Posts tagged #learning experiences

How to Discover What is Missing in Your life and What to Do About It

Do you feel that no matter what you do—whether you win employee of the month or raise the most money for your charity—that something is still missing in your life? Have you spent the better part of your life trying to fill this bottomless pit of dissatisfaction? Or maybe you feel that if you actually stopped to think about it, this gaping hole would gobble you up.

There may be another way to look at this very painful circumstance. Sometimes changing our perspective can make all the difference in the world.

A way to unravel the mystery of what is missing in our life is to ask questions. Asking questions will alert us to try to find the answers. As we try to find an answer to something we’ve never thought of before we can create a new way of looking at things.

Ask questions

Test this out by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Is something really missing in my life or am I afraid of spaciousness?
  2. Is there a missing piece in my life or is the Universe giving me breathing room for things to come in?
  3. Do I need to fill every space o r can I be accepting of this spaciousness?

Let these questions float around in your psyche for a few hours, days or even weeks and allow insight to bubble to the surface. The mind has gone on a fact finding mission and is eager to bring something to you—now that you’ve asked.

Different perspective

Another way to look at this overwhelming feeling of dissatisfaction is to relate it to the connection with ourselves. Can this chronic dissatisfaction and frustration be the disconnection from our core, our True Self? When we turn away from the deepest part of who we are there will be a feeling of loss. A feeling that something is missing. With that in mind, we can say that to connect to our core self (referred to here as the True Self) is to dissolve all feelings of discontent, frustration and dissatisfaction. When we are disconnected from ourselves we feel loss, so the solution is to connect. Let’s look at three common ways that we disconnect with ourselves and what we can do to reconnect.


Three ways we disconnect from ourselves:

1. Blending in

Do you ignore your natural talents and abilities so others won’t notice you? Do you deflect all ways that people try to recognize and honor you? Have you ever wondered what your underlying motivation for doing this is? Hint: it may not be shyness.

What is so bad about being noticed? Why do some of us avoid any sort of spotlight no matter how small? When others look at you and notice you this forces you to look at yourself. Interest from others is a mirror that they hold up to you.

Who is in the mirror? You.

Some of us feel that the scariest thing in the world is to see ourselves. If you stop others from seeing you, then you don’t see you. No big surprises to deal with. Nothing to answer to—like why am I living my life like this when it makes me miserable? When we can finally look at ourselves we are free from this hiding game.

Exercise to reconnect to you:

  1. Ask yourself these questions. Do this in a quiet space and be open to the insight that emerges over time.

    What do you want me to know? What can I do for you to reveal yourself more to me?
    Then say out loud: I’m open to guidance. I’m willing to hear the answers.
  2. Experiment with revealing yourself to others. Start sharing things with people. For example share a piece of poetry you wrote or the latest recipe you created. Or take someone on one of your favourite walks.

    As you practice these exercises you will start to feel more familiar and at home with yourself. This is the door to fulfillment—walk through!

2. Blaming others

When we blame others for our present circumstances we inherently keep our issues outside of ourselves. We are automatically disconnected. We haven’t looked within to find answers or to check in with how we ended up where we are. If you’re constantly asking yourself who out there is making me dissatisfied then you are moving further and further away from yourself.

This act of looking outside for answers pushes us away from ourselves and others. We create shame around those situations. We may feel ashamed for shaming others. There is a gaping hole in our life. Not only are we dissatisfied and angry but we are also dumping this onto someone else.

We’ve all been in a place where we’ve felt victimized. Some of us have suffered immeasurably; I’m not referring to those who have been abused and mistreated. I’m referring to small to medium sized unhappy situations in our life where we want to tell someone else that they are to blame. For the purpose of this article we will concentrate on these types of scenarios.

Exercise to reconnect to you: 

  1. Think of three situations where you felt victimized by others. Again these are small to medium sized situations. For example, you didn’t get the promotion at work.

    Write down these situations in a summarized version in the sequence that they happened.
  • Imagine you fully intended for it to work out the way that it did
  • Beside the sequence of events write down the steps you took to make sure to that it happened that way
  • Label those steps as the “best choices I made at the time”

This exercise is very empowering and downright scary at times. To look at scenarios in this light can be very uncomfortable. The point of this is to take back power and move into acceptance of the choices we made. Once we are in this place we aren’t afraid to face what we may have been running away from. This insight automatically creates a deep connection with ourselves. Once we open the doors of insight and acknowledgement, we feel more fulfillment, more satisfaction. We aren’t blaming ourselves or others. We are standing in the full awareness that we made the best choices we could and that no one is to blame for our lives.


3. Criticising ourselves

How do you feel around those who criticize you? You don’t want to be around them do you?

Doing this to yourself pushes away the deep part of yourself—the True Self. There is no way to feel connected to ourselves if we are chronically critical. In order to feel safe we have to look at ourselves with compassion and understanding. When we treat ourselves with the love that we deserve, we feel an immediate connection. This brings the feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment to the forefront. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “you’re doing a great job!”?

Exercise to reconnect to you:

  • Write down a list of flaws that you think you have. It doesn’t matter how many there are. You need to be real about how you feel about yourself.
  • Beside each flaw write down why you love this flaw. For example, I love the fact that I have OCD tendencies because I’m so organized and I can help others to get organized.

    This exercise is about shifting your perspective. You may judge yourself for having flaws, so what if you acknowledged the flaw but added a love message about it too?

The more we can align with ourselves in full awareness—flaws and all—the more connection we feel. Our True Self wants to love us no matter what. Once you reconnect with this wonderful part of you you’ll be surprised at how fulfilled and satisfied you feel.

Take some time to look at the three areas that we disconnect with ourselves and see what feels true for you. Try the exercises and journal about the shifts and changes that happen internally. This is a process—it doesn’t happen overnight—but just know that you can feel fulfilled and profoundly connected to yourself. This is our natural state. Remember: You are home.


Lessons in Bali: Sunburnt Hands & Unavoidable Nosiness

Its 9am on October 30, 2014—the day before my scheduled departure from a 30 day jaunt in Bali, Indonesia. I lie face down on the beach massage table while the masseuse makes questionable dips into my bathing suit bottoms with his leathery hands. Each time his hand wanders from the top of my back down to the shady end of my spine, I tell myself to jump off the table and do my impression of a Bruce Lee chop to his face.

But I don’t. Mostly because this experience is pretty typical of my time in Bali: slightly uncomfortable, oddly invasive and yet full of loveliness.

The Balinese healer who jiggles my body parts and massages the heck out of every inch of my skin is not a pervert. He does his work without regard for my prudish North American sensibilities. A reflexology treatment and spa massage both taught me that Balinese people don’t seem to be concerned about accidentally brushing an inappropriate region of the anatomy. They seem quite practical about it. If you want a massage or treatment they will provide it. Just don’t expect them to tip toe around your touchy bits.

As my masseuse continues to rub me down in front of a crowd of passersby, I take stock of my month. I realize that Bali has changed me and I am equal parts grateful and uncomfortable.

Face fears: sunburnt hands

As I hop off the motorbike, my arms are burnt tomato red all the way to my fingertips. It is not a comfortable feeling. Yet, I can’t stop grinning. I did it. I faced a fear and came out the other side. So this is what all the self-help books mean when they say: face your fear and do it anyway. What a comfort it is to know that all those writers aren’t speaking out of turn.

Here is another nugget of wisdom to add to the basket: words become meaningful only after we’ve lived through a choose-your-own-adventure example of them…

Here is mine:

My best friend of 35 years and I decide to check out a lesser known area—Nusa Lembongan—a small island off the southern coast of Bali. We spend lazy days hammocking, laying about and walking to the eco-friendly café for a cappuccino. Inevitably human nature takes over and after a while we want more.

The day we walk for 45 minutes to get to an interesting landmark, sweat rolling out of every orifice, we re-evaluate our situation. We need a better form of transportation than our feet. We also need to stay alive, so riding on the back of a local’s motorbike is out. Trying to balance both of us on one motorbike is also treacherous to say the least. The only other option: ride our own motorbikes.

This may seem like a simple solution for those who know the confidence of riding a hog (the motorized kind). I don’t have that confidence. The thought of barreling down a foreign and remote strip of potholed road on a metal beast brings on an episode of the sweats and shakes for me. That being said, after a long discussion and the magic of persuasion only my friend can pull off, we make our decision.

I admit that things start off a little shaky as I fishtail out of the Balinese woman’s back yard as she calls after me: hati hati (careful, careful!). Um…how do you slow this thing down?

One really wide turn into oncoming traffic later, we are on our way. Five more minutes and we get the hang of it, wearing bugs in our teeth like real pros.

I finally understand the term perma-grin. I’m smiling like an overly gassed dental patient. What a rush!

We zoom along the rocky coastline, past seaweed farms and fancy infinity pools. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun!

If I had done what I instinctively wanted to do-which was to avoid motorbikes for this and every lifetime for eternity—I would’ve missed out on an amazingly exhilarating experience. But I didn’t.

Instead, I took a deep breath, shakily straddled the seat of my rental motorbike and turned the throttle full tilt (which is why I careened dangerously toward the concrete fence on my way out of the rental yard). Never mind, I still did it. The experience was well worth it—even with painfully sunburnt hands.

Care and attention: unavoidable nosiness

Have you ever met someone who somehow manages to ask questions that even a long term love never thought to ask? That describes the Balinese people in a nutshell. They are brimming with questions: Where you from? How long you stay? Where you stay? Those are just the warm-ups; wait until you actually make a connection with them. No personal stone will be left unturned.

Although I met some Balinese people who were only asking questions in order to sell me a wooden penis with painted flowers on it (I’m not making that up), I did experience profound moments of genuine connection.

One day we chatted with an effervescent young girl who worked in a Warung (local restaurant). She gave us her full attention and presence as she asked us about our adventures on Bali. She laughed delightedly at our motorbike mishaps and clumsiness; she listened as we described our plans. She peppered us with questions and we eagerly answered them. Who doesn’t want someone hanging on your every word with authentic interest? I left that seaside spot with a warm heart. There are many other examples of this sweet and endearing attitude of the Balinese people. We chatted happily with hotel concierges, taxi drivers and local business people.

However after a month of being pelted with questions every minute of the day, I felt raw and tender. In Canada we don’t even look at each other let alone converse with such vigour and frequency. My jaw was overworked and my privacy had gone out the window. When I arrived home I hid in my apartment for a week and reveled in the silence.

As I re-adjust to my Canadian surroundings, I realize that I miss the care and attention the Balinese people showered me with (even the penis salespeople). The more I interact, I mean avoid, other Canadians on the street, the more it hits home. Where is our care and attention for each other? What’s wrong with a little bit of healthy curiosity of our neighbour, store clerk or barista? Would it kill us to have a dialogue? Judging from the terror in your eyes, I would guess that's a yes. Take it from me—a Canadian with a personal space requirement of 10 feet or so-that once we experience someone getting up in our grille, we actually get used to it. Then we like it.

So get out there and get nosy! You won’t regret it. You may have to perfect the art, but who knows who you’ll meet and how your life will change.

Thank you to the people of Bali. Thank you for being super nosy. Thank you for offering me opportunities to open myself up to new experiences. And most importantly, thank you for throwing me outside my comfort zone to a place where I hardly recognize myself: more courageous and open than ever before!

Inspiration Station: How to Change the World from your Own Backyard

I binge watched Orange is the New Black on Netflix and now I’m perturbed that I have to wait until who knows when for the next season; I admit it. I have unhealthy attachments to my iPhone, Facebook page and emails—full confession.

However, I’m a little bit uncomfortable about ignoring the giant catastrophe that is our planetary reality at the moment. Plastic bottles choke our oceans. Football-sized sections of Rainforest get mowed down every second. Climate change(s). At this point I’m poised for the day when I say oops where’s my electricity? Gone forever (voice in my head).

Which is why my ears perk up when I hear about people making change. I don’t mean those who sit in a boardroom and discuss policies lined up for 2099. I mean the people who take inspired and enlightened action: now.

Where does it start? With the Basics.

Allow me to present Back to Basics Social Developments—a not for profit organization with a focus on youth programs that benefit the whole community. In 2009 Executive Director, Andrew Miller and Director of Arts & Music, Shane Dennis manifested their collective vision for change and voila: the Unity Café in Barrie was born.

Part hip hop chic, part farmers with style, Unity boasts a recording studio, bustling café and community kitchen. This uplifting project weaves together a sustainable food and housing system (use of urban, rural and vertical farming) with educational programs on organic cooking, art, and music—all youth and activist friendly. The melding of artistic energy (Dennis) and a love of the land (Miller), seems to be the ultimate synergistic partnership.

So much so that the concept morphed into The Global Unity project; a free franchise business model that uses the principles of sustainable living and equal accessibility to resources. In 2013, The Georgina Island First Nations community developed a store and community gardens based on this model.

And that, folks, is just the tip of the melting iceberg.

Where does it grow from here? It’s planetary.

In true activist form, Miller doesn’t rest on his laurels; he’s taking the Unity vision up a notch as Director of New Earth Urban. This enthusiastic, self-proclaimed Executive Tree Hugger (why can’t I think of cool titles like that?) is on a mission. Please note: this is not mission impossible or “drinking the Kool-Aid” (google it).

New Earth is an international organization committed to improving the planet using an entirely new paradigm. The proven sustainable systems and models nurtured at The Global Unity project, will now translate into the New Earth projects.

Let’s face it—our current economic and environmental system is badly broken and a whole new outlook on life is needed. This is where you come in! Here’s what it means to be an activist in today’s world according to Back to Basics Social Developments:

  • Are you like Miller? “I wanted to stop doing things as [just] an individual”
  • Act local, think global; “localize principles while sharing knowledge globally”
  • Focus on sustainability in a peaceful and loving way
  • Inspire others: “Youth have found enough inspiration by this work to completely change their lives, even finding inspiration from being suicidal”, explained Miller when I asked how these projects impact those they serve

So, if this sounds like you, grab a towel and “don’t panic” (hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy reference).

Bring your skills to the virtual table; register here as a New Earth contributor or contact Andrew Miller for the Toronto, Canada area here:

Projects in the works include locations in Southern Ontario starting this summer, but the reach is global. Special thanks to Canadian Organic Grower's Toronto 2014 Conference for highlighting all the wonderful things people are doing to change the world!!

Eleanor Healy