The Best Advice I’ve Ever Given

My husband is a smart man. He often asks my advice.  ~ Smart right? Other times he is quite clear he doesn’t want my advice. ~ I told you he was smart.

A while ago he asked me what I thought he should do about a particular situation. Rather than give him my advice, I asked him a question:

What would you do if you were the man you want to be?

He got quiet. He breathed. The answer was right there. He knew what to do.

You see the person you most want to be is already who you are … at your core. The real you, the best you, is already inside you, patiently waiting for your attention.

Conditioned behaviour keeps all of us from accessing our true selves from time to time. Fear drives us outside ourselves for answers. We want to fit in, get ahead and please others. We’re in constant pursuit, acquiring and consuming, to overcome our belief that we are not enough.

But there is a way through the madness and confusion of it all, and the way to get through is to go in.

When faced with a choice, try this:

  • Feel your feet on the ground. (Really, bring your attention to the place where you connect with the earth.)
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply into your body for a few breaths.
  • Then ask yourself:

What would I do if I was the person I really want to be?

Your mind will want to analyze and judge conflicting ideas, presenting cases for and against each one. That’s the mind’s job. It needs to rationalize. Let each thought come and go.

Bring your focus back to your breath. Feel your answer. With enough practice you’ll start to feel who you really are. And you’ll know what to do.

photo by Cheryl Kaufman. drawing by her favourite five year old.

Increase your Capacity for Joy

It was one of those days when I woke up feeling fantastic. Nothing in my body hurt, my energy was good. I was grateful for so much in my life. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day. Dolphins greeted me on my beach walk.

Then my husband got some great news about a project he’s been working on for many years. I happy danced my way through the morning. That afternoon a client had an amazing breakthrough of a pattern that had been holding her back. I was so excited I could barely contain it.

After getting my notes out to my client I went Home Depot. It’s rare in my life that I have to drive, but I had to use the car for this errand. While driving to HD I was overwhelmed with a craving for chocolate chip cookies. Not just warm, chewy, fresh baked goodness. Any crappy store bought junk would be my fix. I fantasized about eating a whole bag.

As soon as I noticed this craving I breathed deeply and slowly. Then I became curious about the addictive monster threatening to take over my body and mind, on a day when things were going so well. And that’s when it hit me. I had maxed out my capacity for joy. I was holding it in as best I could, but something had to give. I was a dam about to burst. A good dose of sugar would have taken me higher, making me feel like a superhero, invincible. The craving came from an internal cry – “Gimme more… gimme more.” But that kind of high is the booby prize, a poor substitute for divine pleasure, and it’s always followed by a crash.

You see sugar does a real number on me. I’ll spare you the details but trust me that it ain’t pretty. It wrecks my body… for days. By craving sugar my body was unconsciously bringing me back down from the high I was on. A high that I couldn’t sustain. If I’d followed through on that craving I’d have soared like Icarus only to crash and burn ~ in bed for a few days, depleted, sick and sore.

Instead I witnessed what was going on and stopped myself. I got out of the car, planted my feet on the ground and started breathing deeply. By grounding myself I allowed all the good feelings to flow through my body. As I did this the craving for sugar completely disappeared, effortlessly. I wasn’t even thinking about cookies. I was just grounding and breathing, and the craving vanished. I felt myself get bigger, not physically, but energetically. Grounding and breathing had increased my capacity for joy. I could contain all the goodness of this day, let it flow through me and make room for more.

Later that evening I had a wonderful visit with a friend. I was elated. I noticed the energy building inside and I let it express itself. I danced around, letting this joy move my body. It was easy and took only a few minutes. Throughout the day I’d been riding the waves of joy, with a near crash safely averted, living to surf another day.

This all happened quite naturally because I’ve been moving energy through my body for years, I’ve been listening to the signals of my body the way one might listen at the feet of a guru. I have been willing to be too loud, too angry, too quiet, too much, to honour my authentic self.  I still make mistakes, override my body’s wisdom and find myself in old patterns, but when I have experiences like this I want to share them with you so that you can learn from my mistakes and lessons and have a more pleasurable ride.

Four Steps to Increase your Capacity for Joy. 

1. Ground yourself. Though it seems counter-intuitive, you’ll soar higher by dropping into the ground. Your connection to the earth will expand your capacity for all feeling, including joy.

2. Breathe. Breathe deeply, slowly and easily. As you breathe your body relaxes. Breathing enables you to feel your feelings. Breathing brings you out of your head, the future, the past and into the present where Joy resides.

(I feel so strongly about breathing and grounding that they are the first practices of Pleasure As a Spiritual Path.)

3. Be aware of your body.  For years I was disconnected from my body. I was happy enough but I couldn’t sustain true joy. We have to drop back in to our skin to increase our capacity. Start by noticing sensations. You don’t have to understand them or create a story to go with them. Just start by noticing ~ tightness, quickness, buzzing, pulsing, expansion, contraction ~ what is happening inside you. Stop reading right now and just notice what’s going on in your body.

4. Allow emotions and energies to move through your body. Not just the happy dances of joy, but the punching and raging of anger and hurt, the sobbing and trembling of sorrow and grief. 

Here’s to your joy ~ ever increasing, expanding and touching us all!