the future want to seem right about their predictions, and in control somehow. It is tempting to buy into the awful-ization. Personal concerns such as: What if I fail? What if I lose all my friends? What if I never find another job? What if my husband/wife rejects me? Those feelings of fear can hold you back from engaging in life, and deriving fulfillment from getting on with what is right in front of you.
So where does empathy come in? Empathy is a form of understanding. Fear cannot abide in an environment where there is understanding. Understanding is being aware of the thoughts that have produced the feelings, and literally standing under or in support of the greater, loving spirit that is present. Empathy and compassion offer you the opportunity to be with those feelings as they are, without any criticism, shame or blame.
Empathy respects your inner strength or innate essence, to know and do what is true for you. In her recent article, Judith Johnson writes about The Power of Bearing Witness. It speaks to empathy in action.
The action may be as simple as holding a hand, listening, smiling, being at one with what is taking place without having to fix it. It takes a certain strength and love to do so. You are not in control. You are cooperating with the love present, in yourself and the other person. This love heals on many levels. You may look beyond what you see on the face of things to recognize something deeper going on, more real, more connected, more intimate, more safe. This vibrant safety I view as the human spirit.
In stressful times, you can extend empathy towards yourself with care, understanding and getting to know how your thoughts are disturbing you. Instead of being critical and condemning towards yourself with blame and judgments about how you think you should be, do or feel differently, you can accept yourself as you are, in that moment. The feelings will change.
Where fear isolates, empathy connects. When you have understanding, you can then use the energy of fear to get active, to do what needs to be completed, to see friends, write a letter, make a phone call, do something for the joy of it.
Instead of fear holding you back, you may find that fear translates into awe and inspiration. The essence of fear is love, awaiting awakening.
We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.
Do you know someone who is skilled at offering empathy? How do you think empathy can assist the healing process? What are the most effective ways you know to express or receive empathy?