It’s hard to believe that it was only a few weeks ago that we were contemplating the end of the world. Not only did we survive the apocalypse, we survived the holidays!
Now the conversation is all about ‘New Year = New You!’ and making huge life changes now!
I prefer to work with the earth’s gentle cycles as my guide. For me, the winter season is for hibernation and quiet contemplation … a time to go deep ‘inside.’ It is a time for rest (with so many hours of darkness) and for reflection, a perfect time to tap into dreams and journal.
When we attune ourselves with the seasons, we allow our inherent natural rhythms to flow, which are easy to follow and feel good about.
It is light in the darkest night. It brings people to their knees. It is symbolic and powerful, yet proof-less and criticized. It illuminates life and it wages war. It escapes some and captivates many. To some it is doctrine, to others it is fiction. It is faith.
Today’s definition of faith doesn’t have to relate to religion; it can be trust or belief in something without proof. But in today’s society, the invisible creates disbelief. People lack faith in all areas of their lives because they are looking for evidence. They are waiting for the ideal job, the perfect relationship and financial abundance. They are looking for something tangible — and as a result, they are still waiting. When the answer doesn’t fall into their laps they become cynical and they lose faith.
If this rings a bell, don’t worry. There are ways to find faith in your daily life.
While in LA this past month, I spent some time at the Agape Spiritual Center and listened to the teachings of its founder, Reverend Michael Beckwith. I was inspired by so much of what he said, and one thing really struck home: “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.”
So often we have a dream or a desire to accomplish something, to do something or to create something, but we get stopped in our tracks because we are paralyzed by the fear of failure or fear of discomfort. Instead of facing that fear or going through the discomfort, we give up on our dream.
When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~Author Unknown
Hope is having positivity, belief and faith — in yourself. Hope is perseverance, because it doesn’t give up. With a little practice, you can make hope a habit. Not only will you improve your health and fitness, but you also will improve your life.
The day my mother died, I was hoping for something, anything, to help alleviate my incredible pain and overwhelming sense of loss. I was also hoping that Mom was finally at peace. A Facebook post around the same time revealed that a friend of mine was hoping fervently for something as well: that she would find just the right shoes to match her new dress.
At first, it seemed so cruel and unfair to me that I was hoping for something so crucial while she was free to hope for something that seemed so insignificant to me.
Hope: We hear it all the time. Heck, we say it all the time: “I hope I get the job!” or “I hope I make the cut!” or “I hope things work out!” The word “hope” adorns T-shirts, jewelry and bumper stickers everywhere. Our president even based an entire campaign on the notion.
So, hoping … is that all we’ve got?
Big wads of plastic in the ocean that stretch for miles and disintegrating polar ice caps are the kind of news stories that tend to make us feel hopeless regarding conservation efforts. Why bother to change our light bulbs to compact fluorescents if our planet’s imminent demise is a speeding train that can’t be stopped?
The reason we have these feelings is probably the work of environmentalists themselves. They’re sending the wrong messages, if you ascribe to the new field of neuro-conservation.
Instead of focusing the spotlight on results of scientific studies that prove our planet is rapidly warming, or on statistics about alarming species extinction rates, they should be talking about how an ocean view will make us feel happy or standing among trees will arouse our feelings of peacefulness.
After all, selling us emotions is what marketing professionals have been doing for decades. They know that we don’t just buy a car; we buy how that car makes us feel — wealthier, greener or more in control. Using the tenets of neuro-conservation may just be the boost that environmentalists need to gain support for their causes in a world that’s overrun with more scientific data than we know what to do with — or pay attention to.
What does hope mean to you? That’s the inspiration behind the Gaiam Hope Project. We asked experts, authors and readers like you to share stories of hope. Every day for the next month, we’ll publish those stories on GaiamLife.com. You’ll find new ideas to get your happy on, tips to be more optimistic and ways to have a little faith.
If you’re like most people, you have, at some point at least, tried meditation. But if you are also like most people, you’ve probably not found meditation user-friendly enough to become a regular habit.
In addition to the age-old spiritual benefits, thousands of research studies have demonstrated that meditation increases awareness, well-being and equanimity; relieves anxiety, depression and other mental health problems; increases mental clarity; and reduces the stress associated with many medical problems.
Whenever I visit Europe — whether to explore a few former Soviet bloc countries or to take a 2,000-mile driving trip through Italy and Switzerland’s Ticino region — I’m always struck upon “re-entry” into the U.S. by how BIG everything is here at home.
We drive big cars, especially here in Colorado, where every other vehicle seems to be an SUV. Our cars have big cup holders for our venti Frappucinos and Big Gulp sodas. We live in big houses that we furnish with stuff we buy at big-box stores. Our big refrigerators – and often an extra freezer – are crammed full of food we purchase at big supermarkets. And, alas, we ourselves are big, and getting bigger: According to the American Heart Association, more than 70 percent of American adults are overweight, and of those, nearly 38 percent are obese.
Europeans clearly do things differently from us. Yet their ‘smaller’ lives seem in many ways richer and fuller. I’ve begun to notice some of those differences that we might do well to consider. Here are five that really struck me: