The Soul Connector

The Soul Connector

Reflections and tips on connecting with your soul, understanding the messages from your inner guidance, and enjoying a soul-fully rich and fabulous life...

25 August, 2007

Reflections on "The Four Agreements", pt. 5

The Fourth Agreement integrates and firmly embeds the previous three:
"Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret." (p81)

This is such good advice, isn't it? It's about maintaining your focus on the present moment, exactly where your greatest power always is, and doing your very best in that moment.

I wholeheartedly agree with Ruiz that it's very useful to remind yourself that your best is going to change over time - sometimes you will have more energy and greater capacity than at other times. When you appreciate and respect that, you are able to lighten up on yourself a lot! You don't settle for a half-hearted effort, but nor do you have impossible expectations of yourself.

It's about finding your own rhythm - going with the flow of your life. I love the story that Ruiz uses as an example for this:
"There was a man who wanted to transcend his suffering so we went to a Buddhist temple to find a Master to help him. He went to the Master and asked, "Master, if I meditate four hours a day, how long will it take me to transcend?" The Master looked at him and said: "If you meditate four hours a day, perhaps you will transcend in ten years." Thinking he could do better, the man then said: "Oh, Master, what if I meditated eight hours a day, how long will it take me to transcend?"

The Master looked at him and said: "If you meditate eight hours a day, perhaps you will transcend in twenty years."
"But why will it take me longer if I meditate more?" the man asked. The Master replied: "You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy, and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend eight hours instead, you will only grow tired, miss the point, and you won't enjoy your life. Do your best, and perhaps you will learn that no matter how long you meditate, you can live, love, and be happy." (p85-86)
I think this is one of the wisest passages in the book. In all that you do, never lose sight of why you are doing it. When you follow your heart and allow yourself to experience joy in whatever action you are taking, moment by moment, then you will know that you are living a meaningful life.

Putting The Four Agreements into practice is an empowering way to help you to live fully and live well. Remember to:
"Be impeccable with your word."
"Don't take anything personally."
"Don't make assumptions."
"Always do your best."
Be gentle with yourself as you implement these ideas. Do your best - but no more - in each moment and you will unleash tremendous energy and freedom in your life. And you will allow yourself to truly be all that you are, and all that you can be. Blessings to you on your transformational journey...

13 August, 2007

Reflections on "The Four Agreements", pt. 4

How are you going with The Four Agreements so far? It's a real paradigm shift to not take everything personally, isn't it? But it's such an empowering approach to life!

In the Third Agreement, Ruiz takes this one step further:
"Don't make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life." (p67)
This can be a really challenging proposition for a lot of people. If you think about it, you will realise that you make assumptions about what other people are thinking and feeling - why they're acting the way they are - all the time. Everyone does it! And because you assume this inside knowledge, it takes on the flavour of truth. You think it, therefore you believe it.

Ruiz is adamant that this is source of all human suffering:
"All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally... The whole world of control between humans is about making assumptions and taking things personally. Our whole dream of hell is based on that." (p70)
But what causes this? Ruiz goes on to explain:
"The big mitote in the human mind creates a lot of chaos which causes us to misinterpret everything and misunderstand everything. We only see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear. We don't perceive things the way they are... We literally dream up things in our imaginations..." (p71)
Makes sense, doesn't it? It's as if each of us has our own uniquely shaded pair of glasses on, through which we view the world. And your glasses aren't the same as my glasses, so the colours and shapes don't look exactly the same. I focus on different things from you, and some things I don't see at all!

I'm reminded of the classic Indian tale about the blind men and the elephant. There are many variations on this, but the basic premise of the story is that a group of blind men go to "see" an elephant. The first one touches the elephant's leg and says that it's like a pillar. The second one touches the side of the elephant and says it's like a wall. Another man touches the trunk and says it's like a snake. And another touches the tail and says it's like a rope. You get the idea...

The interesting thing is that they're all right, and they're all wrong. Each "sees" and makes assumptions based on inadequate information. This is something that we all do, every day. Blind or not, none of us is in a position to "see" the whole picture.

This is particularly a challenge in relationships, where you make assumptions that you and your partner think exactly the same way about something - whether that be about working hours, raising a family, saving or spending money, dividing up household chores... you know how it goes. Everyone gets to discover this the hard way!

So what can you do to change this? The solution is simple: when in doubt, ask. If you don't understand something, ask for more information. Keep your communications open and truthful. Have the courage to say what you want and give those around you the opportunity to do the same. Then you will have the full picture and you can respond from a place of truth, compassion and love. By doing this, you will transform your life and your world...

04 August, 2007

Reflections on "The Four Agreements", pt. 3

If you've been practicing the First Agreement, "Be impeccable with your word," you'll have begun to pay more attention to the way you're using words - both in what you think and what you say.

In the Second Agreement, Ruiz says:
"Don't take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering." (p51)
For me, this agreement is perhaps the most powerful of them all, and has the potential to bring about the most profound change in the way you live your life. This is where you choose to draw the line and take responsibility for yourself and the way you respond to experiences.

You'll recall that the Toltec refer to the miasma of multiple thoughts and programs in the mind as the mitote. Ruiz suggests that you imagine this as a giant marketplace, in which thousands of people are talking and bartering at the same time. Every single person in this marketplace of the mind has their own agenda, their own thoughts and feelings. Naturally, with all these different personalities and points of view, there are bound to be some conflicts!

Yet, as I'm sure you know, it is possible to find a stillpoint of peace in the midst of noise and confusion. You do this every time you sit in a crowded cafe to have a coffee or chat with a friend, oblivious to whatever else is going on outside your sphere of focus. You're lost in your own world, then, aren't you?

And so is everyone else around you. We may all be living on this planet together, and thus be connected and part of the whole, yet we each create and experience our OWN world. No one person's experience of this world is the same as another's. And each person's actions are driven by their own particular take on reality.

When you understand this, you can detach from allowing what other people do to colour the way you feel about yourself. And you can choose to act in a way that honours your own personal truth. Know that:
"...You can choose what you really want. You will find that you don't need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices." (p64)
The more you do this, the more you quieten the clamour and conflict of the mitote. It's as if you are the conductor of your own personal orchestra. When you're out of alignment with your inner truth, the sounds the orchestra creates are jarring and discordant. When you're in tune with yourself, the orchestra creates beautiful music, that rises and falls with the joy of living.

As Ruiz says:
"If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, "I love you," without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes, or you can say no - whatever you choose - without guilt or self-judgement. You can choose to follow your heart always." (p66)

28 July, 2007

Reflections on "The Four Agreements", pt. 2

Like millions of other people around the world, I just read the last Harry Potter book this week. The magical world of Harry Potter has a lot of appeal, doesn't it? But did you ever imagine that you could be a magician in real life?

Well, whether you realise it or not, you are a kind of magician! Just as Harry and his companions - friend or foe - go into battle with one another, so too do you and everyone around you.

Of course you don't wave a wand, but you do exercise an incredible power: the power of your WORD.

In the First Agreement, Ruiz states:
"Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love." (p27)
Ruiz goes on to elaborate:
"Being impeccable is not going against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself." (p35)
That is such a powerful proposition, isn't it? Not going against yourself, only saying what you mean - speaking your truth. Seeking not to cause harm to yourself or others, yet doing so without judgement.

In the world of Harry Potter, the characters must learn how to use words of power in the right way, for they can cause great harm. Yet, in our world, we don't think about the power of the spoken word. We use words carelessly and thoughtlessly, but to equally powerful effect - to criticise ourselves and others, and either intentionally or unintentionally cause harm.

The First Agreement is a wakeup call from that state of "sleep" to a state of conscious choice about how you use the power of your word - both in how you address yourself and the way you talk to, and about, others.

Integrity is something to value most highly. The word integrity comes from the Latin, integritas, meaning soundness, wholeness or completeness. It also implies some sort of moral code - like an inner compass that guides you in right action.

You can actually feel it when you speak and act with integrity - it's like a positive resonance within you. And using the power of your word from a place of integrity, generates waves of positive energy that flow outwards into the world. In fact, your word is powerful enough to create your world.

Consider the well-known aphorism: "Know thyself." This was said to have been placed above the ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi, to which people travelled from far and wide to seek out guidance from the great Oracle. Despite the function of the Oracle being to dispense wisdom, the words suggest the questioner turn inwards, rather than outwards, to obtain true wisdom.

For this is the greatest truth: you have all the answers you need within you. You already are whole and complete - you just need to remind yourself that this is the case.

Honour yourself by behaving with integrity and speaking your truth, coming from a place of love and compassion, and your experience of the world will be one in which others mirror this behaviour and reflect the same wholeness and truth, love and compassion back to you.

A magical world indeed, wouldn't you say?

04 July, 2007

Reflections on "The Four Agreements", pt. 1

Have you read or heard of The Four Agreements? It's a beautiful and insightful book, written in 1997 by Don Miguel Ruiz, a master of the Toltec mystery school tradition. The Toltec are an ancient culture from southern Mexico, who dwelt in the city of Teotihuacan, outside modern-day Mexico City. They were a society of scientists and artists whose goal was to preserve spiritual knowledge and practices.

In The Four Agreements, Ruiz shares these teachings with us, explaining how each of us forms an internal belief system that dictates the way we respond to life:
"Your whole mind is a fog which the Toltecs called a mitote... Your mind is a dream where a thousand people talk at the same time, and nobody understands each other." (p18)
What happens, is we filter through the fog and hone in on what particularly captures our attention:
"Attention is the ability to determine and to focus only on that which we want to perceive. We can perceive millions of things simultaneously, but using our attention, we can hold whatever we want to perceive in the foreground of our mind." (p5)
What we pay attention to, and (even passively) agree with, becomes embedded and enshrined in what Ruiz calls our own "Book of Law". As the name suggests, this becomes the basis for an internal system of judgement, in which we automatically judge everything we think, feel and do, in response to whatever crosses our path:
"As children, we didn't have the opportunity to choose our beliefs, but we agreed with the information that was passed to us from the dream of the planet via other humans. The only way to store information is by agreement." (p7)
If you think about it, you can intuitively feel when something is IN alignment with your internal guidance system, and when something is out of whack:
"Whatever goes against the Book of Law will make you feel a funny sensation in your solar plexus, and it's called fear... Even if the Book of Law is wrong, it makes you feel safe. That is why we need a great deal of courage to challenge our own beliefs. Because even if we know we didn't choose all those beliefs, it is also true that we agreed to all of them." (p12-13)
So what happens? We don't like the uncertain feeling of going against what's written in this internal book of judgement, even if we know it's not right. We fall into the trap of trying to please others, thinking that they're judging us, when it's actually self-judgement we're experiencing and projecting onto others. And so:
"We create an image of how we should be in order to be accepted by everybody... Trying to be good enough for them, we create an image of perfection, but we don't fit this image... We are never going to be perfect from this point of view. Never!" (p19)
But it is possible to change this internal belief system. As Ruiz says:
"If we can see it is our agreements which rule our life, and we don't like the dream of our life, we need to change the agreements. When we are finally ready to change our agreements, there are four very powerful agreements that will help us break those agreements that come from fear and deplete our energy... Instead of living in a dream of hell, you will be creating a new dream - your personal dream of heaven." (p24-25)
Over the next four weeks, I will be sharing and exploring those four agreements with you - one each week. I invite you to read and reflect along with me - kind of like our very own online book club. I'd love to hear your feedback as to how these ideas resonate with your own understanding and experiences. I look forward to taking the journey with you!

26 June, 2007

Permission to play

You may have noticed that I haven't posted to my blog for several weeks. I had a bout of flu a few weeks ago, which was a real wakeup call for me to do more self-nurturing than I'd been doing. Yes, even life coaches need to work at life balance!

I'd clearly got run down and realised that I needed to lighten my workload a bit and allow myself more time to play. You'd think I'd know this already, eh? I certainly talk about it enough with my clients.

But life balance is a dynamic process and sometimes you need to push too hard in one direction in order to notice that you're neglecting another area of your life. The important thing IS to notice. And a change in your health is a sure sign that you need to be doing something differently.

So what I've been doing for myself is lots of drawing, painting and collaging. And not much writing. It's been working a treat - I really feel like I've been replenishing my soul! Because I don't make a living from my art, there are no constraints on what I can or can't do. No deadlines, no pressure. I find it a very restful process, even meditative.

Do you have something creative in your life like that? I can highly recommend it. It's a fabulous antidote to work stress. If you're feeling tired and flat or lacking in motivation for your work, then do something about it NOW. Preferably before your body has to step in and insist on a rest, by falling ill!

I've included one of my collages here, by way of inspiration. So get out there and find your creative muse - give yourself permission to play...

29 May, 2007

Perfect as you are

I have a confession to make: I'm a perfectionist! That can be a good thing, because it means I aspire to high standards. But sometimes it's definitely not a good quality to have, because there are occasions when I drive myself far too hard. I think that, fundamentally, everyone wrestles with something similar - we're all constantly judging ourselves in one way or another. How do I measure up to this 'standard' that I've set for myself?

But what if you could let go of all judgement? What if you could allow yourself to be perfect exactly as you are, right now?

In The Gift, P'taah (channeled by Jani King) says:
Sometimes you relate the idea of perfection to a finished product and you perceive that when you are perfect, you will be a 'finished' article, so to speak. There is no finish, there is no end. Who you are at this moment, in this now, is perfection of the Mind of Creation, unto Infinity.
That certainly resonates for me! How about you?

Today, why not take some time to accept and appreciate all that you are - without judgement. Know that in reality there is no judgement, simply moment after perfect moment. Allow yourself to be in this moment. Allow yourself to be all that you are.

In the words of P'taah:
Enlightenment is not about being good. It is about BEING.