Monthly Web Columns

LIFE 101


By Coach Cary Bayer

      In our terribly overworked workaday world much is made by those in the medical, psychological, religious, and spiritual communities of the importance of living a life in balance.  Despite such warnings and injunctions, however, far too many Americans still have no clue how to find a balance of work and play, and socializing and alone time, in their lives.  If they are among the many blessed millions of people who have one or more of the 95.6 million pet cats (as of 2017) in the U.S., they have, right in front of their noses, a living, loving example of a life in balance.  Let me explain.
       My cat Ananda (Sanskrit for bliss), named for the extraordinary speed with which she can go into purring mode (zero to 60 in a second), lives a healthy balance of her time indoors and out.  As a result, she lives her life with a balance of the basic life groups needed for happiness and balance in life: love, spirituality, physical exercise, sport, and time with Nature.  I’ll expand on each of these. 
       As for exercise, Ananda chases my laser pointer light whenever I get a moment to shine it in her direction.  She also gets to chase her fellow cat for calorie burning.  Fortunately, no one gets hurt; it’s all in fun, so there’s no harm, no foul.  And I’m also fortunate she doesn’t get any of the fowl next door, as she hasn’t hunted down any of the chickens who live there.  Sometimes, Ananda will also chase invisible things—invisible to us, at least, but maybe not to her heightened perception.
        My little feline also gets in a healthy dose of work, although you might not see it as that on surface inspection.  I’m referring to what you might think of as her sport—hunting.  While she gets her three squares a day as my housemate, there’s enough instinct left in her to hunt for food—the work life of an animal in the wild.  And she gets plenty of that, too chasing down field mice, chipmunks, squirrels and birds.  Fortunately for the latter two, she almost never succeeds.  As for the first two, well, Nature takes over, and my huntress pet manages to capture her share of prey. 
       She loves to relax in Nature, also, often resting in my garden, while soaking in the vitamin D of the warm sunshine.  Other times, she’ll sun bathe on our deck, right beneath our St. Francis bird feeder, just in case some robin or blue jay happens not to notice her there while they dive down for a snack.
      When she wants to deepen her spirituality, she’ll sidle up next to me when I meditate.  She seems to enjoy the effects of what might be referred to as second hand mantra, as she purrs her little tush off.   Her bliss is quite audible and tactile, as well.  I’d go so far as to say that she enjoys the taste of bliss far more than almost every two-legged being I ever met. 
        Other times during the day when she wants to chill out after a workout of chipmunk chasing, she might take a catnap to catch some Zs.  And she never sets an alarm, content to get up when she gets up.  While she leads an active life, she has no schedule.  This also adds to her profound peace of mind and balanced lifestyle.
       Love is hugely important to Ananda, as well; without any warning, she’ll often come up to my wife and nuzzle her nose against my wife’s finger.  Or maybe she’ll just snuggle.  Perhaps she’ll hop into my lap while I’m watching TV.  This cat cuddling gives her warmth and companionship, to say nothing of warmth if winter temps have plummeted, or summer air conditioning has gotten too chilly for her. No agenda for Ananda she just wants to deepen her experience of loving and being loved.
         And if she wants to change her consciousness she’ll find one of the catnip toys that I have laying around the house and bite into it to release its consciousness-changing herb.   Like wine in the days of Jesus, like mushrooms and plants to indigenous peoples of the American southwest, she’ll partake in this, her herb of choice.  It seems to have a healing effect on her.  Just think of it as a kind of medi-cat marijuana.


Emotional and Spiritual Skills for Success-  #4 in the Love Yourself,
Lose the Weight series

by Patricia J. Crane, Ph.D.

Have you ever used your weight as an excuse not to participate more fully in life, not to have a relationship, to avoid sex in the relationship you’re in, not to look for a new job? Are you willing to let go of your excuses? They are just a way of not loving yourself.

Mirror work- talking to yourself while looking in the mirror – is a powerful technique for learning to love yourself as you are making changes in any area. Look into your eyes and say to yourself, “I’m done with excuses. My weight is not the issue. I am willing to participate in life regardless of my weight.” Notice how you feel. Then tell yourself “I love and accept you just the way you are. I support you in all your new habits. You have been doing the best you can. It’s OK. I support you in making positive changes.”
Then tell yourself anything else that is important for you to know/hear.  You are claiming the wonderful being that you are. If you feel a lot of emotion coming up as you do the mirror work, that’s OK!  

It’s important to become aware of emotional triggers for overeating or making choices you know aren’t healthy. Almost everyone uses food to deal with emotional issues at some time or other. It’s how often you do this that determines if it’s a problem.

Starting now, every time you eat (especially outside of meal times), ask yourself first, What am I feeling right now? Can I resolve this feeling without eating? Take some deep breaths and acknowledge that you want to eat, “Yes, I want to eat now, but I can wait out this impulse for 10 seconds. I am willing to feel my feelings and deal with them.”

Here is an exercise to help you develop more awareness around emotions and eating.

Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and relax your body. Keep doing some deep breaths until you feel relaxed. Now, as though you are an observer of your own life, go back over the last two weeks and notice your eating patterns: when you ate, what you ate, where you were, and who was with you. Don’t judge or criticize, simply notice. When you ate for emotional reasons, what was going on?.......

Now go back even farther in time, letting your mind go to the time you first began overeating…. How old were you? What was going on for you? What feelings were you suppressing?  Accept that this was your way of coping at that time. Feel compassion and love for yourself. Go to another situation where you overate….. What emotions were you feeling then? Find a few others………… Then imagine you are looking at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself, “I understand more now. I truly do love and accept you just the way you are.”

Bring your awareness back to the present moment. Take some deep breaths and stretch. Open your eyes.

If you found a connection between feeling stressed and eating, here are some easy ways to deal with that. Stress increases your metabolism and so you feel fatigued. This can prompt you to want to eat something like a candy bar for fast energy. Ultimately, this leads to more fatigue because your blood sugar plunges after spiking. First, as much as possible plan your meals so you eat on a schedule. Eat low fat, high protein meals to keep your blood sugar balanced. Second, have some healthy snacks available, like protein bars or veggies and a low fat dip. In other words, prepare ahead of time. Third, practice deep breathing exercises to help you reduce stress.

Learning to handle your emotions effectively is truly an ongoing process. If you started eating emotionally and gaining weight as a child, then talking to your Inner Child can really be healing.

 If you gained a lot of weight after some traumatic event in your life, you may need professional help in dealing with it. Look for a therapist who offers a spiritual approach as part of their therapy. In the US, you can find them advertising in spiritual newsletters. Or ask some friends for a referral. Affirm that you are guided to any resource you need to create a healthy relationship with food. 

A spiritual course, A Course in Miracles, says, “Guilt holds the behavior.” So if you are feeling guilty (or ashamed or embarrassed or even angry at yourself) for gaining weight and not losing it, it’s time to let go of the guilt and any other emotions associated with your weight. True, easier said than done. Begin with “I am willing to let go of the emotions that have kept me stuck.”

For some people, prayer is a potent force for changing behavior. Asking Spirit, God, the angels, or ascended masters to assist you in your desire for changes takes the burden off you “doing it all yourself.”

Are you willing to forgive yourself? At the highest spiritual level, there is no need for forgiveness, but in our human selves it is another piece of the foundation for permanent change. And sometimes that change can occur very quickly when you stop feeling guilty, forgive yourself, and love yourself right where you are at the moment.  Be kind to yourself. You are worth loving!

--Patricia J. Crane, Ph.D. studied personally with Louise Hay and, with husband Rick Nichols, is authorized to lead Heal Your Life® training programs in Louise’s philosophy. She is also the author of Ordering from the Cosmic Kitchen: The Essential Guide to Powerful, Nourishing Affirmations. and