Expansion and contraction. The two often go hand in hand.

When we expand, we grow, we hold more, we feel great. But in nature when life expands, it does so organically, testing and pushing the limits of what works.

Inevitably, some piece of the expansion doesn’t work, and it dies off. That’s the contraction.

The contraction is necessary for life to learn where it makes sense to grow, and where it doesn’t. Contractions don’t feel so good, but they are necessary.

You may not be able to enjoy your contractions, but at least know that they are a natural part of life and contractions are often followed by periods of expansion.

Many people have come out against the idea that “it is better to give than to receive.” They put the emphasis on the idea that balance is needed, and we need to receive before we can give.

This is absolutely right. We need to fill up our own cup before we can give to anyone else. When we give from our lack, we cannot truly give what the person needs, and we drain ourselves.

When we give from our over-abundance, then we give with the joy and the energy that both uplifts and delights the receiver.
What we do not see discussed much is the idea of receiving in order to give. That the purpose of filling up our cup is so that we can share our gifts with the world.

It is a small difference in inflection, and one that makes a huge difference.

We can all feel good about receiving when we realize that we have to receive before we can give. If we stop there, then we focus just on the receiving, on filling ourselves up, and forget that the purpose of filling ourselves up is in order to give to others, then we become selfish and instead of living in flow we live in a vault.

How much better does it feel to you when you focus on receiving in order to give? Can you receive more in order to give more? What more would you share if you where receiving more?

Some say that experience is the best teacher. Others say it is the only one.

But what do we learn from our experiences?

Do we use them as lesson to learn how to improve ourselves, or do we use them as reasons why we should be fearful, angry and upset?

Better yet, do we use our experiences to learn more about ourselves and how we should up in the world?

What you have you learned lately about yourself?

What have you learned lately about your relationships with others?

And now that you’ve learned that, what will you do with it?

The world is waiting for you….

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday.

How many days do we dedicate to shopping, giving, doing things for others?

How many days do we set aside just to be with ourselves?

When do we give ourselves the gift of reflection, peace, and rest?

If we allow ourselves, we can always find something to distract us from our internal life, whether it is politics, world events, or disasters.

As we approach the end of the calendar year in the western world, why don’t we take some time to pause and really look at our lives?

Are we happy? Can we find more joy in our lives?

Who do we want to be with more?

What does our heart tell us we should focus on more?

Simple questions. Will you take the time to sit with them and listen to the answers?

It has been said many times that life is filled with pain, but suffering is optional.

When we look around the world it is hard to believe that suffering is optional, yet when we look at suffering in our own lives, we can see that it is based on our response, not on our pain.

We all feel pain at different times. It could be from an injury, from a broken relationship, or from some disease in our bodies, but how we decide to respond to that pain tells the whole story.

Many professional athletes continue to play regardless of the physical pain they feel. Many people who have experienced broken hearts still go out and make new relationships. How do they do it?

It’s all about our relationship to pain, and whether we make it right or wrong. When we make it wrong, that’s where the suffering comes in. When we stop judging the pain and just allow it to be present, we avoid suffering.

Indeed, many times if we just give space to the pain, be present to it, and allow it to teach us whatever lesson it has for us, the pain subsides much faster than when we resist it.

So how do you respond to pain? Is it a lesson or a punishment?

All of the major issues that we face in our lives seem huge to us. Many times they seem too big to solve.

In fact, what we really are dealing with is an issue of perspective. These issues seem so huge because we are so close to them that we do not have a good perspective with which to look at them.

The other aspect of it is that we are looking at the entirety of the issue, instead of breaking it down into the smaller components.

When we look at our finances, our careers, our environment, global political movements, wars, and other large scale issues, we often miss the opportunity to break them down in smaller, bite-sized pieces that we actually can do something about.

No individual may be able to solve the global climate change issue, but we can as individuals, use just a little less energy, throw out a little less garbage, recycle just a little more.

We may not be able to bring peace to entire world over night, but we can be more peaceful ourselves, support in some small ways, efforts to educate instead of fight, and spread our views to those few in our networks that will listen.

Ultimately, it’s not about changing everyone or everything in the world for the world to improve. We just have to change ourselves, in some small fashion, so we move in that direction.

An eight-year-old boy approached an old man in front of a wishing well, looked up into his eyes and asked: “I understand you’re a very wise man. I’d like to know the secret of life.”

The old man looked down at the youngster and replied:

“I’ve thought about that a lot in my lifetime, and the secret can be summed up in four words: The first is to┬áThink. Think about the values you wish to live your life by.

The second is to Believe. Believe in yourself, based on the thinking you’ve done about the values you’re going to live your life by.

The third is to Dream. Dream about the things that can be, based on your belief in yourself and the values you’re going to live by.

The last is to Dare. Dare to make your dreams become reality, based on your belief in yourself and your values.” And with that, Walter E. Disney said to the little boy, “Think, Believe, Dream, and Dare.”
(- by unknown author)
“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

The process of becoming a more conscious human being is a slow, purposeful path. It is not for the faint of heart, or for those who think of it as a hobby. It is much more consuming than any hobby.

The reason why it is such a deliberate choice is that when we make the conscious choice to work on ourselves, to delve into our depths, and really do the great work, it becomes something that spreads throughout our entire life.

You cannot just “be conscious” on weekends or at workshops, it is something we must embody every waking moment of every day. It is an identity, it is who you are. It is not a facade or a character you play.

That means it affects what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. It affects your relationships, your choices around food, lifestyle, and even friends. It becomes a guiding light that illuminates all aspects of your life.

Are you ready? Have you already made the choice? Have you started second guessing yourself about that choice? Are you joyfully dancing down that path or has it caused some disruption in your status quo?

Do not despair, no matter how hard a path it may seem. The light is not at the end of the tunnel, it is actually all around you!

Things get rearranged all the time.

Life moves not just our own paths, but everything around us as we hurdle through space in constant motion.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how well you deal with change?

Are you comfortable with set routines and having everything stay the same, or do you thrive on the unknown quality of change?

Do you like variety, newness and the unexpected, or does it annoy you, bother you, or even frighten you?

The world is changing at an ever increasing rate. How well do you do in a world of constant change?

The evolution of Consciousness is evidenced all around us.

Yes, there are times when it feels like the world is regressing instead of evolving, but that usually happens when we define our focus too narrowly.

The world is more humane than ever before.

Does that mean that there are no people acting inhumanely? Of course not.

The world is more civilized than ever before.

Does that mean that there no brutally uncivilized societies in the world anymore? Of course not.

What it does mean is that we are more aware of what is really going on in the world. We hear about tiny villages in far off countries that were once just the stuff of fairy tales.

Today those villages are real, in full color video where we can see what is going on first hand. And that’s a Good thing!

Awareness is the first step in evolution. The more aware we are of all the issues we face int he world, the more we can change them. And we are. Not all at once, and certainly not over night. It took centuries, if not thousands of years to get this point.

What’s a few more decades to resolve our issues and live in more peaceful, conscious, and aligned planet?