Gifts we are Given

A Gift is something that is given to you without payment or a talent you were born with. Either way it is something that has come to you with seemingly no effort on your part. Have you ever stopped to identify the gifts that you have as an individual? Do you ever wonder what you are going to do with them? 

The Big Gifts  

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The Biggest gifts that comes to mind are literally huge.  Our amazing planet with all its inhabitants revolving around the sun in a perfectly orderly solar system, within a galaxy of wonders, in an even Greater Universe. We are all a apart of this amazing Cosmic Play. An incredible divine expression of intelligence, beauty, science, art and mystery. This alone is a reason to wake in the morning. 

“Our talents are the gift that God gives to us… What we make of our talents is our gift back to God” – Leo Buscaglia

On the personal tip – I was thinking about my parents and my spiritual teacher when this title came to mind. My parents gave me the gift of Life. My teacher gave me the direction to use my gifts as means of contributing to the world around me. The greatest emotion associated with these realizations is gratitude. 

Allow me to enumerate some of these personal gifts. I hope this starts to stir your memory bank so that you too can feel the glow of such recollections. My mother passed on her amazing ability to cook, be a generous and gracious hostess. There is something about caring for others that brings a sense of accomplishment. In addition to her love of animals and children, she was a great beauty, proficient swimmer, sketcher and dancer. My father passed on a fierce tenacity and drive. He gave me the gifts of singing, humor, entrepreneurship, keen intellect and directness. He was a pioneer in business, dashing, clever, self-starter and never gives up. He can learn almost everything he decides to pick up. Were they perfect parents – No. Did they do their best – Yes. I love them for everything they are and their gifts were given freely. 

My teacher – PRT gave me the guidance on how to use my gifts, self-confidence, complete unconditional love, clear insight into who I was and what I was capable of. His counsel sits in my mind like pearls of wisdom that rest in the realms of the conscious and unconscious. Even more importantly he gave me my meditation practice. I rely on it to keep my mind to clear and steady. The first time I met him I felt like my entire soul was on fire and my heart blew wide open. He saw me as a realized and accomplished person. The gift of someone else seeing you for who you are and what you can become is priceless. He has managed to combine his gifts as an adept Yogi, scholar, father, teacher, community leader and contribute to philanthropic and academic achievements.  He has taught me how to bring my talents to the world and enjoy it all at the same time. This gift is still being unwrapped. 

Life is Rich.

Recognize Your Gifts

Take the time to look back on your life and see the gifts that you have been given, by your parents, family, teachers, friends and strangers. Recognizing them will bring a smile to your face and a glow in your heart. Think about other folks that had less than you and still manage to gleam hope and gratitude for what they did have – more importantly they overcame so-called set backs and used the talents they were born with to excel in life in spite of the obstacles. 

There are plenty of things in our lives that we could look at and think that we are being burdened by our mishaps, but when we turn the lens in a different direction you can get a glimpse of life and notice that even the mishaps were gifts. They were an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and other’s.  We may find ourselves crossing paths with people who have something to teach us or bring a ray of sunshine in the form of hope and inspiration. Almost every encounter can be an opportunity to receive a gift. Even the difficult folks in our lives give us the opportunity to practice compassion and discernment. 

A Gift we take for Granted

Stop – look at your hands, feet, limbs, eyes and ears. Now place your hand over your heart and feel the breath moving in and out  of your lungs as your heart beats.  Next – close your eyes with your hand in place and listen to your mind start to swirl with thoughts now use your steady breathing as a focal point. Do you have any idea how many things happened in this short time. You used your eyes to look at yourself, you used your hand to feel your incredible heart that keeps beating without you having to think about it. Then you utilized your mind to steady your breath and focus your mind upon your breath. Our body is a miracle. It is our vehicle and means of experiencing the greatest pleasures in life. Think about it!!!! I get dazzled by how fast I can type this. The nerves are firing back and forth from the brain to the fingers in a matter of seconds Crazy, right…

One of the greatest tools we have inside of these miraculous bodies is our mind. Imagine if we actually took the time to make friends with our minds instead of trying to kill it. It sounds drastic I know, but given the amount of drugs people are on, inordinate amount of time in front of TV & computer screens, texting, excessive alcohol and crappy food consumption. It’s a wonder our brains and minds work at all. If you’re not thinking clearly how does that affect one’s level of happiness or decision-making? Does our level of happiness weigh into how well our lives look and feel? I think you would all answer yes. Then why wouldn’t we invest in this gift we already have? 

The Little Gifts 

Friendship is one of the most amazing gifts I have had the good fortune of cultivating. It brings me an immense amount of joy to share life, stories, laughs, hugs and deep thoughts. We exchange gift of time, love, books, clothes, perfume, music, money, food and knick knacks. 

Today I was given a gift by a dear friend during a phone conversation.  He is an older gentleman recently retired from a life of serving as a professor in a university. I have always admired him and our conversations are always full of life and insights, in addition to a great deal of laughter. We met at the Himalayan Institute almost 2 decades ago. Right before we hung up he asked me if I remembered giving him a blanket. I said honestly no, I asked him to describe the blanket. He said he was nondescript, but that it played a special role in his life. He has been using this blanket to wrap around his shoulders while he meditates every morning. It lies by his meditation cushion awaiting his arrival every morning. He said he brought it up because he wanted me to know that I was an important person to him and that every time he puts this simple blanket around his shoulders it was a reminder of our friendship. 

Simple gifts that we share between strangers or dear ones leave a lasting impression sometimes without us being aware of it. It is the small things in life that can make a huge difference when we add them up over the course of a lifetime. 

Enjoy Your Gifts and Share Them with The World around you. 

Peace,

VL

The Game of Values

Values
Values

IMG_3162“Find people who share your values, and you’ll conquer the world together.”
John Ratzenberger

 

It’s been a hot topic in conversation lately. When you think of values what comes to mind – I looked up the definition online, here’s what I found.

Noun –

1.the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

2. a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

Interesting that the worth or usefulness of something was #1 and principles and standard of behavior was #2.

The quote above is a true statement. Look at the state of the world today and the what energies are at play.  I can say that for the most part I do not share the same values with most of what you see in Media at large. So what does this tells us about how the world is changing? How can we change the world and is it really our job to be a part of a movement to change the world?

According to #2 definition – we could say that the answers to these questions lie with what are our own values or our standard’s of behavior. None of us are perfect – in the sense that we never make mistakes or that we don’t have room to grow, but let’s just say we are moving towards being the best version of ourselves. If we truly believe in honesty than our life will reflect that in our thought, speech and deed. People trust us because they know that our behavior is inline with what we believe in and what we say. If we are dependable and supportive, once again we engender a sense of trust and reliability.

Happiness in Maintaining Our Values

If we can imagine that our values are an extension of who we are at the core of us then this ought to bring us to a place of peace. When we are start to behave in ways in order to please others we usually start to feel some sort of discord. For example making decisions about how to live our lives in order to make other’s proud of us or more accepting of us in a group. To live from this vantage point will eventually leave us feeling empty because we are not in alignment with our own values, better put what other’s think is more important than we think.

Living from a space of our true happiness is what matters most. This is not to say that we live in a bubble where we are only concerned with our own selfish desires, to the contrary – us living from a space of inner peace & contentment only enhances our ability to live a life that is meaningful useful and contributing the very best we have to offer the world around us. This kind of living will enhance all that come into contact with us, unless they are not happy to begin with. We don’t have to resist their values or thoughts we just stay in a place of repose and happiness.

Get Connected to Our Values

How we interact with the world around us leaves a ripple effect. Thriving in the face of opposition – whether it be someone choosing to be with someone else instead of us in a relationship, a job or a group is not contingent upon anyone else. Our values and belief in ourselves with unconditional love is something that trumps whatever anyone else does or says. Examine why you choose the things you choose, when did you decide what other’s think was more important than your values, how did we lose our way in deciding what mattered most and did we ever have a grip on the importance of values in the first place? Ahhh – this tickles the mind a bit doesn’t it?

The importance of our values is in large part what shapes our lives. While we may not share the same values with some people it doesn’t make it any less important. The primary point of focus is understanding ourselves first. It’s very easy to judge what somebody else values and criticize, but does it really matter. No – it’s none of our business. Our Values are what matter most. Living by them with true conviction without judgement is a good place to start. Like attracts like so it is easy to say that we will attract like minded people along our path. Even if we don’t maintaining a steadfast grasp of our own will continually lead us to the path that is meant for us.

To tie back to the quote above – do we really wish to conquer the world, I would say we wish to have a positive influence on the world by utilizing our free will to dig deep into our own minds and see how our values impact those around us. Once again an inside job and one that starts with ‘I’.

 

VL

 

The End of a ‘Book’

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

volumes of books

The older we get the greater the volumes of books and chapters in our lives. Every time I filled a journal I re-read it to review the saga that had transpired. Once that was done, they were burned. The memories are still intact, but the emotion of the experience lessened and the lessons themselves are what remain. The trick is to apply the lessons immediately to ensure that they stick and create better material for the volumes to come.

Relationships – long past their due date

Have you ever found yourself continuing a relationship with someone who you knew just didn’t suit any longer? These people may circle around and because of some sort of feeling of responsibility or nostalgia we let them back in. Perhaps we think that this time around things will be different. It’s wishful thinking, we only change when we really want to. We all find our way to certain experiences and people because there are things we need to learn from them. The endings don’t always have to be sad, especially if we are aware of why we got into the relationships to begin with. Some things just need to come to an end sooner than others.

To disconnect from people we care about without hurting ourselves or them is tricky.  For those of us who are kinder than most, we don’t want anyone to feel like they are being rejected or abandoned (especially if they have abandonment issues). Rejection is so uncomfortable and it can wreak havoc on a fragile ego. Perhaps this person let’s go of us, we may not wish it to be, but deep down we know in the end it’s the best solution. Holding on to a situation that has gone south, usually leaves everyone with a sour taste in their mouths and may taint the entire experience.  Most of us have experienced a bad break up with a lover or friend.  Upon reflection hopefully we see how we could have handled things better on the receiving or the giving end.

If we are honest with ourselves, perhaps we are better off alone than spending time with someone we are not connected to in a real & meaningful way? Being Real requires  strength,  honesty and self-worth.

At the End you Find yourself with a New Beginning

If we are alive, there is still an opportunity to start again. It definitely gets harder as we get older – it’s just the plain truth, but think of all the wisdom we have to apply to a new life. This new life affords us with the opportunity to create a new You. To transform on a cellular level. There is no shortage of material out there to inspire us to apply our talents to a new way of thinking and being. As we reinvent our minds and hearts we start attracting opportunities and people who are more like-minded. In other words – There is Hope. We live in age where we can connect to one another in an instant. Let’s capitalize on this by creating networks of opportunity for growth and acceptance. Knowing that just because we have let go of a person, place or thing that it’s not the end of the world. It’s a re-birth.

Have faith, stay inspired, strive for the life you want and believe that the universe will conspire to bring it to you. With every step we take in the direction of our thoughts they move toward us. More importantly be grateful for all of the Wonderful People we still have in our lives that DO GET US and for the all the experiences that have yet to come.

Healing Balm

If you have been left behind by someone – thank them for being in your life and for whatever you learned from the experience even if it was full of deceit, malice, manipulation and pain. When we deal with people like this remember that they must be in more turmoil than you. Bless it, forgive it and move forward. Holding on to the pain and confusion will only deter you from healing.

Forgiveness is a great way of ushering in the notion that ‘this too shall pass’ and you will find yourself renewed and ready to experience the beginning of a New Book.

Peace & I’m Out,

VL

 

 

 

Being Real – Dealing with the Phony

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.”
Brené Brown

Ah Yeah, I have experienced all of the above. You know what’s funny, I am considered by most people I meet and know to be a genuine person. Yes it’s true. The thing that most people do not see is the struggle beneath the surface. The struggle has been more intense at different times of my life. Whenever I have put others before myself and my happiness the struggle ensues. The source of this struggle is the soul and ego clashing – what other’s believe I should be doing and what my heart says. Sometimes it is my own mind and heart battling one another. In all honesty – I have no idea where I would be if I didn’t meditate. Anyhooch, on with the rest of the banter I feel compelled to share with you – read on….

The Real Shit

From living in New York City to an ashram in the country I have had front row seats in this game of life. Seen the newbies fresh to the city from somewhere completely foreign to big city lights trying to carve out a career in finance, flip that coin to the now burnt out city dwellers retreating from the world thinking that an ashram would be a safe bet. For guests a weekend getaway to the country can be a great pick me up.

When you are in a big city like New York the ‘crazy’ is right in your face. You see it coming a mile away, for some folks it freaks them out or they laugh it off. Switch gears to an ashram where you expect people to be gracious and loving. There are some who have reached that state of ‘oneness’ and then there are the others slugging through their garbage just like everyone else.  You expect more in an ashram, right – well it’s better not to have high expectations. We’re talking about human beings here.  The idea that living in a small community that is geared towards self-development is going to somehow be a cake walk is ridiculous. People are people no matter where you are and folks that are really working on their shit well, let’s just say there are going to be some not so nice sights while burning out the crap that has settled to the bottom of our subconscious mind.   All of this mishegas I can handle – to see people at their most vulnerable and being honest about what they need to wade through – to me is a BEAUTIFUL thing, because it’s REAL. I have been to the depths of my shadow and come back to the surface, life is not for wimps, especially when you are keeping it real. (that’s another blog)

The Fake Shit

Have you ever met people who try to come off like they are so spiritual. They wear mala beads around their wrists, they smile and tell you about all the wonderful things they are doing and how many friends they have on Facebook that follow their every move. They wear patchouli and are vegan’s. These are the same people who will tell you all about the misfortunes of others and  are almost relish in the fact that they are ‘failures’ in some fashion or another.  They can also be really cheap with people in need. They talk about being generous, but in fact they wont share in a real & meaningful way.  They love sycophants and prefer to keep those types of people near them. They will also dump all of their problems on you and the minute it’s your turn to speak, they say I have to go. They do not triumph in your successes. You have seen these people – I know you have.

There are also those that appear to be generous, they are benefactors to the needy. Attending fund-raisers where the names are on the programs. They smile and nod and all the while they treat their family, housekeeper or grounds men with a dismissive air.

These folks seemingly have everything together, the house, perfect jobs, perfect hair, perfect cars, perfect clothes and they will tell you that their lives are great! Then you find out one or both are shtupping someone on the side. There is a lack of depth to their words & actions, an inability to empathize with others who are not in their ‘class’ of people.

The thing is when we are working from a place of being genuine it is much easier to wade through the piles of shit people dish out. Not from a place of judgement, but objectivity and compassion.

It may sound like I am judging, but in fact I am sharing my observations. Thing is I usually get branded as the pain in the ass when I voice these things to people – some are actually offended. It ruffles their feathers and creates friction within themselves – uh, maybe because they are phony. Or it frightens them, who wants someone revealing the lies they have built around their lives.

Dealing with the Shit

Do you have a hard time around phony people – How do we deal with the lack of authenticity in other people – one way would be Non-attachment – being detached. we observe, stop expecting people to be a certain way and just let them be.  It doesn’t matter in the end. All that matters is that we are authentic. Not that we become apathetic – quite the opposite. We need to reckon with our own issues – I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of work to do.

I love this picture and quote – it’s so darn simple to say & takes incredible awareness to live it.  A testament to Non-Attachment, Live and let Live. As always it’s been a pleasure sharing with you – VL

Krishnamurti
Krishnamurti