It is New Year’s Eve, we wish love, peace and happiness to each other…But how do we get it?

 

Year after year we wish each other peace, love and happiness for the New Year. Truth is we do wish all these for others and for ourselves. Yet, we don’t always know how to be at peace, how to be happy and how to feel loved.

This year I decided to write this short guide, my interpretation of one of Paul Ferrrini’s books that has helped me to achieve peace, love and yes, happiness. The Keys to the Kingdom has been a great tool to stay present to my own experience when things are going well and when things are not flowing as I would like them to.

From what I have learned, happiness has nothing to do with what is happening in our lives and it has everything to do with how we can hold our experience at any given moment. Happiness is also related to our ability to be authentic and follow our inner guidance when we are making choices.

Now a short guide based on the 8 transformational questions, spiritual tools that will help us to get in touch with the happiness and the love within.

Key #1 LOVE YOURSELF

Transformational question 1: Am I loving myself right now?

How many times when we are making choices would the answer to this question be a clear NO? Often we say yes when we would like to say no and vice versa. Our inner voice says “no” but we silence it with our irrational thoughts and emotions. We get carried away, we betray ourselves.

It is amazing what repeating this question throughout the day can do to your awareness… it will help you see how many times your choices go against your self-love. Answering this question again and again is a first and important step in the way to honoring yourself. At the beginning you may not be very clear about the answer, but wait patiently, truth is within waiting to be heard.

Key #2 BE YOURSELF

Transformational question 2: Is this in harmony with who I am?

As we seek to get love and acceptance from other people, many times we do things that are not in harmony with who we are. We do this thinking that happiness will come when we receive the love and acceptance of x person because we did what they expected of us. Again and again life shows us that this is not the way. We can blame others and continue to have expectations all over the place without noticing that inevitably at the end we will be disappointed one more time.

To know if something is really in harmony with who we are we must listen to our heart. It may take some time to discover who we really are, especially if we have years of self-betrayal looking for love and acceptance to come from the outside.

Key #3 BE RESPONSIBLE

Transformational question 3: Am I owning everything I think, say, feel and do?

To totally own our thoughts, feelings, words and actions is a huge step towards real happiness. However it is not an easy one. Sometimes it is so much easier to blame life or others for what happens in our life. To own our stuff and be responsible makes us go inward again and realize that happiness is our choice.

This question also covers our judgments. When I own my judgments I realize that what I don’t like about you, is really talking about me. Every judgment I make about others is really telling me which unhealed parts of myself I need to love and accept. A lot of work to be done!

Key #4 BE HONEST

Transformational question 4: Am I telling my truth and listening to the truth of others?

Some people are used to lying. Others are honest and tell their truth but it is impossible for them to listen to the truth of others. They will defend their point of view with all their might. This question is inviting us to do two things: First to learn to speak our truth honestly in a loving, non-attacking, non-defending way. Second to understand that it is as important to be heard as to listen to others. We need to listen with our hearts, making the other person’s point of view as valid as our own. Honoring my truth, honoring your truth… that is another huge leap into peace!

Key #5 WALK YOUR TALK

Transformational question 5: Am I willing to show up even if it is hard?

In order to achieve real happiness we must be present to our experience. We need to stop running away from our fears and from our ghosts from the past. It means being present here and now. It means enjoying when life is “good” and staying present when it is not. Being present means totally trusting that no matter what we can trust ourselves. We will not abandon ourselves one more time, we won’t betray ourselves again. We are that ONE person we can fully trust and the one that will always be there for us.

When we answer this question, this is the place where we can include all the elusive behaviors that we use to run away or hide from our experience. All compulsions and addictions keep us from being present to what is.

Key #6 FOLLOW YOUR HEART

Transformational question 6: Is this what I really want to do?

One more time the key is to follow your inner guidance. Listen to your heart and wait for the answer to come up.

When we do things that we really don’t want to do usually somebody pays for it sooner or later. This keeps us from being happy. Sometimes we have a hard time saying “no” because we don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, yet it is better to be honest and say no, than to say yes when we don’t mean it.

This is true not only in our relationship with others but also in our relationship with ourselves. It is important to identify which are the things that we really like to do and which ones we do out of obligation or habit.

Key #7 BE AT PEACE

Transformational question 7: Can I do this without stressing myself out?

Sometimes we want to help somebody else… we really want to do it but whatever they are asking from us will bring stress to our lives. It is important to notice this events because they also keep us from being at peace. Refrain from acting in a way that brings pressure and stress to yourself and others. Wait to act until you can act in a peaceful way.

Key #8 STAY PRESENT

Transformational question 8: Am I forgiving the past and allowing the future to unfold?

As we know one of the reasons for unhappiness is depression from our past or anxiety from our future. To be able to be present to what is in a loving way is the key that will allow us to find real happiness. If when you answer this question you notice that you are trapped in the past or projecting into the future, don’t beat yourself up. Take a deep breath and go into your heart. Discover the magic of the present moment which resides in the mystery of being alive.

Each and every question is a spiritual tool that will help us to discover who we really are and to express ourselves fully. They show us the way to understanding that the love and acceptance we keep looking for are really within ourselves. We cannot love others without loving ourselves first. It seems simple, we have heard it many times… but making a practice out of it is challenging.

If the 8 questions seem overwhelming, I recommend starting with question number 1. Repeat this question again and again throughout the day… Am I loving myself right now? If the answer is yes, congratulations! If the answer is no, take a deep breath, go into your heart and make sure that the choice you are making is not cutting the most important love in your life, your self-love.

I do wish you peace, love and happiness in this 2015!

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Yes…I scuba dived!

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Since I was a little girl, I would enjoy the shows featuring the magnificent submarine world. I always thought “One of these days I will scuba dive.” This was until someone told me how complicated and dangerous it could be and my Fearful Self decided to scratch it off my list. I figured that watching it on TV and snorkeling would do it.

Two months ago, I had the opportunity of visiting a place of grand beauty with all my family: Akumal, Quintana Roo, also known as “Land of Turtles.” Snorkeling in this place is amazing because our hotel- Akumal Beach Resort – has a coral reef right in front of it, so when you snorkel you can see sea turtles, rays, corals and colorful fish.

I was really having a wonderful time watching all this when my brother Miguel said:

-Would you like to go scuba diving? You can go to an introductory class that allows you to go down and figure out whether you like it or not.

Right away I remembered all the dangers and possible complications… what can happen if you go down too fast, if your ears hurt, if your lungs explode… BUT I was seeing such beautiful creatures while snorkeling that my Not-So-Fearful-Self said: Why not? And with that, it was decided, I would take the class the next day.

The introductory class, a 20 minute video and some more minutes of practice, ended up being a bold review of all my fears. Basically they explain what to do if your oxygen mask is removed by accident under the water and how to get water out of your mask. In my previous snorkeling experiences I had swallowed enough salt water that just to think that the same thing could happen to me under the water and that I had to solve it right there gave me a stomach ache.

Practicing in the water only made things worse. To begin with I had to get into a long wet suit, standing on my bathing suit in the middle of a group of people that were either helping me or looking at me. I think that almost any woman over 40 understands perfectly how embarrassing this was! Once I was ready with all my equipment- that is sooo heavy- we walked into the sea until the water reached my shoulders. That day it was windy and the water was a little bit turbid. And… practice, practice, practice!

Basically I had to repeat what I saw in the video. Putting on your oxygen after losing it, and getting the water out of your mask under the water. To be able to do this, I had to kneel so that the water would cover my head. Then I had to take off my oxygen, let it go, and recuperate it. I have to admit that I have been thinking a lot about this particular exercise. I was TERRIFIED of taking off my oxygen, which is kind of ridiculous since all I had to do to get out was to stand up. Even if my mind was clear that there was no danger at all, my body would not take off the oxygen. It was then that I started to think about fear and how it paralyzes me.

Alejandro, the Italian instructor, was VERY patient with me. I would not take off my oxygen, we would come up, he would tell me what I was supposed to do again, I would tell him that I understood but just couldn’t do it.

Then I listened a tiny voice inside of my head: “Realize that this is a fear you chose. You don’t have to go through it, you can quit anytime.” From that moment this became my mantra: youcanquitanytime-youcanquitanytime… and once I was comfortable with this I started following Alejandro’s instructions little by little. I had the first exercise down and now I had to practice getting the water out of my mask under the water.

First trial and all the water went through my nose. I realized that this was THE minute to quit. I have to add that I didn’t mention the red and grey buttons to inflate or deflate a vest and float or sink as desired. Plus the fact that underwater you can’t speak and have to rely on hand signals. So watching the oxygen, the mask, the red button, the grey button plus the instructor’s signals seemed overwhelming! I could never guess if the red button was to inflate or deflate and this really made me nervous. A little bit tired of not having fun at all I said:

-Thank you Alejandro, I am done!

-What? You haven’t even started! How can you know if you like it or not?

Oh God! On top of everything he wouldn’t let me go! Ok, so I decided to keep going knowing that if I really wanted to quit I could do it anytime. I finished the training and I was able to execute everything I was supposed to, but I could never figure the red/grey buttons. We came back to the beach where Miguel was waiting for us to go scuba diving. When we got there they told us that because of the wind we could not go scuba diving that day. (There was a loud YESSSSS!!!!!! Inside my head), this said, I was free, I would not have to go back and scuba dive.

Alejandro apologized for the weather and told us to come back the following day. I though “no way” but thanked him for his patience. I also thanked Miguel for inviting me and explained to him that scuba diving was not my thing and that I didn’t want to go back the next day. Calmly he said:

-WHAAAAAAAAT? YOU DID THE MOST DIFFICULT PART ALREADY AND NOW YOU ARE NOT GOING TO SCUBA DIVE?

We went back to the hotel, I forgot the whole thing and went back into enjoying my vacation. Scuba diving was again off my list and I was glad.

The next time I went snorkeling I saw so many beautiful things that I told myself I HAD to scuba dive. I told Miguel, he told Alex and we were set for the next day. This time I was wiser with my wet suit election and chose a short one. No hassle, no trouble, no shame. However I was still as afraid as the first day if not more. I almost had to drag myself step by step, making Miguel impatient by telling him a zillion times that I didn’t know if I should do it or not. However I followed through the motions, got my equipment and got in the boat.

When it was time to jump off the boat I was still trying to figure out if I could do it or not. I was all fear. I was afraid of having an anxiety attack underwater and rushing up to the surface as you are not supposed to do!

So I jumped. Once in the water Alejandro told me the plan… we would submerge slowly, holding onto a rope. He would ask (with signals of course!) if I was ok, I would decompress my ears and we would go down a little further.

I could only do this once and then like a cat that falls into the water I was up in the surface! I breathed like if it was my last breath. Alejandro with no more patience in his eyes asked me what was wrong and I simply said: “I can’t, I am afraid.”

Breathing for patience, him, and for courage, me, he said: “We will try one more time, you are going to look at me in the eyes and you are going to breathe.” He didn’t give me a choice. Even though I know that if I really wanted out that was my last chance.

We went down again. Slowly, looking into his eyes, thanking God for this man’s patience. He would check on me and we would go further down.

I am not going to say that my fear disappeared instantly. I would not let go of my oxygen or my mask. In the healing work of Paul Ferrini that I have been practicing, he invites you to BE with your fear, instead of denying it, avoiding it, or looking for its positive side. So I practiced being with my fear compassionately, breathing into my heart, becoming aware of that safe place where I know that everything is all right.

I started relaxing as I centered in my breathing and as I started to enjoy the beauty of the submarine world. There is no need to say that the experience was worth all my fears. It would be unrealistic to try to describe with words my experience, but I will give it a try.

Scuba diving was for me like a moving meditation. When you are under the water there is a different rhythm, slower, gentler. Visually you start noticing the wonders of this world, with its own rhythm… giving you time to enjoy every image.

Your own movements are different, subtler, paused and more harmonious. And as far as your audio experience, it is just amazing! The only thing you can hear is your own breathing. Scuba diving is in way a “mindfulness” practice where you are aware of every breath, every image and every movement. When you scuba dive you live in the here and now. It is just an extraordinary experience!

And just as I was enjoying every second it was time to go back to the surface. I lost track of time, but I was told that we were under the water for 42 minutes. 42 magical and wonderful minutes! I will be forever thankful to Alejandro for pushing my limits a little bit. And thanks to Miguel, my dear brother, who invited, motivated and accompanied me, and brought scuba diving back into my list!

I am also thankful for the lesson… What if these optional fears- the ones you can just quit- are life’s opportunity to practice how to go through your fears? Being with my fear was the key to go through it and overcome it. I hope that this practice, that I decided to do, will make it easier for me when I am faced with a real, inevitable fear. Thanks for reading!

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Y si… ¡Buceé!

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Desde que era niña y veía en la tele los programas donde salían buzos disfrutando el increíble mundo submarino, siempre pensé: “Algún día bucearé.” Esto es, hasta que alguien en alguna ocasión me dijo todo lo complicado y peligroso que era, y mi Yo miedosa decidió tachar la buceada de la lista. Pensé que con verlo en la tele y hacer snorkel tendría suficiente.

Hace dos meses tuve la oportunidad de estar en un lugar hermoso con toda mi familia: Akumal, Quintana Roo, conocido como “lugar de las tortugas.” El buceo superficial o snorkel resulto ser increíble ya que el lugar donde nos quedamos (Akumal Beach Resort) tiene un arrecife de coral justo frente a su playa y uno puede salir a hacer snorkel y ver tortugas, mantarrayas, corales y peces hermosos.

En verdad yo estaba completamente maravillada con todo lo que estaba viendo y en eso me dice Miguel mi hermano:

-¿Quieres ir a bucear? Te dan una clase con lo mínimo indispensable para que tengas una primera experiencia y ya si te gusta pues después te certificas.

En automático me acordé de todos los peligros y complicaciones… que si bajas muy rápido, que si se te truenan los oídos etc… PERO estaba viendo cosas tan bonitas que mi Yo no-tan-miedosa dijo “¿Por qué no?” y con eso quedo decidido todo, iría a tomar mi clase al día siguiente.

La clasecita que fue un video de 20 minutos y una práctica de otros tantos minutos resulto ser un repaso detallado de todos mis miedos. Básicamente te explican que hacer si se te desprende la máscara de oxígeno, y como sacar el agua de tu visor debajo del agua. En los días previos de snorkel ya había yo tragado bastantita agua salada, entonces nada más de pensar que abajo del agua me podía pasar lo mismo que arriba con el snorkel me empezó a doler el estómago.

Con la práctica en el mar, la cosa fue de mal en peor. Para empezar tuve que meterme en un traje de buzo completo, parada en traje de baño, rodeada por un círculo de personas, entre los que me estaban ayudando y los que pasaban por el lugar. Creo que casi cualquier mujer mayor de 40 años entiende perfecto esta situación, tuve que tragar bolitas y pretender que todo estaba perfectamente bien y no me daba nada de pena. Ya una vez con el equipo que pesa un buen, caminamos hacia el mar y nos metimos hasta que el agua me llegaba a los hombros. Ese día hacia algo de viento y el agua del mar estaba un poco rebotada. Y… ¡a practicar se ha dicho!

Los ejercicios básicamente eran repetir lo que ya habíamos visto en el video. Recuperar el oxígeno y sacar el agua del visor abajo del agua. Para poderlos realizar era necesario ponerse de rodillas para que el agua me cubriera la cabeza. Paso siguiente era retirarme yo misma el oxígeno, dejarlo flotar y recuperarlo. Tengo que admitir que he reflexionado mucho sobre este ejercicio en particular ya que me daba un miedo horrible retirarme el oxígeno, lo cual es un poco absurdo porque lo único que tenía que hacer para salir a la superficie era pararme. Y aunque en mi mente me quedaba muy claro que no había peligro, que solo me paraba y podía respirar normalmente, mi cuerpo se negaba a retirar el oxígeno bajo el agua. Fue entonces que empecé a pensar en los miedos y en cómo estos nos paralizan.

El maestro, un hombre italiano de nombre Alejandro, me tuvo tooooooda la paciencia del mundo. Yo no me retiraba el oxígeno, salíamos a la superficie, me explicaba de nuevo lo que tenía que hacer, yo le explicaba que si entendía pero que simplemente no podía.

Entonces de pronto escuche una voz en mi mente que decía: “Date cuenta que este es un miedo que tu elegiste, no es necesario atravesarlo, puedes renunciar a él en cualquier momento.” A partir de ese instante, ese se volvió mi mantra: puedesrenunciarencualquiermomento-puedesrenunciarencualquiermomento… Y al estar segura de esto, pude empezar a seguir las instrucciones de Alejandro. Dominé el primer ejercicio y era hora de practicar llenar de agua el visor para luego sacársela bajo el agua.

En el primer intento me entro toda el agua por la nariz y decidí que ESE era el momento de renunciar. Para esto omití contar sobre los botoncitos rojo y gris para inflar o desinflar un chaleco y así flotar o hundirse según se desee. Así como el hecho de que cuando uno está bajo el agua no puede hablar y todo es a través de señas que haces con el instructor. Entonces, estar pendiente del oxígeno, del visor, del botoncito gris y del rojo así como de seguir las señas, de momento me pareció demasiado. Nunca me acordaba cual era la seña de inflar y cual la de desinflar y esto me ponía muy nerviosa. Un poco fastidiada por mi experiencia cero placentera le dije a Alejandro:

-Hasta aquí llegué, ¡Gracias!

-Pero… ¡Cómo! Si todavía no haces nada, todavía no puedes saber si te gusta o no.

Oh Dios, aparte necio el hombre. Ok, decidí seguir con la seguridad de que si REALMENTE me quería ir lo podía hacer en cualquier momento. Termine la práctica, me salieron bien todos los ejercicios pero nunca pude memorizar cual era la señal de botoncito rojo y cual la de botoncito gris. Regresamos a la playa donde me esperaba Miguel mi hermano para acto seguido subirnos en una lancha e ir a bucear. En lo que salimos nos dijeron que como hacia viento no se podía salir a bucear ese día… (Hubo un mega grito de ¡Yessss! en mi interior), con esto, quedaba liberada… no tenía que ir a bucear más.

Alejandro se disculpó y nos dijo que regresáramos al siguiente día. Para mis adentros pensé “ni loca” pero le di las gracias por toda su paciencia y me fui. Le agradecí a Miguel su invitación y le dije que la buceada no era lo mío, que no quería regresar. Él, con su habitual manera calmada me dijo: “¿QUEEEEEE? ¿YA HICISTE LO MÁS DIFÍCIL Y NO VAS A BUCEAAAAAAR?” Regrese al hotel y me olvide del numerito. Bucear volvía a desaparecer de mi lista y con eso, me quede muy tranquila.

La siguiente vez que salí a hacer snorkel vi cosas tan bonitas que me convencí a mí misma de que debía ir a bucear. Le dije a Miguel y quedamos con Alejandro para el siguiente día. Esta vez fui más lista con mi elección de traje de buzo, solo hasta las rodillas, me lo puse de volada, ¡cero vergüenzas! Pero la verdad de las cosas es que tenía TANTO miedo como el primer día, si no es que más. Iba casi a rastras, esforzándome por dar cada paso e impacientando a Miguel por decirle N veces que no estaba segura de si quería bucear o no. Pero seguía con todo el procedimiento, me dejé poner el equipo, caminé al mar y me subí a la lancha.

Cuando llegó la hora de aventarse para atrás desde la orilla de la lancha, yo todavía estaba debatiéndome entre si me atrevía o no. La verdad estaba muerta de miedo de que me fuera a ganar la ansiedad abajo y me diera por salir disparada a la superficie. Como sea, miedo y todo, me avente de espaldas. Una vez en el agua Alejandro me explicó el plan… íbamos a ir sumergiéndonos, sujetados de una soga, despacio y él me iba a preguntar si yo estaba bien (con señas, claro), descomprimía oídos y si todo estaba bien bajábamos un poco más.

Solo pude seguir la rutina una vez y después salí como gato que cae en el agua hasta la superficie y respire como si no fuera a respirar nunca más. Alejandro con la paciencia agotada en la mirada me preguntó que qué me pasaba y yo simplemente le dije que no podía, que tenía miedo.

Armándose -él de paciencia y yo de valor- me dijo: “Vamos a intentarlo de nuevo, me vas a ver a los ojos y vas a respirar con calma.” En verdad no me dejo mucha opción a nada más. Que aunque sé que si en realidad hubiera querido me hubiera salido en ese momento.

Lo intenté una vez más. Poco a poco, viéndolo a los ojos, agradeciéndole a Dios por la paciencia de éste hombre. Y así, sin más, empezamos a descender lentamente. Cerciorándose él de que yo estuviera bien cada minuto.

No voy a decir que el miedo se me quito de inmediato. No soltaba con una mano el visor y con la otra el oxígeno. En el trabajo que estoy haciendo de Paul Ferrini se invita a ESTAR con el miedo, no a evitarlo, no a negarlo, no a ver el lado “positivo.” Entonces una vez más practiqué simplemente ESTAR con éste miedo y respirar haciendo conciencia en mi corazón, en ese lugar donde yo sé que todo ESTÁ BIEN.

Poco a poco fui relajándome al centrarme en mi respiración y al empezar a disfrutar la belleza del mundo submarino. Está por demás decir que la buceada valió la pena todos mis miedos. Sería un poco fantasioso querer describir con palabras lo que viví abajo del agua, pero intentaré describir mi primera experiencia de buceo.

Bucear fue para mí como una meditación en movimiento. Al estar debajo del agua el ritmo cambia, se vuelve más lento, más suave. Visualmente se despliega ante tus ojos un espectáculo natural increíble, pero así, lentamente, a su ritmo… como si te diera el tiempo de ir digiriendo imagen por imagen.

Los movimientos propios también se suavizan, se vuelven más armoniosos y pausados. Auditivamente ¡pasa algo maravilloso! Lo único que escuchas es el ritmo de tu respiración. De alguna manera es como un ejercicio de “mindfulness” en el que estas consciente de cada respiro, de cada movimiento, de cada imagen. Buceando se está en el aquí y en el ahora. Simplemente ¡es una experiencia inolvidable!

Y así, al estar disfrutando cada segundo de pronto era tiempo de regresar. Perdí noción del tiempo pero después supe que duré 42 minutos bajo el agua. ¡42 maravillosos e inolvidables minutos! Agradezco infinitamente a Alejandro que me llevo un poco más allá de lo que yo quería y a Miguel, mi querido hermano, que gracias a su invitación, motivación y compañía, la buceada regreso a mi lista.

También agradezco el aprendizaje. ¿Qué tal si estos miedos opcionales- a los que uno puede renunciar- son la oportunidad que nos da la vida de practicar como atravesar nuestros miedos? Al permanecer con mi miedo en plena consciencia de su existencia me fue posible atravesarlo y superarlo. Espero que esta práctica, misma que yo decidí realizar me sirva cuando en la vida se me presente un miedo real e inevitable. ¡Gracias por leerme!

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