Love

Today's Word: 6.09.14...Even When You Can't See The Path, Begin Walking!

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I think about some of the most incredible moments in my life, I must say that I do not know where I would be without faith.

Whether it has been packing my things and moving to New York when I felt my spiritual and creative development being stifled in my previous environment or taking on a role as a leader in a previously failing school, being able to say yes even when fear was yelling "hell no," has not only opened my mind to the infinite possibilities in this life, but it has allowed me to discover the courage that exists within me.

Some of the greatest moments in your life will come simply because you will have the courage to begin walking without knowing where the path may lead.

Wednesday, 6/4/14...Deepen Your Relationships By Being Honest

“Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.”-Sam Harris

We're all guilty of it. No matter who you are, even when it has been simple and innocent, you have lied. We lie for many reasons, some of which are scientific. Researchers recently discovered that we are less likely to demonstrate integrity as the day progresses because our self-control diminishes over time. Whatever the reason (guilt, shame, or fear), when we lie we miss an opportunity to deepen our relationships with ourselves and others.

For myself, I know that there have been times when I have lied because I was afraid of how my truth might impact someone else. Though I now understand that in many ways, I lied because I was afraid of how others might see me. At this stage in my life, I am striving to be myself in every relationship and that requires me to lean into the discomfort of my truth as opposed to running away from it.

If we want more authentic relationships, we have to be willing to tell the truth not "even when", but especially when it is difficult.

Sitting In Silence & Listening

"When I remember to sit in absolute silence, I hear great things." -Dymir 

My first experience with meditation came in my senior year of high school. My principal, Mr. Palatucci, selected several students to be members of a leadership development program he ran and I was honored to be one of his pupils.

In the spirit of cultivating leadership, we studied a variety of executive skills such as planning and effective communication, but the most powerful lessons came in moments when we were forced to turn inward and think more critically about who we were in the world and what power we possessed both individually and collectively.

I remember being asked to close my eyes one day during class when Mr. P was discussing the power of meditation and reflection. My peers and I sat in a dimply lit classroom and under the direction of his carefully orchestrated words, we were transported into a world of calm energy; a state in which I felt at total peace.

It was as if I had discovered some hidden energy within myself that had always been there but from which I had always been distracted.Meditation is now a part of my daily rituals and it has served me well in some of the most challenging moments in my life.

What I love most about my practice now as an adult, is that I have grown into a sense of comfort with listening in silence. I sit in a comfortable wooden chair in my living room before the sun rises and I listen, with an open heart, to what the universe has to offer. Words and stories come to me  and I am made  aware of my role, my responsibility to share them with others, for they are not my own.

The moment when you realize that there is great power in silence is the moment when you realize how much time and effort you've wasted on distractions on your journey toward understanding who you are and what purpose you serve. It is the moment when you embrace the tremendous power that exists within you and you decide to become who you were always meant to be: a powerful source of energy, divinely created for a unique purpose.

Happy Listening,

Dymir

I Knew You When...

There are points of pain to which you must become accustomed if you desire to live with an open mind and an open heart. Despite these points, if you have the required faith in love, you will never forget the value of dreaming regardless of what nightmares may come and they will come, in many forms, like unrequited love, affection given without being earned, and sacrifices made for those who know not of sacrifice. Over the years I have left the door of my heart open or at least cracked and every so often, some damaged and discouraged creature of beauty has crept in searching for nourishment, searching for an opportunity to speak its truth without the fear of judgment.

At first I cared, perhaps too much, lavishing weakened muscles barely gripping bones, with affection and encouragement hoping that once restored and renewed, an unfamiliar guest would become a familiar fixture, transcending time, growing beside me as love propelled us forward outweighing fear enough for the trajectories of our desires to intersect like rivers flowing into one united waterfall until all distinctions became undetectable…

But I have learned that even the most broken creatures begin to dream of flying and running into the wild when they forget what it feels like to crawl and remember how to walk.

Too many nights had passed before I grew to see the patterns of my love like undiscovered constellations. Alone, partially by choice, in the most silent silence, I could feel time stop and suddenly I felt an unknown body beside me, a body of secrets forgotten; grievances untold; trespasses too readily forgiven. There I was face to face with the truth of my addiction to fixing other people. I had been wrapping myself in other people’s problems so that I would not have to see my own and when there was nothing there to distract me, I crashed into my own truth, unable to take another breath without opening my eyes to see my own pathology.

Now as I stand firm on a mountain of love for myself only second to the love and adoration, I have for my creator I can see the pain of my previous tribe, a nation of souls fixated on saving everyone but themselves. Those souls, fearful of seeing their beauty, their brilliance, churn around in a cycle of misfortune with glimpses of hope, until they fall to the bottom of an imaginary world where they can convince others to love them, where the broken bodies they find will grow to appreciate their nourishment, where they will be rewarded for accepting less than they deserve.

They will become bent to the point of almost breaking just before they too will realize that the narratives they have created enslave them to the point that being in the presence of anyone but themselves is more desirable than true emotional and spiritual freedom.

To those souls who are still fixed on loving others back to life, while they remain broken and are ultimately left to stand alone, my heart does pray for a much needed awakening… I too know what it is like to sing “I knew you when you needed me” again and again. Today I sing, I knew you when I was afraid to know myself.

Avoiding Negativity... Protecting Your Energy and Well-Being

As human beings we have a natural need for attaching ourselves to other people and that need to connect can lead to beautiful bonds. I know that the people I’ve allowed into my life seek to lift me up and to grow along with me. In my time, I’ve learned that healthy relationships are innately reciprocal and that does not mean that there is some disingenuous barter system at play, but rather a natural inclination to elevate one another. Recognizing the core of what healthy relationships should be gives us the insight needed to point out when a negative influence has infiltrated.

We all have stories of so called friends violating our trust, family members who are comfortable taking from us without consideration, and love interests who acted selfishly. Perhaps what is most disturbing are the stories of times we’ve reveled in our own self-defeating attitudes. These negative experiences are an unfortunate part of the path to self-discovery. However, there is a difference between understanding the negativity you’ve experienced and inviting that negativity into your life repeatedly. I have been guilty of keeping the company of people who were not looking after my best interests. There are those who seem to have an unending reserve of unsolicited criticism to offer with regard to every aspect of your life and they see themselves as kind enough to share it.

Emotional vampires, Debbie Downers, toxic friends, external negative influences go by many names and removing them is essential to your emotional and spiritual survival. People who have not opened themselves up to the possibilities of life are limited and they have a limited perspective, but they are still human and desire the same kinds of bonds.

The difficulty arises when a person bound by limitation attempts to bond with a free-spirit which can begin a cycle of parasitic negativity. To illustrate why this kind of relationship doesn’t work, imagine you can fly and have always known this to be true, but your new friend only believes in walking. This person berates you anytime you mention flying until either you no longer believe you can fly or you invite this person out of your life.

Negative emotions operate like a virus; they cannot coexist with a stable and whole spirit and must infect it to thrive otherwise the host (the person or influencer) must confront the limitations they have placed on themselves.

Of course there is the third option of the negative person coming to their senses and seeing the light, but that is not a burden recommended for anyone to take on. It’s important to recognize caring about people does not mean taking on their emotional baggage. You’ve got your own and it’s heavy.

Negativity isn’t something that is strictly external either; it can often be self-inflicted and self-sustaining. It would be fantastic if there were a cure for self-deprecation, but the best advice I ever received in terms of my own confidence issues was “fake it until it’s true.” Keeping this advice in context is crucial. I was not confident in my intelligence or my looks and that doubt carried over into how I treated myself and other people. I took my studies less seriously and allowed myself to be used by anyone who would have me, just because they would pay me a compliment and I was still no happier.

I silenced the internal critic in my head with a rebuttal for every negative thing he had to say about me, and eventually he went from a booming voice of self-pity to a whisper of uncertainty and eventually faded into the figment of my imagination that he’d always been.

Negativity takes many forms, it’s a dynamic creature that like a virus will fight tooth and nail to survive and take root within you. The hosts of negativity are never the same for anyone, but recognizing it and your own value will keep your emotional immunity up, like vitamin C for your aura.

Written By Taj Shareef,

Contributor and Thought-Partner

Loving Ourselves Completely...

Last week, while meeting with several college students who are all interested in becoming educators, I found myself laughing a bit when one guest asked me how I dealt with "bad" students during my time in the classroom. Three years ago, I probably would have responded by talking about behavior management systems and understanding the personal interests and triggers of students, but today I'm often amused by the attempts we make to categorize children as good or bad based on their actions and our personal or institutional standards. In education, religion, politics and daily life, we are taught to take in information about the beliefs and actions of others and depending on our personal values we paint pictures of those we assess as good or bad people. Interestingly enough, as I continue to grow and evaluate the deep internal workings of my own mind and heart, I've discovered that the person we often judge most harshly is the one we see in the mirror.

I have been guilty of allowing external standards to influence the way I see myself. I have a pretty clear understanding of who I am when I am operating at my highest level of self, but there are clear inconsistencies between my actions and my ideals at times. I hate being late but I'm no stranger to being tardy or showing up to an event just in time. I'm often perceived as calm and even-tempered, but there are times when I become angry and have to find my way back to peace.

In those moments when my actions haven't been aligned with my personal standards, I've come to realize just how incredibly multifaceted I am. I've come to understand that there are many little parts and contradictory pieces that make me who I am. When I'm making tough decisions, I can hear conflicting thoughts and I know that all of the voices that speak belong to me and I've learned to appreciate them all.

It is true, that as we become wiser, we learn to listen more carefully to those voices that align best with who we aspire to be, but it doesn't mean we are immune to jealousy, insecurity, greed, anger, sadness, depression, fear and all of the other emotions that come with a full human experience.

I've learned not to punish myself when I identify the "bad" within me, but simply to hear it or touch it where it is, recognizing its presence before deciding to return to a path toward healing, inner peace and success. Even when I make a decision I ultimately consider to be a poor one, I now understand that failing does not make me a failure.

Five weeks from now I will be 26 years old and I know that I have made many mistakes and I'll likely make more, but I also know that each and every year I learn to love me more and that means loving all of me, just as I am.

We are not meant to live in fear or pain because of our imperfections. In many ways, we are designed to be imperfect beings. The task isn't to suppress the "bad" as we ultimately see it and hide it under the carpet pretending it doesn't exist, the task is to see the "bad" and the "good" as both authentic components of the human experience and to love ourselves completely regardless.