Good Reads

Resistance as an Ally Rather Than a Foe

Here's a fresh take on what can be a debilitating force.

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Photo by Becca Matimba on Unsplash

 By Cindy Yantis

"Focused attention yields the best results." - Melinda Hughes

Melinda is my personal trainer and the owner of The Strength Shoppe, a high-intensity training (HIT) facility in Pasadena, California. And, this quote, from their website, exemplifies what most I've learned from training with her.

HIT is a slow burn, really intense, focused workout where with each weightlifting exercise you exhaust an isolated muscle or group of muscles to a slow count of ten. It's also called Super Slow, Slow Cadence, Power of 10, or Resistance Training.

It takes such focused concentration to get through a set of the slow ten. The tendency is to put all of your body behind trying to lift the weight. That's when Melinda says to direct your brain to focus on the specific body part so that the target muscles are worked to their max. That wasn't something I'd done before.

I was amazed at how when you place your undivided attention, singly, on one body part, you can actually feel the isolated muscle doing its thing. The brain is so powerful. Then, the rest of the body is just there to support.

Toward the end of the set, the weight is so heavy that it barely moves, if at all. This is when the body's flight or fight response starts to kick in, wanting to give up or drop the weight. And, that's when Melinda says to "lean into the fire instead of pushing past it." It is, in fact, what provides the most benefit, leaning into the resistance.

In a recent yoga class, we were holding a lower body twist, for several moments. My hip flexors were screaming at me. That's when the instructor said in her soft zen voice, "Allow your awareness to go to the place of resistance. Focus on softening the edges, the tissues around the resistance. Now, find the place in yourself where you can settle deeper into it."

This all got me thinking about the broader force of Resistance and how it shows up in other ways. Everywhere, to be more exact.

In truth, I've been thinking about resistance a lot lately. What I’m noticing is that as I’m moving up and forward with projects in some new ways and at higher levels that I haven’t tried before, I’m meeting an internal resistance that feels like a gust of wind connected to an electric fence. It can be a really powerful force that pushes and pulls at the same time.

“Where there is power, there is resistance.” - Michel Foucault

THE LAW OF RESISTANCE

There are schools of thought that put Resistance right up there with the other powerful laws of the universe including the laws of Attraction, of Polarity, of Vibration, and of Compensation to name a few.

Jasmine Contor Dawson in "Aliens to Zebras: Dictionary for a New World" defines the Law of Resistance is: "That which an individual pursues in anguish or anxiety, will inevitably remain elusive."

In thinking about this, I was drawn to read again from Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.” He’s my go-to expert about resistance, which he calls “most toxic force on the planet.” In fact, he devotes an entire chapter to this beautiful, terrible monster.

He says: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.” He talks about how it's the root of so much unhappiness and “to yield to resistance deforms the spirit.” Pressfield considers resistance as strong a force field as gravity or electromagnetic, in that it can’t be “seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt.”

It’s an internal force, is always there and its aim is to repel.

He also says this. “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

So, when you're at the threshold, or the crossroads, feeling the pull to where your soul wants to go, succumbing to resistance can keep you at the crossroads. Forever.

LIVING IN THE CROSSROADS

Resistance can also show up as doubt that results in inaction.

According to Stephen Cope in "The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling" - one of the most life-changing books I've ever read - in yoga tradition they term doubt as "a thought that touches both sides of a dilemma at the same time " or "the invisible affliction" that is very powerful.

People have gotten stuck in doubt, and at some point, they came to a crossroads and found "themselves rooted there, with one foot firmly planted on each side of the intersection. Alas, they never moved off the dime. They procrastinated. Dithered. Finally, they put a folding chair smack in the center of that crossroads and lived there for the rest of their lives. After a while, they forgot entirely that there even was a crossroads-forgot that there was a choice."

Ugh! When I first read that a few years ago I felt the floor fall out from under me. It was a huge wakeup call. I realized how I'd allowed resistance to stop me enough, over and over, so much so that I'd set up camp at the crossroads! I became Mayor of Crossroads, USA!

HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS

However, as Stephen Pressfield also says, “Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer resistance.”

In addressing how to get out of the crossroads, Stephen Cope quotes the teaching in the "Bhagavad Gita: the Path of Inaction-in-Action," where Krishna says, "There is a certain kind of action that leads to freedom and fulfillment… an action that is always aligned with our true nature." Cope says this "is the action motivated by dharma. This is the action taken in the service of our sacred calling, our vocation."

So, then it's possible to embrace resistance, as an ally rather a foe.

"In dharma, it is possible to take passionate action without creating suffering." - Stephen Cope

To my way of thinking there’s something kind of comforting about that. When you think about it, if you welcome the resistance and recognize it as a threshold or crossroads through which you must pass to accomplish the next step toward your dream, purpose, and destiny, then when you make it your ally, it becomes part of your journey rather than a hindrance keeping you from moving forward.

"Hey, Luke. May the Force be with you." Hans Solo

When you fight resistance or procrastinate because of it, you're not present. Get present by talking about and releasing the fear that's underneath and fueling the resistance.

LEANING INTO THE FIRE

I know for me, I know when I'm in resistance about something, nine-times-out-of-ten it's something I need to do - for my body, for my work, for my life, for my soul. So leaning into it feels easier, and not only doable but necessary, and powerful. 

“If you try to force the soul, you never succeed.” John O’Donohue, "Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom"

SO...

  • Focus on it. As in my yoga and HIT experience, focusing on the resistance softens its edges because your awareness and attention are pointed towards it.
  • Be with it. Get present. Being in the now with the force restores inner strength and balance.
  • Get vulnerable. Brene Brown says, "Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It's the birthplace of everything we're hungry for…Most people believe vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. So -
  • Be courageous. Lean into the resistance and go forward.
  • Get creative. Creativity and spontaneity are energizing positive forces that help counterbalance the negative force of resistance.

And, Trust. Trust in all of these - focus, presence, vulnerability, courage, creativity and spontaneity.

They carry you through the threshold of resistance and across the crossroads of to your soul life, your purposeful life.

Interestingly, Pressfield also says that the resistance is only there when you’re faced with an up level. There’s no resistance going down, only up. Think about that for a moment. So, when resistance comes, welcome it because it only means you're on your way up.

“To fly we have to have resistance.” Maya Lin

So, I’ve decided to lean in, to be with resistance. I know it’s always going to be there. So instead of fighting it, I’m going to walk through it. Take one more step. Stretch beyond what I did yesterday. And, tomorrow will stretch beyond what I did today.

Who's with me?


Mastering The Art of Fear

 How to allow fear to work for you instead of against you.

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Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash 

I think about fear a lot. I mean, at times we all do, right? Lately it's been a very loud companion as I dig deeper into writing my memoir. No matter the situation, whenever it shows up I run the gamut in my relationship with fear. I see it, dread it, fight it, am pissed off at it, run from it, cry with it and am utterly fascinated by it for the never-ending lessons and conversations that derive from it. 

Recently I listened to Linda Sivertsen's Beautiful Writers Podcast when she and guest co-host, Martha Beck interviewed author Glennon Doyle. They were discussing Glennon's extremely raw bestselling memoir, LOVE WARRIOR, which is sitting next in my Kindle queue. I'm an admirer of all three women and their work. This was a great interview where they delved into a wide range of topics centering on their commitments to being completely truthful in the expression of their stories and the way that stretched and freed them.

I was listening in my car and suddenly realized I kept exhaling, loudly, and my whole body was vibrating, my stomach like the engine room of the Titanic. Honestly, their conversation scared the sh*t out of me as I wade tender-footed into the pool of my own stories, uncovering little places where I've been hiding, often in plain sight, fearful of how it might be received. It was big. And, it couldn't have come at a more opportune time because this fear of expressing my deep truths to someone other than my cats, often has me paralyzed. 

When I sat feeling the bigness, what I discovered led to a more expansive aha: this engine in my belly, this fire that made me exhale like a dragon, is a fuel, an ammunition if you will, like I haven't experienced in a long time. Like it goes deep and wide, echoing back decades, the kind of echo you hear in canyons and see when you look at your reflection in a house of mirrors. The truth is, this reverberation has been growing louder for a while now.

[As an aside, although it's not really an aside because it's such a big part of my story, I've been on a 30-day cleanse, eating only clean food. The intense vibration I felt I couldn't feel before because I was numbing out on an addiction to sugar and overeating. Now, I could actually FEEL the raw fear in my belly which turned into food for my soul and fuel for my work when before I was feeding emotions that numbed me from feeling anything else. It feels incredible, honestly.] 

I had lunch with a friend recently and we got into a great discussion about fear. He said he believes fear drives everything, good and bad. It's a constant no matter what. I think there's truth to that.

And, it got me thinking about how mastering fear rather than fighting or trying to conquer it might turn fear into an ally instead of an opponent. It's like mastering an art form; at times you feel the art might kill you, until you reach a place of working with the art, willing the art, arriving at the mastery of the art. Could it be the same with fear? 

The famed music producer Jimmy Iovine in HBO'S THE DEFIANT ONES said things turned the corner for him early in his career when "fear became a tailwind rather than a headwind." What a game-changing shift in mindset! When fear is a headwind, getting in your way, it can be so strong that it keeps you in place, stagnant, stuck or pushes you entirely away from what you want. It can feel like fear has a power of its own.

When fear is fuel for intention it's the tailwind that catapults you forward. Gary Zukav said in SEAT OF THE SOUL, "Every action, thought and feeling is motivated by intention...your intention creates your reality." When intention is aligned with your fear-turned-into-fuel it's a very powerful forward momentum.

The game-changer is the knowledge that we are the ones controlling our fear, not the other way around. 

I had a friend a few years ago who used to say when she was afraid of doing something it made her feel truly alive, to go into the fear and do it anyway. 

That can be called many things: courage, bravery, boldness. They all give fear a new role in the game. 

Invite fear to be your partner, to work with you instead of against you. Is it a fear of rejection or of failure or of success that you have? If you take fear by the hand and move forward with it into each of those arenas, you take control and allow fear to morph and transform into passion and action.

Put your fears, as kindling, into the fire of your own engine. Then, just watch what happens. It could create the tailwind you've been waiting for. 

 


Raise Your Thoughts to Raise the World

 

Love hands

There have been some renovations at my home recently and I was awakened early Saturday morning by the vibration of some power tools in the backyard. The foundation was literally humming and it quickly shifted my energy, making me want to get up and get something accomplished.

It got me thinking about the impact of vibration on energy, thoughts and consciousness, particularly after the past couple tumultuous weeks. I noticed how ill I felt after days of reading divisive, combative and hateful posts on social media as well watching the increase of frightening actions based on hate and fear. You can feel the divisiveness in your mind, body and spirit. It’s splintering.

FB post

 

So much so that I took a break from all media for a few days. After I posted this, I started thinking more about the power of raising our thoughts to raise the world.

 

 A few nights later I spent an evening with a group of people – people I would call highly conscious – and the collective pain and grief were palpable in regards to what's happening in our nation right now as well as the residuals of the divisive election season. We were all shell shocked and taken by surprise at how deeply we’ve been affected. Many of us felt fractured and torn, down deep, by the discord that’s come to be, by the ground swell of a low, fear-based vibration that’s coming to light.

The Power of the Collective

During that evening I came to understand more the true power of the collective consciousness. Power that can either surge low when people speak despicably toward one another and the seeds are planted for further hate mongering. Or power that can soar high through thoughts, words and actions that foster love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness and a collective healing.

David R. Hawkins in his book, Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment,” says that “consciousness evolves through progressive levels of power that can be calibrated as to relative strength.” In other words, each level of consciousness is mirrored with an emotion that carries a measurement of vibration. The lower the calibration number, the lower the vibration and the lower the emotion.

The measurements under 250 on his scale of consciousness are fear-based levels - despair, anger, hate, regret, grief - that lead to what he calls disempowerment: destruction, despondency, humiliation, withdrawal, misery, tragedy. The calibrations 250-1000+ are the love-based levels - willingness, acceptance, love, joy, reason, peace - that lead to empowerment: intention, understanding, forgiveness, revelation, bliss, transfiguration and the highest being pure enlightenment, which is the level of Christ, Buddha, etc.

HAWKINS' MAP OF THE SCALE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

The Map of Consciousness is a wise guide to live by. The goal is to evolve toward and operate from the higher levels or vibrations of consciousness.

Imagine from this perspective, the power of raising the collective consciousness. That's an unstoppable force of healing and love. And, it starts with each of us.

The Effects on Society

In fact, in his book “Healing and Recovery,” Hawkins illustrates the effects of the levels of consciousness on society. 

Society correlation level_and_problems

 

You can see how the lower levels of thought and consciousness breed the types of behavior we’ve been seeing come forward more recently. But, the power to change it is within us.

How do you make a shift?

It’s human to feel all of the levels from time to time. This is where choice and self-awareness come into play.

When you feel anxiety or despair over what's in front of you, start by recognizing what you’re feeling and what’s underneath it? Is it fear? Is so, of what? Is it anger? Naming it is the first step to raising the thoughts around it.

A lot of people are feeling anger right now, on all sides of the coin. It's a valid and real emotion. In a 2015 article, "A Clear Map to Your Spiritual Enlightenment," Hawkins says about anger: 

"Anger is very obviously a high energy emotion. However, if an angry person knows how to utilize that anger constructively instead of destructively, it can energize resolve and determination.

Anger in the form of resentment may lead to hatred, grievances, grudges, and eventually even to murder or war. But the process going on in consciousness is one of expansion; for example, when an animal is angry, it swells up. When the cat gets angry, its tail swells up to almost twice its normal size, and the cat tries to look imposing. The biological purpose of expansion is to intimidate one's apparent enemy. The energy of anger can be positive if used to pursue something better, allowing us to move up to the next level."

When you find yourself at one of the fear-based levels, take a pause. Give yourself some love and then blast the situation, person or experience with some love as well. Soon you’ll find yourself out of that place and on our way up a level of consciousness.

Activism coming from raised thoughts and higher consciousness, particularly as a collective force, will result in a much stronger, love-abiding nation and peaceful world.

It starts with one raised thought at a time.


How to Love the Rabbit Hole

I recently sat down to meditate and, in order to clear my head before I started, I decided to respond to one Facebook message so it would be off my mind and I could focus on my meditation. Two hours later...

I went down the rabbit hole.   Rabbit Hole

It's a common theme for me, rabbit holing. This time, for me, Facebook led to Pinterest which led to links of articles about Shonda Rhimes saying yes and the latest polls in Nevada, to a couple of fashion blogs and then offline to send a few unrelated texts, save some photos which sparked ideas for future stories, blogs, scenes, characters and ghostwriting projects. All of this in one adventure down my rabbit hole. So, not all bad. The problem is I can get so enamored with each of those it can keep me from the designated task at hand.

So, what is it, exactly, the rabbit hole? It was made famous through the brilliant mind of Lewis Caroll

"The little girl just could not sleep because her thoughts were way too deep, her mind had gone out for a stroll and fallen down the rabbit hole." ~ Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

For Alice, she "fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time...to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next."

Ah, there's the hypnotic pull of the rabbit hole.

Once she landed with a "thump, thump, thump" the adventure had just begun. She turned corners and went down a "long, low hall" where she tried several locked doors. Then, she found a key which fit into a door behind a curtain. That led to a tiny passage way which led to garden, but she couldn't get to it because she was too tall. Then, ta dah, a bottle appeared that said "Drink Me," which Alice did and shrunk to ten inches tall, so she could enter the garden. By now, she "had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible."

The rabbit hole often gets a bad rap, as a dark place with no end and no escape. One friend said that’s where she goes when she thinks about sad, depressing things. One said that’s where his downward spiral is and when he’s there he just keeps spinning. Another said, her rabbit hole is paved with sugar, with a chocolate cake at the end of it.

What’s in your rabbit hole? Where does your mind go on its stroll?

This got me thinking about what we can control in our environment and what controls us. Because, here’s the thing. It’s your rabbit hole. You can design, decorate and infuse it with whatever you want, with whatever is going to serve you in that moment. Actually it’s a good thing to have a dark place to go to when you need to explore your feelings, a place that feels safe and private. But, when it starts to feel rabbit holey, the good news is, since it’s your rabbit hole, you can turn on the light anytime you want. Who knows what you might discover in there with a little light on the subject?

So, I decided to turn on the light and take a good look around my rabbit hole. On the way down, not surprising, it’s covered with shiny objects, interesting pictures, all kinds of knobby things on which I can get caught, plus enticing doors that lead to who-knows-where in corridors I must peruse. The truth is, it is filled with wonder. Because, I choose it to be. I always seem to come out with nuggets and gems I didn’t have before my journey there.

One of the characteristics of rabbit holing is a lack of focus or sense of direction, time and space. So, this is where you start owning your own rabbit hole.

First, recognize that you are, in fact, in the rabbit hole. Secondly, don't judge yourself for being there. Self-judgment is the number one deterrent to self-acceptance. TweetThis [source: @cindyyantis]

Turn on the light. Look around and decide what it looks like. What color is it? Is there furniture? Fancy light fixtures? Art on the wall? Give it a bit of structure.

Is it worth sticking around for a bit to discover why you’re there? When you think about it, a rabbit has very specific reasons for digging his hole, rather than it just being a day in the park. He’s looking for safety or food or sleep time or a sense of home. What are you looking for?

Give yourself a time limit. Okay, 10 more minutes in this corridor and then it’s back to the task at hand.

Give yourself freedom within the parameters of your redecorated rabbit hole. That way you decide if you stay there or move onto to a different wonderland. Part of the freedom of designing your own rabbit hole is that it’s not about any destination or conclusion, but rather the fresh experience while you’re there and what you might take with you when you leave.

Honor your rabbit hole. Yours is like no other. And, your next one will be unlike the one before that. Enter it with a sense of wonder.

In fact, when you learn to love the rabbit hole, it really is no wonder when Lewis Caroll called it “Wonderland.” 

Tweet: "You can't always control your environment, but you can control your reaction to it." [source: @cindyyantis]

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 


Clean Your Junk Drawer, Clean Your Mind

 

Who Am I?

Nature-sky-sunset-man

This is one of the big questions I pose every morning as part of my meditation and journaling ritual. Some days the question is the only thing I write down and the only query on which I meditate. It’s a lot to contemplate. Or not.

This week as I asked the question, my pen poised over the page, nothing came. It’s not that my mind was blank, it’s that my mind was racing, as happens most days when I start to meditate or gather my thoughts.

Can you relate? Mind chatter is non-stop. If it’s not about our to-do list, it’s about a conversation we had or want to have. If it’s not about the email we need to answer, it’s about how we’re judging ourselves. About everything. If it’s not about the ache in our back or knee or shoulder, it’s about the movie we watched last night and our commentary on it; or the birds chirping, or the lawn mower, or the cat sitting nearby, or what we’re having for breakfast, or how fat we feel, or how great we feel; or about the article we read on composting, the elections, angels, the stock market, the rise of consciousness, or the fall of gas prices. We’re thinking about everything except nothing, which is truly the goal when trying to clear the mind.

I realized when my thoughts were speeding like the Indy 500 that my mind is like a junk
drawer, where everything miscellaneous is stashed to possibly be categorized or dealt with later. Or someone's talking to me or calling so I need to store what's on my mind in the moment. Or I keep it in there just in case I might need it at some point, no matter how obscure the thought is, or seemingly useless the information is.

It got me thinking, clean out the junk drawer, clean out the mind!

I took a gander into the junk drawer and was kinda surprised (and not) at all that’s in there, besides the obvious stuff like pens, paper and tape. I also found: glue, flower food, loose change, a 2013 calendar, recipes, gum (no idea how old), keys (no idea what for), batteries (probably dead), picture hangers, lens cleaner, magnets, cat toy, old coupons, menus (to places I’ll never go), loose nails, loose paperclips, 3 lighters, a door stopper, etc.

What? All stuffed in there haphazardly with the idea that it’s day will come; each item holding a glimmer of hope that it will be taken out and used for what it was meant to be. Not a chance of that happening while mired in the recesses of a junk drawer!

The same can be said for our minds. There’s so much junk in there that the clarity gets buried alive, the brilliant ideas jumbled amidst the quagmire of waste. What junk are you stuffing in your mind that is not serving you and your highest good?

Clean out the junk drawer, clean out the mind. Oh my, what to do with all of that open space? Let's apply the analogy!

  • Empty everything out at once – It’s best to start with a clean canvas or an “empty drawer.” Meditation, the practice of clearing the mind, is a great way to start. If this has proven a challenge for you, start with just a few minutes. When the chatter comes in focus on your breath. In, out. In, out. John Viscount in “Mind What Matters: A Pep Talk for Humanity” says the moments in a still mind are deeply healing and peaceful. He says, “In the silence between your thoughts, you will tap into the larger universal mind. This is where some of your greatest work on Earth will be accomplished and you won’t even know you’re doing it.”
  • Examine the contents – Pay attention to each voice participating in the mind chatter. Only then can you determine which are dedicated to raising your consciousness and which are ego-driven to keep you stagnant or small or stuck.  Michael Singer in the book “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” takes it a step further by saying “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind-you are the one who hears it…If you watch it objectively, you will come to see that much of what the voice says is meaningless…a waste of time and energy.”
  • Give it a wipe down – Clean out the dust and cobwebs once it’s empty. Lose a bad habit; clean out your email, in other words delete almost everything and unsubscribe from almost all of them; let go of an unhealthy relationship that clouds your mind; or exercise to release negative and low vibrational energies. 
  • Let the space breathe – Go off the grid for a while. Disconnect your phone, put down your pen, no email, no television and no social media. Spend time with just yourself. Don’t busy your mind with more incoming junk. Stay in the space between your thoughts. Listen to your breath, feel the energy in your body.
  • Be very selective about what you put in there – Now that you’re space is open and clear, you have complete choice about what you allow into your mind space. Only invite stimuli that will nurture your clarity. Monitor what your read, see and speak. Once you're mindful of this it becomes a way of life.
  • Do away with the Junk Mind – You don’t need it anymore. At this point in organizing a junk drawer, this is where you would compartmentalize the items as you put them back in the drawer, in nice little neat compartments or dividers. But, with a clear mind you actually de-compartmentalize, doing away with the need for separation of thoughts and conflicting voices. With a clear mind, complete alignment with your oneness and universal purpose is not only possible, it’s unstoppable. 
  • Get into daily cleaning - It's an ongoing process. When you see the thoughts gathering to dump into the Junk Mind stop, breathe and assess. Go back to #1. Meditate and get clear!

And, the bonus? You get to know your Self like never before, stripped bare and clean, open to all possibilities. Choices made from that place? Happiness. Joy. Genius. Love. Peace.

Bravo!

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How True Freedom Starts with Your Mind

 

It could be rather cliche that I would post an article about freedom on Independence Day. But, what can I say? The holiday got me thinking about all of the various connotations of freedom and independence. Yes, the holiday is about the literal freedom and independence of a nation and its people. But, there's so much delicious metaphor and meaning surrounding the notion of being free and independent.  

Free from shacklesTo truly set yourself free from all that shackles you so as to live in a individual state of freedom, it starts in the mind. It's the only environment over which we have total control. Once you allow yourself to clean out your mind environment, you'll feel free in many new and expansive ways. 

What currently binds you into a certain way of thinking? It usually comes down to habitual thought patterns. Dr. Martha Beck says habitual thoughts are "like ruts in a dirt road. The mind slips into them over and over, and at first, steering down another route is extremely difficult."  They can come from years of doing things the same way, or from being attached to old beliefs that we were conditioned early on to believe, or from a feeling of safety that can wash over you just from the familiarity of habitual thinking.

Here are some thoughts on how to free your mind which will open up all kinds of space for new thoughts and a new way of living your life.  

  • Free up the old - make note of how you've been conditioned to think about things. Where are you shackled? Don't worry about making changes. Just ask the questions and then watch where your mind goes. No judgment, just information.
  • Free the Yes - turn off your automatic No. Observe when you're quick to say no. Instead, just say Yes for a change. Look at what happens. Start with a whole day, then a week, then a month. That action alone will expand your life.  
  • Free the right brain - dive unabashedly into a creative project that takes you out of your comfort zone. Paint, write a poem, build a table, create a show. Even if it's just for you.   Genius flourishes in the right brain!
  • Free your words - let both your critical and emotional thinking come through in your words. Tell people how you feel! Use the words "love" and "want" and "believe" and "yes" often and without the fear of being judged.
  • Free your judgment - of self and others. It's a weight that imprisons your thoughts, spirit, body and actions. 
  • Free your stuff - purge, purge, purge. Clean out your space at least twice a year.  Free space allows for clarity and for more good stuff to come into your life.
  • Free your ideas about money - Barbara Wilder in the book "Money is Love" says "money is energy and thought directs energy; we must be able to consciously direct the flow of money/energy in our lives."  
  • Free your control - this is the ultimate. This is where progress gets stuck in the guise of perfection. Be gentle for starters. Be clear in your intentions but let go of any specific result.  Allow your intentions, buoyed by true desire and belief, guide your next steps. Let go and let flow. The same goes for trying to control other's actions. This not only imprisons them, but imprisons you as well. Let go and let flow.

Wow, see how the freedom of mind can spread out into other areas of our lives?  It's all connected.

Free your thoughts, free your actions, free your life.  Now that's something to celebrate on Independence Day. 

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 


It's Finally Leap Year

"It's Finally Leap Year!"  That's what I imagine people born on February 29th say when a leap year comes around and they get to celebrate their true birthday. Girl-jumping1

Well, it's not technically a leap year, the next one is 2012.  But, this is the phrase that came to mind as I set my theme for 2011. 

I don't like New Year's resolutions.  I prefer setting a slate of clear goals and giving myself an overall theme for the year.  Goals are great because they give you milestones to put into your life GPS for the year. 

But, the theme.  The theme is your undercurrent, your throughline, your foundation or your touchstone for the annual journey.  It's the platform on which you place your goals and it's the glue that keeps them in place as you forge your path.  And, they give an overall meaning and purpose to your plan. 

One of my goals this year is to break through barriers that have held me back in the past.  Writer and dear friend Debra Rogers gave me the book that is the basis for my theme, "It's My Leap Year!"  Written by Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap looks deeply at the barriers that are keeping you from breaking through, what he calls, your Upper Limit so that you're operating in your "zone of genius."   It follows along my theory that glass ceilings are, for the most part, self-imposed.  This book has very clear guidelines on how to break your own glass ceilings and leap to the next level and eventually highest levels you want to reach in your life, career, relationships, etc.  It's pretty profound!

Plus, it's fun to create your theme! 

In coming up with your theme, look at (or create) your list of goals for the year.  Now think of those goals in terms of being Fearless, Healthy, Authentic, and Abundant.  With those core themes in mind, what phrases or words spring to mind as being an overall throughline for you?

Or think of songs that inspire you.  Come up with a theme song and then let that guide you to setting your annual theme.

You can use mine if you want to hit your higher levels too.  Make it your leap year too!  I'll meet you on there.


Create a "Blind Side" Vision for Your Career & Life

 

“You’re changing that boy’s life.”   
“No, he’s changing mine.”
from a scene in the film, “THE BLIND SIDE”   

I recently watched the movie again (and again), and was once again entranced not only by the transformational journey of football great Michael Oher, but equally by the how helping him also changed the lives of his adoptive family, Sean and Leanne Tuohy and their two kids.  And, while the film focused primarily on Michael’s story and Leanne’s crusade to give him a leg up on life, on closer examination much of the real-life story began with Sean Tuohy’s personal vision to help poor Memphis kids when they needed it.  And, although they went the whole ten yards with Michael Oher, he was not the first, nor the last who received an outstretched hand from Sean Tuohy.  

It got me thinking once again about how having a clear vision brings so much more meaning Blind_side_true_story1 to our careers, and lives for that matter.   What do I mean by “Blind Side” vision?  Simply put, it is a vision where your central focus is making an impact or a difference on others or society.  Or to put in the movie’s terms, you have their back.  And, then the reciprocal benefit is the in-kind impact felt in your own life.  Unselfishly helping others helps you, enriching your life beyond measure.   

The objective for creating a vision that will sustain you and effect literally every area of your life is to let go of the “how.”  But, rather to focus on the “what,” the “who,” and the “why.”   Sean Tuohy could not possibly have known years earlier, when he adopted the mindset of his vision to help the underserved, how he would have an impact or that Michael Oher would show up in his family’s path.  

So, how do you get a “Blind Side” Vision for yourself?  This is one of my favorite subjects; I write and talk about it in different forms and often, but it’s important to continue the conversation.  

  • What – what kind of impact do you want to make?  It doesn’t have to be some big vision with a global scope.  Look at the difference you make to your company now, or the impact you currently have on people in your life, directly and indirectly.  Don’t belittle the significance you have in your world already.  Now look at the talents behind the impact you’re making, the skills that you bring to the table.   

For Sean Tuohy, he came from a background where, according to Michael Lewis, author of The Blind Side, “he had the experience of being the poor kid in the rich school when he was growing up.”  So he kept tabs on those kids at his children’s school; he offered meals and help for any needs they had.  He wanted to make an impact to the betterment of their lives.  

  • Who – on whom do you want to make an impact?  Get clear on the segment of society you want to help, or the type of people you want to impact.  Are they seekers of knowledge or education, or underprivileged/underserved, or those effected by a cause or condition that you’re personally connected to, or are they people who look to be inspired?   
  • Why – why and how will lives or companies or society change because of your vision?   Think specifically about the result of your vision becoming a reality for those it helps.   

For Sean Tuohy, those he impacts go on to live more productive and successful lives, but most importantly they realize possibility and that it’s there for them when in many cases the notion of possibility is seemingly an impossibility.   

I believe we’re all here for a greater good.  Why not incorporate that into your career and life vision?  Why not make it part of what you do every day?  

Can you imagine how quickly the collective consciousness of the world would rise to a higher, nobler level with this kind of thinking, followed by action? 


Turn fear into Fearlessness

Paris 

By Sarah Shaw

So I have been thinking about fearlessness all week since sending my 26 month old twins off to daycare/preschool this week and how they just love it and seem to be thriving - total fearlessness.  Deepak Chopra says there are no coincidences so I take that to heart!  Everything happens for a reason – which leads me to this story.

 
A friend of a friend called last summer and asked if we’d be open to housing and feeding a 17-year-old French girl named Marion, in exchange for some babysitting for two weeks.   She wanted to experience America and work on her English – which I must say is quite impressive for an 11th grader.  Her father has given me strict instructions to ONLY speak to her in English – I speak fluent French.  Anyhow, Marion arrived, tired after a long flight, but cheerful and adorable all the same.  I was amazed at her confidence and ability to be relaxed with total strangers in a new country.  She appeared to be fearless and I admired that in her. She saw an opportunity and jumped on it.   

As I offered her a late dinner and we started talking, I was reminded of my own similar experience at 16.   I was bored with my High School and I think my mom knew she needed to save me from myself – or perhaps what might be waiting for me around the corner - or that is my interpretation at least.  During the summer following 10th grade, my mom asked if I wanted to go study in France for my junior year.  She had explored some options and through some friends had found a family for me to stay with in the small town of Carcassonne in southern France.  I immediately accepted and found myself on a plane to Paris on my 16th birthday.  I had studied French for years but really couldn’t put a sentence together.   Here I was, suddenly living with a strange family and trying to communicate while my nose was buried in a dictionary.  I ended up loving my new family and my life there. I had a real transformation from a naive child, into a young woman who had a purpose in life. 

Before leaving for France I had never done anything in my life that I considered to be fearless. This moment changed my life forever.  While I wasn’t aware of the fearlessness at the time, because I was terrified, I came to understand later on what the significance of just getting on the plane meant.   I felt very lonely for the first few months as I really couldn’t communicate with anyone.  Being essentially alone really forced me to look my fear in the face and decide that I was bigger. I wanted to succeed for the first time in my life and was prepared to do what ever it took to get there.  This was my first entrepreneurial moment and I didn’t even realize it.

I have often drawn on the strengths that I discovered in myself while living in France.    I know that when I want to make something happen that I just have to acknowledge the fear and accept it.  Once you do that you are unstoppable.

Are you ready to be fearless?

Write them down, acknowledge them, and accept them as part of your process.

What is holding you back from moving forward?

  • Are you procrastinating? Cleaning your desk again?
  • Are you afraid to share your idea?
  • Are you afraid to take the first step?
  • What would happen if you just did it?
  • Are you wondering where the money will come from?
  • Are you afraid to call a buyer?
  • Are you afraid to pitch an editor?
  • Are you afraid to be famous?
  • Are you afraid to need help?

These are all natural fears, but fears that can stop you from realizing your dreams and living the life you want to live.

Be fearless this week and take a bold step forward.

 

Sarah Shaw is the founder of Entreprenette.com, a consulting company that works with entrepreneurs in bringing their product to market.  Sarah grew her own million dollar company with her famous “Pinked” handbag and has applied her expertise and knowledge to her consulting practice.  Sarah has been featured in the LA Times, WWD, Oprah Magazine, as well as on Access Hollywood and regularly speaks to inventors and entrepreneurs nationally.