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Mindfully Recognizing Associations

Everyone is familiar with the game, word association, where you name something and say the first thing that comes to mind. Life consists of creating associated meanings with every interaction. For example, someone has a bad experience with a car dealer and creates an association of mistrust for car dealers. She then carries this idea forward to her next interaction with another car dealer, treating him with mistrust and re-inforcing her new association, creating a belief. The assumption of mistrust prevented her from possibly experiencing an amiable, trusting interaction.

We can use this idea to manage our emotional state at any time. This requires a mindful observation of our emotional state. If you find yourself feeling an emotion, such as annoyance, that you would prefer not to feel, you can purposefully change it if you catch yourself feeling it. Sometimes we get so used to feeling a certain way that we no longer recognize what we are feeling or recognize that what we are feeling is not preferable. It just becomes our new normal. If happiness is something you never feel, then how can you relate to it in order to switch to that state?

Associations come in handy for switching emotional states. You can search your memory for any experience that you remember as being happy. Put yourself back into this memory re-live it in your mind, then your mood begins to match it. It’s a tool for pulling yourself back to the state you prefer. Once in this happier place, you can examine the annoyance you were feeling and find the association that created it.

Let’s say that you were constantly annoyed by the same person. There’s something about him that you find consistently annoying. From the happier place, you can look at what it is about your interaction with him that you find annoying. Maybe it’s the way he never looks you in the eye when talking to you. You may perceive this to be arrogance or shyness, both traits that you may not like. The traits would be annoying to you if you recognize them as traits that you have, that you don’t like about yourself. You perceive him as acting in a way that you would act if you were feeling arrogant or shy. They may be feeling neither, but you recognize, or associate that behavior with those emotions so you respond based on your own definitions. This is projection of your own attitude onto another because that is how you interpret that body language.

You can change your response by first recognizing the emotional response, then recognizing the association that created the emotional response. With this recognition, you can then observe the other person with the idea that their actions may be due to some entirely different emotion or attitude. Once you detach yourself from correlating their behavior with your own attitude you have when you display the same behavior (not looking someone in the eyes), you can have a more neutral response, and will be able to interact more with who that person really is, rather than your assumptions about who they are.

If you interact with someone and respond to them based on your own defintions/associations of their behavior, then you are not interacting with the real personality of that person. You are interacting with your perception of that person which is skewed by your associations. If you assume the person is shy or arrogant and respond to them accordingly, whether in an accusing or condesending manner, for instance, then the other person will be responding to that attitude, and you will have created an interaction based on a projection without seeing the real person.

So the basic steps for mindfully changing associations are,

  1. Find a memory you can use to go back to to change your state to a happier one at any time
  2. Practice observing your emotional state at all times
  3. Notice your emotional response to interactions
  4. If you find yourself entering a negative state, note the emotion, the cause of it and go to the happier state
  5. Examine why this interaction is the cause of the change to a more negative state – what about yourself does this remind you of?
  6. Re-approach the interaction with the realization that your defintions of his/her behavior caused you to perceive an attitude that may not have belonged to the other person to begin with.
  7. Approach your interactions with this person (ie the previously annoying one) consistently in this manner and you can change it to a positive one.
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Perelandra: Working With Nature in the Garden

I have a workbook entitled, ‘The Perelandra Garden Workbook,’ I purchased from perelandra-ltd.com last year. It describes a process to connect with nature guided intuition for working with your garden. It is a very mindful way of working in harmony with the plants and insects that make up your garden. The workbook guides you step by step toward establishing a new garden or re-creating a new one using the guidance of nature. It’s worth a read. I’d like to share the following Perelandra description on how nature defines itself. This is from the workbook,

Nature’s Definition of Nature

In the larger universe and beyond, on its many levels and dimensions, there are a number of groups of consciousnesses that, although equal in importance, are quite different in expression and function. Do not misunderstand us by thinking that we are saying that all reality is human soul-oriented by that there are some aspects of this reality that function and express differently. We are not saying this. We are saying that there are different groups of consciousnesses that are equal in importance but express and function very differently. Together, they make up the full expression of the larger, total life picture. No one piece, no one expression, can be missing or the larger life picture on all its levels and dimensions will cease to exist. One such consciousness has been universally termed “nature.” Because of what we are saying about the larger picture not existing without all of its parts, you may assume that nature as both a reality and a consciousness exists on all dimensions and all levels. It cannot be excluded.

Each group of consciousnesses has what can be termed an area of expertise. As we said, all groups are equal in importance but express and function differently from one another. These different expressions and functions are vital to the overall balance of reality. A truly symbiotic relationship exists among the groups and is based on balance — universal balance. It is absolutely correct to characterize the human soul-oriented dynamic as evolution in scope and function. An it is correct to identify the nature dynamic as being involution in scope and function.

  • Nature is a massive, intelligent consciousness group that expresses and functions within the many areas of involution, that is, moving soul-oriented consciousness into any dimension or level of form.

  • Nature is the conscious reality that supplies order, organization and life vitality for this shift.

  • Nature is the consciousness that, for your working understanding, is intimately linked with form.

  • Nature is the consciousness that comprises all form on all levels and dimensions. It is form’s order, organization and life vitality.

  • Nature is first and foremost a consciousness of equal importance with all other consciousnesses in the largest scheme or reality.

  • It expresses and functions uniquely in that it comprises all form on all levels and dimensions, and is responsible for and creates all of form’s order, organization and life vitality.

Mindfulness Tips for Transforming Resentment

We’ve all been in situations where, for reasons we can’t understand, we find ourselves resenting a person or situation. It may be a person we like and admire, someone we love to be around and would like to feel good around, but resentment keeps creeping up. The goal is to recognize this feeling and decide to mindfully eliminate it from our interactions.

There are two kinds of resentment: resentment of a person and resentment of a situation (resentment directed toward self). Let’s take a look at both of them.

  1. Resentment of a person
    In this situation, I can recognize I feel resentment and say to myself, ‘I recognize in that person a trait that I would like to have in myself, but do not believe I am able to.’
  2. Resentment of a situation
    In this case, I recognize I prefer some other situation to the one I am currently experiencing, but for some reason that seems out of my control, I believe I can not experience the preferable situation. In this case, I resent myself because I seem helpless.

In order to remove this reaction from my experience, I would need to be mindful enough to recognize when I’m beginning to feel it, and have the tools to re-direct it to another expression or feeling. So, some steps I can take are the following,

  1. First, I can identify the typical scenarios in which I feel resentment, list the people I tend to resent and the situations I find myself in that create resentment for myself. It helps to write these down. This enables me to recognize the situation when it occurs.
  2. Then, re-work previous scenarios in my head to practice for the live event. This gives me the tools to access when I begin to experience resentment and am able to consciously recognize what it happening. When working through a previous experience, I can ask myself the following questions,
    • What about this person or situation do I believe I cannot do or be like?
    • What do I admire about this person or situation that I do not see in myself?
    • What belief do I have that is preventing me from achieving or being like what I resent?
  3. When out and about interacting and resentment begins to emerge, I can then recognize the emotion and stop for a moment to work through the exercises I’ve already practiced. I can recognize that I am experiencing resentment because there is something that I admire. I can focus on that recognition and the feeling of admiration, which is a form of appreciation. Hold onto that feeling and see myself being that way or doing that.  This transforms the resentment into appreciation for my preferences and for the other person.

Self-Confidence

One of the most valuable character traits a person could posess is self-confidence.  At the same time, it is one of the more difficult ones to develop.  Self-Confidence requires a respect and valuation of one’s opinion even if another is offered.  The idea of self-confidence embodies the following,

  • Not putting others’ opinions above the value of your own
  • Trusting that your own opinion is worthwhile
  • Enjoying the expression of yourself
  • Appreciating the value others have to offer as you would appreciate the expression of your own self
  • Knowing that the beliefs you hold have value to you and that is enough

Compassion, or the idea of what compassion should be, is one of the primary obstacles to developing a healthy sense of self-confidence.  People like to feel themselves as or see themselves as loving and considerate, so they tend to value the opinions of others over their own.  Showing compassion in this way then becomes a way to put their own preferences and opinions in the back seat.  Feeling both compassionate and self-confident requires honoring your own opinion and the opinion of others by accepting yours as your preference and theirs as their preference.  This can be difficult when the response of another is to devalue your opinion.  If there is an emotional connection with that person, their negative response to your opinion may make you feel self-doubt.  Self-confidence requires that you are able to acknowledge their opinion without adopting that opinion as your own.

An example of an emotional attachment is respect for another – as in their opinion has more value than yours in certain matters.  This has value when you are seeking guidance, but can undermine self-confidence if you are using it to deny your own self-expression.

Respect your own opinion and preferences and accept those of others as their own self-expression in that moment.  This results in a healthy balance of honoring the self and respecting others.

Using The Spoken Word Mindfully

The concepts here are from the book,  ‘The Energy of Words: Use the Vibration of Language to Manifest the Life You Desire

What we say to others, and even more importantly, what we say to ourselves, has a resonance, a vibrational frequency that is put out into the world.
As with anything you choose, the way you feel about the words you decide to include in your vocabulary every day – in your thought processes, speech patterns, or written expressions – shapes the way they will affect your life.  …we assign feelings associated with words based on our personal experiences involving those words.  The feelings we hold about something have a great deal to do with how we perceive it, and our perception is precisely how we shape our reality.  As an example, swear words only have a bad connotation if you associated it with a negative emotion from a previous experience.

You communicate with either written or spoken words.  Spoken words are delivered with your own attitude and your own vibration and received by another through the filter of their own beliefs and attitude.  Someone can make a joke with a sarcastic attitude that others may not find funny because their attitude doesn’t match.  Vibrationally, the effect a spoken word has on a person depends on how they choose to respond to it.

The written word effects the reader based on their interpretation or attitude toward the phrases he is reading.  The effect of the words on the reader is also dependent on the reader’s beliefs about the author.  The reader is choosing to respond to the words based on his/her beliefs about the attitude of the author and beliefs about what attitude the vocabulary is conveying.

By being mindful of what you speak and write and your response to the words you are using to communicate, you can get a better picture of how you are presenting yourself to the world.  If you imagine a person saying those words back to you, then that shows the attitude that you are presenting to the world.  This attitude, or set of beliefs attracts people and circumstances which resonate with that attitude/belief system.  By consciously changing your written and spoken words, you can change your attitude and change what you attract into your life.

Emotional resonance with words, spoken or written, reflect your true self, or set of beliefs.  If there is no emotional resonance, the word has no meaning, no impact vibrationally.

A recommended exercise from the book:

For one day, pay attention to the words you say, think and write most frequently.  When you notice a frequently used word that has an emotional resonance, write it down.  At the end of the day, take the 10 words you used most often and make a list.  Make a note of the ratio of positive to negative to give yourself an idea of the quality of experience you are attracting into your life.  The goal is to transition your negative words to positive ones. As you speak more positively, you think more positively.  As you think more positively, this reinforces the positive spoken and written word until you have completely transitioned your most frequently used words into positive ones.

An example list from book:

believe
awesome
can’t ——>  know
hope ——>  trust
no way —>   absolutely
won’t —–>   powerful
love
best
whatever –> always
problem —> allow

maybe —–> fearless

Steps recommended to transform your negative patterns to positive ones,

1.  Identify your negative patterns
Look back to traumatic events in your life and examine how they made you feel.  Write a short list of words inspired by reflection on these events and how they made you feel.  Then align words from this list with your previous list by looking for the closest match.

2. Choose the right words to change your patterns
After comparing the words from your reflection on the negative experiences to the top 10 list, identify which words on the top 10 list may have originated from the experience (or have been reinforced).  Re-examine the traumatic experiences in a way that will allow you to convert the negative vocabulary into a more positive one.  For example, if you were consistently told as a child that you can’t, you can spin that into ‘I am open to the possibility.’

3.  How do you want to rewrite your story?
For example, if you were bullied as a child and experienced feelings of insignificance, helplessness, being lost or frustration, this can result in an ingrained sense of inadequacy as an adult.  As a result, when re-examining this experience, you may come up with words such as well, maybe, if, whatever.  These can be replaced by powerful, self-assured words like yes, absolutely and capable.
Doing this consistently whenever you catch yourself using a dis-empowering word can result in a complete turnaround in your attitude and experience in the area in life which you would like to improve.  Read more in the book, The Energy of Words: Use the Vibration of Language to Manifest the Life You Desire
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Mindfulness In Art

Ordinarily when I want to paint or draw a picture, I would begin with a photo or completed sketch to guide me toward my goal.  In this case, I’m focused on painting what has already been designed and no matter how I feel about how it is turning out, I will strive toward that goal.  Recently I received inspiration from someone about a new way to draw out my creativity, to follow my own inspiration.  A more mindful way to paint would be to begin with an idea of where I want to go with the painting and allow myself to deviate based on how inspired I am in that moment.  I may feel more inclined to use a different color, remove some elements, add in some new ones or go in a completely different direction.  It’s important to let myself detach from the initial idea which was the inspiration and continue to follow any other inspirations that come after.  Then creativity flows out without editing, naturally.

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