Sunday, November 29, 2009

Clear the Past & Open to Your Present and Future NOW

By Amy Phillips-Gary

I've been knee-deep in celebrations lately. My two sons' birthdays fall within 8 days of one another in November. This means a lot of parties, cake, presents and fun this time of year in my family.

It also usually means a lot of dredging up the past for me.

As we mark their birthdays, I have this habit of recalling my perceived mistakes around each of their births and early years-- as well as my many missteps as a mom over my sons' past 15 and 11 years, respectively.

I also tend to get stressed out and worn down in the course of all this party planning, cake baking and...yes, especially regretting and self-castigation.

In fact, I believe that the inner “work” I am doing re-living the past and my self-judgments about what I think I did wrong is far more draining than wrapping presents and blowing up balloons!

The double-whammy with this limiting habit is that I can get so wrapped up in the past, I miss out on fully enjoying this present moment.

Do you ever feel bogged down by your past, yet you can't seem to let it go once and for all?

There's absolutely nothing wrong with remembering the past or waxing nostalgic periodically. I don't even think there's anything unhealthy about recalling the births of your babies.

Troubles arise, however, when we use these memories as an excuse to beat ourselves up a bit-- or a lot. We can quickly become stuck in the past when we continue to re-play it in our minds. The feelings come crashing into the present and feel oh so real.

When I fall into this backward-focused mode, I often amp up the intensity even more by becoming angry with myself for continuing to carry around this old and over-played angst!

At that point, I am further stuck and continuing to miss out on the wondrous the moment that's happening right now.

Meet your unresolved past with love and forgiveness.
In their book, Zero Limits, Dr. Joe Vitale and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len introduce readers to a powerful practice called Ho' Oponopono* that helps clear the past and tap into limit-less divinity.

This is a specific technique and I've not taken the Ho' Oponopono training (though I would love to at some point). But I have read Zero Limits and, based on what I have learned so far, I incorporate my basic understanding in my own life with wonderful results.

The premise behind Ho'Oponopono is that we are all 100% responsible for not only the lives we've created, but we are also 100% responsible for correcting the “cancerous thoughts that create a diseased reality.”

We can choose to use a premise like this to beat up further on ourselves. Or, we can choose to use this premise as an invitation to offer forgiveness to ourselves and then release the past as well as beliefs that are keeping us stuck.

Repeating the words, “I love you, I'm sorry, Please forgive me and Thank you” is one way to do this type of clearing.

It was (and still is to some degree) uncomfortable for me to repeat words that remind me of an “I've sinned” kind of admission. But, with Ho'Oponopono, there is no emphasis on or call for doing penance.

Instead, it's all about acknowledging what you are thinking or what you have done and focusing your attention on what Vitale and Hew Len call “cleaning” on the feeling, thought or issue.

As I celebrate my sons' birthdays and a flood of memories come to me-- some of which are filled with regret or disappointment in my own self-- I can consciously “clean” the ones upon which I get stuck.

I can repeat to myself “I love you, I'm sorry, Please forgive me, and Thank you” in relation to painful thoughts and even the past events that feel unresolved. And, in the process, the thoughts, the pain, the judgment eases and releases.

What is left is an openness and a freedom within which I can create the joyous celebration of life that I choose.

*According to Joe Vitale and Ihaleakala Hew Len's book, Ho 'Oponopono is derived from an ancient Hawaiian technique. It is defined as a “process of letting go of toxic energies within you to allow the impact of Divine thoughts, words, deeds and actions.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

5 Ways to Get the Support and Appreciation You've Been Craving in Your Relationship

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Jack works hard so that his family can live comfortably. He works long days at the office and then attends to his wife's “honey do” list when he gets home. To Jack, all of his efforts seem to go unnoticed by his family.

What he wouldn't give for just a little appreciation for all that he does; some morsel of support wouldn't hurt either!

Have you ever felt like Jack in your relationships?

It seems to you that you work and you sacrifice for your family, your partner or even your friendship and nobody gives you thanks for your efforts. In fact, it may even feel as if you're being taken for granted much of the time.

Wanting to feel appreciated and supported are common experiences for people in relationships.

When you don't feel supported or appreciated by those close to you, resentment and anger can quickly develop. As you probably already know, resentment and anger usually lead to tension and disconnection between you and the people you care about.

You might feel stuck.

You really want to feel that sense of support and gratitude from others, but you don't want to make waves. You might even acknowledge that your partner or others in your relationship are also working hard-- it's not just you who is sacrificing.

So now you may feel resentful and guilty at the same time. This is a downward spiral that isn't going to help you build a healthier, closer and more satisfying relationship!

Instead, try these suggestions...

*Treat yourself the way that you want the other person to treat you.

Too many times we rely on the people around us to fill a void within that we are unwilling to fill for ourselves. This might include: not honoring your true desires, saying yes or no in certain situations just because you think you “should” or putting your physical health on hold in order to care for others.

How can you begin to create an environment of greater support for yourself?

Make a list of specific ways that you want to feel supported and appreciated and then start treating yourself accordingly. Of course, you want those close to you to positively add to this supportive environment-- but you can lead the way and be responsible for your own well-being too.

*Be honest and request what you want from the other person.

You can state your request for more support and appreciation in ways that actually bring you closer to the person or people in your relationships.

You might say, “I know that we've both been burning the candle at both ends lately. I'd like us to talk about ways that we can more fully support each other and connect. Here's one way that I'd like to be supported.... How can I better support you?”

*Express your appreciation for the other person.

Quite often, we can become caught up in the unsatisfactory ways that we are being treated and do not realize that we are engaging in the same behaviors. If you want more appreciation, give more appreciation-- both to yourself and to the other person.

In just about every case, what you put out comes back to you multiplied.

*Notice the improvements.

When you feel lack, it can be easy to fall into the trap of only seeing the lack. It could be that your partner does show you appreciation, for example, but you can't see it because you are focusing only on what he or she is doing that seems wrong or neglectful.

Sometimes the appreciation or support comes in “little” acts or words that can easily be overlooked.

Be aware of what the other person is doing that helps you feel supported. You can always thank the person for his or her efforts and then ask for specific changes, if necessary.

*Keep yourself in an open and receiving mode.

Even as we might crave more support and appreciation in our relationships, many of us walk around closed down and, consequently, we limit what we can receive from others.

People close to us may actually be trying to give us what we desperately want, but we can't let it in.

Your kids might see you as infallible and able to do it all, because that's the outward “mask” you usually wear. Maybe they've even offered to help you in the past but, for one reason or another, you sent the message that you will carry the load all by yourself.

Now that you want support or appreciation, it's not there and you can't figure out why.

Be willing to ask for help, support and the thanks that you desire-- and then be willing to receive it.

The sharing that can happen as you communicate what you want and then stay open to receive it can be amazing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rev Up Intimacy and Passion in Your Relationship

By Amy Phillips-Gary

“Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better”-- The Beatles

In their classic song, “Hey Jude,” The Beatles sang this message so clearly.... If you want more passion and intimacy in your relationships, open up your heart and let others in.

This week I've been writing about how to improve your relationships. When it comes to interacting with others, things can become rather dull and routine. Deepening and enlivening your connection with others is a fabulous way to improve your relationships.

And I'm not just talking about your love relationship or marriage.

There is a potential for close, engaging and alive interactions with every person you encounter...if you want it and if you open up to it.

Ok, there are probably people that you work with, see regularly or are even related to with whom you don't want to be close. For some reason, you might feel uncomfortable with a deep level of intimacy (or any intimacy at all) with these particular people.

That's perfectly fine. This is your decision.

But when you look around at your relationships with your partner, children, extended family and friends and few, if any, of those relationships match up to the level of passion and intimacy that you desire, it's time to look inside.

The walls can come tumbling down...
A big reason why many of us aren't feeling fully alive and engaged with the relationships that we're in is because on some level we have built up walls. Through years of experience, a lot of us have erected symbolic walls to keep other people at a distance.

Keeping others at “arm's length” may have been a sort of survival strategy that made sense and even served you at one point in your life. If you feel dissatisfied and want more now, however, it's time to reconsider that strategy.

Which people in your life are you ready to open up to just a little bit more?

You could set an intention to rev up the intimacy in your love relationship, for example. And this doesn't just mean sex!

When you open up to deeper intimacy, you are allowing this other person to see sides of you that you might have previously kept hidden-- even if you've been together for many many years. There could be more or different physical touching and sharing involved as well.

Stay aware of how you tend to interact with the other person in the relationship upon which you are focusing.

Where do you usually hold back? At what point during conversations and physical interaction (which could include everything from hugs, kisses, pats on the back to lovemaking) do you freeze up and hide behind that wall?

It is at this place of holding back, where you can make a decision to try something new. Give yourself permission to expand beyond your normal level of intimacy even just a little bit. This can happen in steps.

Pay attention to how it feels to deepen intimacy in this new way. How does it feel in your body? What do you notice about how the other person responds?

Remember, an internal wall can take some time to dismantle so be gentle with yourself.

Lust for life...
Another way to rev up intimacy and passion in your relationships is to let yourself fall in love with life. It is frequently the case that a person's relationships seem dull and lifeless because that's the way the person sees his or her life overall.

You can breathe new life into your relationships by consciously becoming more passionate about what you do, who you are and where you are right now. You can also get pumped up about where you are headed.

There are always things that we'd like to change, improve and to be different about ourselves and our lives-- including our relationships. To encourage those positive changes, you could look for those aspects that stir you and cause your heart to sing.

Get passionate about yourself and your life and then allow that excitement and zing to expand. It will undoubtedly help you breach those walls to intimacy within yourself and make it easier for you to move closer to the people in your life.
*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

“Magical” Communication Solutions for Difficult Relationship Moments

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This week's blog posts are centered on improving your relationships. Paying attention to how you interact and connect with or disconnect from the people around you is an integral part of your personal growth.

We all fall into habits in our relationships that often correspond with the inner habits we maintain. Some of these habits support the growth and expansion that we want and others are mainly obstacles.

As the holidays approach, your habits that tend to stand in the way of relationship and personal growth can become intensified and even inflated.

Yes, Thanksgiving and the various December holidays such as Hanukkah, Yule and Christmas are times of gratitude, giving, celebration and togetherness.

But we can all probably attest to the fact that these holidays can also be quite stressful. Old wounds that have never been given the chance to heal can become re-inflamed as you see a family member with whom you share a challenging past. In the flurry of shopping and parties, tensions between even the closest friends can rise and hurt feelings can be triggered.

The manner in which we communicate is often a barometer for how stressed out and tense we feel.

We might find ourselves saying something hurtful or harsh to a person we care deeply about. We may lash out verbally at a mate, child, co-worker or friend who has very little or nothing at all to do with why we feel strung out or angry.

This is unfortunate and it is also something that just about every one of us does from time to time. Becoming aware of how you are feeling and actually listening to your inner needs for relaxation and release can help prevent these uncomfortable and even regrettable moments.

The great news is, the ways that we communicate-- even about difficult topics-- can be the means by which connection and closeness and personal growth happen.

Taking care of your feelings and needs rather than shoving them aside is a wonderful first step to improving communication with others.

A second step is setting an intention (and then remembering it) to communicate to connect. Too many times, the underlying aim of communication becomes to prove a point or to be “right.”

One person becomes attached to how “right” his or her perspective seems and then the conversation becomes all about justifying that position instead of offering up a particular view and then listening to what the other person has to say.

The sharing and connection get lost when “rightness” is the intention.

There are probably times when you truly want to communicate to connect with another person, but you also want to be certain that your voice is heard and acknowledged. You can absolutely do both!

Relationship coaches and authors Susie and Otto Collins have written an e-book titled: Magic Relationship Words which includes 101 words and phrases that are designed to encourage connection, honesty and openness in your communication.

Here are a couple of “magic” words from their e-book that you might try in your relationships:

* “Please tell me more...”
How many times have you made up a big story in your head about something another person said to you that seemed vague and confusing? Perhaps your story about what you think was meant left you feeling upset, fearful or angry-- and you don't even know if your understanding is accurate!

When you realize that you are starting to fill in blanks and make up stories about what another person said, stop yourself and go to the person. Ask him or her to “Please tell me more...” about the statement.

This request for more information can potentially save you both from inner turmoil and relationship conflict.

* “I feel...”
“I feel” statements have been around for a long time. They are so potentially powerful in relationship communication that I think they bear repeating again.

For example, you can tell your partner that his or her flirting is “making me insecure or worried that an affair is going on.” Chances are, this statement will trigger defensiveness in your mate which can shut down communication quite quickly.

Instead, you might say something like: “I feel insecure and worried that you may be having an affair when I see you flirt.” It is a subtle change. Your partner will probably not be overjoyed to have this conversation with you, but the emphasis is different.

With these “magic” words, you are taking ownership for how you are feeling AND you are bringing attention to a situation that is troubling you. A greater sense of openness is introduced into an otherwise disconnecting context.

From this point, you can listen to what your partner has to say, possibly ask questions for deeper understanding and then possibly create some agreements.

Connecting communication in relationships may not occur as instantaneous as any of us would like.

Yes, it does take both inner listening and also a willingness to practice engaged listening with the other person. But the effects of working through a challenge or conflict with a sense of integrity, cooperation and closeness can truly feel magical.

*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Improve Your Relationships...and Watch Your Personal Growth Soar

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This is a blog about personal growth, right? So why am I writing about relationships this week?

It's because-- as you possibly already know-- relationships play an integral role in your personal growth.

The relationships we have with our partner, children, parents, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others can be the means by which we continue to bang up against the same wall and stay stuck in the muck of limiting habits OR they can promote our learning and expansion on personal as well as relational levels.

Perhaps you have struggled with insecurity for as long as you can remember.

If so, your uncertain and probably overly-critical view of yourself undoubtedly shows up in various ways in your relationships. Maybe you are frequently jealous around your partner. You possibly feel stuck in a job with little or no respect and a low paycheck to match. You might feel bullied by a difficult neighbor.

If you take a bird's eye view of your entire life, you can trace lines of connection between you-- your biggest challenges-- and the people with whom you spend your time.

Because there is such a strong link between your personal growth (including the apparent obstacles to it) and your relationships with others, tune in. When stress and tensions mount, take a deep breath and open up to what you can learn from this relationship in this moment.

Here are some possible types of lessons...

The lesson of reflection

No, I do not mean that when your child throws a fit at the shopping mall, his or her behavior is a reflection of the “bad” parent you are!

What I do mean is that every person in your experience can be seen as a mirror of some aspect of you. Maybe your fit-throwing child is a mirror of the overwhelmed way that you also feel, for example.

When someone in your life is pushing your buttons, pause and ask yourself if what he or she is saying or doing is actually a mirror for tendencies that you also have. This is not the most comfortable inner exploring to do.

The benefit is, you can usually get to the root of your irritation more quickly as you see that you are most upset with yourself for feeling, saying or doing something that you label inappropriate in some way.

From that point, you can choose to ease up on both yourself and the other person as you decide how you might change from within. In just about every case, the situation with the other person rapidly improves and then you can make necessary requests of him or her.

The lesson of contrast

When we bump up against resistance with the people in our lives, it can truly be a blessing. No matter how “wrong” you think another person is, your personal growth can expand if you can acknowledge this as a lesson of contrast.

We are all unique beings. This is one of the delicious-- and sometimes the most frustrating-- aspects of living on this wonderful planet.

You can recognize that the choices another person is making do not resonate for you and then use that recognition to further clarify what you do want. You don't have to agree with this person and, in the majority of cases, you can shift your attention back to you and to the choices you want to make for yourself.

The lesson of letting go

This brings us to letting go. Even if you are in a contentious place with your child or your partner, you can learn to let go and allow.

Perhaps you and your teenager simply don't see eye to eye about a particular topic-- or many topics, for instance. Letting go doesn't mean that you don't set boundaries or make agreements about what is acceptable behavior in your home.

What it does mean is that you honor the person you are in a relationship with-- even if the person is a child or teen. You listen to him or her and you speak with integrity and then you stay open to resolutions that allow you both to proceed with dignity and in accordance with who you each are.

We always enter into relationships with others so that we can learn and grow-- though sometimes we don't realize that intention. Through our interactions with these other people, we can begin to live and love more fully...especially if we're willing to learn.

In the next few days, I'll be sharing ideas for how you can improve your relationships when it comes to communication, intimacy, appreciation and mutual support.


*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Find Your Edge and Upgrade You

By Amy Phillips-Gary

All week long I've been writing about upgrading your life and yourself in various ways. Upgrading your home, physical fitness and diet were specific areas covered. As I finish up this weekly theme, I want to include an important side note...

Nothing is wrong with you or your life!

Often, talk about making an improvement is accompanied by an implied (or overtly stated) assumption that the aspect of you or your life that is intended for change is somehow deficient or even bad.

Yes, there are certainly habits and tendencies that do not support you and the way you want to live. But when you attempt to motivate yourself from a negative approach or assumption, any improvement experienced usually doesn't last-- or it is tinged with fear or self-castigation.

This is no upgrade.

A truly sustaining and expansive upgrade stems from the reminder that you are perfect as you are...imperfections and all. You can affirm to yourself that you are inherently good and capable AND that you'd like to create an even better life and a more enhanced you.

From this place of essentially coming to peace with where you are and being clear about where you want to go, you can make that upgrade and even feel happy and fulfilled along the way.

Find your edge.

We've all got an edge. This is the symbolic boundary beyond which we are uncomfortable or perhaps we even blatantly refuse to go. It is the invisible-- yet seemingly iron-clad-- line that keeps us stuck where we are.

I encourage you to find your inner edge and then explore beyond it.

You may be accustomed to biting back what you really want to say to a close family member, for example. Perhaps you just want to keep the peace and over the years you've become really adept at doing this. The trouble is, sometimes your self-induced silence means that you feel hurt or disrespected.

Maybe speaking out and potentially “making waves” is a really scary prospect for you. In your mind, who knows what would happen: “Will this person I care about leave me?” “What if he or she hurts me even more if I talk about how I truly feel?” “It's just not safe to speak up!”

This is an edge.

When you are alone, think about a time when you met up with your edge. Clues could include: a contraction in your stomach, stiffening shoulders and back, headaches that seem to come on suddenly or a tendency to leave the moment by becoming distracted or unfocused.

As you meet up with your edge, get curious about the situation that was (or still is) going on. Was a particular person involved? Was a certain setting or specific words said? Gather this information and try to identify what the most loaded trigger is for you.

Ask yourself how you might replay the situation if you had no edge.

Explore in your mind what might happen, for instance, if you were honest with this family member about how you feel when he or she says those words to you. Include as unbiased a list of possible options as you can formulate. How does it feel in your body to finally speak up?

Communicating with integrity and openness does not necessarily mean that you are combative or that you will instigate an argument, by the way. There are many ways to talk about how you are feeling and what you want that can actually promote connection.

The point to this exercise is to gently move yourself past your edge-- whatever that might be.

In the safety of your inner self, demonstrate that you do have the choice to step past that self-created boundary and then try a new way of communicating, acting and being.

This is an upgrade upon which you can build and grow and flourish.

*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Upgrade You: Diet and Fitness Self-Improvement Tips

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Losing weight and exercising more are two resolutions that just about everybody includes on his or her list of self improvements to make.

And just about everyone (with exceptions of course) somewhere along the line falls short of those goals. Those aspirations usually get swept aside and forgotten-- or used as a rationale for self-criticism and beating up on one's self.

If you'd like to upgrade yourself by making improvements in the ways you eat and/or your physical fitness, setting yourself up to succeed is a vital first step.

Too many of us dive right in to a new diet or exercise regimen with high hopes and, for whatever reason, we plateau, get bored or distracted or don't follow through completely. It can seem like we are failures at this. And for this reason, many of us give up trying.

Upgrade in a sustainable way...
Before you start to count calories or head off for your first run in years, I encourage you to get clear about the upgrade you want. From as observational a perspective as you can muster, look at where you are. What are your habits when it comes to eating and exercise? What do you consider your strengths and where are your weaknesses?

In a diet book I'm reading, The Thin Commandments: The Ten No-Fail Strategies for Permanent Weight Loss, author Stephen Gullo advises those who'd like to lose weight to know your food history.

He offers examples of clients he's worked with who, for example, have troublesome histories with cookies, but are not as tempted to binge when it comes to pudding. When a particular client keeps his or her history in mind, that person can actually eat dessert in moderation and continue to shed pounds.

Get to know what your history is with particular foods and then come up with strategies about how you can stay on your path of becoming thinner and do so in sustainable ways.

Think in terms of continually making life choices that are in alignment with the upgrade you desire, instead of short-term and possibly more extreme diets during which you might feel deprived and even starved.

Stay tuned in to your feelings. If you feel overwhelmed or intense emotions when you consider a particular upgrade, take the time to explore those emotions. What possible past events or old beliefs are those feelings tied to? Get curious and discover what you need to resolve as you move forward with these changes.

You can apply the notion of sustainability to your fitness improvements too.

If you tend to get bored on the exercise equipment at the gym, recognize that and come up with different fitness strategies. There countless ways to move your body-- experiment until you find a repertoire that is actually enjoyable.

Upgrade in a process-oriented way...
It's common to set goals for yourself when attempting to improve your fitness and diet. There's nothing wrong with goals, except that sometimes we become so hyper-focused on the outcome and “end goal,” we might miss or belittle our smaller achievements along the way.

I think that it's great to set an intention to lose 25 lbs, 50 lbs or more or less. It's equally wonderful to strive to lift a particular weight, run a certain number of miles and so on. Even so-called "failures" along the way can be viewed as opportunities for learning, clarification and choice.

As I said, goals can be great motivators-- when placed in a particular perspective.

Consider offering most of your attention to how you feel about yourself and your eating and exercise habits from moment-to-moment. Set your longer-term goal and then put it to the side symbolically. It's still there, but the majority of your focus is on the here and now.

Allow yourself a cheer when you find that your pants button easier than they used to, even if you aren't at that goal weight yet. Pat yourself on the back for getting outside for a brisk walk in the chilly rain, even if you aren't running the miles you want to yet.

It is this sense of presence and process that allows your upgrade to sustain and feel great. This practice will support your ability to continue to make improvements in all areas of your life.
*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Upgrade Your Home and Office

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This is Upgrade Yourself and Your Life week on the Personal Growth Planet blog!

Yesterday I shared some basic information about the Law of Attraction and how you can use it to begin manifesting the upgrades you want. Today, I'm going to focus in on a specific area for potential upgrade-- your home, office and other living spaces.

You might spend a lot of your time caring for, maintaining and improving your home. The employees at stores that sell pillows, curtains, paint, tile, rugs may even know you by name. HGTV might happen to be your favorite channel on television.

Or it could be that you spend only a minimal amount of time on your home or office space. For you, keeping your living spaces relatively clean and picked up may be the best you can do in the midst of a busy schedule. Devoting much attention to the way your home looks may not even interest you.

I'm not suggesting that we all need to become Martha Stewart-esque. But I do believe that creating a space that reflects and enhances the kind of upgraded life you want is important. This isn't merely about looks-- it is about energy and feeling.

You will probably find that with clear and particular environments in specific areas of your home or office, you can actually become more productive, efficient, relaxed, passionate, stimulated, calm and even financially abundant.

Yes, I am talking about feng shui.

You may have heard about this ancient Chinese practice and system that is based on the assumption that specific changes made to living spaces can promote or suppress particular aspects of the lives of the people who inhabit them.

If you aren't familiar with feng shui, this might sound outlandish and “out there.” But let's face it, if your home is wall-to-wall clutter, you most likely feel cluttered on the inside as well.

On the other hand, have you ever entered a room or someone's house and you instantly felt relaxed and at ease? There was probably something about the energy in that space that triggered feelings of pleasant calm within you.

On a general level, this is what feng shui is about. Your ch'i-- or life force-- is influenced by your environment. And when your ch'i is flowing freely and easily, your health, bank account, relationships and overall sense of peace and happiness will be positively affected.

There are many factors to consider such as: special compass directions of the rooms and furniture in your space; when you were born; and the proximity and combination of the elements wood, water, earth, fire and metal.

To learn more about creating balanced ch'i in your home or office, you can consult books, dvds and online sites. You can even hire a feng shui professional to assess your living space and offer suggestions.

Here are some general feng shui tips to get you started in the meantime....

*Look at the approach to the front door of your home or office. Does a busy street lead directly to it? Are there trees or bushes positioned in such a way that they “threaten” the entrance to your home?

If the approach to your space or the view is too direct and abrupt or too obscured and blocked, ch'i can be negatively affected. Find ways to encourage a gentle yet clear energy coming up to your front door or front windows. For example, a curved path is a wonderful aspect.

*Pay attention to the flow. Are there odd or awkward corners in your home or office? These could be places where the ch'i energy stagnates and becomes trapped. Stagnation areas occur in many spaces-- this is often a result of the architectural design but can also be due to the arrangement of furniture.

If you can move furniture around in your space so that the energy flow is more opened up, you can free up ch'i and also better support specific areas of your life. Feng shui practitioners usually strongly advise people to get rid of the clutter to encourage unobstructed ch'i.

If you face architectural obstacles to your ch'i, you can use wind chimes, mirrors or bamboo flutes to turn these trouble areas around.

*Get out your compass. The Pa Kua (also known as the Ba Gua) is an 8-sided form that is used as a guide for encouraging specific improvements by enhancing the flow of ch'i. Find a compass or get a good idea of the directions of key rooms in your home and concentrate your de-cluttering and other feng shui efforts in those rooms or directions.

They correspond in the following ways:

North: Career Prospects

Northeast: Education

East: Family, Relationships and Health

Southeast: Wealth and Prosperity

South: Fame and Recognition

Southwest: Marriage Prospects and Marital Happiness

West: Children

Northwest: Mentors

Feng shui is a very powerful practice and even simple changes that involve little or no money can bring about significant improvements in your life. Have fun with this and let your ch'i freely flow!

*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Upgrade Your Outlook

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Yesterday I kicked off “Upgrade” week by encouraging you to consider improving and expanding yourself and your life in some way.

Perhaps, as you tuned in and had that “conversation” with your future self, you realized that you'd like to upgrade your financial situation, for example. Or it could be that you decided it's time to enhance your relationship with your partner.

Now that you have chosen an area of your life upon which you'd like to focus at the moment, you might wonder how to achieve these desired improvements. Stepping out from the usual way of doing and experiencing things is certainly new territory for us all.

Upgrading your outlook can help. The way we each perceive what's possible-- or impossible-- and the power we think we have-- or don't have-- can make a huge difference. You can achieve goals when you doubt your ability to do so, but it's usually a long and arduous process, if it happens at all.

However, when you can generate within yourself a clarity about what you want and you fuel it with a hope and belief that you can be, do or have it, the upgrade can seem almost effortless.

Knowing about and practicing the Law of Attraction can help ease and bolster your upgrade intentions.

You might be familiar with the film“The Secret” that came out a few years ago. There are plenty of people online, in other films and at live events who go into greater detail about the Law of Attraction. This is meant to give you a taste of this potentially new outlook that can assist you in making-- attracting-- improvements.

At the heart of the Law of Attraction is the assertion that we live in an attraction-based universe. We walk around as magnets, drawing to us the people, conditions and experiences that line up with what we spend the bulk of our time focusing upon. Sometimes we are aware of what we're concentrating attention on and sometimes we're not and so we feel surprised by what manifests in our lives.

According to Law of Attraction teacher Abraham, there are 3 main steps to the Attraction process:

1.) Ask
This seems simple but... many times we ask for things that we actually do not want. A classic example is to ask to get out of debt. The focus with this request is still on the debt and not on something more affirmative such as: "being able to easily pay my bills and have more than enough money."

Watch what you are asking for and keep in mind that you are attracting what you place your attention upon.

Another dimension to this asking step is contrast. Many times we “ask” for improvements as we live the opposite. If you feel disrespected in a relationship, there is undoubtedly a part of you that is now clearer than before about wanting to be respected.

You can think about it as a silver lining of sorts to the challenges you are experiencing. But, again, it's important that you continue to shift your focus toward what you want. Notice that you feel disrespected and then move your attention toward what you do want.

2.) Answer
This is the easy one. There's really nothing for you to do at this step. According to the Law of Attraction, what you are asking for will always be provided to you. You don't have to figure out how this will happen, it just will.

3.) Allow
Jump back in because this step is the follow through that's all up to you. After you've asked for what you want in an affirmative way, now you can release resistance and allow it to come to you.

I know, this one can be a real challenge! Letting go and staying open to the opportunities that will line you up with what you want is often easier said than done. But this is exactly what step 3 of this process requires.

I think we've all been in situations in which we firmly keep the door to new experiences and improvements to our lives closed and locked.

Whether it's embarking on a career move that seems scary, making it a priority to regularly exercise, communicating differently in a relationship or something else, opportunities for upgrades are literally always there for us-- we get to choose whether or not to allow them.

When it comes down to it, this whole notion of upgrading yourself and your life and the Law of Attraction isn't really so much about being richer, healthier or having a more passionate love life.

These things can all come to each of us in the process; but this is really about you altering your outlook so that you can feel happier, more fulfilled and maybe even downright blissful about your life as it unfolds.

Personal Growth Planet blog is tasking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Give Yourself an Upgrade

By Amy Phillips-Gary

How long has it been since you've given yourself an upgrade?

In these times and conditions dominated by downsizing and scaling back, it may have been quite some time since you've upgraded yourself or your life.

A national food chain recently ran an advertisement on tv that showed co-workers riding an elevator up to their offices in the morning. One woman held in her hands a breakfast sandwich and coffee while speaking with a colleague with a very very tiny and disproportionately small waist because he's been “tightening his belt.”

The problem with the constant belt-tightening and scaling back that many of us are doing is that it often results in an overall feeling of constriction. Not only are you limiting the amount of money you spend, you could also box yourself into a very tense and tight place largely because of the fear and expectations of lack and scarcity that can accompany a downsizing mindset.

Let me be clear here...

As I encourage you to upgrade yourself and your life, I'm not advocating that you max out your credit cards or bombard yourself with material objects.

The kind of upgrade that I'm recommending starts on the inside with a shift in attitude, perception and expectation and it almost always extends to your outside body, career, health, finances, relationships and life.

When you upgrade your computer or laptop, sometimes you go out and purchase a brand new model that is shinier and features more options. Upgrades also happen inside the computer. Perhaps a larger RAM is installed in your existing machine. Maybe some new programs are downloaded. Often old files are deleted or placed on a memory stick or some other kind of external storage device.

The effects of a computer upgrade are usually quicker and more efficient operations and/or expanded options and features.

There are so many ways that you can upgrade yourself and your life. If you feel overwhelmed or at a loss when you consider what to upgrade, try this exercise...

Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can be uninterrupted. Place paper and a pen near where you are sitting or reclining. Move your attention to within yourself. Focus mostly on your breathing. If you know how to meditate, you can use meditation techniques to help.

Clear your mind from the busy-ness of your day and slow yourself down. Once you are relaxed and your mind is relatively clear, ask your future self to communicate with you. Just invite your future self into your awareness. This future self is ultimately wiser and more experienced than you are now because she or he has already made it through the current challenges you might face.

Ask your future self to share with you a few of the expansions in yourself and your life 1 year from today. You can write these down on your paper to remember them. Now ask your future self what has changed about you and your life in 5 years and then 10 years.

If feelings of resistance, doubt or fear come up, make note of those, but continue to listen to your future self. This exercise can help you become clearer about the areas of your life that you might begin to upgrade in the near future.

Your encounter with your future self isn't meant to cement your actual future in stone. This is merely a sparking point to put into motion potential and desired change.

Your life is up to you to create and it is always changing. When you allow for an upgrade and then take inspired action, you nourish growth and expansion.

Look at the notes you took during the “conversation” with your future self. Are you particularly drawn to any of the areas listed? If so, choose one area in which you will begin to upgrade. Start to consider what an upgrade to your health, your financial state, your relationships, your physical living and working space or other areas might look like.

From this vision of the upgrade you chose, you can begin to open up to changes in your habits, your responses and your activities that will move you closer to actually living your vision.

Take your time and be gentle with yourself as you make changes. Each time you encounter inner resistance to the upgrade you want, return to your vision and to the eager or hopeful feelings that accompany it.


*The future self exercise was adapted from Co-Active Coaching by Laura Whitworth, Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House and Phillip Sandahl.

*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Boost Your Self Esteem: Take a New View of You

By Amy Phillips-Gary

In the final scene of the movie “The Darjeeling Limited,” three brothers who have experienced a quirky and arduous journey together through India run for their train that's already in motion. They carry several pieces of luggage that once belonged to their father. At one point mid-run, each brother throws aside his suitcases and shoulder bags and finally leaps upon that departing train.

Have you ever felt weighted down by your low self esteem?

The limited beliefs and perceptions you have held of your own self worth are like the luggage that the brothers in “The Darjeeling Limited” hefted throughout their adventures in India. Perhaps a part of you is tired of feeling bad or inadequate about yourself.

Isn't it time to throw aside your own “luggage” and free yourself to be the person you have always wanted to be?

The strategies that I've suggested this week-- including stopping your stories and questioning lack mindset-- can help you to release your low self esteem habit. You can create space to take better care of yourself, as I wrote about yesterday.

And within this expanded and freer space, you can also develop a new view of you.

Two keys to improving self esteem are perspective and focus.
When you notice yourself thinking that you can't be, do or have something because of how you are, recognize that your low self esteem beliefs are doing the talking. Next, search for a different perspective of the situation.

Let's say that you hear about an available position at your workplace that would be a step-up from your current one. Perhaps the particular job really appeals to you, but almost as soon as you realize that you'd like to apply for the new job and promotion, a whole host of reasons why you will not ever get that kind of job crowd your mind.

This, of course, is a great time to question your story.

You can also make a conscious decision to adopt a new perspective. Some people find it helpful to literally move and stand in a different place to jar themselves out of the view they've become stuck in.

Make a list of the various ways you could look at this situation.

Write down the way that you currently see your capabilities and your prospects for getting this promotion. Now stretch yourself and write down the way that someone who admires you might see your prospects. How would a person who looked at your resume, training and experience see this? How about a person who knows only your strengths?

If you find yourself solely writing down limitations, return to questioning your story. It might also be helpful to ask a friend or family member to suggest some positive aspects about you that could be different from the perspective you usually take.

Another perspective change you might consider is to ask yourself what would happen if you apply for the promotion and you don't end up getting it. Will you really lose anything by trying? Taking the step to even apply is potentially transformational and it could lead you to eventually attaining that goal.

When you come upon a perspective that feels genuine and bolsters you, take some time to focus in on it. This new perspective might feel foreign and even uncomfortable. But if it still rings true for you on some level, spend time there.

Shift your focus to this different and more self-affirming way of viewing yourself and this situation. You can always return to that hefty “luggage” of low self esteem if that's what you really want. Now, however, you have an expanded range of perspectives to choose from.

You can begin to see the new you more and more of the time.

Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find shorter daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Boost Your Self Esteem: Walk the Talk

By Amy Phillips-Gary

When I was in high school, I had the honor of being in many plays and musicals*. It was wonderfully creative and fun to be up on stage singing, dancing and acting with friends.

And it was also a gut-wrenching experience.

Before and after each show I usually assessed my performance. Almost every time, I honed in on the mistakes I made (or expected to make)-- lines out of order, missteps or voice slightly off-key.

One of my grandmothers attended as many of my plays, musicals and concerts as she could. After every single performance, she would gush and shower me with praise about how talented I am, how much I shone on that stage and other delightful compliments.

So, who's assessment of my performance was accurate?

Of course, she was my grandmother and, given who she was, she was going to see only the best in me. As a self-conscious teen who tended to also be self-critical, my propensity was to mainly see the flaws.

Neither of our stories were completely true. At the same time, neither of our stories were completely false. Up on that stage I undoubtedly made mistakes and I undoubtedly also shined.

We all tell stories. We tell ourselves stories about why a person said particular words to us. We tell ourselves stories about why our government is the the way it is. We also tell ourselves stories about who we are and what we can and cannot be.

Low self esteem is almost always founded upon a person repeating to him or herself story after story about inadequacy, failure and limitation.

If you live with low self esteem, start to pay closer attention to the stories you tell yourself. Notice your stories and be aware of how they probably tie in with past events in your life.

Our stories are usually rooted in the past. It might be helpful for you to acknowledge how tied to the past your present story about yourself may be.

Ask if the story you are telling yourself is a fit for where you are at this moment. If it isn't, why not let it go?

Sometimes an old story you've been repeating over and over again appears to be somewhat true. If so, recognize this as a story about one aspect of how you are right now. This is not necessarily how you will be tomorrow.

Take responsibility for the stories you tell yourself. After all, you are the master storyteller of your own life.

Even if you initially heard these criticisms or negative declarations from a parent, sibling, peer or another adult, you get to decide which stories to keep telling yourself and which to release.

In other words, you can stop telling yourself the stories that continue to fuel your low self esteem. Instead, you can begin to create and affirm different stories about yourself that will boost your sense of self worth.

This isn't about fantasy. Your new, self-affirming stories can focus in on those aspects about yourself and your life that you are okay with. They might also include intentions that will help you make the changes you'd like to make.

Your new stories can start out small and build into the epic adventures of success, love, abundance, worthiness and joy that you desire.

*The image above is NOT of me on stage as a teenager. It is thanks to dmblue444

Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find shorter daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Boost Your Self Esteem...It Could Be One of the Most Selfless Things You'll Ever Do

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Have you ever felt stuck and stagnated in your life but couldn't bring yourself to make a change? You might feel disappointed about who you are and where you are, but you don't feel like you have the time or energy to do anything about it.

It's quite possible that low self esteem is part of the reason why you feel so immobilized and unhappy.

Maybe you already have so many things and people demanding your attention, it seems that there literally is no time for you-- to get that manicure you've always wanted to have, to take a class you're interested in or to start figuring out why you tend to feel inadequate most days.

Even if you had the time, wouldn't it be selfish to spend it on yourself?

If you feel unfulfilled and unworthy, I suggest that it's PAST time for you to offer at least some of your attention to boosting your self esteem. Additionally, bolstering your self esteem is actually a very selfless act!

If you tend to go through life feeling less than good at what you do or even not good at all as a person, you owe it not only to yourself, but to every single person in your life to create space, time and a willingness within yourself to improve your self esteem.

Your low self esteem probably goes way back...
It's likely that your lagging sense of self worth spans back to your preteen and teen years, if not earlier. Studies have shown that girls in particular usually experience a self esteem peak around the age of 9.

These are a scant number of years during which a human being feels worthy and positively about herself (or himself). Boys face challenges to their self esteem as well.

Early experiences and beliefs can also leave deep scars.

As adults, we usually attempt to hide away our emotional scars as well as our low self esteem. But they are there and they rise to the surface in a myriad of ways.

For example, I often become uncomfortable when I am complimented. There are probably a whole host of reasons for this tendency of mine. One is most definitely a belief that I do not deserve that praise-- this is linked in with low self esteem.

I think that it is far more common for adults to experience a lagging sense of self worth than one might expect. After all, we are grown up, we're supposed to be beyond that insecurity thing, right?


It's time for each of us to look inside ourselves and begin to notice the times when we put ourselves down, deflect compliments or otherwise shrink away and cut ourselves off from our strengths and passions.

Boosting your self esteem is actually a selfless act...
Even if you are well aware of your low self esteem, you might not be taking steps to improve it because you feel so busy already and the idea of boosting your self worth seems, well, selfish.

Let me put it this way. If you feel inadequate, stagnated and stuck where you are and whom you have become, you are probably the very same way you feel in your relationships with others.

You truly cannot be the loving, giving and valuing partner, parent, son/daughter, co-worker, employee, etc. without feeling love, respect and value for yourself first.

There is little or nothing to give to others in your life except your own dissatisfaction when you continue to ignore or foster low self esteem.

These statements are not meant to guilt trip you into making changes in the way you view yourself. Instead, it is my intention to assert to you that when you take even the tiniest of steps to boost your self esteem everyone in your life-- especially you-- can benefit.

Yes, you might feel resistant to changing even this hurtful habit because it's what you've known for so long. And you may also feel worried about what this might mean to your relationships and your life.

Notice your resistance, your worries and your fears and do this anyway.

Make a choice to begin to feel better about yourself and know that you can (and will) enjoy improved self esteem and an improved life because of it.

In the following days on this blog I will take a deeper look at low self esteem. This includes exploring what fuels low self esteem as well as strategies to develop new habits that will improve self worth and esteem along the way.
Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find shorter daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Feed Your Soul: Appreciate and Bask in the Glow

By Amy Phillips-Gary

All week we've been building up to feeding your soul.*

Keeping the access to your soul as open as possible, listening to your inner guidance and even dealing with those times when you aren't comfortable with what your soul is directing you to do have been topics for your consideration.

When it comes down to it, all of these actually help you to nourish and feed your soul.

Every time you choose to check in with yourself and honor how you feel deep down inside rather than check out through old habits, you are feeding your soul.

Every time you connect in with your inner guidance and truly listen to what you are being inspired to do, be or have rather than disconnect and discount that “voice” coming from within or through you, your soul is being fed.

Each and every time you decide to find something about yourself and your life to appreciate instead of mostly focusing on the aspects you don't like, you feed your soul.

And this is today's suggestion for enlivening your life and nurturing your soul....Appreciate!

I know, this probably isn't the first time you've been advised to appreciate what you have. Many of us can remember being told as children to appreciate the lima beans or brussel sprouts staring us down on our dinner plates because, “children in China are starving.” Knowing this did not make it any easier to eat those less-than-savory veggies.

As an adult, you might so very much want to appreciate your run-down car, house in need of repair, job that pays too little, children who don't seem to respect you and partner that just doesn't “get” you in the way you want-- but you just can't seem to do it!

I'm not going to encourage you to appreciate your unsatisfying job because so many people in this country don't even have one right now. Guilt trips or fear rides like this just don't work. That's absolutely NOT what appreciation is about.

What I will suggest is for all of us to look around (and within) and find at least one thing we can feel some morsel of true appreciation about.

It might be the sun that's glistening on the frost-covered grass outside. It could be the smile you give to a neighbor-- or even a complete stranger-- and the one reflected back at you. It may be the way that you and your partner worked together as a loving team to tackle a difficult situation recently.

When you come into the present moment and you widen your perspective of what's happening, there is always something you can find to appreciate.

The key is to be in the present moment and to have an expanded view, however. If you're busy thinking about how many times in the past you and your mate have butted heads when a challenge arises, you're going to miss out on this time when the two of you are working together cooperatively.

And, if all you are honed in on is how crime-ridden your local news declares your city to be, that smile- sharing and potential warmth between you and a stranger will pass you by.

The image above is of our cat Sizzle who truly seems to appreciate the sun. I can't know for sure if a cat can feel appreciation the way that I do, but she certainly seems to be basking in the sun and smiling happily in her comfort and delight.

To me, Sizzle's basking and apparent appreciation exemplify feeding your soul.

Come into your present moment, discover what you can appreciate and allow yourself to bask in the glow.


*The concept of “Soul” is being used here in an expansive and two-fold manner. In one sense, it is the higher power-- Source, God, Goddess, Allah, Yahweh, Great Spirit or other name that resonates for you. Additionally, it is the essence, the animating principle that is you. These can be inter-linked or distinct depending on your belief system.

Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find shorter daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Feed Your Soul: What if I don't like what I hear?

By Amy Phillips-Gary

So far in this week's Feed Your Soul-themed blogs we've assessed how truly alive and engaged with life we are, learned about ways to interrupt ourselves when we fall into autopilot mode and discovered how to cut the chatter so that we can each enjoy clearer access to our souls.*

Now what?

When you have expanded access to your soul will your life automatically be easy, glow-y and always happy? Well, not necessarily.

To walk around in this life vibrantly alive doesn't necessarily mean you're forever in a state of blissful joy. There are exceptions to this, of course.

Sometimes when you are tuned in to your soul and really listening to what your inner guidance is directing you to be, do or have it gets uncomfortable. You might not like what you hear from your soul from time to time.

When I am guided to ease up and grant more space and independence to my sons, for example, I know this is a soul-derived directive. Some wiser part of me is certain that my sons, my relationship with them and even I will truly benefit.

But there is a resistance-- the worrier (what if something bad happens?), the griever (do my kids have to grow up so fast already?), the controller (after all, I do know best!?)-- that doesn't want to hear what my soul has to say.

At this point of resistance to my inner guidance, I get to choose my response.
--I can ignore my soul's wisdom and fall into an autopilot mode of old habits.

--I can go into autopilot mode, numb out in some way and pretend that none of this is happening.

--I can get very involved in rationalizing the situation, i.e. let the mind chatter take over.

--I can set aside my worries, grief and controlling impulses and just follow through on my inner guidance's request.

--I can go within and be certain that what I am “hearing” is truly coming from my inner guidance. Using cut the chatter strategies can help make this distinction.

--I can “sit with” how I am feeling and allow myself time to calm down and perhaps become more open to what my soul is calling on me to do before taking any action.

In every single situation there are always many possible solutions and even if you fall into autopilot or somehow ignore your soul's wisdom, the great news is it's always there for you.

All you have to do is open up, listen and trust.

*The concept of “Soul” is being used here in an expansive and two-fold manner. In one sense, it is the higher power-- Source, God, Goddess, Allah, Yahweh, Great Spirit or other name that resonates for you. Additionally, it is the essence, the animating principle that is you. These can be inter-linked or distinct depending on your belief system.

Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find shorter daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Feed Your Soul: Cut the Chatter and Listen

By Amy Phillips-Gary

This week's blogs center around questions such as: “How engaged are you with your own life?” and include suggestions for how to nourish your soul*.

As a prerequisite for feeding your soul, yesterday I shared a few strategies you can use when you notice yourself falling into autopilot mode. Instead of moving through life dulled and dazed or simply reacting to situations from old habits, you can interrupt autopilot and create space so that you can tune in to your soul.

Within this space, you can begin to listen. You can more readily hear the inner guidance, wisdom and clarity that you've possibly been yearning for all along. It is your soul-- which can be experienced as either within, outside of you, or both-- that holds the ultimate answers to your most difficult life questions.

Whether or not you will leave or stay in a relationship, if it's time to look for a new job, how to resolve heartache that you've been carrying around, by what means you could break a habit that's holding you back-- these challenges and more DO have solutions that can help you thrive and be the person you're wanting to be.

But you won't have access to these answers unless your connection with your soul is clear.

I can't even count the number of times that I've been struggling with a heavy problem-- or even just a minor irritation-- and the chatter in my head seems to be drowning out my inner guidance. This chatter might take the form of to-do lists, memories of a conversation I had that day, self-criticizing thoughts or “white noise” types of inner interference like a song I heard on the radio re-playing over and over.

In much the same way that you interrupt autopilot mode, you can make a conscious decision to cut the chatter so that you can increase access to your soul.

First of all, notice that the chatter in your mind has “taken over.” Be gentle with yourself and decide if it's really serving you to rehash an annoying incident you had with a co-worker, for example. Will this focus allow you to access your inner guidance and soul?

All of this takes practice. You might find yourself re-focusing and guiding yourself back to a place where you can truly listen over and over again throughout your day. And this is ok. The decision is truly up to you.

Meditation is a powerful clearing tool.
Meditating is one of the most effective strategies I've found to cut the chatter in my mind and open up to my soul. The great news is, you don't have to set aside hours each day or sit in uncomfortable positions in order to benefit from this practice!

There are so many ways to meditate and I encourage you to learn more by doing an internet search, talking with people who regularly meditate and checking out the free meditation articles at the Personal Growth Planet website.

You can meditate sitting on a zafu (a special meditation pillow), in a chair or lying on your bed. You can even walk, ride your bike, knead bread dough and fold clothes while meditating.

While there are several specific meditation techniques, here are some basic guidelines:

Breathe deeply and from your diaphragm. Keep your focus trained on the breath and allow the chatter in your mind to fade away. Simply continue to return to your breathing. You can even say to yourself, “I am breathing in. I am breathing out.”

If feelings come up for you, allow them to rise and fall away. Keep breathing as the grief, the fear, the anger or another feeling moves through you. This is an important part of the clearing process.

As you meditate, you will probably relax and release tension-- even if you also experience difficult emotions. It is here in this space of openness and clarity that you can listen to your soul.

Don't be surprised if you are given information, assurance or other affirmations during or after you meditate. These are messages from your soul. There is a deeper knowing about these understandings, words or calls to action that is completely different from the chatter in your mind.

This is a gift from your Source, through your soul.

*The concept of “Soul” is being used here in an expansive and two-fold manner. In one sense, it is the higher power-- Source, God, Goddess, Allah, Yahweh, Great Spirit or other name that resonates for you. Additionally, it is the essence, the animating principle that is you. These can be inter-linked or distinct depending on your belief system.

Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month. Every weekday in November, you'll find shorter daily blogs linked by weekly themes.