Name Your Bliss

66-1113tm-vector2-441

 

Last week we practiced the future oriented technique of “Envision a Future Transition”. This relates to a bigger topic for this week of discovering or reclaiming your Life Dream. What is a Life Dream, anyway? For some it may simply be that they want to spend retirement on a tropical island or something of that nature. Some may consider their Life Dream in terms of wealth or financial freedom to do anything they wish to do including global travel, without the daily responsibility of a career. Others might consider their Bucket List to be the depository for their Life Dreams and hope to realize these wishes, one by one, before they depart this lifetime.

The above ideas about Life Dreams are fine, and if that is how you define yours, then you can focus on how to manifest that with this week’s Better Endings prompts.  To me, a Life Dream can also be even bigger and deeper than any of the above approaches. A Life Dream is what Joseph Campbell called your Bliss, that which fulfills your greatest sense of Adventure and realizes your unique Mission and Purpose on the planet. It is your greatest heroic Challenge, that requires your unique strengths and your highest awareness to manifest and share. It is not a selfish Dream but one that, by realizing this deep desire of the Soul, benefits All. “The presence of a  vital person vitalizes!” says Campbell, and the means to maintain a vital life is to  “Follow Your Bliss” so you can, in life mapping terms, Live Your Dream, Now!

crystal ball

So this week I invite you to dig deeply, to excavate, as it were, your Life Dream. Some months ago I referred you to the question, “What do you want to be when you ‘grow up’?” Well, five years from now, or ten perhaps, what do you want your life to look like? What are you doing in your future, having fully realized YOUR Life Dream?

Your Life Dream might be best visualized in terms of Values rather than concrete objectives. Five or ten years from now, what values would you like to be living in terms of so that you feel inwardly fulfilled?

When I was a child I remember walking in the city of Philadelphia with my friend Karin one day. We passed a woman on the street who was an older, though not elderly, lady. Her face was lined with deep wrinkles from smiling and from living deeply, I felt. I said to Karin, “When I grow old I want to be just like her!” Inwardly I recall thinking to myself, “That is a person who has truly lived!” I would hope for some child to see me as I saw her, some day.

So what is it for you? What brings vitality to your heart and joy to your Spirit?

Happy Easter!

Soul’s Journey

ocean-picture-1113tm-bkgd-42

This week’s life mapping opportunity invites you to reflect on a time in your life when spirituality brought a Better Ending.  This might be as simple as a time when you prayed, or meditated, or contemplated deeply about some situation, and this focus allowed you to make a better decision or to take a good step in a new (or a staid) direction. Spirituality, as I mentioned earlier this week, seems to me to be a Better Ending in and of Itself, in whatever form we make our connection and Tune In.

dsc_2750a-111813-267The Big Buddha

You could map your life history of spiritual interests and spiritual practice, or journal to that effect. Is there a series of steps or plateaus along your pathway? How has your religious or spiritual pathway opened before you from step to step or teacher to teacher? Or, how has your connection with your own inner and outer spiritual guidance—e.g. via Christ or Buddha or Mohammed or Krishna or Lao Tzu or Shams-i-Tabriz or Bahau’allah or another spiritual leader, Master or Guide, or through your spiritual or philosophical readings or scriptures–or by inspiring philosophers or authors generally–helped to Light Up and expand your pathway of understanding? What are your goals, your spiritual Quest, from Here? Please feel free to share your stories, too.

exercise-92313-242

Let me try my hand at a journal-type of spiritual life mapping, as a brief example.  Please though, do your own; mine is offered here only as an example of how you might apply the technique. :

I remember at around 9 or 10 that I had a special friend, a Blue Man, who was a constant companion. He knew all of my thoughts and was very loving and patient and kind with me. I used to think all adults could read my mind, because he certainly knew all of my thoughts and we communicated telepathically. When I prayed, he was by my side. I would pray, “Now I lay me down to sleep…and let anyone and everyone  who wants to, live to old age and be healthy”; then I would start naming everyone I knew to include in the prayer so that the bedside prayer might last a half hour or more. Or I remember wondering, and asking the Blue Man, what would happen when someone dies; then I would imagine that life force was like the electrical current running through a TV wire. If unplugged, the electricity would simply light up another TV; I imagined that I died, and then I would simply be awake in another body.

I started sketching an image of my Blue Man at around 12; it was my constant classroom doodle. Many years later I would find him as my spiritual Master that I look to for outer and inner guidance, still today. BTW, I am an ECKist of 40 years, someone who practices the spiritual techniques of Eckankar, a spiritual teaching that recognizes the validity of ALL paths. Its current spiritual leader is the author of many spiritual books, Sri Harold Klemp. Here is actually a pretty close rendition of my doodle and the spiritual Teacher I eventually found:

   harji

All paths lead Home, I believe, and you are where you are meant to be, right now, where you can learn most, give and receive divine love most, given your current focus of consciousness.

Gold Vortex Abstract Background With Twirling Twisting Spiral

For me the biggest Better Ending from spirituality—apart from always, in the Eternal NOW—occurred in a lucid dream when I was 20. After having spent a summer in Alaska (outwardly, not in the dream), I dreamed I was waiting at a bus stop. The bus came and when I got on there were various passengers who all seemed familiar, and I realized there was a seat waiting for me, next to a friend (DM), who was not there but whose raincoat was over her seat. As I sat and talked with people on the bus about my recent time in Alaska and how I was going home (ostensibly to Buffalo then) with very little to show for it because I hadn’t saved much money from working at a crab cannery, first I noticed that some of these people I had met in Alaska… Tlingit Indian friends I had worked with. Then I realized, as they looked at me patiently, hoping I would eventually understand, that this bus was going HOME, not to Buffalo, and it would take as long as it would take.  I woke up. I wanted nothing more in life right then but to go back to that bus that was going Home. So I played Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘Emily’: “Such a dream I had…” over in my mind, and I was back on the bus! This time, all but myself had reached their destination; I was the only passenger left. I said to the Busdriver, “I want to go Home!” Suddenly I was standing in front of a  room with the door slightly ajar. I peered in and saw a small group of people engaged in a deep, esoteric conversation. A woman with a long flowing dress and dark flowing hair came to the door. “Would you mind if I just listened?” I asked. She opened the door widely and beckoned that there was a seat on the couch where people were talking around a table, a seat that was meant for me, but I had to be the one to ask. Next I was seated there while they were engaged deeply in conversation about some spiritual principle. “I hope you will not mind our nudity,” said a man leading the discussion along with the woman who had opened the door for me. (Symbolically, as soon as I woke I would know this meant total openness.) “I can’t participate yet, but okay,” I said. Then, to the woman who seemed so familiar, I said aloud, “OKAY!”

I met that woman from the dream outwardly, two days later at my college cafeteria, and it was directly through her—Laurie and her husband John, who was the man in the dream—that I discovered my spiritual path for this lifetime.

2708-seasonal

As Joseph Campbell might say: “All paths lead Home.” Wherever Home is for you—Heaven or Nirvana or God-Realization or a scientific sense of Truth with a capital T, or simply greater Awareness–, find or hold to your path that will take you there, one that well represents your core values and satisfies your Quest, and follow. Going Home—arriving there ultimately—is the Best ‘Better Ending’ of all!

ocean-picture-1113tm-bkgd-42

******   ******

 

One Thing

Candle 090304 01

Remember Curly (Jack Palance) from City Slickers I? With sage advice, Curly shares with Mitch (Billy Crystal) that the “secret of life” (holding up one forefinger) is “one thing.” But Curly shared this on his last breath and died before he could answer, what is that one thing? Mitch–and the film audience–had to wait for the sequel to learn from Curly’s twin brother Duke what that ‘one thing’ is.

It turns out that the ‘one thing’ is different for everybody. It is “whatever it is for you,” that ONE THING that makes you happy or allows for you to thrive.

Joseph Campbell might call that ‘one thing’ your Bliss. “Follow Your Bliss,” says Campbell in The Power of Myth, meaning for you to pursue that which truly fulfills you and empowers you to achieve your life purpose and manifest your Life Dream.

photo-of-rose-flower-background-1013tm-bkg-913

Establishing one new, good habit or an activity that can propel you toward a goal you might otherwise not pursue would be a positive, “one thing” to do.  Some eight years ago, for example, when I was just beginning to write in earnest about the life mapping process I was already developing then, at a therapy session one day, I reached a breakthrough. I could do one thing to help this project really get rolling; I could find a house sitter for one full month and go for a writing retreat. So, I did. I rented a ski chalet in Steamboat Springs, CO, where every day of the month I started to work on my book and a proposal package at 8 AM and I usually worked far into the evening. I brought with me my elderly, beloved Harlequin calico cat, Ariel.

It was wonderful. I set up the computer at a wooden kitchen table facing an alcove window looking out above an ocean of Ponderosa pine treetops. I had plenty of peace and quiet. I drafted the basis of several chapters that would, over time, develop into Life Paths, a book I aim to begin marketing with an agent this summer.  It was that “one thing”–something I needed to commit to and invest some money in, a writing retreat–that firmly established my feet and heart on a path I have continued to follow ever since.

So, what is your “one thing”? What can you do that is outside your normal “box” (remember though, “There is no box”); something that could move you in the direction of your Bliss?

Joseph Campbell spoke of Bliss on one hand and also Dragons, on the other. Your Dragons might be “threshold guardians”. Your Dragons might prevent you from taking an action that could help you manifest your goals, either from fear or a lack of self-confidence.

“It will cost too much to rent a chalet for a whole month;

 Who will take care of my other pets while I am away?”

A Dream that is close to your heart is worth risking your complacency. Go for it! I encourage you to DO YOUR ONE THING! You can plan for it now, and then, Follow Through!

sports_1100012173-1013int

Better Endings to You!

Countering Self-Limiting Beliefs with Better Endings (“Riddikulous!”)

dragons-yin-and-yang-913-692

This week we can apply the principle of Better Endings to transforming self-limiting beliefs and personal myths. What are those beliefs that hold you back from Living Your Dream, Now? Are there any personal myths, or restrictive postulates, that you carry in your mindset about yourself, others, or the world/universe?

Joseph Campbell, the comparative mythologist–many of whose ideas my life mapping approach is operationalizing for everyday heroes–refers to self-limiting postulates as your “Dragons.” To slay (or, tame) your Dragon means in Campbell’s terms that you must identify and confront your limiting beliefs to conquer their illusional hold on your potentials so you can become all that you care to be, do all that you dare to do, express all that you ARE.

I’m a big Harry Potter fan. Dispelling limiting self-talk and negative beliefs reminds me of Remus Lupin‘s lesson to Hogwarts students where they confront “Bogarts” representing  their deepest fears and they counter their force by focusing on positive thoughts and saying, “Riddikulous!” Isn’t that exactly what we are talking about this week? Our limiting beliefs are only mental constructs; think powerfully happy thoughts to dispel their oppressive energy. They have no power greater than your own force of positive affirmation or intention.

A Samuel Taylor Coleridge poetry shard has lodged in me since college days:

Like one that on a lonesome road

Doth walk in fear and dread,

 And having once turned round, moves on,

And turns no more his head,

because he knows a frightful fiend

Doth close behind him tread.

If he turns around (I always remembered the pronoun as feminine until checking sources today), well along down the road, will the dragon-fiend still be there? Applying the Law of Assumption, the monster is no longer there so long as you do not bring it with you; so long as you stop running from it.

Of course, there are deep, shadowy, real tormentors and dire conditions that will not go away just by wishing they might. All conditions have their purpose and if they persist, there are good reasons for their presence in one’s life. Better Endings is not about being Polyannish or wearing rose colored denial glasses. Still, how we respond matters. That’s why Rowling’s “Riddikulous!” resonates for me as such a marvelous, profound ‘spell’. Try it on the worst of scenarios and, like Mary Poppins‘ spoonful of sugar, some light can return that might illuminate an opportunity to grow, to learn, to laugh at our fears and to unfold in awareness. So with that, we cannot lose, see?

As eternal Soul, made of spirit substance or the indestructible, vital life energy of the universe (however we call it), we are greater than any physical or emotional circumstance and we are lighter than any ‘heavy object’ that might attempt to weigh us down or hold us back from manifesting all that we are, the I AM, that you ARE.

A First Principle of Better Endings: Gratitude

 Forest road. Landscape.

The greatest tool we can use for manifesting Better Endings day to day and moment by moment is an attribute of Gratitude. So often, the hairsbreadth difference between a “success” and a “failure”–or, for that matter, between a ‘good’ day or not–is simply the thankfulness we feel about whatever our circumstances might be. Are we home with a cold? How wonderful that the body has given us time away from workaday routines to reflect and repair. Have you lost a job? Okay, granted, with this sort of cloud bank it is harder to find a silver lining. Still, there will be valuable life lessons that will inevitably follow from such a potentially major turning point in life.

Usually once the tension eases around a difficult ordeal, we can look back and be grateful for certain aspects in retrospect. But this is watching our lives unfold in the rear view mirror. Gratitude in the Present Moment is more empowering, right Now, than appreciating what life has brought us in hindsight.

To establish gratitude as a character attribute, an engrained attitude and not just a passing feeling, can be empowering because our attitudes govern our interpretation of facts. In my Life Mapping case studies I have found that two different people can experience the same sort of accident or illness under similar circumstances; yet, one will regard the event as an opportunity to bounce back even stronger than before, while the other might crumble into a prolonged remorse.

Please, there are no judgments here! I am not saying one person is right and the other not for responding to challenges with either gratitude or remorse. Each person’s lessons–and timing–are their own gifts, or burdens. Sometimes we must simply  descend into the depths of an experience before we can resurface and go forward in life. Even in Descent there may be vitality so that perhaps eventually we may come to value and be grateful for even our sadness and remorse.


Booktopia image (by Jung) from Carl Jung’s The Red Book

Carl G. Jung, James Hillman, and Joseph Campbell–three authors who have written from the perspective of Archetypal Psychology–have shown that often Descent is necessary. It can be embraced as a potent, deeply meaningful experience. We can be grateful for the darkness as well as the light. For both can help us to eventually unfold, to Better Endings.

—————————————–

I am adding with this entry a regular Saturday spot: First Principles for manifesting Better Endings. Please feel free to Comment and share what you find helps most to manifest better endings in your life! Also please send your story on Fictional Better Endings, or answer What Are Better Endings to You? for a Guest Blog spot. I look forward to reading and sharing your insights!