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Persist or Resist? What is Your Commitment to Radiant Living?

newsl1I admit, Soul Health is an ideal. It is something to strive for—a vision to work toward in our never-ending “condition” that humans experience every second of every day. Reaching soul health is, undoubtedly, a process, not a destination.

So, why present a model of optimal living that is difficult to attain? Simply put, because we are evolutionary creatures on an evolutionary path.

The biggest questions that most people face include, “Why can’t I stay on track with a healthy lifestyle?”, “How do I overcome the urge to cheat on my diet?”, “What will it take to get me to exercise?”, “When will I stop spending so much money?”, “Why can’t I get motivated to change my life?”, “What makes me stay in an unhealthy marriage or relationship?”, or “How come I can’t leave an awful job?” I’m sure you can think of a few of your own questions that leave you puzzled and confused.

Let me hit the nail on the head for you….. The bottom line leads nws2to a lack of self-love. Cliché or not, the less you love and care for yourself, the less you take the steps necessary to meet your goals—and in essence, the less you will evolve. This is why we return to old patterns as well as why we never really get started in changing them from the beginning.

Why do you put that extra piece of chocolate in your mouth? Because you care more about the sensation of eating it than you do loving yourself.

What makes you sit on the couch instead of getting up to go for a walk? Because you are having a love affair with the couch instead of with you.

How do you get yourself into debt time and time again? Once again, because you care more about the items you are buying more than you do your sense of financial security, and consequently, your overall well-being.

The questions could go on, but the answer will always be the same. We resist our evolution because we don’t love ourselves enough to move ahead.

nws4As I said today to a client, and have said many, many times before– fear always precedes transformation. It is natural to feel uncomfortable when we are facing change, particularly when we are trying to outgrow something that no longer fits us or our needs. We often choose to fall back into the comfort of an old pattern (no matter how uncomfortable this pattern might make us feel!) rather than face the distress of taking a step forward into a healthier unknown.

So, how do you step into self-love to overcome your challenges? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Next time you go to the cupboard to eat when you’re not hungry, ask yourself, “Will I love myself more or less after I consume this?”  Then choose the path to love and walk away.
  2. When you are hemming and hawing about hitting the gym, ask, “What would I feel best about doing by the end of the day—exercising or not exercising?  Then grab your bag and go.
  3. Give yourself a little self-love nudge when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do by questioning, “What would be the best thing for me regardless of what someone else wants?”  Then pat yourself on the back for saying “no”.
  4. The next time you need some time to yourself, but have a lot to do, inquire, “What would feed my soul more—to take some time writing in my journal on the back porch or finish up the dirty dishes?”

Hopefully, your brain is scanning the various ways you resist your own evolution. We all do it and, yet, we are all left with regret and frustration as a result of doing so. Be honest… there’s something you’ve been putting off for the sake of others… Or something you haven’t felt worthy enough to claim for yourself…. nws3Or something you long to do but think it would be selfish to do for yourself.

Whether or not loving yourself is a foreign concept, remember that the only guarantee in life is that self-love—without fail—will ensure your soul’s evolution. And that always leads to optimal health.

Self-Love: A Cliché? Or the Key to the Universe?

Tina Turner might have been speaking about the confusion love creates when falling for another, but love baffles even more people when they think about showing love to themselves. Admit it… can you even say to yourself that you love “you”?

I had an epiphany not too long ago. It seems silly to think that after almost twenty-eight years of providing mental health services that this notion only just recently arrived in my brain. I’ve spent countless hours talking to people about their chronic depression or anxiety, their ongoing and repeated bad (and sometimes abusive) relationships, their horrible self-esteem, their exhausting obsessive thoughts, their crippling body-image issues or concerns with over- or binge-eating, their immobilizing lack of assertiveness, their shattering hurt feelings, their relentless old habits, and so on. Whatever “broke” their spirit and souls, I was committed to helping them reclaim their lives. Throughout all of this work, if asked, I couldn’t even count the number of times I spoke to someone about self-love, itself.

My recent “ah ha” moment stopped me dead in my tracks. It dawned on me that every single concern or challenge a person struggles with throughout their experience of the human condition is related to a lack of self-love. And I mean EVERY single concern. Give that some thought…. What does everyone want most? To be loved and accepted. What do we lack the most within ourselves? Yep!… Love and acceptance.

marnws4After realizing this, I also realized that each emotional struggle or wound that exists stems directly from the fact that a person doesn’t love themselves. For over ten years, my mission has been to teach others about Soul Health, with the main concept pointing to our willingness to align the ten branches of the human condition with our souls in order to experience what I call “radiant living”. But can we really align our lives without self-love? Can we really sustain change and foster growth and evolution without accepting ourselves? The answer is a definitive “no”.

Research, in many ways, indicates that self-love enhances our overall health. Not only do studies show that self-acceptance improves satisfaction with life, they also show that self-compassion provides the motivation we need in order to change our lifestyle and maintain healthy behaviors such as getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and even success with smoking cessation. Other research indicates that self-compassion and acceptance reduces stress and can prevent procrastination because it helps us recognize the downside of an unhealthy behavior before we engage in something we might regret.

A study in the journal of Psychological Science confirmed that self-love can also help us to deal with adversity, showing that divorced individuals who spoke compassionately toward themselves were more able to recover from the separation than those who spoke with self-criticism. Reading this research and pondering my work with clients helped me refocus on the importance of self-love as a person evolves.  But an even bigger awareness shifted my approach to both working with clients and working my way through my own concerns within the human condition. Humor me for a moment….

Why do we repeat old patterns? Because we haven’t evolved beyond them. Why haven’t we evolved beyond them? Because we haven’t learned to—or are willing to love ourselves enough to do so. So, if you wonder why your life is in a vicious and unhealthy cycle, perhaps it is time to work on self-love.
For those who believe in reincarnation—the rebirth of a soul in a new body for the purpose of evolution—the concept of self-love also answers why our soul comes back for another round. You might want to consider your unfinished business or karma as a sign that your soul is missing out on a little (or a lot) of self-compassion. If we repeat old patterns because of a lack of self-love, it makes sense that on a bigger scale, we also repeat lives because we haven’t figured out that love has something to do with it… self-love, that is.

For you Beatles fans out there, I’m sorry to say that they forgot a verse to their song, “All You Need is Love”. The remake will have to include the key to the Universe—that self-love is the answer to all of life’s challenges. If you want to evolve beyond your old stuff, then get to work on loving yourself at least a little bit more today.

For more information about self-love, check out this article from Spirituality and Health Magazine, titled “Five Self-Love Exercises”.

Guilt: The Ultimate Betrayal of Your Soul

“Guilt is to the spirit what pain is to the body.”
~~  Elder David A. Bednar

maynews1Guilt….  Who doesn’t have it? Even my young dog appears to feel guilty when she has done something that she knows is against the canine rules. But in truth, she’s just being herself—a dog. So, although I need to scold her at times for her safety, it is difficult to stay upset with her for long.

Soul Health is all about “aligning with spirit for radiant living”. In other words, it is about living a life that fully aligns with who you are, your values, and what is best for your overall health. But so many people live under a shroud of guilt that it makes it impossible to live completely in their truth as well. This only mis-aligns them in their experience of life and often causes them to act in other ways that don’t line up for their optimal health.

Take, for example, the common challenge of emotional eating. Many people use comfort foods to “eat away their hurt, frustrations, and anger” instead of speaking their truth, asserting themselves to meet their needs, or setting boundaries that will assure their own self-care. Then, because they already feel misaligned, they seek comfort in foods that will take them even further away from a sense of peace, despite the fact that their initial thought was to lessen their discomfort. I see this cycle almost daily in my therapy practice.

According to the dictionary, guilt is defined as maynews2“Having committed an implied offense”. Take a minute to think about this…. Is it really an offense if you live in your truth? Does saying “no” imply that you’ve committed a crime? Are you wrong for wanting to create a life that is aligned with your values and needs? How much time do you spend thinking about how your behavior would impact others rather than simply choosing what is right for you?

Allowing yourself to feel guilty is the ultimate betrayal of your soul. When we agree to do something that we don’t want to do, or feel guilty for attempting to take care of our needs, our soul aches. These soul wounds can accumulate to a point that guilt runs our lives. Instead of allowing your innermost ally to lead the way, you are essentially choosing to mis-align yourself, and thus, choosing to lead anything but a radiant life.

maynews1Are you staying in a relationship out of guilt? Are you putting your needs aside for the sake of someone else’s? Are you afraid to say “no”? Do others intentionally attempt to make you feel guilty when they don’t get their way?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then perhaps it is time to assess how you might be choosing to mis-align your life by living through guilt. Your soul health is your responsibility and yours alone. If you stumble over the same guilt-related situation over and over again, your soul is likely trying to get your attention so that you can evolve beyond a perceived responsibility and move into a much more aligned and radiant life.

As Charlie Luken stated, “It is not about guilt or innocence. maynews4The point is, it is time to turn a page.” If you are committed to soul health, then, the time to outgrow guilt is now.

For more on how guilt betrays your soul, watch my You-Tube video: 

How Emotions Help Us Evolve: Explaining the Karmic Connection

IMG_5321Do you embrace the times when you feel depressed?  Does sadness bring you down or pump you up?   Can anger be a good thing?  Is anxiety your friend or your foe?

Most people don’t like emotions.  They avoid them, stuff them down, and feel they make us weak when they arise.  However, emotions are the most definable part of the human condition.  While some animals do express some feeling, human beings have the privilege of experiencing the widest array of emotion.  We are also the most able to observe and process our emotions, regardless of whether we view that as a blessing or curse.

Stop to think for a moment about how emotions have changed your life.  Would you have learned whatever you were supposed to learn without them?   Would you have known that something was amiss if you didn’t experience the discomfort?  How did your emotions alert you to something that needed your attention?

Emotions help us to evolve.  They are the cue that something is misaligned in our lives and the alert that something needs our attention.  Without emotion we would not grow.

Embedded in our emotions are the lessons of life—the “karmic” opportunitiesFullSizeR to evolve.  Although many view emotions simply as a chemical imbalance, their impact for growth goes far deeper.  Karma is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding fate for our future as well.  In other words, when explored, many people can see how they have grown from the challenges they have experienced in life.  Their “karma” is expressed and stimulated by their emotion(s), and once the lesson is learned and a new course of action is taken, the feeling dissipates.  Peace and contentment inevitably follow.

In my therapy practice, I’m constantly asking, “What do you think you are supposed to learn from this experience?”  While some resist the idea that something good can come from their situation, they soon realize that there is a great deal of empowerment in being able to consciously consider their circumstances, which allows them to heal and, better yet, evolve.  Once a person makes sense of their predicament, both their worrisome thoughts and emotions are put to rest.  This is conscious evolution.

How often do you dismiss your emotions?  How have you avoided them?  Do you allow your soul the time necessary to explore what the message might be behind your discomfort?

marnws4Soul Health is all about aligning each branch of your life in order to create and experience radiant living.  Emotions are simply a cue to act on something that is getting in the way of your sense of peace and balance.  Consider spending a few minutes each day assessing your emotions to help you identify what might need some attention in your life.  This investment of time will pay dividends in your ability to evolve in such a way that helps you reach your highest potential.  In doing this, you will resolve any karma that may be urging you to grow and you will “graduate” to the next level of enjoying the human condition.  In this way, emotions are just the cue—you are the agent of change.

Evolving Through the Seasons

As you likely know by now, I’m a bit stuck on the word “evolution”.  Even as a young child, I was almost obsessed with how things grew and couldn’t get enough of Darwin’s theory of evolution.  My mother humored me with these passions, allowing me to grow carrots in a wheelbarrow that she dubbed as my personal garden. marnws2 “Specimens” from my prized crop (carrots that were about 2 inches long….) remained in the freezer until they could no longer manage the elements.

I will never tire of talking about evolution.  While I’ve moved on from growing miniature produce, I will forever immerse myself in learning new ways to help others expand their souls to their highest potential.

Conscious evolution is just that—becoming and remaining conscious of how we can best grow, then taking action to make change a reality.  While scientists say that the human body has evolved about as much as it is going to, our soul’s evolution is infinite.  What does this mean for you and I?  It means that, if desired, we can continue to grow beyond our everyday challenges so that we thrive throughout every moment of life.  By aligning our lives with the needs of our soul, we can reach radiant living—or at least create a much more joyful and content experience of the human condition.

marnws3Evolution is a process.  It requires patience, perseverance, and commitment.  That’s why I can’t provide an answer when clients ask me how long it will take to complete therapy.  For those who believe in reincarnation, as will be discussed in future newsletters, evolution of the soul is clearly an ongoing development.  We are presented with lessons throughout each lifetime to help us learn and evolve, sometimes repeating patterns until we outgrow certain circumstances or dynamics.  In the case of this lifetime, our evolution is still up to us.

As cliché as it might sound, awareness really is the first step.  If there is something that you want to outgrow, whether it be an unhealthy habit, an old relationship pattern, or a thought or feeling that no longer serves you, we must first become aware of this imperfection, identify any obstacles to change, then take steps to get our evolution underway.

My Soul Health Model provides the blueprint to radiant living, but remember that evolution is a slow process that requires us to make a conscious marnws4commitment to our infinite growth.

As a gift to you, I invite you to sit back, relax, and take yourself on a journey to your soul’s evolution by watching the visual meditation offered below.  Allow yourself to gently explore the growth you have already witnessed, as well as ponder the change that is yet to come.  I hope you enjoy your journey— feel free to forward this meditation to anyone you know who also needs a gentle nudge on their path to evolution.

Living a “Love Conscious” Life

feb2There is no better time than the present to explore the idea of love consciousness. You’ve likely heard me mention this concept before, but I want to take the time to explain more deeply what it means, because it pertains to all of us—especially as you consider Soul Health.

Our human condition creates much turmoil, judgment, and criticism. It is estimated that American adults have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day, with two-thirds of these as negative thoughts about ourselves or others. That is nearly 40,000 unpleasant or unkind thoughts that pass through our brains each day! It is impossible to align with ourselves on our path to radiant living when we constantly question or berate ourselves or those around us.

heart pupil in eyeThe definition of consciousness is the “awareness by the mind of itself and the world”, while “an intense feeling of affection” defines love. Therefore, love consciousness can be defined as an awareness of loving affection toward oneself and the world”. Because all emotions lead to either love or fear, it is reasonable to assume that, today, the vast majority of folks live through fear consciousness rather than through love.

Let me explain this idea through two personal examples: For years, I have been frustrated and dismayed by the nature of other drivers. Admittedly, I had been known to curse when someone would cut me off, drive too slowly in the fast lane, or suddenly slam on their brakes. Each situation would frustrate the heck out of me and would cause my blood to boil. I’m certainly not perfect, but I do tend to take into consideration the safety and needs of others. Because I wanted to change my reaction, I now try to send these same drivers many heart in tree barkblessings and good thoughts to wish them safe travels instead of letting them ruin my day—and my blood pressure. Although I still occasionally catch myself becoming irritated, I quickly shift my thoughts to something more positive.

Another example is learning not to take personally someone else’s negative intentions. Everyone experiences the darkness of others’ moods and actions, making it difficult to engage in healthy conversation and relationship. At one time, I would take this terribly personally, but now I try to remain intensely aware that other peoples’ actions, statements, and beliefs all come from their own personal experiences, perceptions, beliefs, and most importantly, their wounds. Although challenging, remaining in love consciousness helps me to release these misgivings and use discernment to decide which situations and relationships are healthy enough to maintain. This is done without judgment, which enhances my own soul health by remaining positive and loving toward myself and others.

So how can you live a more “love conscious” life?  Consider the following:

Listen to your thoughts. Pay attention to the messages you send to yourself and others. How many of them are negative? Do these enhance or diminish feb5your soul health? Are they based in fear—or love?

Remember that “junk in” always equals “junk out”. So if you fill yourself with negative thoughts, your life and overall health will be tainted. Also, remember that negative thoughts toward others are always fear-based. So, judging or being critical of others always sends an energetic slingshot back in your direction.

feb6Observe your reactions and turn them into responses. When we react, it is usually an unconscious activity. It happens automatically and usually without awareness of our impact on others. However, when we observe ourselves more deeply, we are more able to respond out of love and awareness, regardless of which of our buttons might have been pushed. Love consciousness allows us to quickly take into consideration the impact we will have on others, as well as prevent any unnecessary hurt to ourselves and those around us.

feb7Vow to yourself that you will change your old ways.  Make a promise to love, honor, and cherish yourself as much as you might another person.  Dedicate your life to living more positively by eliminating all negative thoughts and judgments toward yourself and others.  As a result, your soul health will be greatly enhanced, not only by nourishing and nurturing your inner ally, but also by engaging more positively with those around you

feb8Examine and Evolve beyond your old ways. Consciousness requires us to examine our actions and assess a need for change. Love asks us to respond in a loving and affectionate way. Conscious evolution is all about widening the lens enough to recognize when we need to outgrow old patterns that are diminishing our soul health. When we live through love, we consciously commit to a life that will lead us down the path of radiant living.

Many years ago, a wise woman pointed out to me that dog spelled backwards is “god”. As many of us know, dogs are the most loving creatures on Earth. I don’t know about yours, but mine seem to be far more love conscious than most people I know. Perhaps February should be deemed “dog month”, as we have much to learn from these amazingly loving and unconditional creatures. Next time you catch yourself sending a negative message, ask “What would Emmy or Chloe do?”  No doubt, you’ll learn love.

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Setting Your Soul Mission for 2017

jannws2You might remember that I urge folks to set a “theme” each year for what they want to work on in order to further their soul health and also enhance their soul’s evolution. Your theme might be something like “to be more authentic”, or “to practice self-love”. Themes allow us to anchor our growth on an idea or trait that we want to “weave” into the tapestry of who we are, while also providing us with infinite opportunities to do so.

For those who want to take their theme to a deeper level, you might want to consider writing a personal Soul Mission Statement of your intention to act as a good steward to your soul.

A mission statement is a timeless definition of a) who you are, jannws3b) your main purpose or goal, c) your core values, d) your reason for existence, and e) your mission, or task you aim to fulfill. It may seem odd or cumbersome to write a mission statement to your soul, but the act of creating one is another exercise in knowing yourself ever more deeply. In carefully and consciously crafting your statement, you come to know exactly what you are striving for and whom you are serving at all times; it is the ultimate commitment to your soul and your evolution.

As I wrote Soul Health, I constructed my own mission statement to read as follows:

     I am a vehicle of consciousness whose mission is to elevate others to reach radiant health and ultimate soul evolution. I strive to educate others to thrive in life while also serving as an ongoing role model in seeking and maintaining my own optimal soul health. I see life as a healing journey, one which is available to all souls, most of all one’s own, but one which is always subject to the curiosities and challenges of the human condition. I am committed to my own soul health, growth, and evolution both for myself and for the souls that I am fortunate enough to serve.

jannws4Although the first sentence of this mission statement sums up my love of helping others, it is the commitment to my soul that allows me to do this. It also allows me to anchor each year’s theme on a concept that will reinforce my overall mission. Once you recognize what your mission statement is, it shapes your entire tree of life in service of soul health. Finding your mission in life often takes time, but in many cases you are already fulfilling this mission, you just don’t know it. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but when you break it down to define each of the aspects noted above, you can connect them to complete a statement about your overall life purpose. Writing my own statement served to not only clarify what I’m all about, but also to instruct me each year about how to set my theme to better complete my mission.

Take some time now to develop your Soul Mission Statement, jannws6based on what you know of yourself at this point. Keep in mind that although mission statements are meant to be timeless, you will likely change and refine yours as you get to know yourself and your soul better over time. Your evolution is a lifelong process, but keeping your statement in mind will help you balance the branches of your tree of life, stay aligned with your soul health, and set your yearly theme for soul’s growth.

Stewardship to your soul is a never-ending process. Although it takes time to reach radiant soul health, daily soul stewardship is what allows you to get there. By committing to your soul, you are ensuring your growth and evolution. Your Soul Mission Statement will set the stage for doing this throughout your life.