In gratitude to elephant journal for sharing this today.
We each have our own unique journey and path. The challenge is to find the beauty and grace within each of us, not trying to be someone else, take on something which does not belong to us, or claiming someone else’s view as our own. We are each our own greatest teacher. When we learn to lead ourselves in our greatest manner, at our highest vibration, then we begin to expand into the soul we have the potential of being. Then we can serve as we are meant to serve. This is our responsibility. This is our wonderful journey.
We each need to find out for ourselves. And we can. The answers are within us all, and different for us all, as we are each beautifully unique. There is no cookie cutter form to define the path to or the goal of a better life. Though the more we dive deep and seek, the more we find there are universal truths.
Following is simply that: a summary of some of those universal truths for practice, for raising our own vibration, for moving ourselves along the path of enlightenment. For, quite simply, creating a better life.
And yeah, easier said than done, some days, isn’t it?
So we work together, learn from each other, help each other out and grow in the process. This too is our responsibility. Being of and contributing to our community.
This formula I am sharing with you is not original. The essential steps have been around for thousands of years, in theories and practices across the globe. Sifting through the vast array of infinite knowledge embedded in the great religions and spiritual practices, these four gems shine through, solid and bright, worthy of our attention. So yeah, maybe I’m just pointing out the obvious. But if you’re even a little like me, sometimes we need a bit of prodding to open our eyes to see what’s right there in front of us.
Four simple steps that make a huge difference. At the very least, these allow us, if only briefly, to feel better, and make us better people to be around for those closest to us. And maybe, just maybe, it does a lot more. This practice can raise our vibration which in turn raises the universal vibration. We not only create a better life for ourselves (and those with whom we live), we may in turn be creating a better world.
Give it a try and see for yourself. It works. I guess that’s why it’s been around for so long, in so many different mediums. It has helped me pick myself up when I’m down, raised my energy when it has weakened or I have wanted it higher, and brought me back on my path when I have stumbled and stalled. And when I practice what I’m preaching here, I’ve seen those around me lift themselves up in kind because of shared positive energy. How far can we take this potential?
One step at a time…
By being here now and reading this, you are on the path. That already is a giant step. Or like me, perhaps the accumulation of a lot of little ones. But I’m not counting that (or those) as one of the Four Essential Steps. That was probably the long drawn out prelude. At some point we feel so close, and yet, so blocked. We get to the stage of wondering, “What next?” And “Is this really working?” And “What is the point of this anyway?” Ah yes, the darkness before sunrise. This is a wonderful place to be, frustrating as it may feel. This, my friends, is the doorway to the Jewel within the Lotus.
Before we begin, let’s consider what “a better life” is. Here in the States, the mainstream leads us to believe that “better” is more. More money, prestige, power, position, possessions, trips and stories, labels and accreditations. Bigger is better; the more the merrier. Consumerism, capitalism, and the damning desire for more, more, more! We’re told “better” means having the perfect partner, a powerful job, tons of money, and an awesome body. How many of us think we need these things first, and then the better life will come? I’m pretty sure we’ve all done that. I know I have. You know, the “If only…” “I’ll be happy when…” “Why can’t I…” and “After I get x, things will be different.”
Well, let’s just say after years of work, we finally get “x.” And guess what? Then we find ourselves still unsatisfied. It happens. We’ve all done that. There’s a bigger picture out there. And once we realize we want to be a positive part of that, then “x” suddenly loses it charm. We find it wasn’t the answer.
I’m not saying these things are bad. But are they the keys to unlock a better life? Are these the essentials for a better life? We all know they are not. They are just the stepping stones to a Bigger life. Or bigger ego, bigger debt, bigger complication, bigger struggle and bigger picture in which we are still not a positive part. So bigger, yes. But better? You decide. You already know the answer. These are not the things that bring us inner peace, contentment, point and purpose, universal understanding and compassion. I’m guessing that if you’re here reading this, your journey is not one of material/superficial pride and profit. You are deeper than that. Your path is higher. Your path is one of wisdom, grace, and gratitude. And love. Definitely love. These are the keys to happiness, fulfillment. These are the keys to a better life.
And so we begin to shift our focus to where we are, what we have, what we can do, and who we truly are. We begin here, learning to create a better life. Not tomorrow. Not down the road. Now. Here and now. Within us. A beautiful place to begin looking and expanding. Starting within one’s self.
Wonderful things happen when we start to fulfill our inner calling, understand our place in the big picture, and honor the complete connection. And the funny thing is, often we find, through practice of these simple steps, we get what we are really seeking. And more. Start simple. The rest will follow.
Now, I’m not saying this is quick and easy. But starting is. And the steps we follow really are. And then it takes practice, dedication, discipline and commitment. And it’s worth it. Because it’s something we can do. Not something we are waiting for, or depending on others for, or need something else first before we can get what we think we want. It’s within us all. And yes, it works.
A better life. Who defines what that would be? You do, as you create it. Start by defining what matters most. Fancy food and a new car and big house and a hot date and a pile of cash to buy the latest, greatest, which is always something more? If that’s what you want, fine. Then you’re probably too busy shopping, spending, primping and preening, and battling through your high power job to be here reading this.
But for those who think maybe, just maybe “better” means something deep inside oneself, something maybe completely connected with the bigger picture, something very, very simple…
We’re the one’s working to change ourselves. Not because we think bigger is better, or more is mightier, or we want to keep up with the Jones’. But because we believe in working towards inner peace. And in turn, we are working towards world peace…
And that’s how we change the world. One little step at a time.
Okay, now onto those steps. (Finally!) Let’s get to work.
Four simple steps. Sounds so easy. Some days it is. Some days it’s not. Like with any practice, the more we practice, the better we become, the better our life becomes. But first, we must start. And second, we must continue.
This practice honors the highest and “best” within you and of life. Through practice, we honor and expand our mind/body/soul balance to the self/community/universe connection, practiced and expressed with gratitude, grace, respect and humility.
Keep it simple, or go as deep as you can. Take three minutes, or thirty… Just do it.
- Breathe… Deep breathing is an art with many forms. This is but one way. This is based on the simplicity of centering, grounding, being. Begin with three deep breaths. Imagine the path of air like a cane flowing through your physical being. Bring your breath fully through your body, deep, down, bright and fulfilling. Breathe in through your nose, imagining the air moving up through your head, down your throat, through your lungs, heart, organs, and down into your core, through your solar plexus at the center of your physical being, all the way into your belly, the dantian, the cauldron, below your navel, where your chi or life force is stored. Then slowly exhale, following the path, completely up, and outward, letting go. Focus on each breath, following it completely through its path within you. Long, slow, deep breathing. Honor each breath. Watch it flow through you. Move your attention with it.
- Release… This step creates relief, freedom, space. It is about letting go. Letting go of anger, fear, attachment and our ego. These are contractive states that do not serve our “best” nor the highest energy of the universe. This is surrendering. This is the hardest step. Try. That’s all you can do, and that alone is so much. Begin with forgiveness. And in forgiveness, begin with yourself. Forgive yourself. Accept, allow, be grateful, grow. It is part of going through what we went through that allows us to be where we are now. Be thankful for our past, but do not dwell on it. It is past. Release completely. Holding on to the past is self indulgence. Visualize yourself standing in a cool stream, with the past in your hands. Honor it with grace and gratitude, and then let it go, dropping your hands gently to the water, allowing it to float free, down through the cleansing river, away from you. It no longer serves you. Why hold on still? Continuing with your breathing, on each exhale, release more. Deeper, fuller. Down to our ego, the mighty lion roaring within us all, and that which fights the strongest to hold on in times of change. You are changing. Allow it. Imagine with each exhale, the ego, the past, fears and anger leaving you, floating out, flushed away, or blown out into ether where they can be returned to the Infinite Universe. Release.
- Replenish… Now is the time to fill the void back up, recharge that space that was flushed of fear, anger, resentment and ego with Divine Light, love, positive vibration, expansive energy – call it what you will. This is the good stuff. Imagine it. Feel it. Visualize it coming from above, a beam of brilliant light reaching down from the heavens, penetrating into your crown, pouring into you, filling you, becoming you, radiating through you head to toe, and continuing deep into the core of the earth. Watch, feel, open, receive as this light pours forth luminous energy into you, filling you completely, radiating abundance, understanding, and love. See yourself completely glowing, a ball of light radiating from you, from your center, shimmering gold or white or a luminous rainbow. Pure light, pure energy. This powerful positive force shines within you, through you, from your center, deep within the core of the beautiful body you were given, outward, infinitely expanding.
- Connect… Now we move beyond our self, our ego, our body, our aura, our space. Now we expand. With each breath, we radiate that inner light outward, farther with every breath. Begin on the in-breath, concentrating that light and energy and positive vibration radiating deep within the center of your being. On the out-breath, send it outward to share it, offer it, extend it. Again, breathe in to return to your center, your heart light where the energy concentrates and increases in intensity. And again breathe out to expand this light far beyond your physical being. Inward to replenish; outward to extend. Send the energy further with each breath cycle. Begin close, with those dearest or nearest to you. Then onward to your community, to nature, to all beings, to the Earth, to the Universe. Breathe out to an infinite expansion. As far as your beliefs will take you, and maybe a little further. Perhaps it is reaching outward just to the person next to you, and that alone is so much. Or maybe it’s further, reaching your community, all beings, the entire earth, and beyond. Where ever this step takes you, whatever feels right to you, it is beautiful. This is bliss, beyond one’s Self and a part of the Whole. It is outside of you. And yet you are part. Go with it. Expand. And here we find the paradox: you are both everything and nothing, everywhere and nowhere. Completely connected. Giving, offering, sharing, reaching out. And as we expand our energy, we expand ourselves. You are with this step making a better life, making the world a better place by reaching out with love and light and connection.
Four simple steps that take us so far and yet no where at all. We breathe into it, we release, we replenish, and we connect. And in doing so, we feel better. We are being a better person. We are creating a better life.
With each breath, we can create a better life.
Namaste. What a wonderful blessing to conclude with.
With grace and gratitude to elephant journal for sharing my work,
for the opportunity to share words and worlds beyond my mountain,
and to all who have continued to read my writing, touched and inspired me.