About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Month: October, 2014

Listen

Listen

“Listen” has been a recurring theme for me during meditation for probably the past couple of weeks now.

Listen … all is well. Listen … important. It’s important that you hear what we have to say–we can help you.

Listen–you will hear. Guidance, truth. Much you already know yourself.

Listen–that is the theme. Listen to guidance.

So today I thought I’d make a SoulCollage card to represent this theme.

I found it interesting, when I started looking for images for the card, that I couldn’t find any of people who were clearly listening. Now maybe that’s because our ears aren’t that mobile. Or maybe it’s because we’ve organized the world in such a way that our survival rarely depends on our listening skills.

In the wild, animals’ ability to survive depends on their ability to use their senses effectively–and listening is among the most important.

While we may be able to survive while barely listening, I do believe that the ability to listen well is key to our being able to thrive.

Today,  I am listening.

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Kissed by the Universe

Alber

I suspect the Universe is always smiling on us, and pulling for us–but I’d be the first to admit, it doesn’t always feel that way. This past week, though, I felt like the Universe was not only smiling, but blew me a kiss.

A little over a week ago, I was experiencing a delay, and cast about in my mind for tasks I’d been putting off to a more convenient moment. I remembered that I hadn’t bought any clothes in more than 6 months, not even a pair of socks, and that I’d been noticing I needed some tops.

I surfed over to a discount site, and checked out the work of my favorite designer, Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, the oldest fashion house still operating today–founded by a woman, Jeanne Lanvin, and owned by a woman today, Shaw-Lan Wang. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw a beautiful teal silk dress I’d pinned on Pinterest last summer, just one left, in my size, at a very deep discount!

Lanvin dress

Reader, I ordered it. It arrived last night, and it fits beautifully. Alber Elbaz has said he thinks about what a woman wants to hide, and what it is she loves about herself–and may I say very few people involved with the clothes I try on seem to do that!–and that thought process shows when I put on this dress. Take just one feature, the sleeves, for example … the bottom of the sleeve is like a bell sleeve, but at the top, the fabric is origami-folded and stitched down to show the shoulders, but still feels like a sleeve, so comfortable. It reveals without feeling revealing. It’s unlike anything I’ve worn or seen, and I think it’s pure genius.

And that is why I feel kissed by the Universe.

The practical among you may be noting that a dress is not a top, and of course, you’re quite right. I was looking for a dressy one as well as a casual one, and this dress will serve some of the same purposes as the dressy top I had in mind. (This dress was also made as a blouse, but one has to be open to receiving a kiss from the Universe in the form of a blouse with a skirt attached!) I’ve also ordered a sweater that I haven’t received yet.

And I think that when you enjoy something, and when you bring a good energy to it, it shows in the product. I mean, I think that we create what we are. Basically, when we are sad, we create sad, when we are happy, we create happy, and when we are miserable, we create miserable. And it shows, and it feels. It feels on the body. –Alber Elbaz

Illustrating this post is the SoulCollage card I made this past weekend at an Open Studio I attended (which is just getting together with others to make SoulCollage cards), in honor of my new dress. This card has several images of Alber at various ages, and the rest is his work at Lanvin–clothes, sketches, costume jewelry.

Alber Elbaz is a man who I believe loves and respects women–something I feel we could use a lot more of in the people who make the clothes that announce who we are to the world.

May the Universe blow you a kiss of your very own this week!

How to receive inner guidance

lighthouse 2

You will be guided into port, out of the storm.

During a recent meditation, this sentence popped into my head. Whenever I feel as though there’s something I have to tackle alone, I find it comforting to think of the support system I have that’s invisible to me–angels, guides, ancestors, my higher self–all looking out for me, wanting the best for me.

A few days later I had lunch with a relative, who was telling me that she’d connected the dots between an optional medication and a deal-breaker side effect, and had stopped taking it. I mentioned how I like to consult my gut instinct when making decisions, and she said that she had had misgivings, but overrode them because she was determined to take the medication anyway due to other factors. I said something along the lines of, “Yeah, you gotta stop that.”

I know, because I used to approach life in just that way … and it turns out that when you’re bullheaded, when you ignore your gut, when you don’t ask questions, when you barely listen to anyone (let alone your true self), when your ego is firmly in the driver’s seat, when you go so far as to override your conscience because you’re stubbornly determined to do what you want to do no matter what, life just doesn’t go terribly well. You end up doing the wrong things. You end up doing things you regret. You end up at dead ends rather than on your right path … you end up stuck and unhappy, mired in inertia. (And of course, there are worse things than inertia–you could be headed off a cliff.) This approach is not the secret to a happy life. I know this very well.

All of this got me thinking about the usefulness of inner guidance. I truly believe that the beginning of wisdom is beginning to listen–to your higher self, to your gut instinct, to guidance, to your conscience. And to listen, you must be still. Cultivating stillness frees us from the tyranny of thought and ego, and allows us to make contact with the touchstone of truth and wisdom whenever it’s needed. And if you’re anything like me, that need is pretty constant.

Especially when I’m at work, I like to check in with my inner guidance a number of times a day. Is this the right way to respond? I might ask before sending an e-mail. Am I missing something here?

Very often when I make mistakes, I realize that I had a background awareness of something being amiss that I chose to ignore. The more I listen, the more I investigate, the more questions I ask, the fewer mistakes I make, and the less I do that I later regret doing. I don’t have many significant regrets, but I do have some, so it’s a little late to have a regret-free life. But I believe that by listening, by not rushing headlong, by taking decisions deliberately, many regrets can be avoided. In fact, it’s possible to come to the end of the day, or week, and hopefully a lifetime, and be able to say, I did well.

But first you have to be still enough so you can hear. For me, meditation has been the key to becoming still, and creating gaps in the flow of thoughts through my mind that allow wisdom and guidance to enter. To my mind, one of the most significant benefits of meditation is this space it opens up, allowing us to make better decisions in each moment, which in turn facilitates our being our best selves.

It also really helps to stop sweating the small stuff. If you’re worried about your imperfect nose, or static cling, or whatever completely insignificant “problem” du jour the advertising industry would like to create major concern about in order to move product, all of that is taking up mindspace that could simply be clear. Getting older really seems to help–and thank God for that!

In that clear, still space, I like to listen, to ask my question, to tune in. If I’m not sure of the right fork in the road (literally or figuratively, actually), I like to ask myself whatever the question is, and then quietly wait for the answer. If I’m still not sure–sometimes at this point I have conflicting thoughts–then I save the question for meditation later. After meditating for awhile, which creates a truly clear space for an answer to arise, I ask the question again.

Unfortunately, sometimes negative self-talk can get in the way of hearing the voice of wisdom, the voice of love. That’s where discernment comes in. This is my mantra whenever I feel that what I’m hearing may be the voice of fear, or the voice of ego …

I ask that all input be filtered through my higher self, including my own.

Of course, sometimes our inner guidance is delivering an authentic message of fear–This person cannot be trusted. You’re in danger. Get out of here now.

I don’t second-guess a message like this. There’s no harm in being somewhere else, or in taking a different elevator. And you never know when listening to your gut could save your life. Friends tell me that a mutual acquaintance makes the hair on the back of their necks stand up, gives them the creeps. I don’t get that from him–but I don’t question for a moment that they do, or try to change their minds.

For me, this is why it’s such a good idea to get generalized fears and prejudices out of your mind and heart–so that you can hear and feel clearly a specific fear when it arises. You may not be able to explain it; you probably won’t be. But it’s well worth listening to.

I like to look someone in the eyes to see if I can trust him or her, at least for the next few minutes. I do this when I see a homeless person with a sign (I keep energy bars in the car for this purpose). It’s also great for all types of interviews.

Of course, the need for true fear is rare. Far more often, all is well, and listening to the voice of love is all we truly need. As long as we’re in touch with the voice of wisdom, love, and truth, I really believe that each of us is the very best person to determine what’s truly right for us.

Do you perhaps have a burning question right now? Is there something you really need to know? Don’t be afraid to wrestle with the angel if you need to. But most of the time, in my experience, getting still and asking the question will yield the answer you need.

You are the ultimate arbiter of what’s right for you. Seek within.

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