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The right to choose is both a burden and privilege and it all started at a very young age. At first it's nothing more than, "Do I eat my peas and carrots?" All too soon, it becomes so very much more. As you get older, bigger, stronger, and "smarter," the gravity and impact of your choices goes way up, and so does your ability to screw up and really make it count! As obvious as that should be, it always amazes me to hear parents trying to rationalize the behavior of their own precious, little, future serial killer by denying the fact that he has been a knucklehead from very early on: "Billy was difficult, sure. He had some problems with anger in grade school, but never anything big. He didn't get all screwed up until he turned fifteen. We just don't know what happened. He was never in trouble with the law before! He just seemed to really go downhill overnight!" Buddhist philosophy suggests that the way we bring our mindful attention to one thing is the way we bring it to all things. For example, kicking our shoes off and throwing our clothes on the floor is very different from placing our shoes in front of the door and folding our clothes away. And, while in that moment of folding our clothes away, paying full attention to the folding of the clothes: the feel of the fabric, its weight and the colour. When we bring respectful, loving attention to all that we are and all that we do, we - and all things - feel most alive. When we touch one thing with awareness, we touch all things. In his beautiful poem The Mistress of Vision', Francis Thompson writesAll things by immortal power, Near or far, Hiddenly, To each other linked are. That thou canst not stir a flower Without Troubling of a Star'. These beautiful words encourage us to tread gently with ourselves, each other and our earth. What we do unto others, unto our earth and unto things, we do unto ourselves. Practising gratitude encourages greater care and kindness in our days. A sudden appreciation for our oneness with all life has the power to transform our experience of living from one moment to the next. Living mindfully means living magically: being attuned to the subtle, delightful and inspiring nuances in our moment-to-moment lives.

Indeed, our appreciation and full presence can transform any ordinary' moment into an extraordinarily delightful possibility. <a href=''>You</a> may still be holding on to the idea that this is all about blaming, as we discussed previously. <a href=''>If</a> so, try using the reasoning I offered before. <a href=''>Ask</a> yourself, If my best friend told me about these experiences in his life, would I understand how he might have felt? <a href=''>Yes!</a> <a href=''>You're</a> making the huge step of not discounting or denying but acknowledging. <a href=''>You're</a> looking through a compassionate lens and acknowledging the normalcy of what you absorbed: Oh, of course, I felt that way. <a href=''>Anyone</a> would've felt that way if they'd received this message. <a href=''>If,</a> for some reason, you now realize that the message you absorbed was somehow faulty or mistaken, that can be healing as well. <a href=''>Now</a> it's time, if you haven't begun already, to return to your timeline and acknowledge what you've learned from each significant marker. <a href=''>Ask</a> yourself the two questions for each memory on your timeline: What message did I get from this experience about myself or about life? <a href=''>And</a> What did I absorb and come to believe about my capability of being loved, safe, and valued from this experience? <a href=''>Again,</a> this may take a fair amount of time, given whatever number of events or experiences you've identified. <a href=''>Keep</a> your answers in your now well-used journal, so that you can read them over. <a href=''>Identify</a> the seven most critical choices in your life and how your self-concept has been shaped by the results of those choices. <a href=''>When</a> first born, you were, of course, totally vulnerable. <a href=''>A</a> community, in this case probably a family, hopefully valued you, protected you, and cared for you, but at a price: The price was that you had to conform to the values, patterns, and demands of that community to insure that you would be embraced by them. <a href=''>You</a> had to eat the way they did, behave the way they did, learn to speak their language, and accept and adapt to their environment. <a href=''>Early</a> on, most choices were, of course, made for you. <a href=''>Even</a> once you were old enough to begin making conscious decisions, choosing not to follow the rules of that community could have made you the outsider, the enemy. <br /><br /><a href=''>It</a> could have left you vulnerable and subject to punishment. <a href=''>Again,</a> this is a big deal. <a href=''>It</a> suggests that you may have been conditioned very early on to make choices that were primarily motivated by fear. <a href=''>Think</a> about how that early experience and the need to have the approval of others, in order to peacefully survive, may have carried over into other areas and choices of your adult life. <a href=''>It</a> may well be that you learned to make choices based on whether or not the decision and associated action would please others; not please you, but please others. <a href=''>If</a> that tendency began as a motivation powerful as your very survival, just think how deeply ingrained it may well have become. <a href=''>A</a> fear of displeasing others, rather than a philosophy of questioning and requiring justification for how things are, can be a huge life choice that you may not even be aware of having made. <a href=''>You</a> may well have been conditioned to give your power away and make your own individual wants and needs secondary in determining the choices you would make, because you sensed or convinced yourself that conforming was essential to your very survival. <a href=''>You</a> may well have convinced yourself that you would jeopardize your job and income and therefore your ability to maintain food and shelter, if you didn't stay quiet and compliant--obviously powerful motivators if in fact that is what you believe. <a href=''>If</a> you have gotten so distorted in your thinking as to believe, for example, that you "just couldn't go on living" without the presence of your spouse, then the survival need would motivate you to do or tolerate amazingly irrational things in order to "survive." The fact that the threat to your actual survival is not an objectively genuine threat is of no consequence, because again, if you believe it, then that is for you reality. <a href=''>Moreover,</a> if this is your belief, no other need will be addressed, because as long as you believe your very survival is threatened, that need will dominate, and your choices will show it. <a href=''>We</a> can be very quick to say that we are unhappy, stressed or strained, yet there are so many moments, big and small, in our days in which we are deeply touched by joy. <a href=''>When</a> we make it a habit to notice and mark these happy moments with our attention we not only feel the depth of our joy, we invite even more happiness into our lives through our own gratitude and mindful awareness. <a href=''>I</a> like to mark my happy moments with the simple wordsI am happy in this moment', smiling as I say these words either out loud or in my mind. This could be watching my puppy run through the garden chasing a stick, receiving a wonderful cuddle from a loved one, tucking into a warm and cosy bed, or drinking a nice cup of tea. You might feel happy listening to a particular piece of music, being in the presence of an old friend, or taking in a particular view. I find that when I say the words I am happy in this moment' followed by a deep breath in and out, the moment is crystallised and honoured. <a href=''>I</a> also find that I notice how many special, magical moments I do have, even on a day that might seemordinary', for want of a better word! You may have to do some digging to get to what you learned. Your perfectly hidden depression may rear its head and say, "Now, now, it wasn't that bad.

Or that serious. Or that awful." But you've gotten this far! You can confront that voice. The discovery of what you walked away believing--what has led you to be self-critical and shaming--is another step in the recognition of what was, and may still be, unhealthy and self-destructive. Please journal about these realizations--you're taking huge steps forward in putting together the memories with the messages. Good job! Once your survival needs are satisfied, the next level of need that can motivate your choices is the need to find some basis for emotional security, in addition to your physical security. The number one emotional need for all people is the need for acceptance or belongingness: the emotional satisfaction that comes from external approval, from feeling that you are part of a couple, organization, or peer group. Again, this is a huge influence on what you choose for yourself. For example, if this need is predominant and you feel that true individual expression might bring criticism or even rejection, you might very well choose conformity rather than expression. You may very well have developed a pattern of ignoring your own thoughts and feelings, instead opting to substitute someone else's judgment for your own because that met your need for emotional security. That behavior is not so farfetched; if you think about it, politicians do it every single day. I don't think a damn one of them has ever had an original thought. Instead it's, What do they want to hear; tell them what they want to hear or they might reject me at the next election. Your personal choice to do the very same thing with the decisions in your life may have been based on very similar logic. Many of your choices may have been made out of concern for what other people might think and the hope that by complying with what you think they want, you will win their approval and acceptance. Problem is, you and what you want or need gets ignored as a motivator in your decision making. Magical</a> living sounds wonderful,' you say,but I don't have any time to answer the calls of my spirit!' Where can we begin? I suggest to start small but to ask big questions. How might I soften my gaze upon life right now?

What is working, well and good in my life at the moment? How could I better balance work, rest and play? When might it be appropriate for me to say no to others and yes to myself? Could I approach my responsibilities and demands with new eyes? Identifying what feels dull, tired and lacklustre in our lives and creating room to sparkle is a gift we can give ourselves and those around us. We can mindfully assess how we feel about our chosen work, our relationships, our home environments, the way we eat and move our bodies, the various responsibilities that might be bestowed upon us, our hobbies, passions and recreational activities. While it is unrealistic to think that our days won't hold various challenges and surprises, and naturally vary in light and shade, with gratitude and grace we can gain instant inspiration when feeling ordinary or grumbly. I love reframing: I get to do this' rather thanI have to do this'. Time poverty has a lot to do with our mindset and emotional state. If we are stressed and strained, time compresses. Spaciousness and joy will elude us because living this way, we will never have enough time. If we are graceful and relaxed, we can nurture a more spacious, elastic relationship with time, sensing that time is always abundant and on our side. When it comes to nurturing our spirits, it is about making, not finding time in daily life. As we have explored, prioritising the care of our inner sparkles is not selfish or indulgent; it is essential for our health and wellness. When we nurture our spirits we may live meaningful, energised lives, lives that deeply nourish and fulfil us. Understand that these uncomfortable feelings will not disappear until you do something to make that happen. What you feel is the Universe's way of encouraging you and letting you know that you are not in balance. You are out of equilibrium. Once the desire is in your heart and takes root in your mind, you must transform your idea into action by putting it into practice. Change is a verb; it is an action word.