All ‘Spirituality’ Posts

28 may

Zen and the Art of Inline Skating

JennaSmithOn my 25th birthday I woke up to the realization that I was five years away from 30, and that I was a mess.

Growing up in Ohio, I had dreamed about California’s beaches, laid-back lifestyle and year-round sun. As soon as I graduated from college, I made like the Beverly Hillbillies, packed up my car, and headed for “Cali-for-nie-ay.” Once I hit San Diego’s shores I never looked back.

But San Diego wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. First, I didn’t really know anyone. Sure, I’m adventurous, but I’m also introverted by nature. As a result, I took a lot of moonlit walks along the beach, alone. After a while, I kind of lost the taste for it, which was OK because I had to work anyway.

One of the good things I could say about work was that it solved my social issues. I had plenty of friends at the cubicle farm, and that’s even where I met my guy.

I was in my dream city, I had a good job, I had my guy, and things were great, right?

Well, three years later I was sitting in the same desk, at the same job, in a windowless cubicle, staring at a beach screen-saver instead of enjoying the actual beach outside my door… OK, the beach across town.

When I wasn’t hanging out with some friends from the office, I was spending my evenings camped out on the couch, too tired and depressed from the job and the rush-hour commute to do much more than watch whatever was on TV and listen to the blood coagulating in my veins.

So back to my 25th birthday.

I woke up that morning with 30 looming like an object in my rearview mirror. At that moment I decided that something needed to change.

I would quit my job, buy myself a VW Bus, go to Burning Man, get a sick tattoo, meet a man named Snake, then we would come back to San Diego and spend our days rollerblading along Pacific Beach like “Slomo.”

I’d be free, gosh darn it, to do what I want, any old time.

After I had my first cup of coffee I kind of came to my senses and realized that Burning Man had already passed, and that it probably wasn’t a good idea to just up and quit my job.

But that didn’t mean I couldn’t do some of the other things on my list, namely the rollerblading.

See, I knew that I needed to get out, get moving, and get healthier. Day after day after night of sitting, sitting, sitting, had worn me out so much that I was starting to take the shape of my couch and desk chair.

Initially I had considered running, but gravity and I came to an agreement long ago – I wouldn’t try to defy it, and it wouldn’t blow out my knees and, so far, the agreement was going strong. Then I thought about joining a gym and realized the last thing I wanted to do was exercise indoors.

Then I thought about how much I had enjoyed roller skating as a kid, and how hanging out with Slomo at going as fast as you can go on these thin wheels, and I headed out to get my first set of inline skates.

Happy Birthday to me!

Two years later, I’m still skating.

I did make it to Burning Man once, but didn’t meet a guy named Snake. I did meet a Josh, however, while I was skating. I was minding my own business when this horse of a dog ran by me, trailing his leash. I roll over it, trip, and wipe out on the pavement. The rest is pretty much the stuff of romantic comedies.

About six months after my birthday I finally got the courage to quit my job. I had decided that I’d had enough of the nine-to-five world so I became a freelance writer. I set my own schedule, and I always make sure to include plenty of time outdoors. I’ve even started working on this novel that had been rattling around in my head since forever.

At first it was tough making all those changes, but whenever things got stressful I would just strap on the blades, head to the beach, and roll until my heart was calm and my heard was clear. I never actually skated with Slomo, but I pass him a couple times, and wave hello.

As far as the tattoo is concerned, well, a girl’s got to have a few secrets, right?

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on May 28th, 2014 in New Directions, Personal Stories, Spirituality | No comments

20 may

How I Turned My Life Around and How You Can Too: Tips for Creating Permanent, Positive Change

Several years ago I developed an interest in self-improvement. My life was not horrible which is probably why I never felt particularly compelled to change it. I realized I was kind of just coasting on auto-pilot, not really giving much thought to what was happening with me, and whether I was happy. There was no one defining incident that lit my fire, rather I started on the path, and just kept walking it. Now, I have a life I never would have dreamed possible years ago. A whole book could be written about this topic, and thousands have, but here are a few key points I would tell anyone who was interested in really changing their life, and making permanent, positive change.

Define Your Why

Unless you get super-crystal clear about why you want to make the changes you are hoping to make, you are not going to get very far at all. You must define your “why.” Why do you want to lose that weight? Why do you want to work in a particular field? Why do you want to make more money? Why do you want to travel the world? Once you answer that initial question, ask yourself why you want that thing, and then that thing, and so on until you hit the rock bottom of your desire. This is where you will discover your core values, the things most important to you. Without figuring out your core values, your efforts at change will be half-hearted, and you will probably give up eventually. But, with a strong “why,” you will muster the motivation; you will have less difficulty making the decisions that are necessary. The “sacrifices” you must make to achieve your goals won’t seem so bad.

Feed Your Mind The Info That Forms Your New Belief System And Behavior

Right now, you hold so many limiting beliefs, and have so many self-sabotaging behaviors, you have no idea. You have no idea because this stuff is so deeply rooted, you are not even fully aware of it. But, once you start thinking more deliberately about changing your life, you will start to see more clearly the negative beliefs you hold about love, money, success and life in general; you will become more aware of the behaviors. The only way you will make the changes you desire is to flood your mind with information that is more positive and empowering; information to help you develop a new outlook on life, an outlook that supports your success, not detracts from it. And this is not something you can only do once in a while; you must do it all the time. This constant repetition is the only thing that will help shake loose the negative stuff that has been living quite comfortably in your mind this whole time.

You want to read and listen to everything you can get your hands on. Read about general personal development, read about law of attraction, read about any topic that resonates with you. Different people have different styles, and some will vibe with you and some won’t. Find the ones that do and devour their material.

One of the best types of information is stories about real people who have succeeded in the ways in which you hope. Learning about them will inspire you. If you hope to become a successful entrepreneur, read more about people like Richard Branson. If you hope to run a successful e-commerce website, learn more about someone like Patrick Byrne, the CEO of the monster hit Overstock.com, or Amazon’s genius Jeff Bezos.

Start Going After What You Want Without Worrying About How

Surely logic serves us well in our lives, but when it comes to creating the life you dream of, it can be a real drag. We are so conditioned to plan, and figure things out. When you first start thinking about your ideal life, you will look at your current life and try to figure out “how” you will get from here to there. Then you will start feeling discouraged because you won’t be able to figure it out. But, it is not your job to do so. You may be afraid you will fail, and that will stop you in your tracks. Just start focusing and taking any necessary steps, and things will unfold along the way. You can’t possibly anticipate all the ways your wish can be fulfilled, so leave that to the Universe, and focus on the “what.”

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on May 20th, 2014 in Career, New Directions, Personal Stories, Spirituality | No comments

24 apr

5 Ways to Remodel Yourself (without Plastic Surgery)

JennaSmithA total-self-remodel differs from reinventing yourself, in that it’s about both the inside and the outside. It’s about changing your appearance for the better, as well as improving your attitude and outlook on life. Remodeling yourself takes some work, but if you’re willing to go the extra mile the results will be life affirming.

The following are some steps to take to remodel you. You don’t have to follow this guide to a T, but rather are encouraged to use it as a base guide for the work you want to do on yourself. Please, keep in mind that change requires action. In order to remodel yourself, you’ll need to make a conscious effort that is both thought out and deliberate. You must be serious about transformation, in order for transformation to occur.

1. Define Your Career Goals

It’s a harsh truth to face, but luck isn’t going to rescue you from your dead end job. Do you truly believe that someone, someday, is going to recognize all your hard work, pluck you from the crowd, and promote you? If so, you’re not being honest with yourself. The harsh reality is that no one recognizes your skills until you point them out. Part of remodeling yourself is remodeling your life’s aspirations.

Now is the time to define your career goals.

Ask yourself where you’d like to be career-wise in 5, 10, and even 20 years. Brainstorm your childhood hopes and dreams, as well as what you’re good at. Come to a conclusion about your aspirations, and then identify your goals. Even if you’re not sure what you want to do with your career, at least you’ll have defined what you’re good at.

2. Change Your “Look”

Changing how you look on the outside can have a really positive impact on how you feel on the inside. Although shopping for new clothes and a hairstyle will get this activity in motion, the real reinvention comes from long-term commitments to health, exercise, and beauty. It’s time to define what you want from your appearance.

You don’t need cosmetic surgery to change your face or body. Instead, you can opt for healthier, less-invasive procedures, such as body wraps, facials, and skin rejuvenations. These procedures will help you feel younger, as well as they can help jumpstart weight loss or improve skin quality.

“We believe that everyone has the right to go through the world with confidence,” says leading skin rejuvenators, americanlaser.com. “So whether it’s about looking better in a bathing suit, seeing a younger version of an “old friend” in the mirror, or whisking away unwanted hair, we’ll help make it happen. So you can love what’s looking back at you.”

3. Keep a Schedule

Transformation isn’t going to happen overnight, so schedule in your changes. Keep a list of the changes you want to see in yourself, as well as journal about your progress. Set reminders for yourself, so you don’t forget important activities, such as trips to the gym and daily affirmations. Keeping a schedule will ensure you stay on track while you’re redesigning a whole new you. Plus, a schedule oriented person is more successful in all areas of life.

4. Meet New People

Forging connections can help you in both your career and your personal life. It’s time to fill your life with positive people who support the new you. These people can be met in a variety of places, which should add some interesting experiences to your new lifestyle. Make sure to only frequent places wherein you’ll find like-minded supportive individuals.

For example, if part of your reinvention is spiritual, try introducing yourself to some friendly new faces at church. If your reinvention is focusing on the physical, look to meet active people on nature walks and hikes, as well as at the gym. Finally, if your reinvention is primarily about work, look for connections on LinkedIn, or ask your boss to refer you to some new clients.

5. Put the Past Behind You and Follow Your Dreams

You can’t move forward with a new life if you’re being held back by your old one. It’s time to put away the past and embrace the future, which is full of promise.

If you need to, seek therapy for this part of your remodel. Dealing with your personal and professional issues will help prepare you for dealing with any new issues that may arise. Your past could be holding you back from a happier, more productive future, so embrace and face the pain, deal with it, and move on.

Finally, follow your dreams. Your dreams are as unique as you are, and following them will bring untold joy and happiness into your life. Staying positive and never giving up are important to keeping a commitment to your dreams. Commit to a positive attitude, to working hard, and to redefining yourself and everyone will adore the new you!

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on April 24th, 2014 in Career, Diet and Fitness, New Directions, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in ,

12 sep

How to Heal Relationships – Part One

WEJMDTruly loving, nurturing and sustainable relationships are not happening for a great many of us. The reasons for this have to do with our ego getting in the way, with our unwillingness to be more thoughtful, tolerant and considerate, with our unwillingness to rise above the battlefield, to release our anger and resentments from the past, to effectively communicate, to negotiate differences and to establish, maintain and respect boundaries.

I say unwillingness because although it may be difficult to do these things, we choose not to. Loving, sustainable relationships are not the result of accidents or luck, they are the result of healthy choices.

It’s profound the degree to which most of us treat strangers, acquaintances, co-workers and friends much better than we treat our loved ones. With our loved ones, we forget about being compassionate, generous, selfless, considerate, empathetic and loving. We take them for granted. We ridicule them. We shame them. We ignore their needs and invalidate their feelings. And then we complain that we don’t have the relationship that we want.

This isn’t tricky stuff. If we want to have a loving relationship, we need to be loving. If we want to be understood, we need to understand. If we want to be appreciated, we need to appreciate. If we want to be respected, we need to respect. If we want consideration, we need to be considerate. If we don’t want to be judged and shamed, we need to not judge and shame. If we want to be forgiven, we need to forgive.

We reap what we sow. It’s the Golden Rule and it works: When we treat others as we wish to be treated we tend to receive what we give. Our world gets better. Our relationships become more loving, more nurturing, more satisfying and more enduring.

So that’s the ticket: We choose to be generous. We choose to be grateful. We choose to be gracious. We don’t assume the worst. We give our partner the benefit of the doubt. When our partner says or does something that we feel is inconsiderate or unloving we don’t immediately assume they wanted to attack us and hurt us. We don’t immediately go into an aggressive attack mode.

We remind ourselves that in the past we have said and done things that were thoughtless, inconsiderate and unloving, and at those times we wanted our partner to understand, to tolerate our mistakes, to not hold it against us and to forgive us. And so this is what we choose to do with our partner. We accept, we tolerate, we overlook, we forgive.

We don’t need to turn every thoughtless word or action from our partner into a battlefield. We can choose to not sweat the small stuff. We can choose to remind ourselves that they love us, they care about us, they’re not trying to hurt us. We can let it go. We don’t have to make a big stink about it.

This ties into the idea of “Would you rather be right or happy?” Oftentimes, when we feel wronged, we become insistent about confronting our partner, getting in their face, demanding that they feel guilty and shamed, demanding that they own their transgression, demanding an apology. And it’s oftentimes over minor stuff. And it’s oftentimes over stuff that could be open to interpretation. For example, when we’re feeling insecure we are more likely to perceive an innocuous comment from our partner as an attack. And this prompts us to go into our attack mode.

When we go into our attack mode and insist that we are right and they are wrong, we are loving and they are not, we are cool and they are cruel, and that they need to capitulate and apologize for their horrible acts, this oftentimes causes greater polarization in the relationship, greater antagonism and resentment.

If we don’t get their capitulation, everyone is upset. If we do get their capitulation, oftentimes everyone is still upset because of all the fighting that preceded it. Point being: If we insist on getting an acknowledgment that we are right, we usually end up not being happy. If we decide to stop needing to prove that we are right and instead choose our battles and choose to not make mountains out of molehills, we end up being happy. Isn’t that the whole point of having a relationship in the first place?

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on September 12th, 2013 in Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

17 may

Ariane’s Four Talks on Change

ArianedeBonvoisinHello! I’ve just added to YouTube four (4) videos that I wanted to share on Navigating Change. Some of them are nice and short, only five minutes long. If you’ve got a cup of tea and your journal, you can watch the hour-long talk I recently gave on “The 9 Principles of Change,” to a group of 500 executives. I cover personal, professional, health, family, relationship and financial changes. Enjoy and please share with anyone you know who is going through a change, thinking about a change, struggling or helping someone else with a change!

Click here to view Ariane’s Overview of Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s Questions about Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s The First Principle of Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s The 9 Principles of Change.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on May 17th, 2013 in Ariane, Career, Diet and Fitness, Family, Finances, Global/Social Change, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments

13 oct

Parenting Kids Through Times of Change

happier_confidenceWe live in transitional times. Each of us is affected by change, whether it be a job change, a relationship change, a financial change or even a health-related change.

Kids feel these changes, too. They witness them closely. For example, often they are involved in the case of a divorce, a death or a move.

I’ve found a few insights that can really make a difference when parenting children during these types of life events. Plus, my personal belief is that teaching them about change is one of the most fundamental life skills to impart to them to be prepared for the years when they’re growing up.

Parents need to get comfortable with change, then your children will be comfortable, too. Kids are a lot less fragile through change than their parents are. Kids often simply reflect how you are feeling, so if they are acting out, it’s because you may have some emotions that aren’t being expressed. If they are anxious, it’s because you are, too, at some level. Think about it, at any moment, you are either being a warning or an example for your kids, how you eat, how you communicate, how you behave, everything you do. They see and feel everything. So regarding the change you’re going through, are you coming from a place of trust and faith or one of fear? Are you coming from your heart and a loving space or from your head and responsibilities? Be an example for how to navigate change. Be positive, accept the change once it’s happened and stop comparing things to what was. Believe in something greater going on, ask for help so your kids see that there are always people ready to help and they/you are never alone. Take some action. Take care of yourself during times of change so your kids see that just because something has changed doesn’t mean your whole life and especially your health will be affected.

The most important thing your kids want is for you to be happy! This is what your kids are yearning for. They aren’t yearning for their old school after a while, or how things were. They want to be in a home that is filled with laughter and love. Get out of the serious box. Yes, a change may be serious, but it’s not so serious that you want to teach your kids that all change is hard, tough, and worth getting concerned about. So yes, if getting happy and doing what you want involves going away for the weekend, going to the gym, taking a new class, going back to work, do it. Your kids will unconsciously and consciously relax when they know you are OK and doing things you love and enjoy. They’d rather you were happy than at home all the time. They’d rather you be happy alone than unhappily married.

Parents need to wake up and place their trust in their children’s inner-guidance system. So many parents tend to over-parent their kids, do everything for them, show them, help them. This is underestimating their innate ability that the same life force that is flowing through you is flowing through them. Wake up their intuition, their instincts. Believe they can figure things out. Ask them how something feels. It’s easier for you as parents to worry about your kids, when the truth is that you yourself are the one that’s worried. Kids aren’t that worried at their core since they are in the present moment, while we adults feel fear and nervousness when thinking about the past and future effect of a change. Teach your kids that they have access to answers on the inside of them at all times–even more answers than Mom or Dad can provide. Their bodies are always sending them signals about what’s the right thing to do.

Teach them that they have a “change muscle.” Kids love knowing this. That there is a specific muscle to be able to handle changes, that they can flex it, use it and it gets stronger with every change they experience–that the body is made for change and that the best of who they are is going to come out during times of change, that life is always giving them an opportunity to grow, to learn something, to acquire a new set of emotions, such as courage, faith or patience when change comes their way.
Teach them “The Change Guarantee.” Write down the following phrase for them, somewhere visible. “From this situation, something good will come.” Start showing them that good things come from change. Go through previous changes that have happened and the good that eventually came. Teach them that life is on their side, that it’s always coming up with new ways to bring something into their lives.

Allow kids to be human and express their emotions. Teach them that its perfectly OK to be sad, to cry, to be angry, to be anything they are feeling. Make their feelings seem right, not wrong. Don’t impose any deadlines on when they should stop feeling something. The same goes for you. It’s good for your kids to see you have feelings. Do not only be in supermom or superdad mode. When they see you are human, sad, scared for a little while, then they feel much safer being the same. Do not try to change what they are feeling. If they are feeling something, reward it.

For more information on the 9 Principles of Change, be sure to pick up a copy of my book, The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier. The change principles equally apply for children of any age.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on October 13th, 2012 in Ariane, First30Days Book, General, New Directions, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments

04 sep

30-Day Life Re-boot

LimiSoulRadioMy good friend Holly Riddel, invited me to be on her radio show a few weeks ago and I gladly accepted. (She and I met at a small Wayne Dyer retreat at his place in Maui, a few years ago.)

Her show is called LIMI Soul Radio, LIMI stands for Love Is My Intention. Beyond being a great, natural interviewer and host, her passion is also about creating amazing jewelry. Check out her site, www.hollyriddeldesigns.com.

I personally have two of her delightful Inside Out rings, where the stone is actually on the inside of the ring, facing inwards. Only you know it’s there. Every stone represents a divine quality: love, courage, self nurturing, passion….etc.
I’ve worn them to big events, TV shows, and felt like it was a pact I had with myself when i looked down at my ring. She makes each ring herself, putting love and her beautiful energy into them.

She decided to do a 30-day life re-boot and had hundreds of people from all around the world participating. We had a lovely conversation about what makes people really change, how to manage all the different changes we are facing in this special time of the year with so much going on. It’s fun, light, engaging and, yes, very human and a very authentic chat. Enjoy and please share. www.blogtalkradio.com/limisoulradio/2012/07/28/limi-soul-radio.

Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on September 4th, 2012 in Health, New Directions, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments

24 aug

A Spiritual Conspiracy

goinggreen_lushgreenparkThe word conspiracy means really to “breathe together.” I was sent this poem and wanted to share it as it applies to so many who are part of what I call “the change movement.” Each of you is taking a stand for change, being an example whether in yourself, your family, your workplace, or your community. Thank you for what you do, who you are and your work in the world. You know who you are.

On the surface of our world right now
There is war, violence, and craziness
And things may seem dark.

But calmly and quietly
At the same time
Something is happening underground.

An inner revolution is taking place
And certain individuals
Are being called to a higher light.

It is a silent revolution
From the inside out
From the ground up.

This is a global co-operation
That has sleeper cells in every nation.
It is a planetary Spiritual Conspiracy.

You won’t likely see us on T.V.
You won’t read about us in the newspaper.
You won’t hear from us on the radio.

We don’t seek glory.
We don’t wear any uniform.
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles.

We are in every country and culture of the world
In cities big and small, mountains and valleys
In farms and villages, tribes and remote islands.

Most of us work anonymously
Seeking not recognition of name
But profound transformation of life.

Working quietly behind the scenes
You could pass by one of us on the street
And not even notice.

We go undercover
Not concerned for who takes the final credit
But simply that the work gets done.

Many of us may seem to have normal jobs.
But behind the external storefront
Is where the deeper work takes a place.

With the individual and collective power
Of our minds and hearts
We spread passion, knowledge, and joy to all.

Some call us the Conscious Army
As together
We co-create a new world.

Our orders come from the Spiritual Intelligence Agency
Instructing us to drop soft, secret love bombs
when no one is looking.

Poems–Hugs–Music–Photography–Smiles–Kind words
Movies–Meditation and Prayer–Dance–Websites
Social Activism–Blogs–Random Acts of Kindness

We each express ourselves
In our own unique ways
With our own unique gifts and talents.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”
That is the motto that fills our hearts.
We know this is the path to profound transformation.

We know that quietly and humbly
Individually and collectively
We have the power of all the oceans combined.

At first glance our work is not even visible.
It is slow and meticulous
Like the formation of mountains.

And yet with our combined efforts
Entire tectonic plates
Are being shaped and moved for centuries to come.

Love is the religion we come to share
And you don’t need to be highly educated
Or have exceptional knowledge to understand it.

Love arises from the intelligence of the heart
Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse
Of all living beings.

Be the change you want to see in the world.
Nobody else can do it for you.
Yet don’t forget, we are all here supporting you.

We are now recruiting.
Perhaps you will join us
Or already have.

For in this spiritual conspiracy
All are welcome, and all are loved.
The door is always open.

–Author Appropriately Unknown

Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on August 24th, 2012 in Spirituality | No comments

23 aug

The Highest Pass

HighestPassWell, I never really did think my backside would be prominently featured on a giant movie poster! It was never one of my life goals to be honest and yet, boom — it has happened.

I also never thought I would ever sit myself on a motorbike going 80 miles an hour! I’ve lost friends on motorbikes so you can imagine it wasn’t something I was eager to do. You know those things that you will “never do”? I call it the anti-Bucket List. Those things that you’ve decided, nope, not me. Either because it brings up fear or some other emotion you’re not really up for. I’m talking bungee jumps, speaking in public at an important event, or even something like telling that guy or girl you’ve been friends with for years that you actually have feelings for them. What is on YOUR anti-Bucket List?

Back to the movie. So, riding a motorbike was on my anti-Bucket List. So when one of my best friends, Brooks, an avid rider himself, asked me if I wanted to go to the Himalayas and ride across the highest roads in the world as part of a documentary film, I said sure (that’s my type of thing!) but, I’d happily stay in the film vehicle. I therefore arrived in India, with no riding gear, but excited to be part of this adventure and see these beautiful mountains that hold such spiritual significance as well.

There were eight riders, all guys and another seven guys, all crew, drivers, mechanics, you name it. That’s a lot of men and testosterone for one woman!

Within a few days of the journey getting started in Rishikesh (the birthplace of yoga), I figured, why not try and get on a bike. Was I really safer in the jeep? Was God more present in a car than on the bike? Also, another big reason was that there wasn’t much space for me in those film vehicles while the crew recorded our every move and conversation.

I found a helmet, bright yellow biker pants (for guys, of course, so they were way too big) and one of the guys lent me a spare leather padded jacket. I looked like the Michelin man! “Great,” I thought. My first entrance onto the big movie screen and I look terrible. High-def cameras on me at all times and I had no make up ever. I didn’t even have a mirror for the whole month we were gone and we didn’t exactly wash much! Here began my first lesson in letting go — letting go of wanting to look good, of being a certain way on camera, of how people were going to see me and think of me. Letting go of controlling other people’s opinions of me. Of allowing myself to be seen, exactly the way I was — whether I was tired, sick and suffering from altitude sickness, hungry, wanting my space, freezing, terrified, whatever was present for me. All of it was going to be captured on camera. Vulnerability at its max!

The next big lesson in giving up control came from actually getting on the BACK of the bike. This I can tell you is actually harder than being the one riding it! Roads in India are a massive danger zone. They are filled with people, cows, trucks, kids. There are no traffic lights ever, no signs. People die all the time on them. There is so much going on, the noise, the distractions. And once we started getting out of the cities and into the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, roads turned to snow, avalanches, ice, rocks, dirt, sand, you name it. I literally had to put my life in the hands of the guy who was riding the bike. Brooks first, (then he had an accident and couldn’t ride with a passenger anymore), then Mike. Mike showed me how to ride and feel safe.

When you’re on the back, you’ve got to basically go where they go. So, when they lean all the way right, that’s what you’re doing even though every part of you thinks that gravity is going to make this bike tumble. And tumble I did, a few times. The most pleasant fall being in sandy dunes where the weight of two riders basically sank the bike into the sand!

We traversed mountain peaks, through all weather conditions, altitudes of up to 19,000 feet. We slept in army barracks, monasteries. We ate a lot of lentil soup and drank chai tea daily. We rode over 2,000 miles in about a month. We became a family. We each had very distinct personalities and every day brought another set of challenges, either individually or as a group.

The ultimate lesson was facing death I guess. It was very clear the level of danger we were all undertaking. (We were higher than Base Camp Everest just to give you a sense!) I guess I’ve never had to actually go right into the feeling that at the end of any one of these days, either one of my fellow riders or I might be gone. All I can say is that there is real freedom when you do. When you understand that you are safe no matter what. That you are not the physical body. That you are never really in control of anything. And not to get this intellectually, like “it’s great to overcome my fear” kind of thing, but when your bones really get it, your life is very different.

India changes people. But this experience left me looking at life as something to love and learn from. It was never about becoming someone, making it, being successful, being safe and in control, or getting some approval from the world. Life became about a deep search for truth, for knowledge for what is really worth doing and becoming.

I ended up going back to New York, getting rid of most of my stuff and then traveling the world for nearly two years. Yes, I may end up writing a lot more about this life changing experience! In the meantime, I invite you to look at the trailer www.thehighestpass.com. The movie has been released in movie theaters in LA and Seattle and will be coming to many other cities. I’m also honored to be screening it at Google and Twitter in mid-July.

Posted by First 30 Days on August 23rd, 2012 in Ariane, New Directions, Personal Stories, Spirituality | No comments

18 feb

The Message We’re Not Hearing from Our Politicians: Tolerance, Acceptance, Compassion and Unity

WEJMDUnity is a very important theme. It is critical to the resolution of the many problems facing our nation and our world today because without it we will never be able to engage the necessary solutions.

In this election year it’s painfully clear that there are many people with many differences. Many needs. Many perspectives. Many polarities. Many grievances. Many resentments. Many biases. Many prejudices. A great deal of intolerance. A great deal of hostility. A great deal of rage and aggression.

We have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten that we originally all came from one Source. We all came from a place of Unity, a place of Universal Acceptance and Love. And then we fell into a dream of separation, a dream of selfish egos competing with each other rather than cooperating, attacking each other rather than living in harmony.

We have lost our way. We have lost our universal identity as a brotherhood of people. So caught up in the distinction of skin color, races and nations, we have lost our true connection with God. And now, amidst all the chaos, the confusion, the rage and the hate, we must find our way Home. We must find a way to re-unite with God and each other before we destroy ourselves. How do we do this?

How do we unify amidst so much divisiveness and venom?

It surely would be a whole lot easier and happen a whole lot faster if we had leaders who made acceptance, forgiveness and love the platform of their party, the priority above all other priorities, the glue holding together their political agenda.

Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening. When I listen to the various presidential candidates all I hear is what they’re going to do for us. Right now it’s the Republicans, but later it will be the Democrats doing the very same thing, everybody telling us what they’re going to do for us.

No one telling us what WE need to do for us, what you and I, what we the people need to do for ourselves if we want to truly solve our problems. If we want a world where people cooperate and co-exist in harmony, peace and prosperity, we must appreciate that it won’t happen at the level of nations and leaders.

It will happen from the ground up. It will happen first with the choices that WE make, you and I, each and every one of us. The choices we make to be more tolerant, more accepting, more loving, more forgiving, and more generous.

Easier said than done amidst so much anger, grievance, resentment and judgment swirling all around us, so many of us seeing the differences in people rather than the similarities, seeing others as the enemy if they don’t think the same way we do. If they have a different god or a different religion or a different political persuasion, if they’re too far to the left or too far to the right, we don’t just disagree, we demonize them, we label them evil and dangerous, they’re going to destroy America.

All this fear mongering, all this demonizing has got to stop. It solves nothing. It further polarizes people. It makes things worse.

Bottom line: There are too many people with divergent views and needs. For any of us to take extreme intransigent positions and expect the rest of the nation to get on board is unrealistic and counterproductive. We will never have a nation where everyone thinks the same way. We must find common ground amidst the differences. We must find ways to cooperate, compromise and negotiate for the greatest good of all concerned.

How do we do this? One person at a time. One mind at a time. One heart at a time. We do it by example. By role modeling right action. Albert Schweitzer had it right when he said, “Example is leadership.”

Example is leadership.

We cannot rely on our leaders to be the examples of right action. We must be the example. We must be the role models. We must each of us make the personal commitment to discourage the fear-mongering, the demonizing, the rageful, hate speech about those who don’t share our beliefs.

If we don’t do it, it’s not going to happen. All the divisiveness will defeat us in the long run. Not global warming. Not earthquakes and tsunamis. Not nuclear weapons. Not terrorists. Our divisiveness will defeat us.

We are the enemy of ourselves when we lack tolerance and compassion, and lash out at those we disagree with. True patriotism means respecting our fellow citizens regardless of their political viewpoints or religious beliefs.

We have been trained to believe in concepts like “every man for himself,” and “kill or be killed” which suggest that we must compete and battle others if we are to succeed and prevail. We have been trained to believe that aggression is necessary in order to survive.

The truth is that we do not need aggression in order to survive. The truth is that we will not prevail, in the long run, as long as we believe we must attack and subjugate others in order to win.

Most people think that “survival of the fittest” means survival of the strongest, the most aggressive, the most violent and predatory. They are wrong. Survival of the fittest in the final analysis will be survival of the spiritually fittest, survival of those who strive to unite rather than divide, survival of those who strive to let go of judgments and prejudices, survival of those who strive to embrace acceptance and tolerance, survival of those who are dedicated to the application of compassion, generosity and forgiveness.

The meek shall inherit the earth.

“The meek shall inherit the earth” doesn’t mean the weak shall inherit the earth. It means those who are humble, accepting and forgiving shall inherit the earth, those who embrace peaceful methods to solve problems, to bridge divergent ideologies, and to find the common ground shall inherit the earth.

We will not survive as a nation, as a people, as a planet unless we recognize that the solution to all of our problems requires a unified approach that embraces trust, compassion and cooperation rather than further entrenchment in the ideology of war and destruction of others as a means to our peace and prosperity.

There is great beauty in the diversity of nature. There is great beauty in the diversity of human beings. But instead of appreciating that diversity and glorifying it, we fear it, we blame it, we scapegoat it, we destroy it… and in the process we destroy ourselves. Sooner or later we destroy ourselves with our fear and our divisiveness. Therefore, it behooves us to find a way to rise above the battlefield, to perceive the world in a different light, so that we can appreciate the foolishness of attacking others.

One way to do this is to consider the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle. Each jigsaw puzzle piece looks different in some way from other pieces, but each piece is inherently the same, in the sense that each piece is an integral part of the puzzle that contributes to the puzzle’s wholeness. Without every single piece, the puzzle is not complete.

It would be irrational and self-destructive for one puzzle piece to hurt or destroy another puzzle piece because the integrity of the whole puzzle, which each piece is ultimately dependent upon, would be damaged in the process.

We are all puzzle pieces. Each of us looks different but we’re all the same. Each of us a piece of the puzzle, a piece of the total picture, a piece of God. When we attack one another, we are being irrational and self-destructive because we are attacking the integrity of the whole organism, we are attacking the Oneness which each of us is a part of. We are essentially attacking God when we attack any of his children.

And so it behooves us to appreciate the Oneness of Life, that despite differences and diversity, we are all the same, that we were all cut from the same cloth, that we are all part of the whole, that we are all interconnected, that we were all created by God and deserve equally all the blessings of life that God offers, that we need to share our blessings with others, that we need to care about those less fortunate than ourselves, that there is one thing we need to do above all else and that is to treat others as we wish to be treated.

Love ye one another.

This is how we will unify our nation and our world. With love. With acceptance. With tolerance and with forgiveness. This is what we must practice and preach. Love. Acceptance. Tolerance and Forgiveness. This is how we must behave towards each other. This is the behavior we need to role model for our children. Unconditional love, acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness.

We must teach our children well. We must teach our children to recognize their spiritual brothers and sisters in everyone they see, regardless of what they look like, what clothes they are wearing, what country they came from, the color of their skin, the language they speak, or the God they believe in.

We must teach our children and everyone we meet the virtues of generosity, courtesy, consideration, humility and grace. We must teach our children and everyone we meet to be of service to others, to aid others as best we can, to ask the question, “How can I help you?” rather than “What’s in it for me?”

We must teach our children and everyone we meet to find ways to let go of anger and hurt, to see the God in people, the good in people, despite how they’re behaving, to find ways to hate the sin but love the sinner.

We must teach our children and everyone we meet that there is a oneness, there is a wholeness of which we are all a part, that we are all inextricably bound together, that we each have a responsibility to each other, that we ARE our brother’s keeper, that we must exclude no one from our love, that we’re all in this together, that nobody wins if anybody loses.

In this election year and the years to come, try to remember that it is our job not to elect leaders but to BE leaders, to be the role models that our world needs to survive and to thrive. It is our job to find the similarities, the commonalities rather than the differences. It is our job to find ways to unify rather than divide. It is our job to remember that either we all hang together or we will surely hang separately.

Forgive To Win!

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Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on February 18th, 2012 in First30Days Book, General, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,