Unfriending Over Politics

Has this happened to you? You’ve been friends with Lindsay for years. She’s part of your spiritual community. You’ve laughed together, enjoyed meals together, and have the same taste in movies. Then politics entered the picture: she voted for the other guy, the one you believe is a serious threat to everything you hold dear. How could she do that?

At first, you listen to her arguments, but they don’t make sense to you. And is she really hearing what you have to say? Finally you agree not to discuss politics, but where does that leave your friendship? On a perilous footing, since now you have to watch everything you say. The open communication you believe is a vital part of a real friendship has narrowed considerably.

What do you do?

As a spiritual teacher, I’ve encountered this dilemma many times recently with my students. I’ve heard stories of siblings who aren’t talking to each other, families who can’t sit down to a meal together, about long-time friends who no longer speak to each other. They wonder if their friendship can survive a four-year hold. They are upset by friends or relatives posting political “news” on social media and can’t decide whether or not to “unfriend” these people.

I understand their problem. As an ardent advocate for women facing aggression and abuse, I posted a blog on HuffPo when I saw Trump stalking Hillary around the town hall stage during the presidential campaign debate. I lost over 4,000 followers in less than hour after the blog posted. You could say I was heavily “unfriended” for my position.

My students ask me how to approach the divisive politics we are experiencing full blast these days in relation to their spiritual beliefs. Should they turn the other cheek? Should they love the sinner, but not the sin? Can they find it in their heart to still hold the friendship dear, while rejecting what this person believes are the facts?

What is friendship? It’s a relationship that is based on mutual understanding, common interests, honesty, and trust. Even though you and Lindsay may come from similar backgrounds, even though you sat together at concerts and ate together afterwards, even though you feel she would most probably come to your aid if you should need it and you would do the same for her, there’s no longer a deep level of trust between you. And if you and Lindsay don’t understand each other, and you can no longer express your true feelings without fearing her judgment, where does that leave your friendship? Do you stop talking to each other? Do you have compassion for her beliefs, misguided though you think they might be, but don’t want to engage with her any more?

As you travel the spiritual path, trying your best to keep your heart open and not be stuck in your ego, you will undoubtedly encounter many obstacles, tests of your desire to be a more compassionate person. One of those tests is how your relationships may suffer as you pursue the awakening of consciousness.

Think of how many friends you have left behind over the years. When you went off to college, you lost contact with childhood friends. When you stopped drinking, your “drinking buddies” got left behind (mine certainly did). When you got divorced, the couples you knew when you were a couple stopped inviting you to social gatherings; you were now a threat to their relationships. When you said you would rather go on a meditation retreat than spend the weekend skiing, you lost those friends who couldn’t understand why you’d ever want to spend your time sitting in silence and doing some ridiculous mantra.

As I’ve experienced with my husband’s European family, friendships there tend to be more solid than they are here. They may have fewer friends, but they tend to have life-long friendships. The thousands of “friends” one gathers on social media and online chat rooms aren’t considered official friendships. And being someone’s “best friend” is thought of as an honor and a privilege. They forgive each other’s mistakes and loyalty is highly valued.

Part of the reason that European friendships are more enduring is that they aren’t as mobile a culture as we are here in America, and childhood friendships have the chance to grow as you age. I had an interesting experience at my mother’s funeral, held in the same small town I grew up in. I was approached by three women my age whom I didn’t recognize until they told me their names; they were all friends of mine from our days in grammar school!

Our friendships usually revolve around common interests. When I rode horses, my friends were part of the horse community. The same for mountain climbing and skiing. The friendships ended when I stopped engaging in those pursuits.

But back to the question of political divergence. Should you “unfriend” a friend who you think has gone sideways and is diametrically opposed to what you believe is common sense and compassion?

What I tell my students is to wait a little longer; hold back the impulse to cut the friendship off. Maybe Lindsay will finally “see the light” as you do. Maybe you will listen deeply and be able to hear her side, and politely agree to disagree. Maybe the political situation will devolve into something both of you can actually agree upon.

In the meantime, keep your heart as open as possible and stand in your own truth. Take action that resonates with your beliefs. If you get teary-eyed seeing pictures of refugees, find out what you can do to alleviate their suffering. If you are aghast at what may happen to gays, Muslims, Mexicans, or any people who are marginalized in some way, support them with your time or money or friendship.

And as the old song goes, “make new friends” with people who stand with you, “but keep the old.” If possible. If your friendship with Lindsay can’t stand the test of you doing what you feel is right, so be it. But remember what Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”


Five Ways to Know If Love Is Real

“Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?” –Steve Winwood

“What is love?” the poets and songwriters ask. Is it all about chocolate hearts, flowers, and diamonds-are-forever? Maybe you picture yourself walking hand-in-hand with your sweetheart along the riverbanks of Paris, sharing stories on the beach, or gazing soulfully at one another by candlelight. With a mega-million-dollar romance industry working hard to color your imagination, how do you know what real love looks like? And how is an intimate, stable love relationship supposed to feel?

Maybe you have a love relationship in your life right now or maybe you are looking for one.  The search for love and for an understanding of how best to establish and nurture a relationship is one of life’s central and most challenging quests. It’s also a powerful source of self-understanding, growth, and spiritual development.

Before I could experience the real love relationship that I have with my husband Eric, I had to make sure that my heart chakra was truly open to giving and receiving love and that I was sufficiently healed from my painful upbringing. Real love is an emotion of truth and has the power to heal all of the wounds you may have suffered in the past—if you allow it to flow.

While books, movies, and TV commercials can supply you with plenty of creative dialogues and scenarios about love, it really comes down to you. Your efforts to know yourself deeply and find your own authentic way of being in the world will shape your experience of love. “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man [or woman],” says Shakespeare. Consult your inner wisdom when it comes to discovering your power to love and be loved.

Here are five ways your open mind and open heart can help you decide if you are in the presence of real love:

1. No Fear Here—Energy medicine teaches that love removes fear. Think of all the ways fear can get in the way of a healthy, happy love. “Did I say the wrong thing?” “What if she doesn’t agree with me?” “What if he doesn’t call me?” “Does she really love me?”  There’s nothing like fear to destroy the good feelings of harmony, peace, and well-being in your love relationship or your attempts to form a relationship in the first place. The absence of fear gives you a sense of blissful potential and optimism. Consult your deepest feelings and decide if you and your loved one live in a happily, fear-free zone.

2. Actions Speak Louder— People have different ways of expressing their love. Would you rather have your loved one walk over and hug you or profess undying love while hurrying out the door? Helping prepare dinner, cleaning the bathroom, and putting gas in your car are actions that say, “I share the work of life with you.” Maybe he forgot the anniversary of the day you met, but he did walk the dog when you were sick. Are the actions you witness each day a source of joy in your relationship?

3. No Strings Attached—Do you feel completely accepted for who you are? Is your relationship free of judgment and troubling efforts to change you in ways that hurt your feelings? If you are respected and trusted and given room to breathe, you know how it feels to be loved unconditionally.  If there are ways you need to improve, you’re free to decide them for yourself. Someone who really loves you does so for who you are, the essential and immutable you.

4. My Needs Are Met [and so are yours]—Do you receive the support and attention you hoped a relationship would provide? The human need for connection, communication, and companionship is served well in a real loving relationship. When you think about the things you need from a partnership, do you feel you are getting a generous helping? Does your partner express satisfaction, too? When both partners have their needs for acceptance, self-expression and shared experience met, they feel peaceful, hopeful, and productive.

5. Comfortable, Grateful, Free—Do you look forward to spending time with your loved one? When you are apart, do you feel confident and comfortable? Do you each feel free to do what you love even if you are pursuing different interests? Can you say that you have room to grow, change, and learn? Is there a feeling of soul-satisfaction and gratitude in your togetherness? Is your partnership clearly a gift for your spiritual well-being, happiness, and self-discovery? Are there plenty of laughs in your life together?

Finally, you will know when love is real by how it makes you feel over time. While you may feel over the moon with excitement in the early stages of a new relationship, unless there is true connection you won’t feel a deeper sense of comfort and unity for long.

Remember that your inner vibration, your personal energy field, will need to be healthy and whole and balanced for you to attract a compatible being to your side. It’s true that there is a higher love and you must first send it forth in order to bring it back home.


Three Ways to Find (and Keep) Your Soulmate

They say love makes the world go round, and there’s no time like February to bring that loving feeling into sharp focus. From love songs and love poems to romantic books and movies, tales of true love are bound to color your world this month and bring up some soul-searching questions.  Have you been seeking love without success? Do you worry that love is all about luck?  Do you believe a soulmate is waiting for you? And if so, how do you go about finding that elusive person? It may be time to re-examine your beliefs about love.

Does it fall like rain from heaven into your waiting arms as the songs suggest? Or is there some work you can do to bring love home and keep it burning bright?

Most people admit that finding and maintaining a healthy and lasting love relationship is their most difficult task in life. I believe that finding a loving life partner becomes easier when you know something about energy healing. In my work as a spiritual teacher and energy healer, I’ve helped many people with the healing they needed to accomplish before the love they hoped for could enter their lives. Whenever two people interact on any level, whether they are having a friendly chat or communicating with glances and body language, there is an exchange of energy between them. Learning how this energy works can help you attract more loving and positive relationships.

Your healthy love life begins with a balanced second chakra energy center. A healthy second chakra is a fertile place—an engine of creative possibility that allows inspiration to flow through the body. As the seat of the inner child and emotions, this center also hosts your creative and generative impulse. These aspects of the second chakra reflect the wholeness of the individual, which is why they are so important to forming happy relationships with others. Energy healing can make sure your second chakra is clear and balanced and thus the energy you bring to any relationship is positive.

Check out these 3 ways I suggest to make sure you are ready to begin or to nurture a healthy and happy love relationship:

1. If You Want to Attract Love, Be More Loving

In energy medicine you learn that what you put out into the world will be reflected back to you. Light attracts light, so if you want more love, or stronger love, you need to love more. This doesn’t mean being more needy or clingy. True love is never restrictive, but allows for change and growth. To be more loving means to be more accepting and open, loving your partner, your friend, your mother, for who they are, rather than who you think they should be.  Being more loving can also include opening yourself up more. Allow your fourth chakra, your heart center, to open a little wider and let your love shine forth. While it’s true that opening yourself up to love does make you more vulnerable, the rewards are worth any risks. Being more loving and open with other people also paves the way for you to be able to experience Divine love, which is the purest love in the universe.

2. Build a Strong Foundation, Learn to Love Yourself First

You’ve heard this truth many times before, which is why you might be overlooking the most obvious factor in bringing new love into your life. Loving yourself is a precursor to being able to love or be loved by someone else. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, know that you are worthy of love, and that you are indeed enough with or without a romantic partner. In order to believe that someone else will love you, you must first love the magnificent human being that you are. No matter what self-doubt, low self-esteem or insecurity you may have suffered from in the past, the time has come to make a fresh start. Being open to love begins with a firm base of self-awareness and self-knowledge. Know, accept, and love who you are so that you can offer the same welcoming acceptance to others. It’s the secret to all good relationships. If you love yourself and feel worthy of being loved, you will break down the walls to your heart.

3. Step Out into the World with Love

What would your soulmate be doing right now? How would that person be interacting with the world? Would they be volunteering at the animal shelter? Would they be coaching kids’ basketball at the community center? Would they be driving seniors to the neighborhood health clinic? Is that your way of being in the world, too? Giving back and serving others is the way to be a loving person yourself and to meet people who have the love quotient you are seeking. Be the love you want to find. To attract love you will need to project love into the world. Because creating relationships takes energy and work, you can turn the focus of your love outward into the world by taking action and doing things you love. These activities will fuel you with positive energy and help you shine as you use your unique gifts. This radiant new you will begin attracting all kinds of new loving relationships.

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” –Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Have you moved closer to becoming the most loving, accepting, and giving person you can be? Is your energy positive and focused now that you know you are ready to experience love on every level? The more love you can give, the more you can receive, and the more enjoyment you will experience.

Finding and keeping a soulmate depends on being the very kind of open-hearted, loving person you are seeking.  Be a beacon of love for yourself and others and you’ll soon find the joy those love songs are talking about!

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How You Can Take the First Step Toward Healing

“Let’s begin right now in this moment to choose love. It’s the most powerful healing force there is.” –Louise Hay

One thing you can’t fail to notice when February arrives—it’s all about love! From the giant heart-shaped boxes of candy to the racks of “Will you be mine?” valentine cards, the message is clear. It’s time to think about love, to celebrate that so-desirable feeling of deep appreciation, strong attraction, and blissful happiness.

This February, when you think about love, don’t just go through the motions. Ask yourself if you are making the most of this precious, healing, uplifting feeling. Are you practicing the love that changes everything? Do you truly love and accept yourself, the YOU that is your inner flame?

Are you familiar with self-love, with the importance of truly accepting yourself for who you are? Even if you acknowledge that you need to love yourself before you can love anything or anyone else, why is it often so challenging to find the self-love needed for wellbeing and true happiness? As a spiritual teacher and energy healer, I see many people who are their own harshest critics, their own self-saboteurs. Have you ever labeled yourself a “failure” in various aspects of your life such as romance, parenting, career, friendship? Maybe you blame yourself for things you perceive as shortcomings: being unhealthy, overweight, unmotivated, unintelligent, even unworthy of love.

Instead of nurturing yourself with love and self-care, do you berate yourself for not measuring up to impossible standards? A lack of self-esteem comes from the mistaken belief of “I’m not enough.” It’s a common misperception that so many of my students hold at some point in their lives, often for many years at a time. It takes a lot of work to break out of the stranglehold this hurtful belief can have on your life and heart.

The better you know yourself the easier it will be to strengthen your self-love and to move closer to peace, happiness, and all the healing you hope to accomplish. Self-knowledge leads to self-love, self-acceptance, and the healing power to feel gratitude and forgiveness.

Here are some steps you can take to learn more about yourself and come to appreciate and love yourself more fully:

1. Peel Back the Past – Have you looked closely into your past to see if you picked up any false notions of just how lovable you are? Did any family problems or early experiences teach you to distrust yourself or undervalue your thoughts and feelings? Was there a father who was never satisfied with your achievements or a coach who mocked your efforts to play baseball or a distant mother who never had time to listen? You may have quietly accepted ideas about yourself that still cause you to hold back the love and acceptance you need to believe in your goals and dreams. Uncover these ideas using your journaling and meditation Ask, “Do I love and trust myself enough to move forward in life?”

2. Know What You Believe – Along with seeds of self-doubt and fear, you may also have unconscious beliefs buried inside that block your spiritual healing and growth. If you thought clearly and truly loved yourself, would you believe that people of “your” height, weight, race, gender, religion, education level, or shoe size never get ahead in life? Explore your beliefs and free yourself of any hidden ideas that don’t reflect love and acceptance. Decide what you do believe about yourself, what you value, and what you hope for. Set yourself free of unloving beliefs that aren’t in keeping with your true values of healing and harmony.

3. See With Eyes of Love – Look at yourself with new eyes that are intent on finding all the good, all the beauty, and all the promise they possibly can. Is that you in the mirror smiling back? Make a list of your strengths and talents—including everything you can think of from growing the most delicious tomatoes in the neighborhood to recruiting the most volunteer workers for the local soup kitchen. You probably have talents only you know of including kindness, compassion, courage, patience, perseverance, roller skating, and cake baking. Do for yourself what you would do for your dearest love with gifts of time, fun, praise, and encouragement.

Learning to love yourself is the first step to healing your life and removing any barriers to your happiness and wellbeing. Love has the power to heal all the wounds you may ever have suffered—if it is allowed to flow within as well as without. As Louise Hay says, “There is only one thing that heals every problem, and that is:  to know how to love yourself.”

Wake up the self-love in your heart and move ahead with your February plans for loving and healing your world!

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