Monday, May 25, 2009

Spirituality & Love

"Love is like quicksilver in the hand.
Leave the fingers open and it stays.
Clutch it, and it darts away."
-Dorothy Parker (writer)

Welcome to Spirituality & Science - today's post is about love. I know it's not even close to Valentine's Day but I was inspired by events from my Memorial Day weekend. I officiated my first wedding ceremony this weekend and it was very special for me because it was my baby sister's wedding (and by baby, I mean 30 years old so we won't go into how old that makes me!) She asked me to write and perform the ceremony, and here we were at this amazing house in Vail. After I spoke for a bit, my husband (a singer/songwriter) began singing a beautiful rendition of "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra, and I looked at my sister and her soon-to-be husband and saw them gazing at each other with tears in their eyes. It took me back in time 13 years to my own wedding day, with all the wonder and joy of embarking on a new life together. I hoped my sister would look back 13 years from now, still feeling awe at the beauty of a relationship that has grown and evolved in amazing ways.

Is there "one perfect person" out there for you?

I believe that too many people focus on finding a specific person rather than the goal of having a loving, healthy relationship. I've seen couples in couples counseling who talked about everything "wrong" with their partner, as well as single clients who were focused on meeting someone with specific characteristics (what they would look like, what job they would have, etc.) Relating back to previous posts on the law of attraction (The Secret) you attract what you think about. Therefore, if you are constantly thinking negative thoughts about what is wrong with a person or relationship, you only attract more of the same. This applies whether you stay in that specific relationship or not - I can't tell you how many people I worked with who left "negative relationships," only to land in another similar relationship.

So if you focus on what you would like your relationship to look like, you are giving the universe much more to work with on your behalf. For instance, if you visualize your perfect relationship, think about how you want to feel in that relationship (fulfilled, supported, happy, etc.) Imagine yourself feeling those things and let the universe sort out how you will get there. If you give multiple constraints on specifics like hair color, height, or income, you are only limiting the universe (and yourself) in finding an ideal partner. If you are already in a relationship, then by focusing on the strengths of that relationship, you will cause those aspects to grow as well. So while I don't believe there is "one perfect person" out there, I do believe you can attract a person to you who will fulfill your vision of an ideal relationship.

What if I have no idea what an ideal relationship is supposed to look like?
I have seen people that were in relationships involving domestic violence who did not even know what a "healthy" relationship looked like. Often times, they had parents who were dysfunctional (or at least more dysfunctional on the continuum of "normal.") In these cases, it was difficult to visualize something they had never witnessed and they would pick relationships based on what was familiar, rather than what was healthy. If this applies to you then here are a few suggestions:
1) If you know of any couples that do represent what you would like in a relationship, then spend more time with them. Be around that what you wish to have.
2) If you don't have any friends or family that have what you would consider to be a healthy relationship, then watch couples where ever you go. When you see something that makes you think, "I'd like that," write down what it is. Did they smile at each other? Hold hands? Call each other "honey?" Laugh? Anytime you see something positive, make a note of it until you have a list of things you know you want in your relationship.
Think about anything that makes you happy (puppies, sunny days, etc.) and focus on that feeling. Remember, your goal is to feel happy and then you attract more things to you that will cause feelings of happiness (relationships included).

You complete me...not!
I think that mainstream movies often paint unhealthy pictures of love. You are much better able to find love and a great relationship if you are first happy yourself. If you feel complete and content as an individual person, you are then able to give and receive love freely. This follows the "where ever you go, there you are" principle - happiness always comes first from within. If you are unhappy in general, it will be extremely difficult to find a "happy" relationship, and someone else cannot provide that joy for you. So examine your thoughts and find ways to make yourself happy before seeking out someone else.

In Summary
I've focused here on love with significant others, but this is but one form of love. There is love between friends, love among family members, love for one's pets, etc. but it all follows the same principle - the law of attraction. Think about someone you know with a great relationship and you will find that they also have these other forms of love in their life as well. Remember this if you remember nothing else about this post - whatever you focus on is what grows, so if you want love - focus on it! Until next time...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spirituality & Gratitude

"If you count all your assets,

you always show a profit."
- Robert Quillen (journalist)

Hello Spirituality and Science readers - I want to start this post with a question:

What are you thankful for right now? Right now - in this moment - it could be something as simple as your dog curled up next to you or the breeze coming through your bedroom window. Focus on something that you feel grateful for right this very second.

I was inspired to write about gratitude today after spending a gorgeous sunshine-filled afternoon in the park. It was a regular park and a regular day - certainly nothing out of the ordinary. Watching my kids laugh and play is something I do multiple times a week, but somehow when I watched them today, I was struck by how perfect it all was. I felt extremely grateful in that moment and thought about the power of gratitude. I think that often times it's easier to focus on what's wrong in your life than what's right...easier to focus on what you don't have than what you do have. But here's the thing - whatever you focus on (positive or negative) is what grows. So if you focus on what you don't have, you will always have plenty of what you don't have. If you focus on all that you do have, well, that grows as well.

Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Several years before she died, my mother-in-law gave me a gratitude journal as a gift. She knew I often suggested this sort of thing to my clients, but although I was a big believer in gratitude even then, I had never actually written it down. I thought I might as well try it and I wrote 5 things a day that I was thankful for - even when, especially when, I had one of those "is it even possible to have this many things go wrong?" kind of day. Somehow, the act of writing it down seemed to magnify the things I was thankful for - at the beginning, it was a struggle to come up with 5 things every day and pretty soon, I stopped trying to limit my list to only 5 things because I came up with so many. Focusing on the positive appeared to engender more positive events. I'm not saying I never have a bad day now, but they are very few and very far in between. Try it for yourself and see what happens. What are your 5 things for today?

Gratitude and the Power of Intention
Of course, this focus on positive thinking is related to the power of conscious intention discussed in the last few posts. The law of attraction states that you get what you think about, so gratitude is a powerful aid in creating more of what you want. Gratitude is one of my favorite sections of the book The Secret. Now this doesn't mean that you can't desire to have something that you don't currently have, but I believe that if you give thanks for what you do have, then what you don't have will likely show up faster in your life (and you'll be happier in the meantime). I'd love to hear any comments on how gratitude has impacted your life - which reminds me - I'm so grateful for all of you that have found this blog and find it helpful. You all inspire me - until next time...:)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spirituality and Conscious Manifestation

"Our minds become magnetized with the dominating thoughts
we hold in our minds and these magnets attract to us the forces,
the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize
with the nature of our dominating thoughts."
- Napoleon Hill (author)

Last week in Spirituality and Science, we continued the topic of the power of intention and discussed how it works whether or not we are consciously aware of it. This can result in both positive and negative manifestations depending on the thoughts we think. If you know someone that ALWAYS seems to have negative things happen to them (hint: they're the ones that listen to someone else's sad story and proudly say, "you think that's bad, wait 'til you hear this...") They are attracting those things to them just as someone who thinks positively tends to attract good things. The quote beginning this article says it all in a nutshell.

The Conscious Use of Intention
So what about when you really understand the concept of manifestation and how it works? Surely it must be even more powerful once you know to be aware of your thoughts at all times. As I mentioned in a comment to a blog follower last week, there is amazing research out there on the conscious use of intention. A wonderful book that explores some of this research is "The Intention Experiment" by Lynne McTaggart. It's a comprehensive look at how groups of people "intending" a specific outcome have achieved incredible results in things ranging from plant growth to distant healing. One study even resulted in a 22% decrease in crime in specific cities! Even a single person can have a huge impact on the world around them simply by focusing their thoughts.

My Personal Intention Experiment
I had been using the power of attraction since well before I understood what it was. People would "coincidentally" show up in my life at the right time - and I don't really believe in coincidences either but that's a whole post in itself. I attracted the life circumstances, health and family situations that I wanted - but still, once I really understood the mechanics behind the law of attraction, I wanted to test it out. I first did it a year ago with a specific car that I wanted and within a few months, I had that car (my process was mainly doing just a few minutes of intense visualization a day.) That was great but I decided I wanted to test it in a more controlled way. Now, as someone who had to create a rigorous, statistically sound scientific study for her Ph.D. dissertation, I can tell you that this was NOT that type of experiment. This was a personal experiment that I wanted to do to get my concrete "proof" that it worked because of my thoughts. For this purpose, I picked a material thing rather than something intangible (such as an event or life circumstance). This is what happened and...

Why it's not a good idea to get too specific in your intentions:
We needed new windows in our house - really needed them as in the old frames were rotting - so I asked my friend in the neighborhood who just got new windows how much they cost. She told me her windows cost $8000 dollars. So this is how I set up my experiment. I decided on a time frame (30 days) and exact amount of money ($8000 of course, since I didn't want to seem greedy). Before I began my experiment, I told 3 people my time frame and amount (one of which was my husband who was also looking forward to new windows). For 30 days, I set aside 5 minutes a day to visualize this $8000 and how great the new windows in the house would be. I didn't focus on how the money would come, because a) I had no idea and b) I figured the universe would be better able to come up with something than I would. My visualizing was intense - I imagined getting the check, the feel of the check in my hands, opening my new windows without them sticking to the frame, etc. I felt extremely confident for the first 3 weeks, knowing that I would soon have new windows.

Then, day 29 came and went without so much as an extra penny to my name. I started to think, hmmmm, maybe I didn't visualize enough or maybe the universe didn't like being given a time frame. My husband encouraged me not to give up.

Day 30: I go to the mailbox and there is an envelope from a distant relative on my husband's side of the family. I had met this relative once at a funeral over five years ago. Inside the envelope was a check for ....drum roll please... $8000 exactly (someone in his family had sold a farm and decided to distribute money among remaining relatives)! I could not have imagined that scenario in a hundred years so I'm glad I didn't try to figure out the "how" of it. My husband was shocked and amazed - and became a total believer. The other 2 people I told also began doing this and one of them just manifested their dream house. So why shouldn't you get as specific as I did in terms of time frame and amount of money?

This is why...
So, still excited by the check, I call the same window company my friend used and they come to the house to give me an estimate - an estimate way higher than my friend told me (in fact, over twice as much). My friend says to me, "Oh, well it was $8000 but we only got half the house done. We're doing the second floor next year." It also turned out that we had many more windows than she did which further increased the estimate. I found this all to be very comical. I had asked the universe for $8000 in 30 days, and I got exactly $8000, not in 12 or 22 days, but 30 exactly! If I had simply visualized the windows and not put a specific time frame or amount on it, it would have turned out differently. I think the key is to visualize the intended outcome. Leave out the "hows" and the "how longs" - the "how longs" is the hardest one for me as I'm impatient by nature but I'm working on it. I'm currently working on a professional goal but have left off the time frame this time - and yes, I've told the same 3 people my goal.

What to try this week?
Set aside 5 minutes a day where you simple close your eyes and visualize yourself already having what it is you desire (hint: decide beforehand what that thing is and stick to that thing for now). If you visualize multiple things on multiple days, the universe won't be sure what you really want. Then when you visualize that thing, focus on the feelings of happiness you have from having it (whether it be a great relationship, a rewarding job, a new car, etc.) If you don't feel unbelievably happy while doing this visualization and that you already feel you have that thing, then keep trying until you do. Most importantly, at the end of that 5 minutes, thank the universe for giving you your desire - gratitude is a powerful force. If you have a partner or friend you can share your goals with, then do it! It's fun to visualize or share your "progress" with someone supportive. If you want to share - you can also do that here and leave a comment. Until next time...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

More Thoughts on Intention

"Whether you think you can or you think you can't,

you're right."

-Henry Ford

There is so much that encompasses the power of intention, I felt another post was warranted. So this week's Spirituality & Science topic was inspired by a blog comment from last week. The young woman noted how she had kept a journal early in life, before having any understanding of the concept that your thoughts create the world around you. As an adult she looked back through her childhood journal and realized that the thoughts she wrote about as a child became her adult reality - sometimes in exact ways. This insightful blog post brings up an important point: you are using the power of intention every time you think, whether or not you are consciously aware of it. Every thought you have. Most people do not have conscious awareness of this process yet are still creating their world based on this principle.

Unconscious Use of Intention Versus Conscious Direction of Thought
On a personal level, I was using the power of intention well before I had read about it or understood what I was doing. I'll give an example of that in this post and then an example next week of consciously using it with an interesting result.

After my first child was born, I went back to working two jobs: a private practice in clinical psychology and a management position in a residential treatment facility (which was a demanding job where I was responsible for 23 high-risk adolescents and 14 staff). I soon realized I wanted more time with my son (soon as in the first week back), but had never seen a part-time job with benefits for a psychologist in my area. That very next weekend, there was an ad in the paper that was a half-time management job with benefits. Although there were other candidates with years more experience than me (one was my then supervisor), they felt I was the best fit and I got the job. That decreased my hours to about 30 a week combined with my private practice. I was much happier and things were going fine until...surprise!

When my daughter came along, I left on maternity leave for 3 months thinking I would go back to the same routine. However, something happened in those 3 months that I didn't expect. I had a newborn and an almost 3-year-old and was having the best time (aside from that whole sleep deprivation thing). My husband and I went over our finances but as he had also finished his Ph.D., our combined student loan payments were more than our mortgage and there was no way to pay everything on one salary. Now, I certainly had some thoughts that were phrased in a negative format - e.g. I don't want to go back to work, but most of my thoughts at that time were in line with what I did want (being home with the kids). Then one night on the last week of maternity leave, I remember laying there in bed mentally screaming at the universe that I wanted to be with my kids. As I'm not religious, I don't mean that it was a prayer or plea for someone to save me; it was a "shout- out" to the universe to help me have what I wanted. Before falling asleep, I had a very strange experience that I couldn't even begin to explain, but I suddenly knew for sure that I would get my wish and felt peaceful. Several years later, I firmly believe that the intensity of emotion I felt that night helped facilitate the response with more speed.

So, what happened?
The very next day, my husband came home from work and told me we needed to talk. I was instantly alarmed, because the last time he told me this, he had gotten a $120 speeding ticket on the way to work. He sat me down and told me not to be angry, but that several months back he had applied for a promotion at his work. He said he didn't tell me because he didn't want me to get my hopes up (or maybe his). Anyway, that afternoon they had contacted him and offered him the job. With the increase in pay, he said it was enough that I could be home with the kids. Sure, I could have wasted time being angry that he hadn't told me about applying for the job, but that's what it would have been - a waste of time. I was getting exactly what I had asked for 24 hours earlier! I gave leave at work, but decided to do four hours a week at my private practice to keep my foot in the door (and because it was something I loved to do).

And now?
Well, it's now 2 years later and I have an adorable, feisty 2-year-old daughter and a sweet, mellow 5-year-old boy who will start Kindergarten in the Fall. I can honestly say that being home with them has been the most amazing gift and the best years of my life. I still work 4-5 hours per week at my practice, and the rest of my time involves the park, playdates, and the zoo. I should mention here that I have friends who could afford to stay home but chose to stay working full-time, so everyone has different desires and dreams. But this was my dream and it came true - without my having any knowledge whatsoever about the power of thoughts. This was well before I read The Secret or The Power of Intention. It worked because I was thinking about what I wanted and what I wanted my life to look like. I express gratitude to the universe every single day for what I have (which is another post for another day).

Preview of coming attraction: Conscious Use of Intention
Next week I'll give several personal examples of using the power of thought after learning about it, with the results (one of which I found rather comical).

And you?
I'd love to hear your examples of how you have used the power of intention without consciously realizing you were doing so. It can either be material (house, job, car, etc.) or non-material (health problem resolved, finding the ideal relationship, etc.) In fact, you may not have realized your incredible power until just share your story. Until next time...