imgres-3When I was a kid I loved chemistry experiments. My Dad bought me a chemistry set filled with test tubes, pipettes, beakers and chemicals that magically interacted. When my kids were little we created baking soda reactions; made fake snot from boiling water, gelatin and corn syrup and concocted bath salts by combining soap and essential oils.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting in a new arena: The spiritual playground. It’s a whole lot less messy, but just as magical. I’ve been testing a number of universal spiritual truths and principles, and like those chemistry experiments the results have been fruitful and fascinating.

Here are three spiritual principles I’ve been playing with.

Declutter to Create Abundance

This principle involves getting rid of everything and anything that you no longer need and use. Not only does your living space become more pleasant, when you declutter you make room for more of what you want whether that’s money, success, love, nicer clothes or delicious food.

imgresPurging your nooks and crannies has numerous benefits. You feel cleansed, cathartic and energized. The sense of accomplishment is incredible. Plus, when you clear clutter you allow abundance in and attract what you really want. You literally create space for new, improved items.

When my daughter left for college, I decluttered a room dubbed “the kid’s office”. I trashed dried-up craft supplies, piles of old notebooks, bags of rocks and broken shells, knotted balls of yarn and scraps of cloth. The next day I was walking my dog, Sizzle and saw a yard sale. I found a brand new Cuisinart Elite Collection 12-Cup Food processor for 25 bucks. Something I really need and want!

I highly recommend trying the declutter principle for yourself. Don’t treat is as a drag, have some fun. (Spiritual experiments work better when you enjoy the process!) Play music and turn it into a game. Challenge yourself. Pick one area of the house and see how many bags of old, unused, unwanted crap you can get rid of in an hour.

Shred old bills. Give away clothing that doesn’t fit and bag up any items you don’t like or never wear. Get rid of the unmatched socks, single mittens and all the stained T-shirts with holes. Purge the pantry of expired food items and those ancient spices. The ugly vase your Mom gave you, donate it to Good Will. Trust me, someone else will think it’s gorgeous. If you haven’t used a lotion, mascara or shampoo in ages toss it. Your kids are now teens, the Legos, Chutes and Ladders and the book of Animal ABCs don’t belong in your life.

Many of my clients have used the declutter principal to improve their body image and relationship with food. Getting rid of ALL the old clothing that doesn’t fit and replacing it with new clothing makes them feel and look amazing! Throwing out the diet books, scales, weight loss supplements and the Slim Fast products is incredibly liberating and sends a clear message to your Self: I’m done with dieting! I love and accept my body as it is. I’ve made peace with food, and I’m going to focus on eating healthy food that I love.

Opening to the Grace of Receiving

Another spiritual law I’ve been playing with is shifting form gratitude to opening to the grace of receiving. Don’t get me wrong being grateful and counting your blessings is extremely powerful, but opening to receiving is an action that allows you to fully experience gratitude and bless the person who’s giving to you.

As Dr. Barbara De Angelis explains:

When we practice the action of receiving, our gratitude is an enlivened experience that the giver can witness and feel vibrationally and energetically.—Barbara De Angelis

To open up to receiving, every morning I recite a prayer from Tosha Silver’s marvelous book Change Me Prayers. I ask God to “Change me into One who can feel wildly open to receiving… Let me allow others the supreme pleasure of giving to me. Let me feel worthy to receive in every possible way.”

A few days after adding this prayer to my morning spiritual practices out of the blue my neighbor, Linda arrived on my doorstep. She was carrying incredible salad in a beautiful wooden bowl. Layers upon layers of cherry tomatoes, baby greens and shredded carrots topped with cranberries, candied walnuts and feta cheese made with love just for me! The salad was the perfect accompaniment to the burgers we were having for dinner, and my husband, Michael and kids couldn’t stop eating it!
images-3When you open to receiving blessings can come from anywhere—even Facebook. Recently, I entered a facebook contest posted by Denise Mazza at NYC Organics for a Pamper Pack and won. I felt a wonderful sense of joy and gratitude. In addition, because I share positive energy and provide distance Reiki healing through facebook the gift felt like a lovely thank you from the universe.

Self-compassion

Along with learning how to receive, I’m experimenting with learning how to give to myself. For several years I’ve been practicing self-compassion, essentially treating yourself like you would a good friend especially when you’re stressed or suffering. Instead of being judgmental and critical towards yourself, you’re kind. Just like you’d check in with a good friend, you pause throughout the day, notice how you’re feeling and you ask yourself: What do I need right now? Then you provide for yourself.

Self-compassion is the ultimate experiment in self-discovery and self-transformation. It’s changed who I am, how I relate to myself and how I work with my clients. When difficulties arise instead of plunging into problem solving, self-loathing (“I’m such an idiot!”) or rumination (“Why is this happening to me?”) mode, I take a moment for self-soothing. This can be as simple as putting my hand on my heart or taking a few deep, calming breaths. I feel better and am better prepared to deal with whatever I’m facing.

The results of being a self-compassion scientist are subtler than receiving a Cuisinart or salad, but they’re equally satisfying. My clients who are experimenting with self-compassion are rapidly overcoming body image and eating issues that have weighed them down for years. They’re discovering a new resource for support that’s available 24/7: YOU. Not only are they learning how to love, forgive and accept themselves, the self-compassion experiment is teaching them how to fall down and get up gracefully. As a result, my clients are escaping the perfection trap and embracing their inner blueprint to Grow & Glow.

Self-compassion is particularly helpful for those of us facing major life changes like menopause, divorce or empty nest syndrome. At 52 my body and brain are sagging and slowing down. Sometimes I go to the store for milk and arrive out home with a number of items, but no milk! I do two sets of exercises at the gym instead of three, and the daily walks with Sizzle (who’s also slowing down) are shorter.  I don’t rock the skinny jeans and high heals quite the way I used to, but instead of getting angry and frustrated, I let go, cultivate ease and buy looser jeans. While I can’t do and accomplish as much as I used to I can love and appreciate my Self more.

I invite you to experiment with self-compassion. The next time you notice you’re upset instead of reacting take a moment and give yourself the same kindness you give to others. Jump off the self-blame train and turn towards yourself with love and the intention to help your Self feel better. Experiment, stay open, be a good scientist and remain honest, flexible and curious.  Keep practicing and you’ll discover as my friend and teacher Christopher Germer explains:

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

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