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Archive for Peacemaking

New Year – New and Improved Relationships

A major stressor I see with my clients is managing the significant relationships in their lives – with spouse/partner, kids, parents, siblings, supervisors, co-workers, or customers.

The teenage kid slams the door as a gesture of power. The spouse/partner criticizes the dinner, car parking job, or the way the holiday lights were hung. The co-worker makes snarky comments. Siblings do not share in caregiving needs for the aging parent. No one in the house helps clean the dishes. And my client’s neck and shoulder muscles tighten trying to manage all the details of life.

Sound like anyone you know? Lol

I can help! Managing your significant relationships starts with managing yourself. When you set aside time for just you to regroup, you have more energy to handle the stuff of life. When you set aside time to listen to your own wisdom over the roar of daily living, you can hear what you need to do to get your own needs met.

What does the flight attendant say in case of a plane malfunction? “Put your own oxygen mask on first!” You’re no good to anyone else if you can’t breathe. When your resources are depleted and you are running on empty, you have less to give others. When you have replenished your reservoir, you have more energy to set boundaries for yourself. You have more energy to share your love with the significant people in your life. Because you do really love them and want the best for them as well as for yourself. You just don’t want to feel depleted all the time, right?

Learning the skills to listen to your own wisdom so you can know what your boundaries are takes practice. Developing a skill-set of ways to respond when someone pushes your buttons requires perseverance. But, you do have the mindset and the perseverance to learn and practice new skills long enough to get them in your muscle memory so they become second nature.

My 10-week online program, Spiritual Pilates, will give you the skills you need to respond from a higher part of your being when you are under stress. Spiritual Pilates will also provide the opportunity to practice the skills in daily living so you can integrate them into spiritual muscle memory.  By participating in the Spiritual Pilates program, you get to reset your default from stress  to inner calm and joy.

Plus, here’s the special deal for your significant relationship:

For the program beginning January 17, 2017 you can include another person for the same cost.

So you and your spouse/partner, kid, sibling or friend can

  • get on the same page
  • share skills
  • remind each other of the skills to use when you forget
  • have an accountability partner
  • heal emotional wounds
  • raise the quality of your relationship.

Disclaimer: This is not therapy or counseling.

However, Spiritual Pilates can be a great resource and toolkit to up-level your significant relationships – starting with your relationship with yourself.

Call or text me for the details. 651-472-3995.

What are your significant relationship challenges? Communication? Sharing chores? Feeling appreciated? Add your comments below.

Happy Fresh Start to the New Year!

Leah

Choose Love

Life is not all rainbows, so how do you respond to these crazy times?

I choose love. And I do things that help keep me sane. Here are three:

News fasting – I turn off the news. A steady diet of violence and negativity makes people, me included, feel depressed and helpless. Now more than ever we need people who are tuned in to a higher channel aligned with the Highest Good and Divine Love. When I am not sure of next steps, I ask myself the question: “What would Love do?” Then I imagine breathing through my heart and listen to what my heart says.

Look for beauty – I notice the pile of dirty dishes in the sink and the stinky garbage that needs to go out, and don’t give them much energy. I choose to direct my energy and savor the yellow leaves turning orange, the reflection of the wind moving tree branches in my picture frame, and the sound of wind chimes on my doorstep. I pay attention to what is right with the world and drink it in. I let the goodness and beauty in the world refresh and nourish me. I look for stories of people making positive contributions to others. The more goodness I see the more goodness and beauty I see.

Random acts of kindness – In our spiritual community, the middle schoolers painted rocks with positive messages like: I AM ENOUGH, KINDNESS, and JOY. When the rocks were dry, we walked around the neighborhood and left KINDNESS ROCKS where people would find them. We left LOVE, EQUALITY and PEACE on the steps of a mosque. The kids came back from the excursion with warm hearts after depositing little nuggets of kindness in the world.

What do you do to stay sane during these crazy times? Please share your positive contributions in the comments and spread the love!

 

Checkpoint

Let me share with you a secret I discovered about getting through airport security more quickly. Does the airport security checkpoint annoy you as much as it annoys me?  In the past few years, I have had the opportunity to practice new coping procedures to stay in the flow of joy, as the lines at the airport security have gotten longer and the security procedures more invasive. Some days I am better at staying in joy than other days. Recently, I surprised myself by coping so well that I got a desirable outcome. While waiting in line, I practiced what I call Spiritual Pilates to strengthen inner spiritual core muscles by aligning body, emotions, mind and spirit. This is the third time practicing Spiritual Pilates has gotten me a favorable outcome in the security line, so I think I am on to something.

I was picking up my unaccompanied minor child at the airplane gate. I thought I had allowed plenty of time to get a gate pass from the airline desk and go through the security check point to meet my daughter’s plane at the gate.  To my dismay, I saw the only security line stretched halfway across the terminal. A lighted sign announced a 40 minute wait time. My daughter’s plane was scheduled to arrive 15 minutes early which did not allow me enough time to get through security and meet her at the gate. An airline staff would need to wait until I arrived to claim my child.

Feeling frustrated about the abnormally long security line, I appealed to a staff person to help me get through more quickly. No luck. I made my way to the end of the line a city block away. A different staff person offered to speed up my security process by enrolling me in a service with a monthly fee. I declined the offer and stayed in the line, now muttering to myself.

Things started to change, however, when I noticed I was feeling frustrated. Then, I remembered a time in the past when I had been waved through the short security line easily and gracefully. That day, I remembered, I had been intentionally focusing positive, good feelings toward all the people in the security process. I decided to focus my intention and attention inward on a positive outcome.

A wave of annoyance came up when I thought about the dehumanizing process of going through the security check point, standing legs apart, and hands up as if I had done something wrong. I recalled having a security guard pat my chest because the machine had detected metal in my bra strap.  I followed the feeling of annoyance inward to the thought that created the feeling. I imagined the thought felt like a wall. I imagined the wall crumbling into small bits which I could easily pass through.

Another wave of annoyance. Another thought about all the inconvenience. I imagined the thought as a lump that melted into a pool. I imagined leaping over the pool of yuck. The line moved a little more quickly.

Another wave of annoyance surfaced about the insensitivity of airport staff people. I imagined the staff people had lives and annoyances of their own and felt compassion for them.  The line I was in started moving more quickly than the line next to me.

A friend came to mind who was going through a challenging time. I thought of her breaking through her own barriers and felt empathy for her.  I arrived at the ID check where the staff person spoke kindly to me. I felt grateful.

At the final security point, I emptied my pockets and put my shoes and belt into the x-ray tray.  All of a sudden, rather than the hands-up, pat-down line, I was ushered into the quick-walk-through-the-doorway line. A small victory for me!

That was the third time in the past couple years that I have intentionally focused positive feelings of love, compassion and empathy in the airport security line with a positive result. Each time, I have been rewarded with a shorter, less invasive quick security check, which I experience as a positive result and which increases my joy. Experiencing the third time convinced me that my attitude of compassion and forgiveness made the difference. I have not always successfully shifted my attitude. This time, however, my positive thoughts and feelings sent out a vibration ahead of me that resulted in a matching vibration of a positive outcome. I even made it to the gate in time to greet my daughter when her plane landed.

If I had stayed in my annoyed feeling state while in line, I would have sent out a vibration that attracted a circumstance to match my annoyed feeling and would have given myself more opportunity to feel annoyed.

Have you had a similar kind of experience? Have you noticed a relationship between how you feel and what shows up to match your feeling vibration? Have you noticed how changing your feeling state has produced a matching result?  Interesting, isn’t it?

I’m starting to get how this law of attraction thing works. Now, on to bigger things. Maybe I can figure out how to get my kids to clean their rooms. . .

If you want to learn more about applying Spiritual Pilates in your life to refocus on what you DO want, my Spiritual Pilates program might be a good fit for you. The program is now in its beta phase and won’t be offered in this way at this price again. To register for Spiritual Pilates course updates, click here. http://masteryintheartofliving.com/programs/.

Try compassion

Today it felt good to play the hero for a newborn baby. Everyone in the store could hear the baby squalling. On and on and on and on. I said under my breath, “pick up the baby.” I saw a young mother wheeling a shopping cart with the crying baby strapped into a car seat.

Another woman angrily approached the young mother and said, “that is abusive!” The woman held her phone as if she were threatening to call an authority to report the mother for child abuse.

I remembered how, as a new mother, I had felt overwhelmed and clueless about how to get the baby to stop crying. I mosied on over to the young mother.

I heard the mama say something about how the baby hated the car seat but she wanted him to be safe. “My babies hated the car seat too,” I empathized. “I just picked them up and held them.” She took the baby out of the car seat and as she held him to her chest he stopped crying. I think everyone in the store breathed a sigh of relief.

“Babies like to feel mama’s heartbeat and feel loved,” I said compassionately. She murmured something about him always wanting to be held. “Yes,” I assured her, “babies do like feeling mama close. That’s why I carried mine in a baby sling all the time.” The mama said she had tried a wrap that didn’t work but she had a baby front pack that she hoped would work. She set Baby back into the car seat without strapping him and he remained calm. I wished her well as she wheeled away.

The situation de-escalated easily through simple and compassionate communication. The angry woman did not help the baby because the mother became defensive and self-conscious. Who knows what was going on with the mama. Maybe she had depression. Maybe she was so sleep deprived she felt numb. I remember those days of no sleep.

I am telling this story because many miscommunications contribute to stress and anxiety. Next time you see a stressed-out mom in a store, empathize with her. Murmur some soothing words to her: “it is hard when Baby is colicky.” “Newborns are a lot of work but they are so precious.” “I remember when my baby cried a lot.”

As I returned to shopping, a different woman thanked me for intervening and helping the new mom. Having determined that I was a compassionate person, the woman then proceeded to show me the clothes she was choosing to get my opinion on what to purchase. I murmured something that sounded compassionate and moved away. I am not that compassionate.

Toggle to a Future We All Desire

world children

When your vision becomes more powerful than your memory, your future becomes more real than your past.  ~ Roger Hamilton, Futurist and Social Entrepreneur

500 years ago, smart, well-meaning people believed that the sun revolved around the earth. Copernicus showed they had it backwards.

500 years from now, will our descendants look at our belief in resolving conflicts with violence as equally misguided and ignorant?  We have a disagreement, so we kill each other’s children.  Makes sense, right?

The Copernican Revolution in the 16th century turned long-held beliefs upside-down, which contributed to changing the trajectory, or path, for future generations of scientists.  Folks in the 16th century left a legacy of scientific advancements, innovations, and reformation.

What legacy will our current generation leave for our collective descendants?  Whether or not you have physical descendants of your own, you still share our generation’s collective descendants.

I envision we will leave a powerful legacy for our collective descendants.  I envision our generation creating an unstoppable trajectory, or path, toward a world of peace 500 years from now.

What if you live your life today in ways that ensure both you and the next seven generations could thrive?  What if, after seven generations of thriving, you and I had helped set an unstoppable trajectory toward a world of peace and prosperity for all?  What if we focused on the world we DO want our descendants to live in 500 years from now and held the door open for them to walk through?

Whether our descendants attain the world we envision for them, or something better, doesn’t matter.  Our intention and the trajectory we set matters.  That is what we have control over.  Are we on course for fear, suffering and devastation?  Or are we on course for peace, harmony and prosperity?

I choose to live my life, day by day, moment to moment, so that my children’s children’s children will thrive on a trajectory of peace, harmony and prosperity.

Is my hostile attitude in this moment adding momentum to or detracting from my trajectory toward peace?    Time to self-correct.  (I hope to get to auto-correct, but I’m not there yet.) I consciously choose to toggle, or switch the screen of my awareness, AWAY FROM fear and what I do not want TOWARD what we PREFER and DO WANT.

We DO want healthy children thriving and contributing to healthy, thriving communities.

We DO want clean air, fresh water and delicious nourishment for all.

We DO want more love, more joy, more prosperity, and more vitality for all.

We DO want well-being for all.

The scientists of 500 years ago would be mystified by our cell phones, micro-wave ovens and airplanes.  They couldn’t have imagined what we would do with the trajectory of scientific discovery they set in motion.  Or did they?  Did someone imagine walking on the moon back then?

Set your personal intention and our collective trajectory in the direction of peace and harmony for all within 500 years.  The longest journey begins with a single step.   In which direction is your next step?

Leah Skurdal, inspirational speaker, teacher and author is available to speak to your group.  Click here to check out her You Tube video Soul Cookies.

Creating Positive Work and Home Environments With Intention

Rice Experiment 001

The Rice Experiment opened more than a few teenage eyes on how their words and intentions impact their environment. Hopefully, the lesson will translate into their homes and future workplaces. The middle school teens at our spiritual community conducted the Rice Experiment. After cooking a pot of rice, they placed a scoop of rice into separate, identical jars and sealed the lids. On the outside of one jar, they wrote “LOVE” while on the other jar they wrote, “HATE.” For the next week, they talked to the jars filling the LOVE jar with kind, loving, compassionate intentions and thoughts. They told the HATE jar it was stupid, ugly, mean and nasty. Then, they watched the results.

A year later, these same jars sit on the shelf of our teen room, telling the story of our intentions. The LOVE jar, filled with our divine, loving intentions, remains filled with white fluffy rice. The HATE jar started decomposing right away and quickly turned into a grey, slimy sludge. No kidding.

Vibrating energy patterns make up everything in the Universe – even your thoughts. The vibration of your thought patterns affects the environment around you. That phenomenon caught me unaware in my early 20’s. A boyfriend had given me a lovely, potted, flowering plant which flourished under my tender care. As soon as the boyfriend dumped me, the plant died. “I’m sorry little flower. I didn’t mean to kill you!” My negative thoughts about the giver of the plant had created a toxic environment in which the plant could not thrive.

How many times have you been in a toxic work environment where your life force felt jeopardized? Other peoples’ toxic thought vibrations set up a dissonance in your personal space. The complaining and whining can bring your vibration down until it affects your physical health – like the decomposing HATE rice jar.

The Good News: we control our own thoughts! Sweet! I don’t have to send out negative thought vibrations that ricochet into someone else’s negative thoughts adding to the cesspool of toxic emissions circulating through the office or home. I can choose to think positive, loving, kind, compassionate thoughts.

How do you get the train rolling down a different track once it’s in motion down the track of negativity? Switch tracks! Toggle the screen of your awareness to a new thought. Find something to appreciate: your amazing hand, the song on the radio, a color, a shadow pattern, a shimmering light. Toggle. But she said …. toggle… but they did that to me… toggle, toggle, toggle.

Appreciation changes the vibration of your thoughts to an upward spiral. You don’t have to switch to the JOY track right away. Switching from complaining to joy might require too big of a leap. Sometimes, when I am really mad, the best I can do is get to neutral. At least in neutral, you are not adding to the negative cesspool. From neutral, take one small step in the direction you want to go. Appreciate one thing. Then another. Then appreciate ten things. Notice any positive change in your environment. You might not notice a change in people around you right away, but keep it up and you will. Guaranteed.

Research by Dr. Masaru Emoto provides more elegant evidence than our rice jar experiment about the effect of thought vibrations on your environment. Dr. Emoto led a team of researchers to photograph frozen water crystals. Emoto found that frozen water crystals from a beaker labeled with positive words – love, joy, Mother Theresa – or submitted to healing music, created symmetrical crystal patterns that look like beautiful snowflakes.

Frozen water crystals taken from a beaker of polluted water, however, or one labeled with hateful words or submitted to heavy metal music, produced crystals that looked asymmetrical, broken, dark, cloudy and misshapen.

Even more importantly, Emoto’s team found that the broken crystal structure of the polluted water could be repaired. Misshapen water crystals became symmetrical and beautiful again when infused with loving, kind intentions – prayer therapy.

Now we know why prayer works on our bodies. The human body is over 50% water. When we pray over the body, the water molecules respond to the higher vibration thoughts. Other researchers, notably Dr. Larry Dossey, have shared research on the power of prayer in medical situations. Researchers documented that patients’ health improved when someone prayed for them – even when the patient did not know of the prayer.

Harnessing the power of your thoughts – toggling from a negative to a positive thought – will help you achieve your dreams and create an environment where you flourish. Try sending thought vibrations for harmony and wellbeing to the people around you to help foster a more harmonious work and home environment. When we humans learn to collectively harness the power of our shared vision, we will create a world that we DO want where all creation can thrive and prosper. Please join me in toggling to a life that includes more love, peace, freedom, harmony, prosperity and joy.

 

Leah Skurdal, is a public speaker, workshop facilitator, energy healer and author. Leah offers classes through her business, Mastery in the Art of Living in Lino Lakes, MN and other locations. She is author of the forthcoming book, “Toggle to Soul: Live in Joy.” Leah is available to speak to groups at breakfast or lunch meetings, social groups, classrooms and spiritual communities. She can be reached at leah.skurdal@gmail.com www.MasteryInTheArtofLiving.com

Sending a Boomerang for Peace

boomerangActively commemorating the Season of Non-Violence, between the dates of Ghandi’s and ML King’s deaths, January 30-April 4, gives me an opportunity to send out a boomerang for peace.

During the Season of Non-Violence, I invite you to pay particular attention to any negativity you send out before it comes back at you like a boomerang. I experienced this first hand one morning when we were rushing to get to an event on time. In a crabby mood, I fussed at the kids about their lack of preparation and the possibility of arriving late. The tension in the air escalated. I fumed in the kitchen, hurriedly throwing together ingredients for a dish to bring to the third event in a day with back-to-back activities. In a careless, not-at-all-mindful moment, I knocked over a can of olives, sending the liquid flying all over the floor and behind the stove.

I took a deep breath, recognizing that I had just magnetically attracted that experience into my morning. Like attracts like. My negativity had come back to me like a boomerang.

Pulling the stove out to the center of the room, I cleaned the floor and the wall behind the stove while imagining that I was cleaning the negativity from my aura. The day got brighter. On that specific day, I had to focus several times on mindfulness in the moment.

Some days require the extra mindful awareness to my responses. The fellow in the next car flips me off because he doesn’t like the way I am driving. Breathe. When I am mindful of being the change I want to see in the world, I send a boomerang for peace, “I hope the rest of your day goes better.” If I am not paying attention, or if I have already collected too much negativity in the day, I may boomerang negativity back at him – which will come back to me later.

I invite you to bring mindful awareness into your daily interactions. Are you sending a boomerang for peace or for violence?

While attending kids’ sporting events in the past few years, I have sometimes noticed adults yelling or speaking rudely to players or refs. My daughter and I commented on a poster at a kids’ basketball tournament, which read: “Remember, this is a game. The players are kids. The coaches are volunteers. The refs are human. This is not the NBA. Have Fun!” I invite you to be aware of the level of respect in your tone of voice at your kids’ sporting events. Are your comments contributing to hostility or to fun?

Today, I had the opportunity to talk with middle-schoolers about non-violence. Gossip presented as the hot topic. One student suggested that when she hears negative talk about a friend, she weighs what she knows about the person and chooses not to believe negativity. Another student says that she walks away from negative talk and will come back when her friends change the topic.

A couple years ago, while assisting with two situations requiring conflict resolution among adults, we found that the root of the conflict started with miscommunications via electronic media. When volleying email and text messages back and forth, I invite you to be mindful of your intention. Others cannot hear your voice and may misinterpret your words. Misunderstandings over electronic communication can mess up relationships. When I get an email or text message that feels prickly to me, I try to communicate verbally in person or via phone call to sort out the underlying message.

Being the change I want to see in the world, as Ghandi urged, requires that I put mindfulness into practice in my daily life. It takes one set of skills to be mindful of my thoughts while sitting peacefully in meditation. Being mindful during daily interactions requires another set of skills. In what ways are your thoughts, words and actions contributing to peace or to violence? What is on the boomerang you are sending out today?

Leah Skurdal teaches classes on meditation and wellbeing at the Wellness Circle in Lino Lakes, Minnesota. For more information, click here. Or visit her website, www.MasteryInTheArtofLiving.com