30 April 2012

And Finally! The Tenth Secret

#10: Wisdom is Avoiding All Thoughts that Weaken You.

I can read and comprehend all the words written above.  I can even comprehend the meaning behind the entire sentence.  However, my brain stumbles a little every time I read (and reread) these words...and I think it is because the sentence above is a perfect example of an idea that is so simple and yet so complex.

Simple in its theory - yes, obtaining wisdom seems easy.  Avoid weakening thoughts.
Complex, though, in the sense that execution is difficult.  Paradox!

Here's the mental breakthrough I've had while reading this book.  Dr. Dyer's secrets to inner peace and success are truly accessible...if we are willing to retrain our brains.  We must think purposefully, constantly monitor our internal reactions to thoughts, and visualize what to do with such thought when they arise.

In fact, Dr. Dyer says, "Authentic wisdom is the ability to monitor yourself at all times to determine your relative state of weakness or strength, and to shift out of these thoughts that weaken you (146)."

In what might be construed as a little spiritual physics lesson, Dyer discusses the idea of power and force (as first elaborated upon by a Dr. David Hawkins).  Power involves thoughts that move us upward (the "high" energies - love, peace, kindness, joy, willingness, etc.).  Force involves the "low" energies that drive us downward (anger, apathy, fear, shame, and guilt).  The trick is to be aware when a "low" energy is acting upon you, and respond with a "high" one.

Empowering thoughts are healthy - not only in mind, but in body.  (Now that honestly I'm not 100% sold on...but the spiritual part I buy).  Ultimately, how we think, how we react - is totally our choice.  We carry our thoughts around with us, they are ours, we control them!

The quotes for this particular subsection stood out to me, so I'll share them here - along with one of President Abraham Lincoln's.

"Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create that fact." - William James
"Nothing is, unless our thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare
"People are as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

One last final observation on the book.  Many of Dyer's secrets work in synergy with each other...killing two birds with one stone, to use a tired cliche.  For example, Secret #1 advises us to let things go and be attached to nothing.  Dyer reminds us that it's okay for us to have thoughts but that we should immediately let them go.  This principle resonates with Secret #10...avoid weakening thoughts.  When we let the negative thought go, we move towards wisdom. 

I enjoyed reading this text with my husband.  We were provided with rich and meaningful discussion...not to mention mental awareness!

28 April 2012

Treasure Your Divinity - Secret Nine

Honestly, I was ill-disposed to this section's title upon first reading.  Until I realized Dyer is pushing God in the divine, general sense of the word, which may have nothing to do with the Christian church God (although it very well could).

Dyer speaks of being separated from our "source" of divine power, and that accompanying feeling of disconnection.  A particularly illuminating subsection here addresses egos.  Dyer says, "Your ego is nothing more than an idea that you carry around with you everywhere you go."  While this doesn't sound terribly harmful, our egos throw the following spiritual obstacles:

- it is formed by what you have, what you do...and it "tells" you this is who you are.
- it puts you in competition with others for various resources
- it fosters distrust and wariness
- it reminds you (usually not in a constructive way) of what you're missing
- it saps our energy by keeping us in a "constant state of fear, anxiety, worry, and stress"

I'm no psychology major, but I can see the validity in this concept.  Ego is what keeps society searching for ways to lose weight, stay young and be trendy.  On a literal level, it's a problem because ego is causing the world to develop a convoluted sense of entitlement.  It's our egos that keep us from being grateful or reaching out to "fill each other's buckets".  On a deeper level, it prevents us from questioning our true purpose in life.   Our ego chains us to this material planet.  Ultimately, in the end, what we have and what we do does not follow us into death and beyond.

Now, here's the fun part (for me, anyway).  We're all Divine creatures.  We're part of the Divine creation, and there is a spark of Divinity in everything around us.  Dr. Dyer goes so far as to state, "We are God."  While I might have trouble stomaching that, it's food for thought.  We are Divine - we go beyond the material - beyond the ego.  We are greater than it.

While there is much in this book that provokes my thought, two concerns continue to plague me.  True, I have not finished the book yet, but I've read ninth-tenths, which is enough to substantiate.

1. Specific ways to enact each of the secrets.  Sure, Treasuring My Divinity sounds great, but exactly how do I do it?  Maybe by Embracing Silence?  Meditating?  Unsure?  I'm of a practical disposition, and some things just honestly need to be spelled out for me.

2. Inaccessibility of some of the text.  Comprehension comes differently for everyone, and while I can read and understand all of the words on the page, sometimes, the ideas are too lofty or ethereal or esoteric...which can be off-putting at times.

That being said, I am glad I have attempted to recapture some of the thoughts here.  I hope to continue the reflection on and implementation of many of Dyer's ideas

26 April 2012

My Birthday in Links

When I Google the number '37', the first hit is a Wikipedia entry.  The number 37 has all kinds of importance in the mathematical world, like:

A prime number
The fifth lucky prime number
The first irregular prime number
The third unique prime number
The third cuban prime (of some equation I can't even begin to comprehend)


37 appears in the Padovan sequence
37 is a Størmer number
37 (Celsius) is the normal human body temperature
37 is the number of plays William Shakespeare is thought to have written


It's also how many years old I am today.  It has been a wonderful day.  Why?

Because I started my morning doing some service for others - namely, hand-delivering some birthday cake to my professional colleagues, presenting a "Cheap Places To Travel in Iowa" for a Mothers of Preschoolers group, and doing some volunteer grunt work for the professional theatre show in town.

The afternoon was then about me: a movie (the whole thing!  uninterrupted!), a finished D & D blog entry, and a pedicure.  Then, a walk with my husband before dinner with my family (at a place of my choice).  We just now got home from the professional show I volunteered for earlier - The Lowe Family.  Talk about a mind-blowing performance -  I am still processing!

A great day - giving the love and surrounded by it.

25 April 2012

Secret 7: There Are No Justified Resentments

With any concept, theme, idea - it hardly ever happens that the entire thing is accepted.  Parts of the idea or concept are feasible, while others are questioned or discarded.  And, as the late singer Ricky Nelson said, "you can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself."

With Dr. Wayne Dyer's book 10 Secrets to Inner Peace and Success, Brent and I are finding this particular tenet to be true.  Some of the secrets speak to us more ardently, while others we have a hard time grasping.  

Today's secret - There Are No Justified Resentments - is one that jumped out, screaming for attention, at both of us.

You only need to be a conscious mind in this world for ten minutes to understand how the Blame Game works.  The media, especially, has made the most of victimhood.  Injustices are always someone else's fault.  Fingers are pointed, litigations are drawn out, and people just never get over it.

But, on a smaller scale, Dyer says, we carry around all these injuries: who's wronged or offended us.  And sometimes we never get over it!  And Dyer then makes a great point, "Any time you're filled with resentment, you're turning the controls of your emotional life over to others."

We let others be in charge of how we feel.  If instead, we accept it, we own it (regardless of who's fault it is), then we have the power to get rid of it.  But, if we wait for the person who hurt us to rectify the offense, we're totally dependent on someone else ... if and when they ever make reparations.

This is simple, but monumental.

Other highlights from this section:

- Take responsibility for your part in things.  This was a mulling point for Brent and I...how often we've thought of what the other person did to us, but hardly ever do we consider the role we played in the situation.

- Be kind rather than be right.  Wowee, was this a big 'un.  I know I certainly have that "I've got to fight for it" mindset at times.  But what's so great about being right?  Wait - let me rephrase that - what's so great about others knowing we're right?

- Try to respond with love, kindness, and peace.

- Don't waste energy being offended or put out.  Let things happen as they do, and then let them go.

- Thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that disenpower.

And as I head over to the university today for my classes, I will keep this in mind.  :)   

23 April 2012

Getting a Grip

My universe feels quite out of control at the moment.  I woke up this morning, disoriented, and was accosted by an overwhelming, suffocating "to-do" list.   Not a big deal, usually, because, yeah, that's what being a mom, wife, and domestic goddess entails.  However, I'm mentally vulnerable these days - in the sense that I don't quite have a handle on my family's daily schedule, and keeping track of the chaos is difficult and draining.

Appointments come up, soccer practices are at different times than usual, this child has a meeting or that child has a group activity, etc. etc. etc. etc.  If we're lucky, all six of us eat dinner together once a week.  And that discomfits me.  A lot.  Also, with a VERY active teenage foreign exchange student in the house, we've begun to feel as if we're a waystation - just food and bed providers.

And I know, many of you right-minded folks out there reading this have the answer: prioritize, cut back on activities.  In theory, this is a wonderfully easy idea to advocate, but execution is more complicated.  That execution is the very struggle my husband and I are currently undertaking: to provide plenty of chance for interaction, involvement, and activity...but not at the risk of family sanity.  While we want our children to participate, we aren't willing to become slaves to it (the latest epiphany).

That brings me to a really pressing question: what is it exactly that we (our family) are doing for each other?  I cook, taxi, and keep the house clean.  Brent earns the money, maintains the house, and assists in all other parenting/household tasks.  And what contributions are the children making to our household?  That is the million-dollar question.  The two million dollar question is: what exactly do I expect out of them in regards to being a member of my house?

The three million dollar question: what do I do for others around me?  If what Dyer says is true, that serving others gives you purpose...well, then it's probably no wonder I feel a bit bereft these days.

18 April 2012

The Sixth Secret

Need to get back on track with a little spiritual growth talk here, right?

Dr. Dyer's sixth secret to Inner Peace and Success is: You Can't Solve a Problem with the Same Mind That Created It

On the surface, this seems simple and makes sense.  Sometimes it's better to step away, take a break, or put on a different pair of perspective glasses when faced with a problem.  Dyer proposes a different viewpoint - "Problems are simply illusions, or mistakes of intellect".

Is this radical or what?  That your problems are not really problems, but it's your mindset that makes it so?

I'm comforted, and yet, I'm disconcerted.  Just changing my thoughts will bring peace?  That's it?  To a certain point I do believe it's possible - at least with problems in our own lives.  I come back often to the first secret - be attached to nothing...when the thoughts come and I attach a "problem" label, I'm trapped.  But to actually execute the change of thought?  That's what disconcerting.  It's easier said than done.

But, life is about the effort, right?  The continual desire to try?  As Dyer says, "Change your thoughts and you change what you carry around in your head as problems."

17 April 2012

Accidental Experience: Watch Reality TV Without Sound

I don't watch reality TV.   Every now and then, my kids flip on 'Chopped' or 'Cupcake Wars' on the Food Network.  Oh, and there was that one time I watched an episode of 'Hoarders'...it was sometime before Christmas, I believe.

But, usually, no.

However, when the universe has something for you, you try to appreciate it...even if it is packaged up in a wrapping paper you don't really care for.

So, I'm at the local YMCA, logging some minutes on the elliptical to the frenetic tune of Guns 'N Roses's "Paradise City".  On one of the three gym televisions is the program 'The Biggest Loser', a show I'd normally refuse to watch on principle alone.  I know nothing about the show, except that there's a competition to lose weight.  Contestants are weighed every week (I assume), and progress percentages are noted.

Tonight, there were two green-shirted and one pink-shirted "players" (a man and two women).  For some reason, the green-shirted woman appears distressed just before the camera pans to the green-shirted man, who's standing on the scale.  His net loss this week appears to be ten pounds...and it appears that loss is so not what he was hoping for.  The camera shots alternate between his look of complete disbelief, his green-shirt partner's crying, and his trainer's (I assume) look of stoic disappointment.

This is where I realize I'd probably know what the hell was going on if the sound were turned on.  But, it's not, so I'm allowed to make own judgments.  (On a totally unrelated side note, I just realized I used the word 'appears' three times in the last paragraph.)

I'm trying to figure out in what crazy alternate universe ten pounds' loss is such a disappointment.  For someone who wants to lose it and who is doing so in a relatively healthy way, that is.

Then, I really realize the value of sound.  The green-shirted female teammate (I assume), begins to speak (no idea what's being said - I don't read lips) to the guy on the scale.  And, by the way she waves her hands and points her fingers, not to mention the indignant look on her face as she speaks...it's obvious that she is ticked off.

At what?  I have no idea.  My guess is that he berated her as she got on the scale a few minutes ago, and now it's a case of the kettle calling the pot black.  It's only a guess, and not a very informed one.

By now, my twenty minutes on the elliptical are up.  And I'm thankful...because I'm perplexed.  People getting in shape, trying to living healthy, using the buddy system for weight-loss success, personal trainers...

These all seem like good things, yes?  The literature tells us we are living in scary times - obesity rates are on the dramatic rise, after all - and here's a show about people trying very deliberately to buck the obesity trend.   And a program that should be inspiring is instead depressing...losing ten pounds is not praiseworthy, it gets a guy yelled at by his teammate.  It's just not good enough, I guess.

Oh, make no mistake...I am inspired. To never watch the show again, accidental or not.  Sound on or not.

16 April 2012

You - Past, Present, and Future

Due to that little, teensy thing called a 'weekend', my discussions and summaries of the 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace continues today.

Secret #5 asks to do what seems like a simple thing: Give Up Your Personal History.  Which I interpret to mean: Stop Keeping Score.

Stop thinking about who's wronged you, who's hurt you, or who's offended you.  Accept that they happened.  Embrace them as part of who you are...TODAY.  Other insights:

1. What drives a boat?  The wake?  No.  It's what gets left behind.  Same thing with our past.  It doesn't (or shouldn't) drive us.

2. Hanging on to the past immobilizes your future.

3. Live fully.  Live in the now.  Don't let the past or future interfere with what (or who) is happening now.

4. Try to transcend labels (Democrat, woman, gay, etc.).  They limit you.

Reading this chapter was particularly profound - a good reminder to live for today.  I am strongly reminded of Leo Tolstoy's "The Three Questions" (or Jon J Muth's kid-friendly version here)...and these particular lines (paraphrased by me):

"Remember then: there is only one time that is important--
Now! It is so because it is the only time when
we have any power. 

The most necessary person is s/he whom you are with,
for you know now whether you will ever have dealings with any one
else again. 

The most important action, is to do him/her good, because for
that purpose alone are we alive!"

13 April 2012

Ommm...Embracing the Silence

Secret #4: Embrace Silence.

I'm not going to try to be noble here...this secret may indubitably be the most difficult to implement.

To shut out not only all the external noise, but the internal noise as well?  Seems insurmountable.  I can't stop the birds or the bulldozer guys' construction or the neighbor's lawn-mowing...but even more tricky, stopping the noise within myself.  Stop the thoughts that come a mile a minute?  Stop the mental to-do list in my head? 

We are a culture of noisy distractions.  Silence makes us uncomfortable, Dyer states, and that's why we fidget, we insert inane conversation, or we turn the radio on.  But, he goes on to say, we can find gaps of peaceful silence here and there...in between the pandemonium of our everyday lives.  It does require deliberate, mindful practice.  That's the hard part, really.  Other insights of this secret include:

1. Become aware of the gaps in your thoughts, and try to revel in the silence.

2. Consider a daily practice of meditation or other similar engaging with quietness.

3. Nature can provide a healing form of silence, try to get out in it as often as possible.

While we certainly understand the importance of embracing the silence, this is something we will just have to do the best we can as we go.

12 April 2012

Squeezing the Orange

No matter what method of pressure, what time of day, what type of orange...squeezing an orange will always render orange juice.


Because that's what inside of it.

For me, Dr. Dyer's orange analogy hammered home the essence of Secret #3: You Can't Give Away What You Don't Have.

You can't give away love if you don't have it inside of you.  If all you have is anger or cynicism or righteousness inside you...that's all you can give away.

Pretty darn illuminating, I think.  Brent and I have had many go-arounds about being more positive, and not so negative.  Why was it so hard to be positive?  It seemed like it should be so easy...but it wasn't.  And that was because we had negativity inside.  Until we deliberately strove the change the negatives into positives, the low energy would be all that would emanate from us.

Dr. Dyer anticipates the oft-asked question - if I want to give away love, but I don't have it, how do I get it?  How do I get more kindness?  Harmony?  Purpose?  His answer is simple: "Purpose is about serving.  It is about taking the focus of off you and your self-interest, and serving others in some way." 

At first, this seemed to smack of church or religious/missionary service...but it doesn't have to.  I often think that maybe I should ask myself EVERY DAY not only "what have I done for myself?" but also "what have I done for others?"  And maybe it's time to undertake some kind of "giving" challenge.

Today's prominent thought seems to be "I can't help others until I help myself."  And often, the idea of 'community' is limited to our homes only.  Maybe that is the first step in change. 

Other insights from this chapter include:

1. Dyer recommends that we change our inner frequencies to the higher ones of love, harmony, kindness, and peace...instead of the lower ones like anger, shame, guilt, or fear.

2. Love and support yourself.

3. What comes out of you is what's naturally inside of you.

4. Nothing in the universe is personal.  Tame your ego, and don't take everything so personally. 

11 April 2012

Day Two, Secret Two

#2: Don't Die with Your Music Still in You

This is not really a secret, per se, because I've seen it packaged as "Live life to the fullest" or "Take risks" or "Don't live a life of regret".

However, it's a piece of sage advice that particularly resonates with me and this hefty career change I'm making.  It also struck a chord with Brent, who is in that process of searching for his music as well.

Dyer begins this section with a bit of discussion about the left brain (the analytical) and the right brain (the creative).  He says, "listen to your right brain, it will lead you to your passion."  Your right brain is the little voice that encourages you to take risks, to jump, to go for it...but that voice is often squashed by the sensibilities of your left brain.  Dyer prompts us to listen to that right brain voice more often.

We all have special work to do in this life...there is special music playing within us, and that particular point reminds of Socrates's words: "Don't live an unexamined life." 

Other key insights:

1. Love and respect yourself when you follow the beat of a different drummer.  I am strongly reminded of Dr. Seuss's words: "Be yourself, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

2. Ask yourself: what is the worst that can happen?  (Anytime you take a risk, that is)

3. We are afraid of failure, but failure is only an illusion.  Everything we do produces a result, and everything we do can be learned from...thus, it isn't a failure at all.

4.  Be enthusiastic.  Laugh at yourself.

I feel pretty lucky, because I think I've found my "thing"...the thing I'm meant to do while I'm living this life.  And I'm listening to my right brain (have been for awhile, I think), and pursuing my dream.  My husband's dream is a bit more complicated, though.  He would need to change jobs as well to fulfill his dream...and that's not really a good idea right now (with me going back to school).  Perhaps, he will need to chase his dream less ardently?  Or a couple years from now?

Dr. Dyer makes an exceptional point in this section; however, there must be a balance between risk and prudence.  As might be the case for our family right now.

10 April 2012

Ten Days, Ten Secrets

Lately, I've been feeling a bit like a piece of river driftwood, caught up in a force beyond my control, being carried along without regard to any kind of purpose.  Aimless, if you will.  And I suppose some would find a sort of freedom in that driftlessness...to 'go with the flow', as it were.  But not me.  I feel lost, at loose ends, undirected...and I don't like it.

The first place I go to when I need answers or help is my public library.  Books rarely let me down in my search for knowledge and enlightenment.  As I wandered the aisles, a small selection of Wayne Dyer books caught my eye.  A friend of mine (her blog here) is a fan of his, so I picked up a tome called Dr. Wayne Dyer's 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace

Success and Inner Peace - two things I certainly could use a bit more of.

Last night, my husband and I started reading the book together, taking just one "secret" at a time.  I took some notes in my personal journal, but I thought I'd summarize and synthesize those thoughts here for you...not only as an FYI for you, but a reinforcer for myself as well.  My challenge over the next ten days is to read/summarize/synthesize those ten secrets here at WYWH.  Maybe I will find the spiritual "guide" I think I've been missing.

Secret #1: Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing.

At first, this sounds great.  And easy too.  But considering all the conditioning and "baggage" I come with...letting go is easier said than done.  Out of Dyer's dialogue regarding this secret, I've provided my mix of insights and highlights below.

1.  Revel in the magic of the everyday workings of the universe.  The sun shines, trees bloom, people smile, my body works - all of those things are miracles, really.  Recognize the amazing awe that comes with living on this planet.

2.  Resist being a pessimist.  Dyer makes an outstanding point - the universe is limitless, so how can we claim to know everything?  We can't - we hardly know anything compared with what there is to know.  Being cynical goes hand in hand with thinking we know everything.

3.  Whatever your mind is filled with (doubt, peace, anger, positivity) is what will manifest in your actions.

4.  Let go of your physical ego/self.  This was a critical point for me.  So much of who I am is wrapped up in my physical being: how much weight I've lost, what size clothes I wear, how many gray hairs I can count, etc.  And that is only a fraction of me! 

5. Detach from outcomes.  It's okay to desire and dream, but keep yourself separate from the outcome.  Practice "what will be, will be".  I was strongly reminded of Max Ehrmann's
"Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

6. Let things come and go as it will.  Let thoughts arise and then let them go.  Holding on to them, developing an emotion to go with them creates attachment.

7. Love people for who they are, not for what you think they should be.  This particular point resonated with my husband.

8.  Perhaps what I felt to be the key idea of Dyer's first secret: "Never make your happiness or success dependent on an attachment to anything, any place, or any person."

Obviously, reading the chapter and writing some notes on it are a far cry from implementation into daily life.  But, it's an awareness and it's a start.

08 April 2012

An Extraordinary Easter

I honestly can't remember the last Easter I had that was so terribly satisfying as today's.

Does that sound sacreligious at all?  I'm sure it does.  And it'll sound even moreso when I mentioned this particular Sunday did not involve Jesus Christ at all.

The day began for me at 6:40 a.m....when I woke up (the first time).  Usually, once I wake, I'm up for the day.  But, today, I managed to fall back asleep until 9:00 a.m...arising *after* my husband for the first time in A LONG time.  With me just waking up, the foreign exchange student still in bed, and everyone else still in their pajamas - and with our church's Easter service beginning at 9:30, it's obvious we won't be attending it today.

So, Plan B.

After a trip to the grocery store for the week, we packed a picnic lunch and headed off to the park.  Once we'd feasted on cheese, summer sausage, crackers, fruit and carrots, Brent and I hid the plastic Easter eggs we'd brought with us (filled with money and jelly beans).  Then, we watched as the kids (even the 15-year-old South Korean on his first Easter egg hunt ever) scampered in the sunshine to collect their eggs.

Then, it was time to return home and tackle some of the yardwork chores that have been piling up the last few months.  The kids were resistant at first, but they soon were helping out with the raking of many, many layers of fallen leaves, sawing of dead, in-the-way branches, and toting the brush to the truck.  After two hours, I could notice a definite improvement in the way our yard looks!

While my daughter worked on a school project, the boys (including Brent) sat down to play a board game while I did my most favorite thing - work in the kitchen.  I spent an hour and a half preparing this meal:

Fresh sourdough bread, green beans amandine, apricot-glazed ham, mashed potatoes

And, because I had the spare time:

Zucchini cake with a light vanilla glaze

My heart, head, and stomach are content and peaceful tonight.  Bright blessings to you all!

02 April 2012

Abnormal Fear?

I went to my first-ever chiropractic appointment today.

This is not earth-shaking news.  Hundreds of thousands of people visit one every day.  So, why was I apprehensive?

Two reasons.

1.  I deliberated on whether or not I should go for some time.  At worst, I imagined the doctor informing me that nothing at all wrong was with me and I should instead think about a psychiatrist visit.  I am not debilitated, and I am not in pain for even a major portion of the day.  It's a dull, deep, niggling type ache in my neck, shoulders, and mid-back.  It's really nothing I can complain much about, especially when I am a daily witness to people with conditions and injuries far more serious than mine.

But, in general, I'm tired of feeling old.

2.  No, I am not on any kind of medication for my discomfort.  I do not take over-the-counter painkillers for the pain.  Because I have no desire to become dependent on foreign chemicals to feel healthy.  Concurrently, I don't want to become dependent on a chiropractor to feel better.  I'm worried about becoming "addicted".

This all is just a damn, stupid reminder that I'm getting older.  I haven't come to terms with it yet.