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The Power of Play

"'Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.' --Gene Fowler

All writers have to suffer for their craft at one time or another."

The above quote and opinion come from an email I recently received. While they express the feelings and frustrations of writers and other, I believe they also apply to anyone who attempts to go beyond the usual limits of their thinking to imagine something new.

Whether you are trying to create a novel, a painting, or a new design for your life, you are likely to come up against the belief that it's difficult, that it's extremely difficult, that it may actually be impossible.

Other beings don't have that problem. I have several times watched a video about squirrels triumphing over "squirrel-proof" bird feeders. In one particularly riveting episode, scientists spent a year designing a series of thirty obstacles to a bird feeder. A squirrel cracked the code in two weeks. "Difficult" and "impossible" are not part of a squirrel's view of life.

Humans, although we can choose from the greatest range of creative possibilities, are the animals who most find frustration in the accomplishment of a goal.

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Why Is It So Difficult?

The quotes that begin provide a good example of a time-honored selling technique: Make the prospects feel pain; then offer a way to ease their suffering. If you turn on the television and watch the commercials, you'll discover that being healthy is difficult, as is falling and staying in love, raising children, and getting stains out of clothing.

Such sales pitches wouldn't succeed if they didn't reflect a much more widespread belief that to be human (at least a worthy one) means to suffer. It's easy to get caught up in the belief that life is hard, and that if we suffer and struggle long and hard enough, we will eventually be rewarded—while the lazy ones have a good time now and pay later.

So most of us end up believing unless something comes to us with great difficulty it isn't worth having. If we want a new relationship we think we'll have to have lots of false starts, brief relationships that don't work out and leave us emotionally drained. We may have to "improve" ourselves; we may have to "improve" the other person.

We think that achieving good health requires painful and boring exercise, eating food we don't like, and suffering over not being able to eat food we do like. If we want to be prosperous, we'll have to work long hours and make sacrifices. If we want to develop spiritually, we need to read many books, meditate for hours, and ruthlessly prune from our nature all habits and thoughts that are less than spiritual.

If you were baking a cake, would you put in bitter-tasting ingredients and expect to end up with a sweet-tasting dessert? How can it be logical that filling our lives with struggle and sacrifice will lead us to happiness?

It isn't. Powerful and widespread though the idea of suffering is, it's just a belief.

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Beliefs as Habits

Beliefs are thoughts we think so often we don't know we're thinking them. One of the most effective ways to loosen the power of beliefs to shape our view of life is to begin listening to our thoughts.

In the first lesson of the chakra course I ask students to write down their beliefs about the areas of life represented by each chakra. For example, the first chakra relates to the natural world, survival, and the body.

Often students write to me that the process of discovering previously-unsuspected beliefs creates a feeling of freedom. Their willingness to question and explore generates excitement and feelings of empowerment that begin to dissolve the energetic blockages these beliefs represent.

I invite you to follow this process for yourself in a two-week experiment.

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The First Week

Take an area of your life in which you'd like to experience an influx of creativity, growth, change, transformation. Pay attention to the negative beliefs that come into your mind and write them down—for one week.

If, for example, you'd like to transform a current relationship, thoughts might include:

Relationships are difficult.
I have trouble communicating.
I don't think he loves me, anyway.
He never listens.
He's not going to change.
I'm not going to change.
It would be easier to find someone new.

During this first week notice and write down as many discouraging thoughts as you can. Avoid repetition. Only write down "Relationships are difficult" once. If you think this or any negative thought again, put a check after it for each incidence. This helps you to see what negative thoughts you think most often. Also use the checking method for similar thoughts, such as "I have trouble communicating" and "I never know what to say."

Warning: Once limiting beliefs start popping into consciousness, there can be a tendency to blame oneself for thinking them. If you're tempted remember that thoughts, whether positive or negative, come from our imagination. You don't want to suppress that, just redirect it.

A week is long enough for you to recognize that you have some habitual thoughts that negatively influence your ability to change this area of life. By putting your deliberate attention on the negative beliefs, you don't give them the chance to sneak up and ambush you. During the second week you can be just as deliberate about your positive thoughts.

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The Second Week

First, look at the list of your negative thoughts and see which you've thought most often. This will help you to identify the areas most in need of positive attention.

Research crystals and essences that can help with this. Think of affirmations to generate positive energy. Don't dwell on negative thoughts. Give your attention to positive ones.

Sometimes this calls for baby steps. If you're feeling that transforming a relationship is difficult, you may not be persuaded by the idea that it's fun and easier than eating chocolate. Strike a middle note, i.e., "I love X, and I want to have a beautiful relationship."

You will fuel this shift by purposely gathering positive thoughts. Taking the example of relationships, think of every good thing you can about the person who's the focus of your attention. Nothing is too small to write down. Be enthusiastic in making the list and make it as inspiring as possible, because it's going to be your life preserver when you begin to drown in despair. In fact, it's most useful to read it before the water closes over your head.

Remember all the good times you've had together—unless (or until) you start to think about how it isn't that way any more. The moment negative thoughts surface or it begins to feel like hard work, stop this line of thinking. Instead, tell yourself, "We will have more good times together."

Shift your attention. Focus on areas of your life where it's easy to be positive. Listen to music you enjoy. Read something funny. Play with a pet. Then return to your list or memories with a lighter spirit.

Reach for the Stars

Imagine how you want it to be—and believe that it's possible. Keep this quote in mind:

"Seldom does an individual exceed his own expectations." --Unknown

Keep your expectations high, have fun, look for reasons to be happy, and watch your life change for the better.

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Happy Crystals

Azurite, a deep blue crystal, helps us to see the habits and patterns of thought that direct us. Once we can see this, we can evaluate them in the light of intuition and a sense of the soul's purpose.

Carnelian helps to ground us in the present moment. This is vital when we want to change the way we think about something. The past will tell us to think and act the way we always have. When we're in the present, we can make decisions based on our immediate needs. for being in the present moment.

Herkimer diamonds and amber can both help us feel happy. Amber helps to promote a softly flowing feeling; while Herkimer diamonds have a more active energy that helps to dissolve emotional blockages.

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The Essence of Happiness

I'm taking a slightly different approach to essence selection in describing four Wild Earth Animal essences which I chose because they are all small flying creatures which to me express an energy of lightness. These are Hummingbird, Dragonfly, Butterfly, and Bumblebee.

Hummingbird tastes the sweetness of life, as symbolized by its drinking of nectar. In addition, it is a very versatile flyer, able to to fly backward and sideways. To me this is a beautiful metaphor for taking the direction most useful at any given moment.

Dragonfly can help us question the illusion we call reality, particularly that part of reality which limits the ability to grow and create transformation.

Butterfly knows when it's time to leave the safe cocoon and fly. Thus, it can inspire us to do the same.

According to the law of aerodynamics, a bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly. There is no better symbol for what's possible.

Beyond the Rainbow
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