Sunday, July 28, 2013

Do You Believe in Magic?

What is magic? Is it all "abracadabra" and "hocus pocus," or is there something more to it? We often describe childhood as having a magical quality to it and we fondly remember the magic surrounding a first kiss. Once these periods of time pass, sadly, the words "magic" and "magical" are used less often and presumed to have a polar relationship to the word "adult." Magic is actually a real and integral part of both life and health for kids and adults alike, and it surrounds each of us---if we pay attention to it.

I recently had the opportunity to go see a Huey Lewis and the News concert and undeniably, the adults in the audience were re-experiencing the magic they had felt during their childhoods and teenage years. As most of you probably know, Huey Lewis and the News are a San Francisco-based American band with a unique and catchy style of music that is a genre unto itself.

Their music not only captures the pizzazz of the decade during which their songs played regularly on the radio (the 1980's), but it embodies the thrum and energy of life and magic itself. How could I gauge this? Half of the audience was younger and attending their first Huey Lewis and the News concert. Though times have changed since the 80's, people continue to be attracted to music that captures life and youthful magic the way that Huey's songs do. If you're interested, check out their music!

Have you ever heard a song, read a book, or watched a movie that instantly transports you back to a time when you remember magic swirling around you? If so, how does it make you feel when this happens? For many, the immediate euphoric sensation may come with a twinge of sadness or nostalgia afterward. It can be bitter-sweet to remember times that felt more innocent and unburdened such as those felt during youth. When we're young, the world feels open and new like an unexplored gift. Though music and other forms of art can capture these memories and their magical quality, we quickly realize that there's no way to go back in time.

You know what, though? That's okay. There is no need to go back in time to have magic and innocence present in your life. Time has a forward progression, and that's the way it's meant to be. But that doesn't mean that life will rob you of magic simply because you can't go back in time or because you're an adult! You are where you are, and you are who you are---and there's a real-time sense of magic accessible to you right now. It's not exactly the same magic you felt during childhood, but it's true for you today.

Life can feel hectic and busy to the point where each of us ignores or rejects the magic that already exists for us. When you're momentarily jarred from reality by something touching such as magical music, it may not simply be due to nostalgia for the past. The strong emotions may be triggered by the magic that you're missing in your life today. Magic helps us stay true to who we are as individuals, promotes health and vitality, and inspires awe about the human spirit and the world we live in. What would a world without magic feel like?

This week, challenge yourself to kindle the magic that is natural to you and your life. What areas of your life could benefit from a healthy dose of magic and awe?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Catching Currents in Health and Life

Have you ever watched while a bird catches a current of wind to get where it wants to go? In one swift movement, the bird's wings can glide from one current to the next, just by naturally following the direction of the wind. The bird will swoop to the left and then way over to the right, without the changes in speed or direction looking forced or unnatural.

Even while we as humans do not have wings, we can still catch the metaphoric wind currents in our own lives to help us get where we want to go. Human nature, especially in the form of stuck thoughts, tends to dictate that change needs to be forced and that we have to make it happen. A gung-ho attitude in life is not a bad thing. However, there are places in each of our lives where we can afford to take a step back from deliberate or forceful measures in order to catch an existing current of flow and movement that is already in place.

Can you think of situations in your life lately where you have felt stuck trying, waiting, struggling, suffering, banging your head, and begging life to do what you're asking it to do? You may not feel like you're taking flight in this area. Take a deep breath, Take a step back in your mind, and Imagine yourself flying like a bird. Your wings have felt locked in place with one fixed idea or thought pattern. Now that you're free of that, you're rising, gliding, and dancing on currents of air that you can't exactly see---but you can feel. Do you feel the buoyancy, as you imagine this scenario?

When you want to go left, the wind supports your flight there. When you want to change direction, your wings find nearby currents to help your flight. When you want to hover for a short time in one spot, you can rest there until a new current comes along that you feel like catching. You are still flying on your own, but the existing currents are helping you take the path of least resistance where possible.

It's okay to catch currents once in a while to get where you want to go---even if you don't know exactly where you're going yet. The bird shows us how satisfying, and how deceptively productive it is to catch airflow and movement that's already happening around you. Whether it's in the area of your health, relationships, career, family, or whatever situation is unique to you at the moment, a natural current can help you get where you want to go. Even without actual wings, we humans can experience the buoyancy, lift, and gliding that birds experience. You just have to be open to catching the currents around you.

This week, observe the currents swirling around you and see which ones you feel like riding!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Be "The Best," or Best at What You Do?

There comes a time when you're cultivating a new skill, an art, a business, a talent, or just about anything where you're standing at a distinct crossroads. One metaphoric road sign reads "Be the Very Best." The cross street is marked with a sign that bears a resemblance to the first one, but represents something entirely different. That sign says "Be the Best at What You Do." As you stand there, many conflicted feelings may flow through you. You start to wonder what "The Best" means to you.

From a young age, we're often generically taught to be the very best. Whether you're learning to play the flute, dancing, playing a sport, going through grad school, or applying for a job (the list goes on), a repetitive message may knock at your brain cells. It says, "Not good enough---strive to be the best!" What was once enthusiasm for going for what you want can turn into confusion and discouragement. "What is the best," you wonder, "and how can I possibly achieve a status that, by definition, seems reserved for one person?"

In reality, the idea of the best always begs an answer of who out there is better than you and who is worse than you. Rather than a focus on your own unique skill and talent set, "the very best" implies that your inherent value is absent without this comparison. It stresses recognition rather than self-satisfaction, perfection over practice, an ideal rather than realistic expectations. It asks you to be things that you are not.

The sign that reads "Be the Best at What You Do" is far more meaningful to who you are. What do you do? Naturally, you gravitate toward certain talents and ways of using these talents that are unique to you. When you work toward being the best at what you do, you can actually focus on what you're really capable of. It doesn't matter what the person sitting next to you or across from you is doing. They can't possibly be the best at what you do, because they're not you. And vice versa. While the message of being the best points everywhere else, the act of being the best at what you do points exclusively to you.

Being the best at what you do is a challenging journey, and it takes courage. It's not always easy to shut out words from the outside that are directly or indirectly telling you how you should see your work and your worth. It is, however, a very rewarding experience to taste and keep nurturing your own unique potential. You will probably stumble across aspects of your talents that you didn't realize existed. You can surprise yourself and be proud of what you accomplish, even if: 1) no one is looking and nodding in agreement, or 2) people are shaking their heads in disapproval.

When in your life have you felt the sweep of energy from knowing that you did something your way, and that it was good enough the way you chose to do it? When did you last taste the sensation of doing or creating something that surprised you and opened your eyes to new doors? If the words "The Best" have been knocking too painfully on your brain lately, open your brain cells and say, "No thank you." Instead, invite over thoughts that encourage the unique nature and journey of being the best at what you do.

If you're standing at these crossroads right now somewhere in your life, look both ways and go in the direction no one has yet traveled. The road that is reserved for you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

History Repeats? Move on to Your Next Adventure

Have you ever faced a challenge, a conflict, or some other difficult situation in the present that already feels very familiar to you...almost as if you've encountered it in some other form before? Perhaps in your past...

You might have wondered why this type of situation keeps returning for you. Maybe it's a work-related challenge, a tiff with a friend or family member, or a personal obstacle such as passing a test or reaching a goal or dream. Whatever the case, you may wonder, "How do I keep attracting reflections of my past?" Your new challenge may mimic your past one so closely, that it seems beyond coincidence. How do you face what's in front of your eyes without precisely reenacting the events that came before it?

We've all heard the phrase "History repeats itself." It's true that when you're faced with a challenge in the present that resembles one from your past, that there is a chance of history repeating itself. Your mind may even convince you that you'll inevitably meet the same fate as you did before. On top of that, the conclusion from your past may have been disappointing or upsetting, leading you to believe that the new situation will end in disappointment too. What do you do with this echo from the past?

Don't worry---you don't need a time machine to travel back to the past and correct things in order to meet your present challenge. Your new situation can be a gem in that it presents a new learning opportunity to help you grow and expand your horizons. How? Life tends to present us with challenges that are familiar to us as an opportunity to try it again. Life doesn't always expect you to get it all right the first time. It is how you take advantage of these refreshed opportunities that makes all the difference.

The next time you're faced with a challenge that closely resembles one from your past, remember that you've been living life in between these two events. You're the same person, but you're also an individual who has life experience with which to learn and grow from. How are you going to use what you learned in the interim to face what you're going through now?

Next, don't get caught up in chastising yourself for the decisions you made in the past. If there is a major contributor to history in fact repeating itself, it closely involves this unhelpful mindset. Trust yourself enough to recognize that had you known then what you know now, you may have done it differently---or might not have. The point is, it's impossible to know and it doesn't matter right now for your current situation. Given what you've been through so far, how will you handle things today?

Finally, try to be honest with yourself and admit that repeating circumstances have kept presenting themselves over and over again to you. What are they asking you to pay attention to, work on, or move on from? Try and detect where these challenges are trying to nudge your future, so that history doesn't have to repeat itself any longer.

Just as there is an innate intelligence to your body and your health, there is also an intelligence in the challenges that you face. Instead of posting a label on your forehead that reads "History Repeats Itself," tear that label off and try something new. If you get in touch with your individual experience and insight, your growth, and the unique lessons you've learned, these clues will lead you in the right direction more than a page-by-page reading of your history and past will.

This week, ask yourself, how can you derail history from repeating itself---so that you can move on to your new and excellent adventure?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independent You!

Every 4th of July, the air is filled with a lightness of being and an exciting buzz as we all get together to celebrate Independence Day. Signs of celebration surround almost every corner as we think of freedom, yet we are also reminded of the strength and courage that it takes to uphold freedom in the face of challenges that come along in life. We are joined by many others while watching fireworks, but the independence represented by this day is also felt on a very individual level. Each of us is unique, and each person manifests independence in a unique way. What does independence mean to you?

Achieving the health that you want in life and shooting for your dreams involves independence on a very personal level. It takes asking yourself what is most important to you, knowing you will back yourself no matter what happens, and---remembering that you exist. Many things in life can tempt you to pull away from yourself, whether it be stress, work, social pressures, or just about anything. When this outside pressure presents, you know it and feel it on some level, but it takes honesty to face it. It can't be underestimated, in the face of life pressures, the courage that it takes to uphold existence itself.

What does it mean to exist? That isn't a question someone else can answer for you. When times get tough, you can dig deep to find out what you're really made of, and that is a loud gesture of how you exist. But even day to day, the act of upholding individual existence helps you face challenges that will inevitably arise on your unique path. On the level of health, remembering that your body exists and paying attention to it no matter what happens externally is a big part of preventive medicine. When you stay in tune with your body and pay attention to what it's going through, you'll be more than half way toward your optimal health!

Each of us has a unique vibe, and this vibe can echo as strongly as the reverberation of fireworks. You just have to pay attention to it. What does your body say, what does your mind tell you, and what does your gut feeling spell out is right for you? This is real independence. It starts with an individual, and it ends with an individual.

After the fireworks have left a soft haze and buzzy quiet in the air, ask yourself how you'll exercise your own independence this week. Which parts of your life have been waiting for a dose of independence? Which parts of your health have been asking for it? And where in your own independent life will you erect a flag to say: I came, I saw, and I conquered my own challenges?

Happy 4th of July!