Listening from your heart...

By Susie and Otto Collins One of the most difficult things to do in relationship is to listen--truly liste n from your heart without blame, judgement or "you ought toos and you shoulds." It's also difficult to take the time to listen without allowing distractions to pull you away from what the other person is saying. It doesn't even matter if th e person you are listening to is baring their soul or not, It's incredibly impor tant to stay present, interested and focused on that person. How many times have you been talking to someone and they reach around to tuck in a loose tag that's hanging off your shirt or pick a loose thread off your sweat er right in the middle of your conversation? This might seem like a trivial thing but what it really says is that in that mom ent they weren't listening to what you were saying. They were thinking about tha t loose tag or thread and how they could fix it. All of us want to feel loved, respected and honored. And one way we have found t o have this is to love, respect and honor someone else. We found that listening without interrupting the other shows respect and also builds trust. What a simpl e concept, but how hard it is to do. Something that is even more difficult to do is to listen to someone when It's un comfortable to do so. When there are conflicts or resentments in a relationship that haven't been dealt with yet, there is an emotional charge that is present a nd that makes it difficult to stay focused on the present moment. In that time you're not really focused on the other person andwhat he or she is saying. You are focused on your emotions or your attempts to avoid pain. Another difficult situation is when you have preconceived prejudices and judgeme nts of the person. Our judgements build walls even in the healthiest of relation ships. When you are trying to listen to someone with whom there have been challe nges, it requires you to listen with unconditional love in that moment. That doe sn't mean you have to agree with everything they say. But, it does mean forgetti ng yourself and your issues while they are talking. We are so quick to rush in and prove we are right, that all we do is create more distance. So, how do you really listen--without judgement or coming from your own agenda? It's like the symphony director said when he was asked, "how do you get to Carne gie Hall?" He said, "practice." Start with focusing your attention on the check-out person at the grocery store or the waiter or waitress at your favorite restaurant. Engage them in a short co nversation and REALLY listen to what they have to say. When you get brave you ca n try a family member with whom you have some unhealed issues. Practice by listening without needing to respond from your frame of reference. H ear what they have to say from their point of view. It's amazing what can be hea led when you do this. As Stephen Covey points out in his book, The seven habits of Highly effective people, it's important to seek first to understand, then be understood. When you do this the walls and defenses crumble and healing can take place. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is to just listen with your hea rt. So this week practice listening and coming from love in your relationships. When you do, we know you'll see a difference.

Initiating Change By Stuart Temple, author of MeTime: How to get what you want in life and more Change is magic, there s no two ways about that. The only difference between where you are now and where you want to be is change - positive change. Where you are now, is point zero: equilibrium. You're either satisfied with that or not. If y ou don't want to be where you are now, and you want your life to be something ot her than this, your only true option is to make some changes. Life doesn't stop for you. It's not going to pause whilst you get yourself sorte d out. It just keeps rolling on and pushing us with it and where we end up is no t normally where we want to be at all. However, it doesn't have to be like this, and it's never too late to change. Once you've snapped that current, once you'v e stopped being passive with life, you are free to create a life that you really want and this is a really exciting position to be in. All of a sudden you are a designer, the designer of your life and your future. The current of life, those external influences that are pushing you along, are a ctually a lot weaker than you may think. Your own will is a million times strong er, and the more you practice taking charge and initiating the changes you want, the easier it gets. The thing is, to break free from that grind, that feeling o f not being in control, of being a passive force in your own life, it may be the case that you only have to change a couple of small things to get to where you' ve always wanted to be. However, change takes courage, especially if you are feeling safe and secure as things are. Sometimes change takes a risk. The truth of the matter is that if yo u want things to get better, if you want your life to change, you have to be wil ling to make changes. Changing your life is not a passive thing. Stand up and be counted, stop letting your life push you around. Ask yourself who the boss is here, in this relationship that's called 'your life '. If you answer honestly and you feel that the boss is all those outside influe nces, those obligations, that job, these relationships, those bills, do yourself one massive favour, right now. Stop it! Honestly, you are the master of your destiny. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just holding you back and the worst thing you can ever do is tell yourself that you don't have control over your own destiny. I hear what you're saying, "if it were that easy I wouldn't be sitting here today, worrying about these things". M y answer for you is this, what have you actually done about it? Have you actuall y started to initiate change? Have you gone out there and started to make the sm all changes that and are going to initiate the large repercussions in your life that you are longing for? And if you have, and they haven't paid off yet, why ha ve you stopped? You've heard of the butterfly effect, right? Where a butterfly in Asia can flutt er it's wings and cause a hurricane in Europe? Well, just as a pebble in a pool causes ripples that spread, some small changes in your life could really cause m ajor consequences for the better, growing and gaining strength and momentum in v ery little time. Right now, today, start identifying small things that you would like to change, just tiny things, things that are holding you back, little behaviours, something . Promise yourself you will change it, stick to your promise to yourself. Once y ou've tackled that small change, you'll find that bigger changes don't seem too

much effort after all. I've had a plant for years. It's one of those 'money trees', and it's followed m e every time I've moved house. At the moment it sits in my home on the windowsil l in the dining room. It's never been a very healthy plant. It's never really gr own, but it's always been alive, so I never threw it away. Everyone seems to hav e one of these plants. I'd go to see my friends or family and their plants were huge, healthy and happy. I'd get home, take a look at my scrawny twig and wonder what on earth I was doing wrong. After I moved in here, it started to shrink and wither. It was close to death. I tried everything I could to bring it to life: different plant food, more water, less water. Whatever I did the thing just wouldn't perk up. Until one day it da wned on me: it was too low on the windowsill, and the window frame was blocking the light. Ah - ha! I lifted it up, placing a small box under it, almost overnig ht the thing flourished. Now it's growing into a real monster! The answer was right under my nose the whole time. I think we can learn a lot fr om my little money tree. Sometimes it's the most simple and basic things that we overlook. Change just a tiny thing, and it begins to flourish. You know, it's e asy to put your life on the path you want - one of happiness and abundance. It's most probable that you too just have to change a couple of things, or a couple of attitudes that have been holding you back. It is so easy to change them; ther e really is no big mystery. I wonder what tiny little disruptions in the right direction could do to help yo u change your world. The thing to remember when deciding on the small things you want to change is that the hardest bit is to instigate the change. Start instig ating positive change in your life and the rewards will come, just like a ripple in a pool, small at first, close and associated to where the change was made. S oon these ripples will spread to touch and change every aspect of your existence for the better. Don't let yourself down, change the things that are holding you back so that you can have the really important things that you want and need.

Living Full -- Living True: The Authentic Life by Suzanne Zoglio In the early stages of life we are often focused on pleasing others parents, teach ers, bosses, and spouses. In an effort to get our needs met, we learn to play by other people s rules. But as we mature, we become more competent, independent, an d able to meet our own needs. We are then less motivated to do what others want us to do. We tire of keeping up appearances, and care much less about what other people think. We no longer want to chase someone else s dream; we want to live ou r own dreams. In short, we come to grips with the idea of being our own person. Now we just want to live a life that feels right. We want to be free of inner tu rmoil and outer chaos. Instead of approval, we are more likely to seek a sense o f inner peace the kind that accompanies authentic living. I suspect that you can probably name several people who have taken considerable risks in order to lead more authentic lives. Perhaps you know someone who turned down a promotion to have more time with her family, forfeited a steady income t o start up a new business, or left an unhappy marriage facing the firm disapprov al of friends and family. Maybe you know someone who started a family after fort

y, got a high school diploma in midlife, or took early retirement in order to wo rk full-time as a volunteer. When you fashion a life where the decisions you make and the actions you take ar e considered, deliberate, and in harmony with what's important to you, you are l iving an authentic life. It is not necessarily a life that others admire or thin k is right for you, but a life that you know in your heart is right for you. It may not be a life that has been your habit, but it is a life that makes you gree t each day with enthusiasm and sleep peacefully at night. The more honest you can be -- with yourself and with others -- about who you are and what you need to be fulfilled, the more likely you are to create a life tha t s right for you. But excavating your truth may seem like a daunting task. With a ll the busyness of our everyday lives, self-reflection may seem self-indulgent. "I don t have time to sit around contemplating my navel," you might think. "I ve got responsibilities to meet." But that s the irony. If we move as fast as we can down a path that leads us away from our true desires, we end up backtracking anyway, or going around in circles searching for the place that feels like home. When we don t take the time to tune in to what s best for us next, we actually waste time with many false starts and journeys that might otherwise be avoided. An authentic life is built from the in side out with attention to one s inner wisdom. Perhaps you could simply begin each d ay with a question: "What is important to me?" Or spend 20 minutes in meditation each morning, letting your inner voice surface. You might try 10 minutes of jou rnaling every day for week, and then see what wisdom surfaces. Maybe you could t ake one weekend a month and retreat to nature for an hour or so where you could reflect on what kind of person you have become and what kind of person you aspir e to be. To live authentically you need not spend two weeks on a mountaintop in Tibet (although that might be terrific too). You simply have to make time on a r egular basis for self-reflection. Tune in to who you are, what you want, and wha t is best for you next. The rest will unfold. Once you are clear about what resonates for you and you align your outer behavio r with that inner truth, your life will flow in a direction that is exquisitely meaningful. You will not expend energy on denial, survival, or suppression. Inst ead, you will gain energy from insight, evolution, and expression from being authe ntic. When your inner and outer worlds are congruent, the pieces all seem to fit e verything clicks. If you know at your core that you are living a life that is al igned with your purpose, filled with what you love, and supporting your growth, you are living an authentic life. Your outer behavior is fueled by your inner tr uth, and you lead a life of dignity and self-respect. There is no pretense to ke ep up. What you do reflects what you believe, how you feel, and what you know. When you live authentically, you know what you stand for and make conscious choi ces to honor those values. Your highest priorities consistently get the lion's s hare of your time, and your actions are consistent with your beliefs. If you say fitness, family, meditation, and service are important to you, you make time fo r them in your life. When you are complimented, you feel personally validated be cause it is the "real" you that is being appreciated, not a "persona" that you p lay very well. The energy that fuels an extraordinary life is harnessed from wit hin your heart. On the other hand, if you live in a way that just doesn t feel rig ht, you might be concealing or ignoring parts of yourself that long to be acknow ledged. Perhaps you feel tired, empty, or depressed because you are draining energy as y ou push your inner desires to the rear of your awareness. Denying inner truth is like trying to keep the lid on a pressure cooker that has built up too much ste am. Try as you will, you can t contain it. If you know in your heart that you re not using your most precious gifts or pursuing your dreams, you will not feel passi

on for the path that you are on. A certain numbness may even take hold, where yo u go through the motions and even perform pretty well, but at the end of the day you do not feel full. Rather it feels as though something is missing and it is a sp ecial part of you. To live authentically is to make a difference with the gifts we ve been given and to follow the dreams that ignite our passion. Being authentic also requires the courage to face personal truth. That truth mig ht be how you really feel about yourself, what fears are blocking your success, which habits are perpetuating the life you have, or what dreams you have suppres sed. Until you choose your actions based on emotional awareness, you will not ex perience harmony. You may dance as fast as you can, distracting yourself from th e inner work that needs to be done, but frenzied activity will not fill that voi d you perceive. To increase inner peace we must find the courage to examine and embrace all aspects of ourselves the light, the dark, the new, the old. To see if enhancing authenticity in your life might add to your joy, see if the following statements ring true for you. You are skilled and successful in your career, but not doing what you love You don t know what you want, but you DO know it s not the life you have You want close relationships, but escape to work, food, or alcohol, instead of developing your own esteem and emotional aptitude. You know what changes would make your life more meaningful, but still find many excuses for not making the changes just now. If you related to any of the previous statements, give some thought to what woul d bring your inner and outer worlds into finer alignment. Taking more time to tu ne in to your inner voice? Examining your gifts and how you might use them to ma ke a difference? Facing your fears about taking a leap toward what you really want? Whatever it i s, consider the time and effort as a worthwhile investment. The return on your i nvestment is to live as you wish and have no regrets in the end.

Soulful Living is Living From The Inside Out by Suzanne W. Zoglio, Ph.D. In reflecting on what it means to lead a soulful life, I find my thoughts turnin g to the source of one s direction, expression, and choices. When we pursue authen tic desires, speak from the heart, and make choices based on inner wisdom, I bel ieve we are living soulfully from the inside out. When we chase after "sensible" g oals, say what we think others want to hear, and make choices based on habit or fear, we are living from the outside in and suffer the turmoil that comes from fee ling out of step with our core being. To live soulfully is to - not blindly, but courageously follow our authentic des ires, developing our unique gifts and applying them for the benefit of others, r egardless of how many naysayers try to convince us that we do not have what it t akes to "make it" or that our dreams are foolish, and our goals unattainable. It is in such single-minded pursuit of one s innermost burning desires that we find passion and direction and boundless energy. It is also when we feel the exhilara tion of expending effort and yet feeling no fatigue, of investing hours that see m to pass in moments, of working hard, yet feeling as though we are at play. If we can trust our soul s desires, dare to dream our own dreams, and remain resilien t when damaging winds threaten to blow us off course, we are finding our motivat ion from the inside out. Speaking from the heart, it seems to me, is also a key element of soulful living

, although it is not a skill that we learn in school, see reinforced in the work place, or find encouraged in society. If we do not speak truthfully, compassiona tely, and with wisdom, we are not speaking from the inside out, and our lives wi ll not feel soulful. Instead, we will live in the shadow of being found out, wal k in the valley of regrets for having wounded others, or find ourselves stuck in the mud hanging on to what we know, but have failed to pass on. To connect with others means a touching of hearts, and that requires authentic communication, w here we bravely share what we know for sure, humbly let others see us as we are, and lovingly embrace all beings without judgment. From my perspective, a third critical element of soulful living is making choice s based not on what others might say, think, or do or even on our own fears - but instead on what feels right from the inside out. Training yourself to turn up t he quiet and tune in to what s right for all concerned at any given crossroad is n ot always easy. Reacting out of fear is a far more seductive path. We are afraid we might look indecisive, be taken advantage of, or displease someone we care a bout. So, we often make knee-jerk reactions and then live with a decision that f eels out of synch with our highest self. The more we stop to meditate, reflect, pray, or contemplate even if only briefly- before choosing our actions, the more we are likely to live a soulful life. To me, soulful living is when we base our direction on our soul s desire, connect with others by way of the heart, and choose our actions in light of our inner wi sdom.

5 When One Door Closes Another Opens Up Rev. Edie Weinstein-Moser Interfaith minister, Feather the Clown, and Organ Donor Volunteer The seeds for the life I am living now were planted in 1992. My husband Michael was diagnosed with Hepatitis C when we volunteered to become bone marrow donors for a child in our community. Our shared odyssey took us into corners dark and i lluminated into which we never anticipated venturing. Using both mainstream and alternative treatments, we were ultimately faced with the reality that Michael w ould either receive a liver transplant or die waiting for one. I celebrated my 40th birthday in Michael's hospital room. It was the last we wou ld share; less than a month later, he was in a hepatic coma, and 5 1/2 weeks aft er that, on December 21, 1998, he left his wounded body behind. He also left a l egacy of love, resilience, and strength that I carry to this day. A year before he died, Michael was enrolled in a seminary, studying to become an interfaith minister. I worked with him for the first year since he was too weak to attend the class in person. I played class tapes, typed his papers and read to him when he was unable to concentrate. When he died, I committed to 3 things: to do all that I could to help our 11-year- old son grow to be a good man, to s peak passionately about organ and tissue donation, and to complete seminary prog ram for Michael and become ordained with the class. Later I discovered that the commitments I made to Michael led me to my own path. Not only was it a soul journey, but a new direction for my life's work. In add ition to being a nursing home social worker and a clown/humor therapist, I am no w an active volunteer with The Gift of Life Donor Program in Philadelphia and an ordained interfaith minister. In just 5 months, I completed 2 year s worth of seminary work with some Divine and h

usbandly intervention. On June 13, 1999, in a ceremony in the awe-inspiring St. John the Divine cathedral in Manhattan, I was ordained. During the magnificent c eremony, Michael's spirit was 'ordained' as well. Since then, I have officiated at one wedding and one memorial service, with 6 more weddings scheduled for this year. My ministry also takes the form of writing. One of my short stories, Danci ng With Angels, was just published in Meant To Be, a book of miraculous love stor ies edited by Barry & Joyce Vissell (published by Conari Press). I m also working on a book that Michael and I had begun, entitled 'liveinjoy'. I write articles on organ donor education as well. In this last year since Michael's passing, I have come to recognize the gifts in herent in the pain I have experienced. We were so blessed to have had that time together and although he was not able to speak, I was able to share my deepest f ears and most profound truths with him. I joke that many other wives would love to have that opportunity; to say whatever they want when their husbands can't an swer. Gallows humor was a powerful healing tool that enabled me to live through those horrific and simultaneously uplifting days. This past October, I turned 41 and have entered into a new life with head held h igh, heart wide open, mending the broken parts with both tears and laughter. Mic hael s soul is free to soar and I am learning that mine is as well. For 10 years we were business partners, publishing Visions Magazine from 1988-1998. Now we a re partners in a much fuller manner. He is my strength from Heaven and I am his voice (as well as my own), here on Earth. You may visit the author, via email at or by telephone at 215-249-9190. personal developement

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful