working for joy

I was very inspired and moved by the supportive comments from my last post on quitting my job. It seems there are many of us who are disconnected from our work, and we are longing for something more.

I was also happy to discover those readers and friends who’ve jumped the employment ship and never looked back! I’ve heard stories of challenge and uncertainty, yes…but not one of regret.

One thing’s for sure – quitting my job has definitely brought up my up core beliefs surrounding money.

I often hear things like ‘Money is energy’ and ‘We live in an abundant universe’, where ‘There is more than enough to go around’ and ‘It’s our birthright’ to have everything we desire. Being a big Abraham Hicks fan, I’ve found myself thinking and speaking these same thoughts. And I have felt the freedom, joy, and expansion in them.

But in many moments I don’t feel this way and I wonder…on a deeper level, do I really believe these concepts? I mean really, truly believe them?

I’m being very aware of my money stories – those deep beliefs I’ve carried my whole life – because I’m so vulnerable to their powerful influence right now. Beliefs like ‘There’s only so much to go around’ or ‘You can’t get paid for doing what you love’ or ‘To have a lot of money isn’t spiritual’. And ‘How can I ask for more, when most others have so much less?’

It’s as if there are two Aleya’s battling it out inside me. The one with the limiting thoughts, and the other who sees those thoughts as reflections of old consciousness. The latter me would like to believe that as we evolve and transform, so do our views and experiences of abundance – not just individually, but for humanity at large.

When we live in scarcity consciousness, it permeates everything. But scarcity is not just about money. It is also about love, trust, and security. ‘Not enough’ becomes our dominant paradigm when something fundamental – beyond the material – is missing in our lives.

Noticing and appreciating all my abundance, in its many different forms, is essential. For example, last week I received a ‘random’ email from an acquaintance offering me a complimentary invitation to an event featuring women discussing shakti (divine feminine energy, power) and ahimsa (non-injury).

I brought my notebook and took notes as each woman spoke. I felt inspired and in awe to be in their presence. I would love to do more of this, I thought. To find similar events and interview such women, sharing their wisdom and insights.

As soon as my mind turned to how I could ‘get paid’ for this, I tensed up. And I realized that in doing more of the things I love – enjoying them for the actual experiences and not the result – I probably wouldn’t focus so much on money per se. And this, in turn, would allow more of these experiences to flow into my life. Money can never substitute for the deep meaning and satisfaction that comes from feeding our soul.

It’s good to examine our core beliefs. But there comes a point where we’ve exhausted our analyses, and we know that nothing new or revolutionary is going to come from repeating our old stories.

I don’t know that my core beliefs can disappear overnight, but I’m hoping that shining a spotlight on them releases their hold on me.

LA, my birthday, Abraham, and meeting blogger #2

Last week I spent an amazing few days in warm and sunny Los Angeles, celebrating my birthday, seeing Abraham Hicks live for the first time, and meeting up with the beautiful Katherine Starseed of A Blip in Time.  This is the second blogger I’ve connected with personally and, like the Shamanic Tracker (whom I met last Fall), I know I’ve made a lifelong friend.

As some blogging friends know, I am a big fan of Abraham Hicks.  Having read their material, listened to their recordings, and watched hundreds of their Youtube clips over the years, it was totally surreal to be sitting in the conference room of L.A.’s Glendale Hilton, waiting for their seminar to start.

loving california palms...

loving those california palms…

I couldn’t stop smiling as I sat there.  The enthusiasm and energy of the crowd was infectious; we were all buzzing with excitement. The familiar intro music played; Esther Hicks came onstage; and three hours of uplifting, positive, and often hilarious messages ensued.

Say what you want about Abraham Hicks – and people have many different opinions – any philosophy that unwaveringly affirms messages of love, worthiness, expansion, joy, and appreciation, is good with me.

It’s so simple and we make it so complex – do whatever you can to stay in that feeling good, appreciative state.  Don’t beat yourself up when you slip from that state.  You are worthy of being there – it is your natural state.  I realize how many justifications I have made for not allowing myself to feel good.  Though all these explanations felt right at the time, most don’t wash anymore. (Karma is a big one.)

That’s not to say I don’t go into darker states, or that they don’t serve a purpose.  But I am fine-tuning those receptors that allow me to know, sooner and sooner, when I am going into excuse/auto-pilot mode.  I can sense when I am being attracted to the thought magnet I’ve been most familiar with, making it the ‘easiest’ place to go to.

I can therefore more easily discern alternate ways of perceiving.  I can catch when I’m able to make new emotional pathways, creating a ‘new normal’ for myself.

Being in a more consciously joyous state is not going to make me selfish (in the negative sense) – a fear I carried for some time.  It is not going to make me forget about those who are not in that state.  But it could open the channels for others to find that state of being within.  It could give me more energy, so that I operate from a place of joyful service, not fatigue or obligation. Joy powers up the world.

view of california coast sunset from pacific coast highway

view of california coast sunset from pacific coast highway

So one week later, these are the impressions I’m left with after the workshop:

Every question I wanted to ask Abraham, I already knew the answer to.  I realize that I can hear my own guidance and authority.  I am my own unique expression of Source energy – how could I not know what’s best for me? Do I really need to consult healers for the answers I already hold within?  And how can I know what’s best for others?

Why do I want what I want?  The power of creation lies not in analyzing the perceived lack or negativity in my current situation, but in imagining and visualizing what I do want. And this is often about cultivating feelings first (e.g., freedom and autonomy), rather than manifesting the physical specifics. The external ‘things’ will emanate from the feeling.

I can’t engage in conversations centered on complaining, negativity, or why things don’t work. And when I do, I feel icky.  I have previously indulged such conversations, thinking I’m not being polite or nice if I disengage.  I’ve thought that I was avoiding reality by not giving attention to certain things that other people find important. But I see now that this has drained and fragmented me. I don’t want to be sucked into a train of thought or emotional state I don’t wish to cultivate in my life, so I’m learning the balance between compassion and detachment.

Abraham often says that you have to care about how you feel more than anything.  Caring about how you feel also means not doubting or second-guessing how you feel. These days, if something feels good, I let it. I try not to analyze why it does, or why it shouldn’t.

It’s all about softening. Being hard on others means being hard on myself.  Not new information, but it’s sunk in at a deeper level.  Hardness creates rigidity and resistance, and inhibits receiving and allowing.  Cultivating more softness, ease, gentleness, and relaxation – with myself, others, and life in general – feels really good…like relief.  This past week I’ve caught myself sighing audibly (in a good way) more than a few times!

Fun is a priority. ‘Nuff said.  Driving up the coast of California was utter joy and freedom. Why do we view fun and freedom as the exception, and not the rule? Not me.  I’m going to seize the opportunity for fun whenever I can. Never too late!

I can say with confidence that I had the best birthday EVER, and I am very thankful to be ever-poised for creation – and yet know that there is nothing I have to ‘do’ to win the favour of myself, or anyone else.

Namaste.

if i do what i love, will the money follow?

Last week I was scheduled to participate in a focus group discussing a legal case, for which I’d be paid $100.  It was a no-brainer for me to sign up; now that I have an overseas trip to save for, every penny counts.  When I arrived at the session, however, I realized that I once worked in the same office as the focus group facilitator.  Since this was a no-no, I was promptly sent home, no cash in hand.

I was a little disappointed, but got over it quickly.  The situation was out of my control, so it was pointless to get too upset.  And in a way, I was kind of relieved. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and I could certainly see the benefit in spending the next couple hours outside, rather than within the confines of a dark office, discussing an intense case that would have probably left me feeling drained for the rest of the evening.

As I walked along the seawall home, my relief grew.  There was abundance everywhere.  In the sunshine. In the breeze.  In the warmth. In the water.  In the ducks (pictured below) just doing their thing in the water.  In the happy smiles of passerby. In the parks lining the seawall, filled with families and dogs and people-watchers and sun tanners getting ready for their Saturday night.

In noticing this beauty surrounding me, I felt expanded.  I could breathe.  It was blissful. When I thought about the focus group I had left behind, I felt constriction.  Bored. Grey.

I knew that what had happened was not a meaningless coincidence.  It was a clear message about abundance and money.

I have a dear friend who teaches yoga almost daily and has a popular musical gig a few times a month.  She truly loves what she does.  For the most part, she can arrange her day any way she wishes.  She doesn’t have a lot of money, but her ‘work’ is so aligned with her values and spirituality that I know she is infinitely happier and more fulfilled than she would ever be sitting behind a desk all day.

This is deeply inspiring to me.  It seems there are many of us out there who are more than ready to break out of the cubicle and start something new of our very own: something meaningful, imbued with our personal values and marked with our unique creative stamp. There’s a growing number of social media sites devoted to discovering this new, higher conscious way of living.  And that’s a very good thing.

But it can also be a new and uncomfortable road, one that seems risky and fraught with unknowns.  And it brings up all kinds of limiting beliefs and perceptions.  For example, I personally have struggled with the notion that creative self-expression and financial abundance are mutually exclusive.  Because I’ve believed that for so long, I see my belief played out all around me.  (Which only reinforces the belief!)

It is time for an upgrade.

IMG_0929

Is there another way?  Do we have to choose between doing what we love and financial abundance?  Do we need financial abundance if we are doing what we love?  In other words…does money matter and, if so, is it possible to have it all?

In the late 80s, the book Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow was released.  This text, still hugely popular, is a forerunner of many premising that when we follow our hearts, all areas of our life – including money – flow as an extension of that.

But to me, it’s not necessarily that doing what we love means money will automatically follow.  It’s that the deep fulfillment and inner peace that comes from doing work we love is infinitely more rewarding than the paycheck we receive from doing work we’re not remotely connected to.

The focus group experience really crystallized this for me.  That $100 didn’t hold a candle to the immense gratitude I felt on my walk, in truly appreciating my surroundings.

And the ironic thing is, we’re more likely to attract money into our lives when we’re already in a contented state.  Abraham Hicks teaches that focusing on that which gives us joy brings us in alignment with our (limitless, non-physical) Source – Who We Really Are.  In that place of alignment (love, appreciation, gratitude), our desired manifestations can more easily become physical.

It takes conscious practice to keep ourselves aligned.  It requires trust, surrender, releasing resistance, letting go, and allowing.  Ultimately, true alignment means knowing that we are inherently worthy of all we desire.   Once we really get that, the flow is unstoppable.

when does karma become an excuse?

The concept of karma has long played a central role in my life.  It imprinted on my psyche at a young age and has since shaped my identity.  My theories about what ‘my karma’ is have defined who I am and what I see myself as capable or deserving of in this lifetime.

Life experiences, mundane and significant, are often filtered through the lens of how they might relate to my karma. Maybe I have ‘unfinished business’ with so-and-so.  Maybe I did this to someone in a past life, so they’re doing it to me now.  Future plans and decisions are made with a cautionary inner voice: Maybe it’s not in your karma to do/have this.

Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (www.sonjapicard.com)

Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (www.sonjapicard.com)

Where did this obsession with my karma originate? Ancestors, religion, society…an innocuous comment someone once made, which caused a fundamental rewire in my brain?

Does it even matter anymore?

So much of my life has been about trying to understand the why’s of things, and the lessons behind them.  But what if I’ve been so wrapped up in this process, so fixated on understanding the details, that I’ve missed the actual living part of life?  How many opportunities have I let pass me by, how many inspirations have I not pursued, because of a latent belief that it’s ‘not in my karma’?

Karma has become a filter through which I’m limiting what life truly wants to offer me.

Karma is a beautiful yogic philosophy.  Its basic tenet of cause and effect – that we are responsible for our actions and their consequences – resonates with me.  But I am seeing how easily karma’s spiritual complexities and intricacies become reduced to good/bad/right/wrong, and how our ego might use ‘karma’ to further its own purposes.

What if karma is actually a mask of fear?  Of feeling unworthy?  Of feeling undeserving?  Of remaining in one’s comfort zone?

Perhaps I’ve been holding on to karma (and all other outworn self-definitions) because life is so unfamiliar without it.  What happens when I ditch my karmic story?  Nothingness.  Emptiness.  The unknown.   New territory, with no roadmap.

And the thing about karma is…it is essentially unknowable.  We can guess about the ‘why’s’ forever.  We can endlessly analyze our past experiences in the desire to figure out the reasons behind them, hoping it will make everything fall into place and magically transform our lives.  But this is an endless search.

I personally don’t know anyone who remembers one of their past lives (in detail), let alone a hundred.  And even if we did remember, our analysis will be greatly influenced by our experiences, personality, and circumstances in this life.

It’s a radical thought for me to play with: what if my karmic slate is wiped clean?  What if all that truly matters are the decisions I make now?

From here on I’m going to be more conscious about what I’m telling myself.  I’m choosing to break through those seen and unseen barriers that long ago made their decisions of what I’m capable, worthy, and deserving of achieving in this precious lifetime.  I don’t want karma to be an excuse that prevents me from living life fully.  I want to allow all experiences of love, joy, abundance, freedom, and bliss coming my way.

Ultimately, all I really know or have control over is the level of integrity I’m living in this present moment.  That feels like a beautiful place to start.