Posted on 7 Comments

Awaken to the Darkness

Into the darkness. Seems I travel there far too often. What are the benefits of being in the dark? It is a given that we all go there more than once in our life. Some go more often and some stay longer when they do go. What does one do in the dark? Some common synonyms for darkness include gloom, evil, corruption, sin and absence of light. I see darkness as absence of truth (light) in consciousness. In this article, I will talk about the dark times in our life as well as in my personal life. I will talk about the challenges and the benefits of spending time in the dark.

I have found that I allow different things to send me into the dark space. It is important to be aware of the triggers that send you there. Everything begins in the mind including the journey into darkness. As odd as it may sound, there have been many times when the darkness has actually allowed me to see the light. Darkness not only implies no light but it also implies stillness. As a result, that stillness is sometimes the catalyst that allows us to be enlightened. When thinking about it this way, darkness can mean light.

Many spiritual gurus today talk about living in the light, being awake, being enlightened, and living your best life. All fine and good. In my experience however, something far more raw and real is needed from us. I hear a lot of talk about awakening to the light but not much talk about awakening to the darkness. You cannot reach the light without going down into the darkness. Down into the anger, the shame and the hurt. It is important to be honest and courageous enough to deal with the ugly stuff. Be honest about it. Yes, it is sometimes dark but we must go down there and deal with it before we ever fully see the light.

My dark times have certainly been painful. It has felt as if I couldn’t see my way forward. I was scared to take a step because it was dark and I was afraid I would fall. It was the fear of the unknown that the darkness gave me. I could not see what was ahead. All I could do was sit still. In the stillness, I would often cry. In the stillness of the dark, I have often felt depressed and alone. Being aware of those emotions in the dark is important as it relates to one’s ability to deal with them. If we get scared and run from them or run to the light, we miss out on the lesson. We miss out on the true awakening of the darkness.

Different situations such as loss of a loved one, break up of a relationship, and our past can lead us into the dark. I believe there is always a lesson to learn in the dark.  I have learned to bow to an infinite point inside myself and just rest there. Rest and listen. I am also learning not to question the darkness but instead embrace it and have faith that light is on the way.

As a kid, I used to be afraid of the dark. Now I am familiar with it and appreciate the lessons I’ve learned there. The darkness has changed me. It has evolved me into a better version of myself. It wasn’t the light that taught me the lessons and allowed me to evolve. It was the darkness.

When you find yourself in the darkness, don’t be afraid. Awaken to it and allow yourself to be there. Then when the light pops back on you’ll be more enlightened and in a better space spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Much love,

Vince

I am deeply grateful for your love and support. I would be honored to have your feedback as well as have you share this article on your social media platforms. If you haven’t already, enter your email address to subscribe and receive my free monthly thought provoking articles.

Please also check out my latest book under the Author page of this website. I would be honored to have your support by purchasing the book right from the Author Page with no shipping and handling fees. Here is the link to the Author Page: https://www.vinceshifflett.com/author-page/

Posted on Leave a comment

Focused Breathing: Spiritual, Physical, and Mental Benefits

Posted on Leave a comment

What is Spirituality?

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality has been defined by many but what does it actually mean? For some, spirituality is going to church every Sunday morning and bible study every Wednesday evening. For others, spirituality has absolutely nothing to do with the brick and mortar building we call the church.

Each person must find their own individual spiritual connection however best works for them. In this article, I will take a few minutes to share my thoughts on spirituality simply as food for thought. As always, take what resonates with you and leave the rest. 

How would you define spirituality? Pause here and think about it for a minute. 

I believe spirituality is compassion. It is inclusivity, kindness, and love. Spirituality is connection. Connection to the internal. Connection to the infinite field of energy that surrounds us all.  

Spiritual is not something you become. Conversely, it is something you already are. It can be challenging at times to walk and move in that spiritual space. Being able to act and react from that spiritual space when someone pisses you off, cuts you off in traffic or stirs up messy drama, all comes down to awareness.

Spirituality is awareness. Awareness of our thoughts and actions as well as our internal and external reactions. Without awareness, there is no real connection. We tend to just truck along allowing our automated subconscious thoughts and actions to drive us instead of being connected to our spirit and allowing it to be our guide. I am certainly guilty. 

The spiritual space is the dimension beyond our physical space. For me, the spiritual space has little to do with the actual physical place. I believe it is a space of awareness, connection, compassion, love, kindness and inclusivity as mentioned before. When you are able to come from your spiritual space, you are tapping into your true authentic self. Anything else tends to be ego based as opposed to the true self.

How do we stay connected to Spirit? How do we stay in that spiritual space?

Your spiritual being, just like your physical and mental being, must be nurtured. This makes a consistent spiritual practice essential. Below are some examples I have found helpful when I actually practice them. The minute I stop practicing them, I drift further and further away from that spiritual space and my actions/reactions reflect just that. It’s as if the electric cord to the lamp gets unplugged and I am left in the dark.

Hopefully you will find some of the following things helpful to keeping your lamp plugged in and shining bright. The list is certainly not inclusive and again, one must find what what feeds and nurtures their spiritual being. 

  • Daily meditation (Create Space)
  • Silent time (Create Time)
  • Walk in Nature
  • Inspirational Music
  • Yoga
  • Affirmations
  • Meaningful time with close friends
  • Reflection
  • Journaling

Plug into your spiritual space.  Stay aware in an effort to walk in a place of abundant peace. Remain compassionate, loving, kind, and inclusive regardless of the situation. Again, it is work but the reward is priceless. 

Take a moment to enter your email address to receive my thought provoking, educational, inspirational and motivational articles straight to your inbox. Your feedback, love, and support are deeply appreciated as we grow together.

Much love,

Vince

Posted on 8 Comments

You Already Are

During a recent conversation with my best friend Greg, he said to me, “But you already are.” That was a light bulb moment for me. One of many I’ve experienced during our conversations. “But you already are.”

What are you searching for? You already are. That which you seek, you already are. What are you trying to achieve? What are you trying to become?

It seems I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to become not really realizing that I already am. 

My need to become and over achieve has been both good and bad. It all stems back to my need for validation that started in my early childhood. As a result of my gay lifestyle, I always felt a need to prove myself because my lifestyle was seen as abnormal, a disease, a demon, and something totally unacceptable by society. Being gay was seen as less than. Therefore, I felt as if I needed to show everyone that I wasn’t less than by achieving great things in my life.  

I always felt I had to work a little harder to show that I wasn’t abnormal. 

This drive to achieve and become has taken up much of my mental space. I am finally starting to ask myself, who am I becoming for? Who am I achieving for? 

What’s the secret to happiness? What’s the secret to contentment? What’s the secret to being in the moment and knowing that you already are? 

The answer lies between your ears.  

Our mind can be our worst enemy or our best friend. Knowing you have the power to choose can be life changing to the degree you actually believe it. I admit, I struggle with believing that I already am. I struggle with believing that I am enough. I’ve been in this life for 58 years and have been trying to work out its riddle for about 50 of those years. 

I recently went back and looked in my high school senior memory book where I found that I had written down my future goals. My goals at that time were to become a registered nurse and a professional piano player for an infamous gospel group. I achieved both. Nothing wrong with achieving but it’s also important to pause and appreciate what you already are in this very moment. 

I feel I have spent so much time looking into the future that I often missed what was right in front of me at any given moment. 

Although I achieved the goals I set for myself in my high school memory book, it wasn’t enough. It’s never enough. I still find myself always trying to be. Putting a lot of pressure on myself as opposed to just stopping to appreciate what I already am. 

I also find that I am always trying to change something instead of being okay with what is. In the winter, I find myself saying, “I’ll be so glad when summer gets here.” In the summer I say, “OMG, this heat.” “I can’t wait until winter.” Always trying to change the time. At work I find myself rushing the time saying, “I can’t wait until 7pm.” Always looking ahead missing the now. Missing the moment. Never completely satisfied. 

Be where you are. When your mind starts to drift and dwell on what you should be doing, bring it back to what you are doing right now. When the mind starts to wander off with thoughts about what you should be, bring it back to what you already are and give thanks for that. 

The lesson for me in all of this is learning more about unbecoming as opposed to becoming. I am learning that there is no need to actually become because I already am. I give thanks for that. I am working on unbecoming all the things others have told me that I am and I believed them. You are enough. Believe it.

Make sure to check out my latest book on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735975702. Also make sure to enter your email address on this site to receive my monthly free articles straight to your inbox. As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Your love and support is deeply appreciated.

Blessings,

Vince

Posted on 4 Comments

What Are You Attached To?

Attachments. Are they healthy? I have become attached to many things in my life including family, friends, jobs, personal possessions, and past experiences just to name a few. Are attachments bad? Not necessarily. In this article we will look at healthy attachments and unhealthy attachments. 

Why do we become attached? There is nothing wrong with attachments that are healthy such as attachment to our spirit. It is also normal to feel a sense of attachment to our close friends, partners/spouses, and families. Having said that, the most important attachment is to our spirit. It is essential to stay connected and attached to spirit. Spirit is always speaking but we are seldom listening because we become detached and distracted by the external environment. 

According to the Buddhist teachings, attachment leads to suffering. When we become attached to someone or something, we tend to suffer when we lose it. 

Some attachments are actually essential for growth and evolution. It is however important to evaluate our attachments in an effort to release the attachments that do not serve our better good. Release the attachments that do not contribute to our overall optimal health spiritually, mentally, and physically.  

In reflecting back on the attachments in my life, I have given some thought to which ones were healthy and which ones not so much. I have also given some thought to the lessons I’ve learned in the unhealthy attachments. I have found myself with unhealthy attachments to romantic relationships, friendships, and relationships with family as well as unhealthy attachments to my possessions, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and my past. 

At times I have also found myself attached to emotions such as fear, worry, anger, jealousy, sadness and a feeling of unworthiness. I became acutely aware of the need to let go of the attachments to my negative past experiences as they were tied to the negative emotions. Emotions are the end product of experiences. Therefore, when I would re-live those past experiences, I would also re-live the emotions attached to those experiences. Essentially, I was living in the past. I was experiencing an unhealthy attachment to my past. 

Attachments to my beliefs and thoughts were another area I identified as unhealthy for me. I was very attached to what others had taught me was right and what was wrong. Those beliefs and thoughts often flowed through me in the form of judgment, perceptions, opinions, and feelings about the world around me and about the people around me. I was attached to the ideas and beliefs taught to me by the church and society. This unhealthy attachment created unhealthy feelings of judgment and separation. Judgement for those who did not subscribe to the same belief system.  

Why do we stay connected to unhealthy attachments? I stayed connected to my belief system out of fear. Fear of what the church had taught me. Fear that I would go to “hell” if I did not stay attached to their belief. I have stayed attached to unhealthy relationships out of fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of hurting the other party. Fear of leaving my comfort zone. Worry over what others would think. 

I have found that the more I stay attached to spirit, the less likely I am to remain connected to unhealthy attachments. Spirit will guide you away from the unhealthy attachments if you are connected and choose to follow its guidance. 

Have you ever thought about the attachments in your life? Are they healthy attachments that contribute to your peace and growth or are they unhealthy attachments that leave you feeling unworthy, less than, unhappy, and fearful. It is important to keep our attachments healthy in an effort to remain balanced and in optimal health. Attachment to external things and possessions sets you up for disappointment. It is my intention to release my attachment to the external and focus more on the attachment to my internal. 

When we release our attachment to the external, we no longer are bothered by the external. It becomes less important what others say and think. Material things become much less important. That new car, back yard swimming pool, new dress, or new pair of shoes become less important. 

Become detached from the negative thoughts that lie to you. Become detached from others that drain you. Become detached from the need to always have something new. 

Become attached to spirit. Become attached to awareness. Awareness of all the beauty and creation around you. Become attached to gratitude. Become attached to love and kindness toward ALL mankind. 

Blessings,

Vince