Category Archives: Purpose

What is Soulful Detox?

“We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths, but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues, and our bodies is also food. The conversations going on around us, and those we participate in, are also food. Are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us grow?”
-Thich Nhat Hanh

If thoughts, behaviors, perceptions, and experiences are food, what kind of “food” do you feed your mind/heart/soul? What thoughts do you have? Do they help you grow or do they hinder your growth? Do they give you inner peace or cause you stress?

While we wish to put the huge responsibility on others outside of us, we are responsible for taking care of our “soul” the best we can. How? By being selective of what we put in or allow into our mind and body, and by being mindful of what we are neglecting when we don’t take care of your soul.

When we are born, we were given a body to house our soul. The body carries us physically, but our soul is like a priceless tool that helps us navigate our way through life.

As we navigate our way through all these experiences, however, we will inevitable experience  both the things we LOVE as well as the things we don’t- the things that bring us comfort as well as those that cause us much discomfort. That’s life. That is the human experience.

There are those who try to take just the good and escape the “bad”. Some people use alcohol or drugs, while some people do other things like shopping, eating, compulsive sexual behavior, codependency, overworking, violence, etc. But as long as we are alive, there is only one thing that we are guaranteed, which is that life will always change. We can take it and run with it, or we can sit and pout.

When I founded Soulful Detox, my intention was to simply share my experiences and how I either overcame adversity and where I still struggle. Soulful Detox was me just trying to get to know that “soul” inside and the daily little toxins (resentment, control fear, etc.) that slip in. This journey, which I hope you will join, is simply a place where we learn how to detoxify so that we can live a more empowering, loving, meaning and fulfilling life.

Keeping One Foot On the Ground and One Foot In the Sky

footinthesky

A few weeks back I had, what turned out to be a very inspirational 2-hour lunch with my very good friend and ex-colleague. We met with the intention of catching up and talking about my new career goals, but what I got from it was something more profound and unexpected. I’ve always seen this friend of mine as successful, so naturally I respected every word she said. When we think so highly of someone’s ideas, sometimes we tend to think that everyone else feels the same way. I forgot how it all came together, but we were talking about how in search for our “higher self” it’s common to meet people that just “don’t get it” (or simply, people who don’t see things the way we do, don’t believe what we believe, or don’t think the way we think). She casually mentioned how her husband, for example, wouldn’t have a clue what we were talking about because his brain “just doesn’t work that way” and that was fine. I was surprised because I had just assumed that because they seemed like such a tight loving family that she and her hubby agreed on everything. Nope!

It got me thinking… Often, when we set ourselves on a mission to better ourselves, or reconnect with our higher selves, we run into people that get excited about what we are doing and saying. We connect with them. They’re just like us! So we like them! We get so “high” on this new found “self” because we are surrounded by people that reinforce our beliefs. In a sense, we’ve got our heads in the sky, and that is a very fun place to be! So we keep following this path, because who wants to be around people that “just don’t get it”? But in this process… we forget where we came from. We bump into someone who doesn’t agree with us, or who has a different view on life and almost like a protective mechanism, we clam up and divide ourselves between “them” and “us” and this division destroys the very core of what we are – human beings.

I recently almost fell into a blind state in which I was very happy with nearly every aspect of my relationship with my significant other…except that we didn’t share the same amount of passion for this “spirituality” and I noticed instead of me growing into a better person and better partner, I was allowing that difference to come between myself and one seriously amazing man- who, coincidentally, is far more “grounded” than I am. That was when it hit me… WTF am I doing? What is this damned spirituality doing to me and my connection to other humans? And how the heck can I keep grounded in both “worlds”?

After 33 years of life, I think I’ve come to accept that there are nearly as many different beliefs about life as there are people in this world. If there are 7 billion people on this Earth, then that is a LOT of differences. That means that given I have this pretty amazing man, maybe our differences are not only normal but a blessing… Common sense, right? But in a heated debate, who actually remembers that it’s ok to be different? I know I have failed at that and was ready to call it quits because for a second I was stupid enough to believe that he had to think like me in order for us to be happy… Ouch…

I’m getting side-tracked. Back to what I was trying to say. Anyway…

I’m absolutely moved by the French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. One of his most profound quotes, in my opinion was,

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Again, this doesn’t have to ring true for everyone, but it does for me. And IF I choose for this to be true to me, then what am I doing with my life? What am I living for? I spend so much time and energy with my own personal improvement and growth, that I almost neglect that which keeps me grounded to this Earth in which my purpose is. I almost forget that strife became my strength. Loneliness became my appreciation for people and solid sense of Self. Coldness became my appreciation for warmth. All these experiences were like waves rushing in and out of my life. Some of the waves were bigger than others. Some of them were disastrous and humiliating. But all of them served a grand purpose- to make me a better swimmer (or surfer…whatever). And that’s precisely why we gotta stay grounded. That’s why we gotta keep one foot on the ground but one in the sky. Because that “sky” is our faith. It’s faith that is going to get us through, and our being grounded that is going to keep us connected to all those blessings that are so cleverly disguised as “problems”.  Everyone copes differently. I do it by meditating.
Meditation, schmeditation…

Some people think meditation is some kind of spiritual state of being in which you check out of Earth and transport to woo-woo lala land and never go back. Some people believe that meditation means that you don’t have any thoughts or feelings, or even that you have to be in some kind of silent state of being for an extended amount of time. Honestly, I don’t think it really matters what anyone thinks it is. If you are doing “meditation” in your own way and it’s working, that’s awesome.

My feeling is, if we are spiritual beings having a human experience, then why try to pretend that none of this “human experience crap” is happening? I was reminded that I am nothing without this physical world. Yup, even that jerk that is out there simply to be a jerk. My mission is not in the sky, not in some spiritual awakened state of being, it is being fully present in what, where, and who I am at this very moment. It is not getting distracted by the waves but finding and maintaining the connection to those around me (even the ones I don’t like), seeing them as part of this mission, part of The Plan.

What plan?

Last year I read a book, “Everyday Enlightenment” by Dan Millman. He stated, “What good does it do to pray like a saint or meditate like a yogi if we are unchanged when we open our eyes? What good does it do to attend a place of worship on Saturday or Sunday if we lack compassion on Monday?”

Maybe The Plan is really that simple- to see every day as my “place of worship”. To see every person, every moment as a chance to develop myself, to explore myself, to understand myself, to know myself, to LOVE myself. Maybe just learning how to be in that moment- every single moment of my life- is all I need. I don’t need to piss and moan about it. I don’t need to judge it as good or bad. All I need is to remember and have faith that every single moment of every single day of my life  is just as it should be.

“Faith is the courage to live your life as if everything that happens does so for your highest good and learning. Like it or not.” -Dan Millman

The problem, is that we get distracted, or bored and we set out on this journey looking for answers, looking for an escape, looking for something better, as if we are missing something, as if our lives are somehow incomplete, when actually what we need is right in front of us.

There’s this great Hindu proverb that explains the three great mysteries in life: Air to a bird, water to a fish, and mankind to a man. Often, we forget who we are, and what we are here for because we get so carried away with other things. We start to define ourselves by what is going on around us.

For example, when I was going through my divorce and custody battle, I saw every day as a war zone. It was fight or be killed. Anything I said was rejected. I began to determine that I would never escape from this madness. I was doomed till death in having to deal with this endless hell.
“Maybe I should just give up…” I thought. “Maybe this isn’t my battle.” I spiraled into a negative place of hopelessness. I felt my soul, my passion for life, my faith in humanity had been ripped from my body. But then I remembered, that this wave is not out to destroy me. This wave (or should I say, massive tsunami) is here for something greater, and as much as I want it to disappear, I need to get back to Me.

Maybe meditation is simply calming down those distracting thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of need, greed, anger, resentment, or boredom, and checking back in with yourself. For me, I don’t meditate to “be inspired” or to “find the answer” but come to a calm state, where there is nothing going on (no judging, no activity) because it is only then that I can really see what is going on and it is only then that it is quite clear what I need to do.

And this is meditation’s purpose- to reset ourselves. To put ourselves back into a level of clarity in which we can see things more clearly. That place in which we see the blessings and opportunities.

If we are to progress as humans we must shift with the changes and all that BS that pops up along the way, unfortunately is our little reminder of how far we have come and how far we have to go.

Going back to Dan Millman’s quote about faith, if everything that happens is for your highest good, then I supposed the situations that keep recurring are not punishments but God’s small way of saying, “try again! You can do it!”

This way of thinking may not work for everyone, and I always say “do what makes sense to you.” But for me, for now, it makes for a truly fulfilling, resourceful, resilient and productive life. After all, life is just a bunch of choices being thrown at us moment by moment, day by day. It’s all a choice. It’s that simple.

 

What’s My Purpose? And Why Do All These Obstacles Keep Getting In My Way!?

About one year ago I came across a story by Neale Donald Walsch (author of Conversations with God) called “The Little Soul and The Sun”. I hadn’t thought about it since, but in a recent “I Am” meditation, I spoke the words “I am compassion” (Honestly, sometimes I feel like what I say is just wishful thinking, but the whole point of the I Am Meditation is to feel more aligned and connected to your higher self). The moment I said those words, I was reminded about The Little Soul and The Sun. If you haven’t read/listened to this story, I highly recommend it.

The Little Soul and The Sun is basically about a little soul that ponders who he is and what his purpose is. The little soul finds out that he is “light” but remains curious and presses God for more answers. Excited with his new found identity, the soul asks God if he can now “be the light and feel what it is like to be light.”

God responds “You are like a candle in the Sun. You are there, along with a million other candles that make up the Sun. And the Sun would not be the Sun without you. So how to know yourself as Light when you are among the Light? Since you cannot see yourself as the Light, I will surround you with darkness.”

The Little Soul asks “What is darkness?” And God replies, “It is that which you are not.”

God reminds the Little Soul, “When you are surrounded with darkness, do not shake your first and raise your voice and curse the darkness. Rather, be a Light unto the darkness, and don’t be mad about it. Then you will know who you really are, and all others will know too.”

In the end, the Little Soul exclaims to God that he wants to be special by being Forgiving as well. And so it was… he was given a life in which he had to learn forgiveness by experiencing times in which he had to forgive.

The story is a tear-jerker but really got me thinking about my own life and my own unpleasant experiences. Who am I? What is my purpose? If we are all from God, and God is Light, then the Light that I am might be compassion.

Well… It might be a bunch of things. But the word Compassion hit a soft spot in my heart as I was doing my I Am Meditation. Let’s say I was Compassion (or whatever I may be). Then it would make sense that for whatever difficulty I may encounter, it is simply an opportunity for me to remember who I am. To practice being Compassion. If I am confident and stand strong in who I Am, then dealing with the obstacles is much more easier, because I remember that they aren’t obstacles- they are blessings. Here is my chance to learn my truth, act accordingly, and avoid reacting as someone that I am not.

Maybe my purpose in life lays down before me every day, in different ways, in different moments, through different encounters- and yes, some of those are testing my compassion and obstacles that make it difficult to be so. If life were a video game, it could be seen as though every moment or event or person is just one level. If I pass, I move on to something better. If I pass, I graduate that stage and become a little smarter, a little better, and a little closer to awakening to my higher self. The sad news is that you can’t skip that shit. If I throw that opportunity away- if I piss and moan at the difficulty or inconvenience and hassle of the opportunity, I go farther away from the goal -alignment with my true self. Mastering this game.

There comes a time when you are at the end of your rope. You tell yourself (and every one else) that “I’ve done everything I can do. There is no way I can change this situation” and then you realize that you indeed did not do everything you could do. To change the mind is a scary thing. We are so sure that we are justified in expecting another person to change. Their behavior is inappropriate and out-right bad. But after a while of this kind of thinking, I realized, it’s not the situation that needs changing. It’s the way you look at the situation that needs changing. And besides, it’s a hella lot more empowering that way, because it’s 100% all your choice. This may not be everyone’s goal, but it’s mine, and the reminder helped me re-examine my current struggle and accept the challenge graciously.

Neale Donald Walsch’s “The Little Soul and The Sun”

BTTB – Going Back to the Basics in Moments of Strife

Often times people will ask me for a “quick fix” to a specific problem that they may be having, and each time I try to reach into the back of my mind for quotes, books, movies or songs that helped me in my (one of several) times of struggle, and although there are so many inspiring messages out there, I always find myself going back to the same piece of advice – Find gratitude in this moment, because it is an essential piece to something greater.

When I was at the peak of my troubles- or should I say the birth of my freedom- I fell upon an audio book by someone I can’t remember now, but what they said stayed with me and it was to always maintain the attitude of gratitude. I think that came from “The Secret” or was at least inspired by it. The point was to trust that at this very moment, recognize that everything is just as it should be. To trust and recognize that you have everything you need for this very moment, and that the struggles were also a part of what I “need”. I’m not going to go into detail right now (perhaps some day I will) about what all that means, but I was at my greatest despair. I had taken a great leap of faith in ending an abusive marriage and took on two jobs to take care of my son and two dogs. I was scared, insecure, alone, and had been told for years that I would never be able to make it on my own. For me, having confidence in my decision was one thing, but being grateful for the repercussions that came out of it (a lot of hard work and navigating my life as a single mother all alone) was key.

It’s been 4 years, and although I’ve come really far, the inevitable downfalls in life will occasionally dampen my spirits. In those times, I like to remember the speech, “Gratitude” (spoken by Brother David Steindl-Rast, music by Gary Malkin, and Louis Schwartzberg’s cinematography):

“You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. it’s the only gift that you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes that can open. That incredible array of coors that is constantly offered to us for our pure enjoyment. Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky. We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment with clouds coming and going. We just think of the weather, and even with the weather we don’t think of all the nuances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather.

This day right now is unique weather. Maybe a kind that will never be the same as it is right now. Open your eyes.

Look at that. Look at the faces of whom you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face. A story that you could never fully fathom. Not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors. We all go back so far. And in this present moment, on this day, all the people you meet, and all that life from generations and from so many places from all over the world, flows together and meets you here, like a life giving water, if you only open your heart and drink.

Open your heart to the incredible gift that civilization gives to us. You flip a switch and there is electric light. You turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water, and drinkable water. It’s a gift that millions and millions of people in the world will never experience.

These are just a few of an enormous number of gifts that we can open our heart to. So I wish that you will open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you. Let everyone who you will meet be blessed by you. Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch, just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessings all around you. And then, it will really be a good day.”