Bold Journey Series
Many thanks to the Bold Journey team for developing this interview and asking about my purpose. Although I believe purpose is an ever evolving aspect of life, it is nice - in this moment - to be doing exactly what I love to do. Read the article here: https://boldjourney.com/news/meet-ali-sweeney/
Its all about the timing...
The clocks are about to change. I am not a fan of the seasonal time change. I remember being in college and crossing the international dateline on a boat. At 2pm, the day changed from one day to a different day. I remember thinking how “made up” time is. And to a certain extent humans have created time, or more so, the tracking of time.
And wow! Do we humans think about time… spend some time thinking about… how much time you spend thinking about time. How much time do I have? How long will that take? Timers to make sure we don’t spend too much time doing one thing or another. Checking the traffic. Wondering how long we have to wait until our dreams come true. Saying no there isn’t enough time for that. Or yes, we can make time for that. We can’t make time, can we?
There are spiritual scholars who call this time of our lives the “quickening”, which I find fascinating because time sure seems to be quickening. I swear time is moving faster. I’m sure science would tell you a second is still a second, but… seriously how did all of these years go by?
And in our culture, it seems like the purpose of life is to move faster, to do more, to do more more efficiently. It is as if we must move faster to keep up, to use less time for each thing so we can get to more things. I know this feeling well. It makes me try to multitask. And then I am out of present time - not fully present in any of the tasks I am doing. I can’t make a to-do list in my head of all the things I need to do and listen to my child’s story about her day. I can’t listen fully and think at the same time. What if we tried to do one thing at a time, instead of all the things all the time?
There is only one place that time is more still for me. Time is slower in meditation and I like that feeling. It is the opposite of rushing through time to get to the next thing, it is fully being.
I want to give myself permission to slow down time. I don’t have to use it all so quickly, or with so many things packed into one moment. This might mean meditating more, or simply resting more. In slowed down time, I could rest more. Rest daily. A full rest. Not the kind of rest where you are doing something else too. Not like folding the laundry while listening to a podcast, that isn’t really rest. I guess that would mean some time off. I encourage you to take some time off, afterall you are about to lose an hour.
Let's Take a Joy Ride
What is your experience of joy? Are you waiting for something great to happen? When you smile do you let it soak into you with joy, or is it just on the surface? Do you expect to live a life of wild and intense joy? Do you hope to be over-joyed? Is joy a feeling that is reserved for a wedding or a birth or just some other momentous occasion? Are you intentionally joyful? Is joy just something that sometimes happens to you?
What I have discovered in this life is that JOY makes it better. Whatever ails you, JOY changes it.
Think about children playing - the laughter, the giggles. If we had to meet a certain amount of value or have a certain amount of pain - BEFORE - we could experience joy, what little kid would have met those thresholds? Instead, kids just are joy. They catch it and take hold and then they let it ring. Joy in the simplest of things. They do not wait for someone else to be different before they hold joy, they do not keep joy on the surface - they let it all the way down to their full belly giggles. Kids don’t temper their joy, rather they give themselves permission to be overjoyed, even bouncing off the walls.
Adults can be a different story. Many of us seem to have forgotten that we are joy. There could be lots of reasons: maybe we hold so many joy inhibitors that the joy can only stay on the surface, we decided somewhere along the way that we would wait for joy, or that someone else’s joy is more important than our own. There is more than enough joy to go around and for joy to go deep. Because here’s the thing - you were once that kid. You are joy.
I am not suggesting we be joyful all the time. Sometimes it feels like life itself limits our joy. Challenges persist. There is pain, sadness, and so much more. This isn’t about being someone pretending to be joyful about the things that are hard. These things ARE hard and to pretend they are not - keeps that hardness around. But what about the joy inhibitors that are more of a habit or a belief you could change?
I’ve found that for me, worry is one of my biggest inhibitors to joy. I heard on the radio the other day that everyone worries. Every human on earth. In the stone age, worrying kept us alive. A valuable instinct, yet we are not in the stone age anymore. I actually have no control over most of the things I worry about. If I did, I would just do something about it. But instead, I worry. I create scenarios, not joy-filled scenarios, but worst case scenarios. It can be hard to feel joy through all of that worry, it can be hard to get it past the surface smile to feel it down deep. I think it is possible that worry makes room for other things too - doubt, uncertainty, weakness. So a great question to ask yourself is - are you glad you are worrying? Is it serving you? If not, you could take a break from the worry.
Worry is one of the ways we cover over our joy. Other ways could be beliefs that we can only have joy when a certain set of circumstances is met, or that someone else’s joy is more important than our own (sacrifice). Get curious about what is limiting your experience of joy in any way. What could you let go of to experience a broader spectrum of joy? If you don’t need that pattern or belief; you can change it. I believe in you. There is no waiting for joy required. No threshold of pain experiences that have to be met before YOU can experience joy.
Bring me your light. I will bask in it, and I will share mine.
Image by IceEye from Pixabay.
Standing in the Threshold
Recently, I was talking with a friend and he was reminiscing about some of the events of the past year in his life. There were some disappointments early in the year that kept him from growing his business. At the time they happened, my friend could not understand why his business wasn't working out. But then the rest of the year happened, and he was so grateful for the way it turned out! In the time in between, he learned a lot and was in a much stronger position to grow his business by the end of the year. It was better for him to grow the business NOW, then it would have been had he been initially successful. In that time in between, he was waiting in the threshold. The threshold is the place between here and there. It is the time you feel like you are treading water, and not necessarily getting anywhere. It is a getting ready space, but not the launch space. This liminal space can be incredibly uncomfortable. You may doubt yourself, you may doubt the universe, consider changing tracks, worry, overthink your options, create conflict. And sometimes you run out of patience, and want whatever it is you are about to step in to... to happen NOW.
I have been in the threshold this year as well. Events just kept happening that kept me from moving forward. It was frustrating, and there was a part of me that kept fighting for the forward momentum. The final 'sign' was when I broke a bone in my foot, and simply had to sit down - doctors orders. And so I did. I needed to stop the fight, and just rest. Sometimes you are just in the in between space, you can fight it or you can accept it. I'm finding that the easier path is acceptance.
Is there something in your life keeping you in the threshold space? Maybe there are some limiting beliefs lurking about your value, your abilities, ideas of lack, abundance, or sacrifice. What are you learning from this time in between? For me, I literally needed to learn the value of rest. The universe is always conspiring for your highest good, and sometimes standing in the threshold is just what we need.
Can you think of times you were in the threshold between two places of life? What did it feel like? What did you learn?
Better Out Than In
This is a challenging season of life for many of us. When I would talk to my mom and was screaming at the world, at my life, at anything and everything… when I cried the biggest, hardest tears… my mom’s response was always, ‘Better out than in, Al.’
What happens when you let these feelings out instead of keeping them inside of you? I am uncomfortable being angry, crying my heart out, fuming. These moments of release are uncomfortable, especially as those feelings escape. That pain isn’t easy when it hurts deep in your heart, when your throat closes down, when the emotion is all you experience. And yet - all that anger or sadness or whatever it is your feeling - is better out than in. (Ideally, you are letting it out without harming others or yourself). Maybe all that hurt has been stuck there for years (or lifetimes) and through whatever challenging experience you're having, it is healing and releasing. And then through that release you don’t have to hold it any longer. I always feel lighter, more like Myself, better, after one of these releases.
Often we compound the emotion we are feeling by telling ourselves we shouldn’t be feeling it, we are overreacting, it isn’t that bad, or we berate ourselves for feeling big emotions. I don’t like feeling these emotions, but I am coming to understand that there isn't anything 'wrong' with them (or me). Now I trust that these releases are essential for the next best version of me. I know that I can have these big emotions, be uncomfortable, find my breath, and not make me wrong. How would your life change if you felt uncomfortable emotions and that’s all that happened in your thoughts? You don’t have to change anything or feel even worse about yourself. It could be that there is nothing ‘wrong’, but rather a release of emotions that you no longer have to hold. It could be that there isn’t anything to fix, and be responsible for, other than just sitting in it. Acknowledging and accepting that this is how you feel right now. Remembering that you won’t feel this way forever, it is temporary. Your life will have peace and joy and love again.
I encourage you to sit with the release of emotion that happens, as uncomfortable as it is and remind yourself that whatever you are feeling, is better out than in.
Catch the ‘Yeah, But…’
So a compliment comes your way, someone telling you just how special you are and what happens? Do you soak that in, do you say - ‘you are RIGHT! I am special!’ Or is there a different voice in your head that says… “yeah, but… I know I am a terrible person pretending to be good.” Or maybe your voice is not that harsh, maybe your voice just says… “yeah, but… I should have done more.” Or “yeah, but not really, I am not really special.”
Do you know the sound of this ‘yeah, but’ voice? It shows up as shoulds and shouldn’ts, as a way of measuring yourself against some line that doesn’t exist, as criticism, and as judgment. It is the opposite of the compliment. The ‘yeah, but’ voice steals the compliment and changes it to harsh energy, and yet all we want is for our hearts to stir with love and joy.
It is understandable that we have all of these ‘yeah, but’ thoughts. Society constantly tells us that we are not enough, we don’t have enough, and the unattainable is well… unattainable. It tells us to wait for the next best thing to be joyful, it tells us to try harder, faster, and do more, more, more. Maybe you had a parent or a boss that pushed, pushed, pushed. These are the kinds of things that create the ‘yeah, but’ voice for a lot of us. And yet, the truth is you are worthy of love, joy, peace, or calm, just by your very existence. And a compliment is an opportunity to receive, to know, to feel, that love, joy, peace, or calm. When we give it a giant ‘yeah, but’ we push all of that away.
Try catching this voice in action. Catch the ‘yeah, but’. What would happen if you let the compliment, the good feeling sink in, without chasing it away. You are really an incredible person. NO 'YEAH, BUT'. You are really an incredible person. Can you say that to yourself? I AM an incredible person. It might be hard at first, and I believe in you. You can do this. Try it. Practice using words like this with yourself everyday. I am amazing. I AM worthy of love and joy and whatever it is you want in this life. I am amazing. Catch the ‘yeah, but’ and try love instead.
Can you feel that stirring in your heart? That’s the truth. You. Are. Amazing. Look at you! You go have this life that is ready for the one and only you. You’ve got this. NO 'YEAH, BUT'.
I just read a book with my kids (The Ogress and the Orphans - it is excellent!) and the author often asks the reader to "listen" when she was making a point not to missed. When I was learning how to access my intuition (yep, I went to psychic school) I started to really listen. There was a critical voice in my head that was waaay too loud, and an inner wisdom voice that had been shut down to a whisper. Everything I've seen and read recently about spiritual aspects and the earth is that there is a great opportunity now to really listen to your inner wisdom, to your spirit, and your body. My truth is that everyone has this aspect of them, you just might need to practice turning up the volume. Listen, really listen, stillness helps - what do you need to hear? Often permission to sit still and listen is all you really need - check out this link for a guided meditation and see what you need to hear.
Written by: Mike Way
At almost 68 years old, I enjoy finding out that I am still capable of learning some new tricks. But admittedly, at this stage, acquiring new skills that are truly “life changing” is fairly unusual. For me, meditation has become a remarkable addition to my life, even if it has come in the “autumn” of my years. Better late than never, as they say.
I’d been mildly curious about meditation for many years. In a box somewhere, I’m pretty sure I can find some books on, and an old cassette tape of, meditations. But, the tape has never been played; the books unread. Somehow, I just never actually tried it. Why?
Well, I’m aware that I had been put-off just slightly about meditation, mostly based on clichés and false assumptions (e.g. shave my head, wear orange robes and burn incense?) I worried that I’d be required to pretzel myself into the lotus position – (which by the way, as I got older, was simply out of the question!) Silly, huh?
Recently, a few things happened that finally hooked my attention…including semi-retirement and sheltering-at-home because of Covid-19. Most importantly, a dear colleague and good friend invited me to Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Abundance meditation challenge. Although I tried to think up several excuses, I was unable to overcome one simple truth….that I completely and absolutely trusted her judgment and her genuineness.
That person, of course was/is Ali. I had worked with her closely about 20 years ago, and was always deeply impressed with her very high level of intelligence, but charmingly mixed with a down-to-earth demeanor, and common-sense thoughtfulness. During the ensuing years, our career and life-paths diverged, but we never lost touch. When I learned that she had answered a calling in spirituality, I was somewhat surprised, if not slightly shocked. But, it was clear she was the same old Ali I knew, having simply turned her incredible intellect and thoughtfulness onto a different focus. I fell back on my trust and belief in her, so I accepted her invitation. Thus began my personal journey with meditation…..
For some of you reading this, you may have already discovered the power(s) of meditation for yourself. For some of you, it might encourage or support you on your own journey. For a few of you, perhaps it may provide just enough of a nudge to finally put aside any reluctance, for whatever your reason(s) and “get on with it” -- taking that first step.
The stories I can offer are simply a way to share my joy of discovery. They may or may not be similar to any of your own experiences. I don’t represent them as anything you should particularly look for; nor as correct or incorrect milestones in the meditation process. I have no idea if they are “typical” in any way, shape or form. Perhaps their best value might be in stimulating or prompting some of you to share your own stories on this blog, or elsewhere. I feel I’ve had some “profound” insights, but no doubt profound only to me because, after all, meditation is a profoundly personal experience.
In a few cases, I’ll share some ideas of my own about the process and practice of meditation itself – often borne of my own muddled awareness and misconceptions. I don’t offer these as universal truths or previously un-earthed truths – but rather as considerations for anyone who may be having difficulties (as I once did) exploring or embracing meditation.
My first “aha!” moment came roughly two-thirds into the 21 Day Challenge and was about the “process” more than a personal insight. I had come to rather enjoy the “just music” parts of the meditations as much or more than the “guided” narrative parts. Somewhere along the way, I began to be troubled that the “just music” parts were becoming shorter and shorter in duration. The ending “bell” would sound long before I was “ready” to stop, and often when I thought I was just getting started into great stuff. It occurred to me this was probably intentional in design, and probably revealed later. Curious, I went back to the first couple of days – and discovered that, while I thought the “just music” time had been decreased down to only three minutes or so – it turned out that it was actually quite consistent at 9-10 minutes from the very beginning. In fact, it was I who had changed….rather than spending/wasting the first five or seven minutes worrying about whether “I was doing it right” or having my brain take me off course with distractions such as sounds or itchy eyes or needing to sneeze – I was instead learning to ignore that stuff and redirect my focus back to the mantra. Thus my actual time in useful meditation simply had time-warped on me, making the ten minutes fly by. It made me want more….much more.
The first, most dramatic, personal moment for me happened a few days later. For most of my adult life, I’d struggled with some frustrating aspects of my relationship with my mother. Since she passed a few years ago (at age 92), I had felt an uncomfortable, unfinished lack of closure with her. Then, during a meditation, with no context or reason, she suddenly appeared to me. There was no exchange of words or anything like that, but I was suddenly flushed with a wonderful sense of warmth, forgiveness, and reconnection. I became aware in that moment, that a slight smile had crossed my face, and felt it vibrate throughout my entire body – down to my toes. I realized it was the first time in 40 years that I had looked her in the eye and smiled TRULY and SINCERELY at her, and with her. The love I felt in that moment was astonishing.
Since then, I have been meditating every day (often more than once) without fail.
Not Meditating Yet?
You’ve heard meditation is good for you. You’ve got a friend who LOVES it. You’ve been meaning to try it. But… you haven’t tried it.
As a meditation guide, lots of people ask me the best way to create a meditation practice. What is the best time, the best space, the ideal schedule? On the one hand, there isn't an easy answer because everyone is different. Yet, the easy answer is simply do what works for you and start. Yes, just start. Don’t wait until you have the perfect cushion, the right app, the silent space. Just start. Here are a few tips to help you.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Right now. Close your eyes and take 5 breaths. Look at you! If you want to get more complicated add a time to try this (for example, before you get out of bed, when you get into bed, before you eat a meal, etc.).
Notice Your Life
Play with being present throughout your day. When you are washing the dishes, can you focus your mind on turning on the tap, picking up the dish, seeing the soap bubbles.? To take another step, notice all five of your senses. What do you see when you are washing the dishes? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste?
What do YOU like?
You may notice that you like the way you feel when you try the steps above and you'll start looking for more options to meditate. I had to go to a class because I couldn't make the time for myself on my own. When I committed to a class, I showed up. You might be more disciplined, and an app could work for you. If you choose an app or a class, there are thousands of options. Notice if you like the voice and the 'energy' of the person guiding the meditation. Try different ways to meditate and notice what you like. I really like the active visualizations; I do not like making my mind go blank. Do you like starting your day with meditation or ending it with meditation (or both!)? Let yourself play - no pressure needed, no judgment of how much or what happened, just let yourself try it. When you decide what you like, you'll be more likely to do it more often because… YOU like it.
When I first started meditating I went to one class once a week. Even though I loved the class and the meditations; I would show up for class each week amazed that I hadn't even thought to meditate during the week. You might not meditate every day when you first start, or you just might fall in love and meditate whenever you can. Over the years, meditating has become something I love to do everyday. It is a yearning inside me that doesn't satiate until I sit quietly in that chair. I guide meditation classes because if more of us can walk around with that sort of love, the world is going to be a lovely place. Just start.
Journey to Joy
Professional Clairvoyant Reader