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Getting in touch with your values

Did you practice pausing over the weekend? How did it go?

One of the ways that we can make the pause effective is to remind ourselves of our deepest values often.

Recently I have become aware of my temptation to become critical in conversations with certain people. This is not serving me at all. It makes me feel bad about myself as it goes against my values of supporting family and choosing kindness in all circumstances.

So whenever I am in a situation that has a pattern of triggering me, I do two things:

1) Before the interaction, I remind myself of my values related to this person or situation. Values that are much bigger and more important than the petty things that are causing me to be critical.
2) I repeat the words "be kind, be kind, choose kindness" softly to myself throughout the interaction.

I am realizing that it is SO much easier to stop myself rather than deal with the consequences of my inappropriate reactions later!

Here are the steps to doing this process for...

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Where are you focusing your energy?

Where are you focusing your energy?

Once you have drawn your circles and written in them the things that you are concerned about and the things that you have influence over, it is time to get honest about where you are focusing your attention and your energy.

It is tempting to rant and complain about the things that concern us like politics, the economy, the weather, the lack of social justice in the world etc. etc. It makes absolutely NO difference to what we are concerned about.

Focusing our energy and our attention on matters that we cannot change or impact is guaranteed to bring about a sense of powerlessness and unhappiness in our lives.

But here's the thing: if we focus instead on things that we DO have control over, guess what happens? Our circle of influence grows.

So here are some things that I care about (Circle of Concern), followed by an example of something I could do to impact the situation (Circle of Influence):

My physical health – eat well, move and sleep
...

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Intentions for ourselves and prayers for others

productivity spirituality Nov 03, 2016

When we are interacting with others in life, it is not enough to have intentions for ourselves. Even if we are mindful in every interaction, and have a strong intention to show up in a purposeful way, we need to address the role of the other in the interaction.

While we cannot make intentions for the other, we can certainly say a prayer for them. A prayer that their intentions are realized in the most perfect way.

This is not an agenda or a goal. Once again, it is creating the space for God and the Universe to work a synchronistic outcome that allows both people in an interaction to fulfill their needs, desires and intentions.

Let us take an example. I am in a business (or community work) meeting discussing a potential future project for the organization.


My intention would be to be open to possibilities and allow myself to fully consider all suggestions and opinions so that the best possible outcome could be discovered. My prayer for the others in the meeting would be that they can...

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Setting powerful intentions

In Islamic spirituality, setting an intention (niyya) is the foundation of an act of worship. Without the intention, the act does not, in fact, qualify as an act of worship. And conversely, by setting an appropriate intention, any act of everyday living can become an act of worship.

Setting intentions for our actions is a powerful exercise. Intentions determine the full consequences of our thoughts, words, and actions. It is our intentions which form the spirit of our activities and the emotional tone of our efforts.

Two actions which look identical will be different in spirit depending on the intention behind them. For example, I lend someone my car. Whether this qualifies as an act of generosity or social barter (I do something for someone in the expectation that they will return the favour) depends upon what my intention was for doing it.

So setting an intention can turn an ordinary day into sacred time and an ordinary space into sacred space. Let us understand this through an...

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Are you going with the flow?

It is so easy to 'go with the flow'. It is easy to let life happen to us, to experience life as it is happening around us, reacting to each day as it unfolds.

It is so easy, in fact, that we often do not realize that we are doing it. Things are happening around us, asking us to react to the urgent. When we are not reacting to the urgent, whether it is at work or with family, we are tempted to 'numb out', 'veg out' or 'chillax' with the steady stream of mindless entertainment which is SO readily and freely available.

The cost of living like this, of 'going with the flow' can be huge. If we do not stop to ask ourselves if this the life we want, if we are satisfied with the way we are spending our days on this planet, there is a good chance that we will end up dissatisfied, and feeling empty and meaningless.

As Rabbi Harold Kushner puts it, "Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry...

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How do you take feedback?

There is a quote from Imam Hussain (as) which says:

"One who reveals your faults to you like a mirror is your true friend, and one who flatters you and covers up your faults is your enemy."

It is hard to accept feedback isn’t it? But it is the only way we can learn how we show up for other people in the world. A friend who loves us enough to tell us the uncomfortable truth about ourselves is precious. In the absence of feedback, we can spend a long time (sometimes a VERY long time!) doing what is not serving us and being unaware of it.

The next time someone offers you the gift of correction, accept it with gratitude.

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Repeat the stories of bravery

Have you seen how the Holocaust is kept alive? Our Jewish brothers have done a remarkable job in keeping the memories of the injustice alive as well as the stories of heroism and bravery.

This is extremely valuable because if people let the memory of injustice fade, it is easier for tyrants to carry it out again. Recollections of bravery and resisting oppression play a very important role in bringing communities together in their shared history and encourage those that have not lived through the oppression to take a stand and not let history repeat itself.

Resilient communities learn from their history. They never forget.

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Day of Ashura

Hussain ibn Ali was a 7th century revolutionary leader who made the ultimate sacrifice for social justice in the face of corruption and tyranny. He gave everything he had, including his life, for the stand for social justice and against oppression. The events of Ashura continue to inspire millions of Muslims all over the world even today.

To learn about Hussain and the history of Ashura, please visit https://whoishussain.org

And here is an inspiring talk about how Hussain (as) stands as an inspiration for ALL Muslims

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Find A Hero

Whether it is politicians, gun toting maniacs killing children randomly, power hungry egomaniacs defrauding people of their life savings, or terrorists killing innocents, wreaking havoc and destruction, it is hard to escape the feeling that the standard for ‘human’ behavior is sinking lower by the day. It is very difficult not to feel despair at the lack of basic morality, compassion, integrity, empathy and justice that appears to be so prevalent in the world today.

It is easy to focus on the villains – they are all over the news and the media.

What needs much more intentionality is to look for the heroes. Those who are silently lighting candles rather than blaming the darkness (or looting in the dark) are easy to miss. They seldom make headline news.

And yet it is the heroes that we need more than ever today. Heroes that live their values with integrity, stand for justice and are a force for good on this planet. Heroes that renew our faith in humanity and stand as...

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