Featured Blog by Safina Hirji: Cacophony of Contempt

This blog is powerful I could not resist sharing it with you. For more blogs by Safina Hirji visit stillnesshub.com at mindful blogs.

Scorned by the outside world?  For not following the rules?  For not fitting in?  For being different? For being you?  To what degree do we allow the opinions of others to determine our trajectory in life?  And why allow others to even have a say?  How do we set our own limitations and boundaries on the outside “noise” that we hear from others who want to direct our lives?  As we stand in who we are, judgment may arise, but being true to ourselves empowers us to live our best lives, irrespective of what others may think. 

Drowning in the external noise we hear, can only place us in a constant state of reacting to others’ perceptions of ourselves.  As we stand in our power and assert ourselves, the external world shifts and begins to perceive us differently.  We have to own our truth, whatever it may be, so that we can live lives in alignment with our essence and who we truly are.  Wearing masks will only impede our personal growth.  

The value we place on ourselves must be high – higher than anything else.  For when we don’t value ourselves, how can others value us?  There have been times when I have placed others’ opinions of me ahead of who I am and what I want in my life.  Those times were truly when I gave my power up to someone else.  No one knows what I need and want better than me.  And no one should believe that their opinion should outweigh mine. 

I am a sovereign being.

Nobody can enslave me.

Free me from the shackles of those

Who surround me.

If you’ve given your power away, it’s time to reclaim it.  Together, let’s leave their cacophony of contempt and create our own melodious music.  

Thank you for reading! Post a comment! Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

Aim High

grayscale photography of woman

Aim high! Allow your energy to grow! Be open and you will draw greater experiences beyond your present frame of reference into your life. You will perceive and receive what others may not and its okay. Trust your intuition.

Thank you for reading! Post a comment! Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

Ending the Wrestling Match

“Our instinct or innate intuitive way of thinking and behavin is fine tuned. Pay attention to it. Our intuition is always right.”–Dr. Free

man lying on ground over man wearing green jersey shirt

I am enjoying reading the book Developing Intuition: Practical Guide for Daily Life by Shakti Gawain. I am being reminded of some valuable information that is inspiring and I hope that by sharing this blog you too will be impacted in a positive way.

As children, we are born with the gift of intuition. We all have varying degrees of intuition but we are all born with the gift. Intuition, unlike instinct, grants us access to a wider range of knowledge and understanding. Like animals, we do possess instinct about how to survive and protect ourselves. However, as humans, our intuition provides so much more for us. To begin According to Gawain, it connects us to the soul level of our existence and deepens our relationship with our spiritual nature. Further, she explains how intuition leads us in a more effortless flow of life. Then our life weaves smoothly with those around us.

I call intuition a gift because it helps us access information beyond the limitations of our five senses and draws from the wisdom of the infinite universal life force. This gift of intuition makes our lives easier and less stressful. Gawain shares that what we perceive through our five senses and process in our rational mind is based merely on our personal information from previous experiences. While intuition gives us exactly what we need when we need it.

Unfortunately, as children, we are conditioned and socialized away from using our natural gift by various external influences like the impressions of authority figures in our lives, schooling, religious affiliation, and sometimes even parenting. Society reinforces rational thinking and suppresses the use of intuitive thinking. Oftentimes this does not happen due to malicious reasons or with an intention to minimize one’s individuality. The result in many cases is the consequence of learning to adapt, function, and become an “asset” to society. Nonetheless, there is hope. We can reclaim and develop our intuitive abilities.

Respecting authority figures is important. At the same time, it is also important to know how to rely on yourself instead of depending on outside sources. We can listen to the advice of others with a discerning heart as needed but we should never go against our gut! It’s liberating to know that we should and can provide our own confirmation for the decisions we make in life.

Moreover, I have discovered that intuition is protected when we nurture the decision-making process in children and provide them opportunities to be creative. Conscious parenting tells children that its okay to trust themselves. The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves Empowering Our Children by Shefali Tsabary is a great resource for gaining deeper insight on this topic. Adding esoteric or non-religious spiritual practices like cultural rituals, meditation, and journaling can bring the balance we need that nurtures intuition and helps to create a well-rounded lifestyle we can enjoy.

As an academic, I was trained to be a thinker which includes synthesizing information, analyzing circumstances, and scrutinizing with an informed perspective. So, I admit sometimes I get into unnecessary wrestling matches with myself when my knower (my intuition) speaks. I wrestle or doubting myself by comparing what logically makes sense with my intuition. Reading the book reminded me that logic and intuition hardly ever go hand and hand. Sometimes, I analytically think myself away from the right answer, or the right place I need to be. It is more important to follow our intuition rather than wasting time looking for evidence. Following intuition is like walking on stepping stones to a flower garden. With intuition, you can only take one step at a time. As we go along in faith with what we know more is revealed. Eventually, in due time, we will realize the reason why. Following our intuition can actually become a thrilling adventure when we exercise trust and patience. No wrestling is required.

Intuition is seeing with the soul.”
—Dean Koonz

Thank you for reading! Post a comment! Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

Stillness: Connecting to Your Ultimate Authentic Identity

body of water viewing mountain under blue and white sky during daytime
Michael Olsen

When you enter a place of stillness, you awaken the divinity within you.”
― Peggy Sealfon, 

In life we will definitely have times when we are challenged. In our humanness as reasoning and thinking beings, we are likely to experience the full spectrum of feelings and emotions in our lifetime. Know that with these experiences there should be no judgment. However, it is imperative to realize that our challenges can intensify due to our own thoughts. A restless mind will convince us to fight when there is no battle. A mind unleashed will delude us into a state of fear and helplessness.

So, that we can responsibly tend to our thoughts with wisdom let us begin with understanding a beneficial perspective about our thoughts and feelings. We are neither our thoughts nor are we our feelings. The essence of who we are is much greater than that. Rather than trying to control our thoughts, we can become an observer of our thoughts. Our identity—who we really are, is separate from our thoughts. We are actually the one who is observing thoughts as they come across our mind.

When we enter into stillness, we detach from the worry, fear, doubt, and indecisiveness that is attempting to override the awareness of who we really are. In stillness, we stand in peace disconnected from the clutter of our minds, which includes the thoughts we have collected, and the programming we have acquired through our experiences, information, and habits. Practically, when we enter into stillness, three things happen: we observe our thoughts until they eventually dissipate, we quiet our hearts, and we steady our breath.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu stated, “To the mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.” When we choose not to put up resistance to unwanted thoughts but choose to withdraw ourselves and observe them instead, quieting our hearts and steading our breath, the ego is silenced and truth is revealed. Attempting to go against and erase unwanted thoughts only adds fuel to the fire. Stillness helps us to prevail with ease when any unwanted force comes against our mind. In this way, the unwanted thoughts have no control over us and we will not believe those thoughts into existence.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Yes, we are celestial beings. In fact, we are a reflection of that which created us in its beauty, peace, bliss, and perennial or infinite existence. This is the essence I mentioned earlier–our ultimate authentic identity. Entering into stillness reconnects us with the essence of our true selves. When we choose to enter into stillness, we expand our equanimity which is our mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper. It sounds like a paradox but everything we need unfolds from emptiness. Be still and know.

“In the stillness, everything happens. In the silence, everything is said.”
― Drew Gerald

Thank you for reading! Post a comment! Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

Copyright by Deana Gordon

Personal Introduction

two people shaking hands

Cytonn Photography

Authenticity requires vulnerability, transparency. and integrity. Janet Louise Stephenson

Being authentic means being true to oneself as best we can in every way. In other words, being authentic means:

1) being honest with ourselves in our daily walk and how we engage others

2) being consistent in doing what we should and could do so that we can govern ourselves in alignment with our authentic nature.

With that in mind, if you were asked to introduce yourself to an individual or group how would you do so? What do you think are the most important qualities others need to know about you? Will your introduction differ based on the setting or audience? Should it? If so, why? Are your personal introductions meant to impress others, create a barrier of protection, or simply share who you are? Is who we are enough? Must our introductions be decorated with colorful accents or dramatic improvisations? Sure, if it’s who we really are.

When we introduce ourselves to an individual authentically, we seize the moment to connect with others granting others the comfortable opportunity to do the same. Introductions like this are a wonderful starting point for building a great relationship. People often define themselves by their chosen occupation. Sometimes it’s easy for people to list their accomplishments, degrees earned or specific roles they fulfill in life. Feeling accomplished in life is a wonderful feeling but when our ego is on blast in group settings every introduction after ours pales in comparison. If you were asked to share who you are what would you say? Have you taken the time to think about it? Do you even know? If you don’t know, that’s okay today is the day to begin to figure that out.

I have noticed that when people are asked to introduce themselves in large groups, one speaker, after the next patterns their introduction similar to the person that spoke before them. Following suite may be safe and expected but is it satisfying? Is it honest? In some group settings, I have even discerned an undercurrent of competition among participants as if it really matters. People want to “one-up” the person that spoke before them as if they are better somehow.  

In order for us to give authentic introductions we have to:

1) be willing to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable means not hiding behind titles or roles. It means opening yourself up to your truest essence which is a strength, not a weakness.

2) allow for transparency so that the unseen can be revealed for those listening to clearly hear and observe.

3) show integrity and reliability, knowing that what we share is believable and can be trusted.

Authentic introductions are more about who we are rather than what we do. I do not write as if I have arrived, I am challenged often when it comes to being authentic. However, I have resolved that living authentically is the way I want to exist in this world. So, when challenges come, I work my way through it and keep it moving. I readily acknowledge it takes courage to just be yourself.

Now that you have probably thought about it, what would you say if you were asked to introduce yourself? What does your authentic introduction sound like? Begin here.

1.      Chose five adjectives or descriptive words that describe who you are? They don’t have to be nice words either. Think about why you chose those words. They could range from hot-head to caring.

2.      Choose five core values. It could be anything from respect to sexual freedom. This is about you no one else. Sit with your values for a moment. Consider why those values are important.

3.      Now you’re ready. Write down your new introduction. You could even share it with a friend or in front of a mirror. Pay attention to how you feel.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
― May Sarton

Thank you for reading! Post a comment! Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

Copyright by Deana Gordon

My Truth

woman in yellow dress

Everybody has a personal truth; a personal truth is what you believe about yourself when nobody’s listening and nobody’s watching.

Dr. Phil

I was excited when I realized one day that I could boldly walk in my own truth. I did not have to conform to the opinions or expectations of others. Though I wrestled my way into this understanding. I fully embraced the freedom I accessed in authentic living. I could make choices for myself that others may or may not have agreed with and it was okay. What I believed and how I defined my life was all within the power of my own choices. For me, that was both empowering and ecstatically liberating. I was finally free to be me and be me on my own terms.

Somewhere along my journey, I eventually recognized that this new found authenticity was both a treasure and a reward that my life had been missing. Unfortunately, it had not been nurtured in my rearing and neither did my rearing culminate with a rite of passage event blessing my transition into adulthood to be authentically me.  Although I came to this place in my life much later than I would have liked to, I have truly learned to enjoy authentic living. I am learning to enjoy authenticity more and more every day. There’s nothing more satisfying than living in a way where you can unapologetically be yourself.  Recently, I have gained even deeper insight about the meaning of walking in my truth as an authentic person. Joe Caruso’s thoughts challenged me and were seminal for the transformation that is happening in my life and relationships. His due season words are helping to skyrocket my authentic walk to the next level and for that I am truly grateful. I’ve loosely cited the gist of a portion his thoughts below.

Joe Caruso explains in his book, The Principles of Authentic Power: Finding Strength, Meaning, and Happiness in an Out-of-Control World,

There is more than one definition of truth when it comes to our human experience. Truth is that which one believes to be true. The world will line up to validate that which one believes to be true. This is due to the psychological factor of congruency. The world has to be congruent with that which we think it is. Our definition of our world is reflecting. In other words, we are in our definitions of the world as much as the world is in our definitions of ourselves. How we see ourselves and our stories, impacts and reflects into how we see ourselves and the world and we are right. Our experience will validate it.

I have understood for quite some time that thoughts become our reality. Further, I also learned that the way a man or woman thinks of himself in their heart is the way that he or she shows up in the world. However, I now understand more clearly the siginfigance of how my thought life links with my authenticity. The congruency Caruso speaks of explained that the world will line up to validate what I believe is true. Powerful.

From this I have learned two lessons that I want to share with you. First, the world will line up to what I believe even when those beliefs and the thoughts that create them do not serve me. For example, if a woman thinks that all men are dogs—guess what kind of men she’s likely to meet. Regardless of the nice guys she happens to meet along the way, she will always see them through the same dog lens. If a second string basketball player thinks he is inept, that he will always be on the bench, and never get time on the court to play—guess where he will always be. He may even begin to unconsciously perform worse to secure his seat on the bench. This one was a biggie for me. Struggle and hard work are just part of living this life especially as a Black woman in America. Although I have attained a certain degree of accomplishment in my life, I seemed to have a habit of taking the road less traveled. My life necessitated and validated struggle due to that thought process at every turn.  

Secondly, everybody thinks they are right because their life provides them undeniable evidence of their belief. With that in mind, we can engage with others more objectively, with awareness, and with a willingness to be more patient, compassionate and understanding. When everyone is walking in their own truth it is not our responsibility to change their narrative but respect it.  At times there may be people that we can share intimately with and those conversations may foster change. Other times, it may not be what we say at all but our influence with our different choices. I have learned that lasting change only comes when a person realizes the need for it themselves.

Being authentic does mean walking in your own truth. However, the bottom line that we must determine is if that truth is for our highest good. If a truth does not serve us it is never too late to make a change.

“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.”

Janet Louise Stephenson

Thank you for reading! Post a comment! Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

More Than Two Options

“Losing your head in a crisis is a good way to become the crisis.”

 C.J. Redwine,  Defiance
man standing and walking going on boxing ring surrounded with people
Photo by Attentie Attentie

It’s indeed wonderful to know that fight or flight are not the only options for us in moments of conflict that we experience with others. Running away from the matter never solves anything and neither does becoming combative or defensive. Harmony manifests in our lives during tumultuous experiences when our awareness is on the many other choices that we have to keep ourselves in balance. A commitment to practicing mindfulness makes dealing with conflict easier. In mindfulness, we can better maintain our presence as authentic beings.

The fight or flight response comes in moments of acute stress. Acute stress is very common and manifests when there is a perceived threat (imagined or real) whether it be physical, emotional or psychological. The autonomic nervous system is activated and there is a release in hormones thus increasing the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. These threats vary widely from person to person and range from mild to intense. An example of mild acute stress response could be hearing the sudden glare of sirens from a fire truck in traffic. While a severe acute stress response may occur when having an argument with a partner or friend.

The onset of the flight or fight response is due to our reaction to something that has caused us to become fearful. Maybe we are fearful of losing an argument not realizing that it is not worth the time or energy to try and win every battle. Learning to pick and choose our battles wisely is a valuable life lesson worth learning. Perhaps, we are fearful of losing control because we have not accepted the fact that the only person that we can control is ourselves. Further, fight or flight may be our response because of the myth or self-defeating story that we replay in the backdrop of minds.

I’ve learned that when I am aware, I can make a decision to act according to what I know rather than surrendering to my contrary feelings.  My emotions should never be denied. They bring deeper understanding to the present experience. However, my emotions do not always serve me. It’s better to give more attention to making the right choices rather than basing our actions on the perceived or imagined threat we are experiencing.

When we become fearful our judgment is clouded and its more difficult to recall the tools that we know work in order to navigate our way to safe harbors. The worst times to make decisions is when we are in fear, hurried, angered, and fatigued. Pause. Take a moment to examine the circumstances. It’s important for us to be aware of how we feel so that we can prevent the flight or fight response and choose behaviors that help us and lead to the betterment of the situation at hand. In this way, we can stand in our own authentic power remaining true to ourselves. Let’s remember in the face of conflict and life’s challenges flight or fight are not the only two options. Inspired Joe Caruso, The Principles of Authentic Power: Finding Strength, Meaning, and Happiness in an Out-ofControl World.

“Peace doesn’t deny difficulty, but it has an inner calm and quietness even while enduring the difficulty.”

Glenn C. Stewart

Thank you for reading! Post a comment! Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

Self-love: A Choice for Authenticity

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real.  The choice to be honest. The choice to let ourselves be seen.” Brene’ Brown

black and red floral happy birthday card
Photo by Annie Spratt

It is true, our lives are the sum total of every choice that we have ever made. Every choice we make creates the shape of our lives. Choices should be handled with care. No one should be allowed to take away our power to choose and neither should we flippantly throw it away.

Our choices display a visible reality of our own thoughts in action, reveal our heart’s desire, and expose our deepest secrets. Authentic choices allow us to truly be seen. As we are seen we are liberated from the shadows and we become a star in our own life. With that in mind we should choose wisely.

I’ve learned along my journey that my choices determine the quality of the life that I experience. If I choose beneath my abundant privilege and birth right my life will reflect those choices. Likewise, whenever I make choices in line with my divinity and authenticity, I enjoy living a fulfilling life with desirable  magnetic encounters and delightful synchronicities of affirmation.   

Further, I have discovered that we can learn about others not only by listening to what they say to us but by paying close attention to the choices that they make. The choices that we make speak volumes more comparatively than considering the individual abilities we demonstrate.. Our choices are a vibrant proclamation to the world about who we are. I have learned along my journey that when people show me who they are, I should believe them.

Our choices fall in one of two categories. When we choose it is either an expression of our authenticity or inauthenticity. There is no in between. In other words, when we make life decisions, we do so remaining true to our heart’s desire or in denial of what we really want and who we truly know ourselves to be at that time. Even still, when we do not make a choice, one has already been made. Every choice we make has the potential to uncover our unique greatness or conceal it more deeply. 

Self-Love has an extremely significant role in fashioning an authentic lifestyle.  Therefore, self-love and personal choice should go hand in hand in our daily lives. Self-love keeps our choices in line with our personal truths which is a strong characteristic of authentic living.  Without self-love we can deceive ourselves and be led astray from goals and desires that are dear to us and our divine purpose. To that point, we betray ourselves when we make or keep commitments to others that bring unfulfillment, discontentment, and discord to our lives. This results when we value the importance of showing love to others more than we value showing love to ourselves.

Our lives should flourish with continual acts of self-love. In other words, choosing ourselves first must be a priority in our lives. Love for others comes out of self-love, not vice-versa. For example, in case of an emergency on an airplane, the flight attendant always instructs each passenger to cover their own mouths with oxygen first before assisting other passengers. Giving to others is much easier when we have lovingly addressed our own personal needs first.

To some this may be a hard truth but even when we have children or significant others in our lives, we should never love them more than we love ourselves. When this happens, we are more likely to make decisions that bring about feelings of envy, resentment, emptiness, and regret. Self-love is not about neglecting our responsibilities, but it is about setting firm personal priorities that rank your own worthy well-being at the top of the list.

Authenticity is most apparent when love leads the way. When self -love is the priority of every day we transform our presence to one of abundance rather than scarcity. Then, love toward others does not have to be rationed from our being but can flow freely. Our presence then becomes a full flowing fountain and sacred opening that effortlessly and positively impacts others.

Copyright by Deana Gordon

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly,” I am  what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “ I choose otherwise.” Stephen R. Covey .

Thank you for reading! Post a comment! Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

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