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As we continue our year into the next month of April, a large portion of the world’s population is going to participate in a month long fast, also known as Ramadan.

This 30 day holiday is when believers of Islam, also known as Muslims, fast from dawn to sunset. The fast not only includes food, but abstaining from water as well. This month is a reflection for Muslims both individually and collectively.

Since fasting is from dawn to sunset, it varies how long a person’s fast is in different parts of the world. Fasting can vary from 10 hours all the way to 21 hours a day! While some of the popular diet trends like intermittent fasting promotes this, being without water for that long can be very taxing on your body and mind. And that is the overall point of it, to help understand that there are people within your community that live like this, that do not have the luxury of readily available drinking water. This is the type of things that most of us don’t even have to think about. This is not meant to make those who have resources feel negative, but it is to bring AWARENESS that we have enough that we can give back in a world that tells us we always need more.

Therefore, during these 30 days Muslims will make an effort to give back more to the poor, to donate time and money and materials, volunteer within their local community, and contribute to society more than they do any other time of the year. It is a time to be selfless and find the opportunity to give back to the community that we normally wouldn’t make time to do.

With self-reflection, Muslims practice to be more patient with oneself and others. Looking at how you can improve yourself, whether it be being more patient with your spouse, children, or parents when disagreeing or having an arguments. Not cursing or thinking negative self-thoughts or being aware of them and limiting them during this month. In essence all those aspects of ourselves we would “like” to work on more but either forget or don’t make the time for.

The spirit of Ramadan is to SLOW DOWN, find compassion in others and yourself, LOVE oneself and others more, FEEL more, and just BE more.

This may be a holiday specific to Islam, but we can all participate in this next month to be more patient, kind and loving to each other. Are you up for the challenge? The only thing you’ll lose out on is being a better you.

Journey is the Way

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How well do you know yourself?


You know your name. Where you grew up. What schools you went to. You know your birthday and address. You know your favorite types of music, foods, hobbies and qualities or characteristics about yourself that make you, you. You create an identity as a young child about who you are and what your role is in this world.

You also learn what parts of you are praised and accepted and what parts of you are shamed and scolded. So you grow up having a general awareness of who you are and how you think you need to show up in order to be accepted or loved. Most of the time you share with others the qualities about yourself that you like or were taught were “good” but leave out the qualities that you might view as “bad” or “ugly” out of fear that someone might judge you or reject you. We as humans inherently want to be seen, loved and accepted, but have learned that we must only show the good parts. So we often don’t acknowledge or straight up avoid our negative traits.


What are the negative aspects of yourself that you don’t want anyone to see or know? What parts of you do you feel scared to express? How do you handle stress? What do you do when you feel angry or sad? What types of conflicts/disagreements do you find yourself in with the people closest to you? What about when someone says something bad about you? How do you react when someone says or does something that makes you feel uncomfortable or puts you on edge? Do you notice how your nervous system responds? Can you feel your defenses start to go up when you feel triggered?


This can take an immense amount of self-awareness, especially in the moment and is very difficult to notice at first. So often we are operating on autopilot and reacting from a place of past pain or experience that has not been processed or removed from the body. We stay stuck in a loop of trauma that we see no way out of. But really we are just reacting as we always have and don’t think twice about it. We think this is who we are now and “that’s just the way it is.” Our trauma ends up shaping us, but it doesn’t have to forever.

A song can come on the radio that instantly takes us to a memory from our past. If that memory is/was painful, that song alone can be a trigger to our bodies and bring a sense of perceived danger/not feeling safe for one reason or another. It will bring up thoughts and emotions to our present moment but the problem is, we are not present and we are not viewing the situation for what it is NOW. We react in the same way based on that past experience; as if the same thing is happening all over again. Our guard goes up, we become tense and closed off, our heart rate and breathing rate increase. We find ourselves hyper-vigilant and over-analyzing.


Our nervous system remembers this and it knows what to do. It puts on its armor, ready to fight, defend and protect any part of us that feels threatened. A defense mechanism to keep us safe so that we don’t feel that way we did that one time, ever again. It’s like, “don’t worry, I gotchu boo.” But the truth is, this act of protection also keeps the past experience/trauma stuck in our body-mind so that we can’t move forward or grow past it. And we repeat the same cycles.



So I ask you this again: how well do you know yourself?


Can you expand your awareness to view yourself objectively to witness your behavior and why you do the things you do? Why you think the way you think? Why you are the way you are?



The more you practice observing yourself the more you will see (if you are willing) that what triggers you is a direct reflection of what demands attention within you. Majority of the time, the problems we have with people/things outside of ourselves is really just a projection of the unhealed/denied/repressed parts of ourselves that we are unwilling to see or unwilling to accept. It’s a lot easier to point fingers and place blame on other people or happenings outside of ourselves than it is to admit that we have any issues or that we need help.

The first step to healing is awareness. Are you willing to go within to uncover the parts of you that beg to be exposed, seen and healed? Next time you feel triggered, pause, take a few deep breaths and remind your nervous system that you are safe. Sometimes the first part of awareness is first realizing you are triggered. Then you can begin to observe what happens in your body/mind and ultimately choose to stay in that familiar trauma loop or make a decision to go a different route. This will take A LOT of practice, patience and acceptance.


The longer we avoid the dark, scary, painful and ugly parts of ourselves, the more overwhelming and uncomfortable they will become. Our “stuff” will show up in various ways begging for attention and pleading for us to integrate these parts into our being as part of us.


Our soul already knows we are whole and perfect. Our body knows exactly how to heal and really wants to; that’s why it’s constantly giving us signals. We just have to pay attention, get out of our head and then get out of our own way to allow the healing to happen.


Know that you are loved and supported as you bravely move through your darkness to reveal the light that is already shining within you.

☯️

Let’s be real:


Life can be very painful sometimes. And sometimes it feels like a lot of the time.


Whether it’s a loss of someone of something, an expectation that did not get fulfilled, a new injury or a physical pain that won’t seem to heal, or even the pain that seems to have no tangible cause but pervades your being like a dark haze or a heavy blanket – pain is as natural a part of life as night is to day.


As long as we are a part of this physical universe of duality and complementary opposites, there will always be a balancing act between the opposites – pain/pleasure, night/day, hot/cold, yin/yang – we could not have this human experience otherwise.


So if pain is a natural part of life, the first step in learning how to manage it is to KNOW that there is no getting rid of it. We have been conditioned to believe that pain is something bad that should be avoided and/or something needs to be done to get rid of it. This conditioning has led to a culture of habitual distraction, fleeing from discomfort, and using any means to remove the feeling of pain without figuring out why it is there in the first place.


My message for you is that pain is your greatest teacher in life. Beyond every pain is an opportunity for growth and learning, IF we choose to see it that way. Pain serves us as a quickener of consciousness. When you stub your toe your attention immediately goes to the pain in your toe and potentially your lack of awareness of where you’re choosing to step.


If you think back on your life you’ll find that it was the most difficult and painful situations that ultimately led to the most growth and evolution into a more fully actualized version of yourself. Every pain has a source and every pain has a purpose. It may not be so obvious what the source or purpose is, but this is precisely the benefit: it’s up to you to accept the call to adventure into the Hero’s Journey through the initiation of pain to discover and actualize your potential by uncovering your Genius that sits as a precious diamond waiting to be mined through your inner cave of darkness via the light of your awareness and the pick of your conscious mind.


If you choose to distract, numb, victimize, or flee, you will inevitably miss the opportunity to discover your Genius and thus you will continue to call in similar circumstances that bring the familiar pain because of your lack of awareness of the beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions that are manifesting themselves in your external reality as sources of pain. In this way you may always see the source of your pain as something “out there” instead of coming to the realization that all of your pain is a direct reflection of your inner world.


And if what’s going on “out there” is a reflection of your internal reality, then we can come to the conclusion that what’s “out there” and what’s “in here” are ultimately one and the same. Therefore, if we do the hard work of allowing our pain to serve as a teacher to expand our awareness into the reality we’re choosing to create, we’re also doing our job to heal our part of the collective pain we’ve created for ourselves as a society.


Thus brings the saying, “a Buddha only sees other Buddhas.”


So next time you find yourself in a painful situation, my invitation for you is to sit with it and see what opportunities present themselves to aid in your personal evolution (which is the evolution of everyone and everything). Yes, it’s uncomfortable; but what’s worse: the discomfort of the growth required to reach a new level of love and awareness of what you actually are, or the familiar pain of being stuck in the same situations for the rest for life – and potentially subsequent lives?


You always have a choice.

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