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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The next chapter in your story.

Morning Reflection: The stories we believe in ourselves

The stories we believe in ourselves.

As little children we love stories. We love being read to. We love how in a story, the world makes sense.

As we grow, we tell ourselves stories to explain why the world works in the way it does. In light of the chaos present in the universe, telling stories allows us to create structure, logic and understanding.

But sometimes we tell ourselves stories to explain things we can’t understand. As the child of an emotionally absent father, I created the story that I was such a bad child my father didn’t want to be around me. It was either that, or try to understand a situation for which I had no reference, logic or rationale.

A good friend of mine adopted the story that she was overweight because her mother was pressuring her to lose weight, when in truth it was about the mother’s issues, and nothing to do with my friend. She carried this for many years, and in some aspects still carries it. An untruth, made into a truth, by a desire to be accepted, loved and cherished.

When we accept these stories as a child, they become the filters through which we understand the world. The child who believes they must be perfect will never know the peace of ‘good enough’. The teenager who believes they are different will never know the feeling of being a part of something larger. The adult who believes they are destined to fail will never know the satisfaction of risking and winning, because they will never try.

Unless they un-learn these stories, challenge the narrative, break out of the imaginary chains and soar into the new truth.

That they are enough. They are powerful. They can succeed.

Make sure that every child within your influence hears the right stories. That life is tough for all, but hard work and persistence makes a difference. That we all fail at some time, but we try again. That heartbreak is rarely permanent, and never a reason to stop loving.

And most importantly, that they are loved, cherished, valued and cared for.

They are. You are. We are.

Change their story, change their life.


-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, March 19, 2018

Emotional Freedom

Morning Reflection: You have to face, and feel, your feelings

You have to face, and feel, your feelings.

We all have feelings we like to feel. Feelings like joy, happiness, excitement, love and comfort to name just a few. Those are the emotions that make life worth living.

But we also have to deal with the other type of emotions, like loss, loneliness, frustration, pain and shame. Those are the emotions that hurt, and make us wish for a change in how we feel.

How do you avoid your negative feelings?

For me, for a long time, it was food. That’s how I ended up morbidly obese, and closer to death than I want to admit. But that wasn’t my only ‘coping mechanism’. I would also become angry at myself, preferring the pain of self loathing rather than the pain of someone else being angry or disappointed in me.

Last night, I had an occasion to face a negative feeling, rather than try to run from it, or busy myself in something else to forget it. The negative feeling was sadness, after I failed to follow through on something that someone very dear to me asked of me. It wasn’t something earth shattering, but it made that person feel unappreciated.

But this time, rather than get angry with myself, or get quiet and withdraw, I made the conscious decision to allow the feeling to exist, and feel how it felt. No avoidance, no rationalization, nothing to try to ameliorate the feeling of acknowledging that I let someone down.

And it didn’t feel good at all. But I lived.

Growth comes when we stop avoiding our feelings, and learn from them.

Growth comes when we accept that things might hurt for a while, but we don’t try to dull that pain with other measures.

Growth comes when we take a deep breath, and allow the truth of who we are to wash over us, and bathe us in the emotions that can change us.

Like the small flower that struggles to pierce the earth to find the sunlight, or the child who struggles to walk despite falling again and again, we too can struggle through and learn from our painful emotions if we will but face them, feel them and find the strength to change through them.

Running from your emotions never solves the problem.

The only way out is through.

Go through it. You can do this.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, March 16, 2018

Morning Reflection: Choose a different window

Choose a different window.

Everything in life comes down to our perspective, our own window, or our point of view. What we see today as a truth may very well be understood to be an error when we look back at it from tomorrow. History is replete with examples of this.

But so too are our own lives. Yesterday, in a moment of ego, I left a comment on a post on Facebook, which angered someone greatly, and he left a reply that was obviously full of frustration. When I initially read his comment, I felt my soul shift into what I can only describe as ‘battle mode’, and I immediately began composing my responses, none of which were true to my highest ideals of being a peacemaker.

But in that first moment, I didn’t want peace, I wanted vengeance. I wanted superiority. I wanted to use every ounce of whatever talent and intellect I possess to crush his argument (and his ego) into pieces. He’s not someone I know, and he had treated me in a way that I felt was inappropriate, unkind and rude.

This is not the person I aspire to be, but this is who I am if I allow myself to be that person.

Thankfully, it took a couple of minutes, but I was able to exercise some humility and try to see it from his window, his point of view.

And so I apologized. Not because I thought my argument doesn’t have merit, but because he was right when he said I could have done better. Could he have phrased his reply more kindly, sure. Are there things that he said that I feel were incorrect, yes. Would we necessarily see eye to eye on this topic were we ever to meet, I honestly don’t know.

But my apology to him brought forth an apology from him. Neither of us were seeing it from each other’s point of view, and we both asked for forgiveness, which was given. Good wishes were exchanged, and each of us grew a little closer to kindness.

In order to be a peacemaker, we have to be willing to give up our own window, and see things from someone else’s point of view, so that we may search for truth together, rather than trying to pull each other down.

Peace requires humility. Yesterday I was able to find some. It doesn’t always happen. I am so grateful that the other person in this equation was able to reply from a place of humility. He helped me more than he can know.

Wherever you are today, I implore you to find someone with whom you disagree, and make an effort to reach out and try to understand them.

The only way we will have peace in this world is when we strive for it.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Morning Reflection: Where do you focus your attention?

Where do you focus your attention?

In this digital age, it’s easy to lose focus on the important things. There is an ever increasing plethora of attention grabbing apps, websites, channels and ways to communicate.

Yet in a world where information acquisition is easier than ever, we often allow our attention to be drawn away from that which is important, to that which is immediate and/or immaterial.

I have come to realize that our attention is usually focused in one of 3 spheres. The first is the ‘sphere of concern’. This sphere contains things which draw our attention, but over which we have very little input, and thus can effect very little change in our lives.

The second is the sphere of influence, where we can focus our attention, backed up with action, to make a difference, though not necessarily have a defining input to change the outcome of a situation.

Finally there is our sphere of control, where our ability to apply attention and action can have massive changes in our lives, as we control the outcome of a situation or an event.

I find that I often allow my attention to drift into my sphere of concern, because this is usually something that requires no action from me. In this way I can feel good about being concerned about something or someone, but have very little responsibility for doing anything.

But when I focus on my sphere of control, I can make significant changes to my life in a short space of time, but it requires me to take action and actually do something.

It’s so much easier to focus my attention on things that do not present risk or require work.

But this produces no results. Focusing on my sphere of control helps me to take action in my life, and achieve and become more.

It’s all a matter of attention.

Where will you focus your attention today?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Morning Reflection: Take a moment to wonder

Take a moment to wonder.

How much time do you set aside each day to marvel at the universe in which we live? When was the last time you drove out onto a dark country road and stared up at the night sky in amazement? Or when was the last time you sat quietly on a beach and listened to the majesty, power and timelessness that is the ocean?

If you are like me, you are probably guilty of taking all of this for granted. We get so caught up in the complications and chaos of life that we forget to appreciate where we are, when we are, and what we have.

You are a wonder of biology. Whether you feel that we are evolved, designed or created, can we just agree that the human body is an incredible organism? No technology even comes close.

Your mind is unfathomable. We can dream, feel, think, talk and adapt in a universe that we barely understand, yet we can create, design, and build in a way that just blows the mind.

We as a species have left the earth and returned safely. In the future, we will colonize other worlds, and plant our footprints and flags on planets that have never known our touch.

We are capable of loving and being loved. Despite heartbreak, fears, loneliness and pain, we push forward in our relationships and understandings. Do we fall sometimes, of course, but we manage to get up again.

If life has worn you down with its weight, I invite you today to view your world through the eyes you used when you were five years old.

Look around you at the technology, the majesty, humanity and nobility that surrounds you.

Look up, look around, and feel again that sense of wonder. This universe, galaxy, and planet; your country, town, home, and yourself. All of them are miracles.

Today, celebrate life, celebrate yourself, and celebrate wonder.

And rise.
-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Morning Reflection: A disciple of desire.

A disciple of desire.

It seems that one of my constant, ongoing and unrelenting struggles in life is to find discipline. Anyone who has seen my desk in my home office can attest to this. Unfinished projects, unfiled paperwork, non-actioned post it notes and incomplete ideas scribbled on any available paper.

I wish I was more disciplined, yet in some areas of my life, I have discipline.

Since finally making the decision to lose weight almost 2 years ago, I have lost over 140lbs naturally, no supplements, medication or surgery. Obviously this is not something I could have managed without discipline, yet I struggle to take that strength of will and apply in other areas of my life.

Truthfully, I have found that a discipleship of desire is the birthplace of discipline, yet the associations in my subconscious are very different regarding some of those words.

The word disciple evokes feelings of reverence, but also power. I think not only of spiritual discipleship, but also of physical strength, emotional control and financial freedom.

Yet when I consider the word discipline, my association is a negative one, and I find myself immediately wanting to move away from anything that looks like discipline imposed upon me, not generated from within myself.

But the more disciplined I am in my life, the greater sense of freedom and peace I find within myself.

In my attempts to become more disciplined, I realize that I have to manage my desire in order to manipulate my discipline.

That which I desire strongly breeds of itself the discipline necessary to achieve or possess it.

So I find myself becoming a disciple of desire, so that I might have the discipline to achieve my dreams.

What do you desire?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, March 12, 2018

Morning Reflection: My reactions are my responsibility.

My reactions are my responsibility.

It took me a long time to learn this truth, but my reactions are not reflexes.

A reflex is an action that occurs without conscious thought, like the way we pull our hand away from something hot. A reflex carries no judgment, no decision, no initiation of thought. It just simply occurs.

For the longest time, I thought of my reactions this way. Why…because it made things easier. If my reactions were in fact more of a reflex, then I didn’t have to think about them, didn’t have to control them, wasn’t responsible for how I acted and what I said.

After much thought and meditation, it occurs to me that I thought this way because it allowed me to evade the responsibility of choosing my reactions. It allowed me to act as a child, rather than an adult.

As I have grown through my journey, I have come to realize that my reactions are actually responses, that occur as a result of the way I see and feel about the world. But in truth, the way I see and feel about the world is a representation of my own inadequacies, fears, needs and aspirations.

My reactions are, in truth, a reflection of my perceived place in reality.

Since my reactions affect others, I feel that upon me falls a heavy responsibility, that of making sure that my reactions are congruent with the way that I would like to treat the world.

Where I could choose to react with anger, I hope to react with kindness. Where I could choose to react with fear, I hope I may react with faith. Where I could choose to react from pride, may I instead react with humility.

My reactions are my choices, and it would be wise for me to consider them carefully, and learn from them.

Because the reactions that I don’t ‘think about’ are in fact a roadmap to the deeper nature of my soul.

If I would learn to master my reactions, I must first learn to understand myself.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, March 9, 2018

Morning Reflection: Giving yourself permission to let go.

Giving yourself permission to let go.

Humanity comes with a price – awareness, sentience, choice. Each of us holds that precious balance between what we could do, and what we choose to do. Often we have our own set of rules, that we have adopted from that which we have observed, and that which we have decided for ourselves.

In short, we have a definition of ourselves that dictates who we are, how we behave, and often even how we feel.

But sometimes, these self-rules prevent us from acting in our own self interests, especially when it comes to letting go of old self-beliefs.

When I am coaching with someone, and they use the phrase “I am” followed by a definition, I will often explore with them that definition, so that they may come to a greater knowledge of themselves.

You would be surprised the number of times that we find out that a self definition, especially one that is preventing progress, was created after a painful interaction with a parent, a spouse or a friend. These definitions can create pain, heartache and sadness for many years, even if that definition has no basis in reality.

An example would be the woman who thinks she is overweight, because a well meaning but poorly executing parent tells her that she needs to lose “just a few pounds’. Another example would be a man who was told as a teenager that he would ‘always be a problem’ and has adopted that belief into his soul and so acts accordingly.

Or maybe it’s the parent who is blinded by their expectation of what “should be” and who instead misses out on all that they actually do have with their children.

If, in your self-reflection, you find that you have some of these difficult self definitions, I invite you today to question them, and see if this is something that you can let go.

Letting go does not make you a bad person, nor does it make you ungrateful to a person who may have been trying to help.

It simply means that you are using your sentience, your awareness and your power to choose to determine your own future, and travel down your own pathway in the way that you feel best reflects the truth of your being.

If all you are waiting for is permission to become who you know you really are, then this is your permission slip.

Be kind, know yourself and become.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Morning Reflection: Each day, sometimes each hour, brings change.

Each day, sometimes each hour, brings change.

I love spring and fall. While winter and summer have their attractions, for me there is nothing better than a crisp spring or fall morning. In spring, we see life affirming its strength, as new things grow and prepare to make our world a better, brighter and more beautiful place. In fall, we see life affirming its wisdom, as it changes to prepare to endure the harsh winter and begin again in the spring.

In self examination, I realize that I like these two seasons most of all because they represent transition, movement, progression. It is much the same for me in an airport or a train station. The feeling of freedom, newness; a future always beckoning me onwards.

But I also find that I focus too easily on the next, the new or the novelty, and lose my focus of this moment, now, today.

Yet there are also changes that I dislike. A new wrinkle or a new gray hair in my beard. Signs that indicate changes I can’t control.

The truth is that change is a constant, but we only like the changes that we want. We don’t like the changes that in some way threaten our core needs.

The more I come to accept that I cannot control all the changes, the more I am able to focus my energy and intention onto the areas of my life that I can control. The less I allow the small changes to bother me, the less time I spend wasting my emotional energy on activities that do not benefit me.

When time is your currency, focus your wealth, and energy your power, choose to spend them in a deep, determined and disciplined manifestation of all that you CAN change, and spend less time worrying about that which you cannot.

It is said that time is a healer, but it is also your helper.

Spend your time today in pursuit of your greatest you. You won’t regret it.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Morning Reflection: How do you balance gratitude

How do you balance gratitude?

Yesterday morning I stepped outside to get the mail. It was a beautiful morning, and although it was cold, the sun shone brightly and the world seemed at peace.

I have read enough history to know that in the history of the entire human race, I am very blessed. To be where I am, at this time, in this place, in my circumstances…a large percentage of humanity that has ever existed would consider me very fortunate, and trade places with me in a moment.

Yet I find that I struggle with gratitude, because there is in my core an ambition growling that nothing I have achieved is even remotely enough. I’m not sure what “enough” would be, but I know I don’t feel that I am even close to being there.

And I realize that I am ungrateful, and I struggle to change.

I seek to find a balance, some internal awareness that can be thankful, and at that moment allow myself to find joy in where I am at, yet still maintain a desire to become more.

I have come so very far from where I started, both in life and in geography. I have, in most aspects, eclipsed the probable outcomes of my birth.

I have been helped along the way, of that there is no question, but I question the level of gratitude I feel regarding that help. I think that, in some way, being grateful for help is linked in my mind to not being enough, that I am ashamed for having needed help, that I was insufficient.

Even writing these words I see the inconstancy behind them, but who ever said that we, as humans, are paragons of consistency? It may be said of us that our constant inconsistency is what separates us from machines.

So today, I ask of you, how do you balance gratitude with ambition? Does gratitude come easily to you, or do you, like me, recognize that you have very far to go in reaching a grateful state of being?

I would welcome your thoughts today. Your wisdom could help my struggle.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Morning Reflection: How do you know when it’s time to walk away?

How do you know when it’s time to walk away?

Have you ever had to walk away from someone? Unfortunately, this happens to most of us at some point in our lives. We have the misfortune to find someone who is so toxic to us that there is no middle ground, no way to breach the gulf between us.

No matter how hard we try, there is no explanation that will magically unlock their understanding, and bring into balance the interactions between us.

It may be due to their extreme emotional needs, or a wound to their self image that has never healed, or it may just be that their understanding of how the world works is so fundamentally different from our own that for our emotional self protection we have to disengage and depart.

Often we will feel some measure of guilt for this. That is natural, especially if you are the kind of person who tries very hard to be compassionate to the feelings of others.

But sometimes, you just have to walk away. From the person, from the drama, from the emotional battery that accompanies their presence in your life.

Walking away does not make you a bad person. When you have honestly tried, and there is still no balance that works for you, then you have the right to protect yourself.

Too often, in an attempt to try to heal a previous relationship, we persist in a current one far too long, hoping at a deep subconscious level that we can somehow put right what once went wrong.

When the time comes, the kindest thing you can do is just walk away. For you, for them, a clean break is often the best. Give yourself time to mourn the loss of what you hoped this could be, but don’t spend your time dwelling on the past.

You only have a finite time here, so use the time that you have in the best way possible.

Be kind to yourself, and find the balance that allows you to be kind to others.

And you can find peace.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, March 5, 2018

Morning Reflection: What would you do after you had all the money in the world?

What would you do after you had all the money in the world?

A very wise man once asked me this question. He said that the key to happiness was deciding what you really wanted to do, and doing that.

He taught me a question that I have asked many other people since first learning of it.

Imagine you had enough money to do whatever you wanted. You had traveled to everywhere you wanted to go, and purchased everything you wanted, and there was still time left over in your life.

What would you spend your time on?

That is your passion, your mission, and your soul.

For me, I realized that helping people was the thing that brings me most joy. Were it possible, I would spend a good portion of each day coaching with people, helping them through their problems, their fears, their heartaches and their lives. It’s what brings me the most joy and happiness, and it’s when my soul feels most alive.

For you the answer is probably different, and that’s ok. The purpose of life is to find your purpose, and then live your life so that you can live your purpose as completely, honestly, truthfully and compassionately as you can.

You have today, but no guarantee of tomorrow.

Purpose. Find it, live it, love it.


-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, March 2, 2018

Morning Reflection: What do you do when you are out of balance?

What do you do when you are out of balance?

This week has been tough for me, in that I have had so many competing concerns that I don’t really feel like I’ve given proper attention to anything, except writing my reflections.

But even that has been challenging, as I have struggled to find the right words, sometimes even the right topics for each day. I have probably spent more time staring at the screen in frustration than actually writing, and more time writing reflections that I have eventually erased than I have working on the ones that have made it onto the page.

As I reflect on the truth of my life right now, I find that I am out of balance. My meditation practice this week has been neglected, my personal development has been less focused, and my spiritual life has been given less priority than it should.

In short, I have spent too much time on meeting demands instead of nourishing my dreams, and far too much time focused on my fears, instead of strengthening my foundation.

I constantly struggle with putting my needs before the needs of others. Do you do this?

Partly this is out of a desire to serve, to make a difference. Partly this is out of fear that if I stop giving to others, I will lose those connections as I will no longer be of any worth to them.

But mostly, it is because somewhere in my childhood I generated the belief that I am not important, and that I only have worth when giving to others.

And that belief leads to a loss of balance.

While the needs of others are important, I have to realize that I too am worthy of my compassion, my concern and my caring.

Caring for others, out of a misguided belief that I have little to no worth, hinders my ability to enlarge my soul and progress into the person I am trying to become.

So I struggle everyday to find the right balance, but I know that I must get back to my foundational behaviors if I am to have a stable platform on which to progress.

How do you balance yourself when you are not in alignment?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Morning Reflection: How do you find your truths?

How do you find your truths?

Absolute truth is in short supply in this universe. Many of the truths we cling to are not as certain as we would like them to be. Often, our ‘truth’ is rooted in our hopes, faith, dreams, desires, needs, wants and fears.

Frequently, the truth that we seek is inside of us, but it may be that we don’t see it yet. Many of us have discovered self truths by accident, and occasionally by intent.

Sometimes, the ‘truths’ that we cling to about ourselves are nothing more than mistaken childhood beliefs carried into adulthood because we never question them.

I have found great benefit in asking questions of myself.

But in doing so, I have to be willing to accept the answers that I receive, even when they are scary, painful, and overwhelming.

I have found that being able to suspend judgment, fear and doubt through meditation has enabled me to ask myself questions, and then wait patiently for my mind to supply me with answers.

When a potential answer comes, I feel how it resonates within my soul. This is a difficult process, but when I truly give my mind permission to reveal truth unto me, I find that answers will flow, and from that process, a new direction and understanding will emerge.

Today, I invite you to discover more of your own truths. In quiet meditation, ask yourself the questions that you wish to have answered, then sit without judgment and explore the inspiration that comes to you.

In the quiet times, the beauty of the soul opens to reveal the truths of your existence and destiny.

May you find your way, and live it well.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Morning Reflection: Do you struggle being kind to yourself?

Do you struggle being kind to yourself?

Over the years of my journey into self awareness, I think I have slowly become kinder to others. I have always tried to treat other people well regardless of how I feel about them, but deep in my heart there was often judgment instead of compassion, and coldness where there could have been warmth.

But the further I have walked into my journey of awareness, the greater a depth of compassion I have found for people. I can see, or at least I think I can see, why they sometimes behave in ways that are not their best selves.

Like someone who cannot keep a secret, who is in actuality lonely and looking for ways to connect; or a person who only contacts me when they need something but who is really suffering from a deep well of personal insignificance; or another person who continually grasps at money even though they have sufficient for their needs but who is actually seeking to fill a deep personal wound of feeling less than everyone else.

As I see their patterns, and I understand how their wounds precipitate their actions, I find that I am moved by compassion to have less frustration at their behaviors, and instead a greater patience and willingness to forgive.

This is still hard for me, but I can say with honesty that I am getting better at being kinder to other people.

Yet I still struggle immensely with self kindness, and self compassion. Behaviors I can forgive in others are ones that I condemn myself for. The peace which I am able to help others achieve seems much harder to find for myself.

In short, I am my harshest critic, and my greatest source of condemnation.

But I have begun to find ways through this.

As I examine my own self stories, I have found ways to interject compassionate self talk into my judgments, and realize some small measure of change in the way that I see myself.

While there is still frustration, there is sometimes compassion; while there is still anger, sometimes there is love; while there is still a fervent desire to move forward to achieve what I believe I am capable of, there is occasionally a willingness to allow myself to rest.

Ultimately, peace is found through self acceptance, self compassion, and self love. If you are struggling with this, please don’t give up.

You are worth far more than you feel about yourself, and I truly believe that you have a part to play in our ongoing progression.

Be kind to yourself, and give yourself the gift of compassion.

You are worth it.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Morning Reflection: What does your heart tell you?

What does your heart tell you?

The quality of our life resides in the quality of our choices. When I look back at my life, I find that I have chosen well in some things, and in others, I have chosen in a way that did not support my highest aspirations.

A common thread throughout my poorer choices has been an element of fear. When fear distorts my decisions, I find myself choosing the path that leads to less joy, happiness and satisfaction.

But in trying to understand myself, I have come to a realization that the most serious choices are usually the ones that start with what to think. It has taken me many years to accept the truth that no matter the situation, I have a choice in what to think about it.

One of the truths I have tried to incorporate into my life is that ‘it’s never the event, it’s the meaning we give to it’. In any situation, we actually have a choice as to how we interpret those events.

When my eldest son was born, we discovered a few hours after his birth that he would require open heart surgery to correct a congenital defect that otherwise could kill him.

At the time, I was devastated. A million thoughts went through my head, and honestly, a lot of those were along the lines of “why me, why us, why this”. Those ‘feelings’ were raw emotion expressed out of negative thoughts left unchecked in my heart, and did not serve me.

I spent years, many years, feeling like we had been poorly treated by the universe, and this feeling colored so many of my choices and understandings.

Now, some two decades later, I have reached an understanding that really, we were very lucky. His condition, while serious, was uncomplicated, and he has thrived and is doing very well.

Even though I would rather not have gone through the circumstances of his birth, I can choose to feel gratitude for the positives aspects of his condition, for the wonderful service of the medical teams who kept him alive and made him well, and for the support of family, friends and even strangers who lifted us when we were down, and carried us when we could not carry ourselves.

The hardest truth is that even my feelings are a choice, unless I decide to give up my ability to choose, and just “follow my heart”.

When I started this reflection with “What does your heart tell you”, most people probably thought this was going to be a post about following your heart, but it’s not. Your ‘heart’ is really the sum of all of your needs, wants, desires and dreams, but it’s also the repository for all of your fears, unmet needs, traumas and tears.

Unless you have walked though the deeper truths of your soul, following your heart is often a continuation of the pain and misunderstandings of yesterday, left unchecked and unrestrained so that those feelings can affect and alter your todays and tomorrows.

Follow your heart, but only when you are sure that your heart is full of truth, not error; love not hate; gratitude not selfishness; kindness not chaos.

Balance your heart, and you will live with a greater sense of gratitude and wonder.

And you can know peace.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, February 26, 2018

Morning Reflection: My ‘truths’ are found in my reactions

My ‘truths’ are found in my reactions.

It’s been 30 years since I began my journey into self awareness and understanding. At age 17, I began to be aware that I was acting in ways that were not in my best interests.

While I was engaged in these behaviors, there was always a voice in the back of my head, asking me why I was acting in such a way. I have spent years trying to understand my reasons for the choices that I make, both good (choices that empower me) and bad (choices that disempower me).

I think after 30 years I have learned some things. At this time in my life, I less frequently ‘act’ in a way that is not ‘good’, but I find that sometimes I ‘fail to act’ in a way that could be good for me.

When this occurs, I try to discover the reasons behind my inaction, so that I might find a pathway forwards into ‘good’ actions. This type of self reflection is slow, because often times the answers are shrouded in pain/misunderstandings that may be obvious to others, but are not so obvious to me.

I have found that, for myself, the greatest leaps in self understanding come when I find the time and courage to question my reactions.

I consider ‘actions’ to be emotions or behaviors that are the result of a thoughtful, careful examination of possible choices and outcomes, followed by a decision to balance my considered response within my value structure.

‘Reactions’, on the other hand, are the result of an immediate emotional response that is not modulated or controlled, nor necessarily with reference to any decision about the possible outcomes.

Reactions are when I am ‘feeling not thinking’.

Reactions are guideposts to the emotions that drive me. Reactions are not necessarily bad. Some reactions are good, some are not so good.

When I find myself reacting in a way that is not in keeping with my highest aspirations, I find that a thoughtful, careful and honest evaluation of the emotions behind the reaction can lead me to a greater understanding—a deeper awareness. This awareness gives direction to my journey of self discovery, but is it not an easy pathway to walk.

But there is great value in learning to understand myself. How else can I find peace, and help others find peace, if I am not willing to work through my own confusions and misunderstanding?

Peace is the emotion we feel when all other emotions are balanced and at rest.

Peace is found in the absence of negative reactions.

What are some of your reactions?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, February 23, 2018

Morning Reflection: We are all searching for our own peace

We are all searching for our own peace.

It is often said that we have to be kind, because everyone is fighting their own battle. While I agree that each battle is different, I have come to believe that all of us are, in the end, searching for the same thing.

Peace. Stillness. That feeling when you can rest, with a sense of comfort that things are in balance, and that you are on your path. Situations may not be perfect, and relationships may have their problems, but in that moment, the heart feels at one with the eternities, and a quiet comfort distills into the soul.

Recently, as I work with people trying to break through their own barriers into a greater level of peace, I have come to realize that for each of us, the equation that brings us peace is different. Just as we all have our own balance of the 6 human needs, we all have our own way of meeting and interpreting those needs.

I have been led to an understanding as to why humility is of paramount importance. How many of us can say as we enter into a discussion, a relationship or an encounter, that we take nothing of our own ego into the communication? Sometimes it is difficult to allow the other person’s definition of peace to work for them. Left unchecked, I find myself subconsciously trying to influence their desires with my own recipe for peace, and vice versa. I try to guard against this constantly.

What greater respect can we give another human being than to allow them the freedom to discover their own truth for balance in the universe? What greater disservice can we give them than to attempt, even with the best of intentions, to influence them to agree with us, and to demand of the universe the things which make us happy, but not necessarily them?

Consciousness is singular, and so are the ingredients for balance in the soul. The greatest gift I can give you, is to allow you to find your own path, your own truth, your own peace.

I strive to give that gift every day.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Morning Reflection: My failure is not my finish

My failure is not my finish.

How do you know when you’ve actually failed? Life is an exam where every day is a new sheet of paper, where the rules are mostly in your head, and where failure is often an arbitrary standard rather than a specific demarcation in your destiny.

Failure, it seems, is often more about how we decide to interpret our feelings against a backdrop of beliefs and a deluge of decisions. Too often we often shape these events into an outcome fitting our fears rather than a fire fueling our faith.

Many of life’s successes were built on the back of supposed failures. Because someone decided that a supposed failure was “not the end”, we have the post-it note. Because Winston Churchill would not accept failure, the British nation was able to rise from the ashes of Dunkirk and survive and thrive. Because he determined that his election defeat did not define him, Jimmy Carter went on from his loss to become better known as a giving, caring and loving human being.

Whatever you believe your supposed failures are, today is another chance to try. While you can’t rewrite the past, you still get to determine, in some way, how you live the rest of your future.

Failure, if indeed it is failure, is not final. It’s merely another stepping stone, a chance to learn, a time for growth.

Fail your way to success.

And you can find peace.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Morning Reflection: You only have this moment.

You only have this moment.

In 2017, to celebrate losing 130 pounds, I faced one of my biggest fears and went skydiving. A powerful lesson I learned that day has stuck with me.

Life is fragile, but you have to live it to enjoy it.

When I decided to go skydiving, I knew I would be scared, and yet I did it anyway. I wanted to push myself, to do something so out of character for me that it would change my life forever.

That moment happened at around 10,000 feet. As I sat in a small bumpy plane, I felt a storm of emotions. I was terrified, knowing that in a few minutes I was going to be jumping out of that plane and risking my life in the pursuit of some elusive ideal. With a cold sensation coursing through my veins, it became suddenly real. Very, very real.

I could die here today.

Realistically, I knew it was unlikely. Statistically it was very safe, yet there was still the possibility of it happening, and that small possibility was enough to scare me to a point of terror and make me think about backing out. But then everything changed.

As I looked at the other 3 jumpers in the plane, I realized with a sudden absolute certainty that there was no way I wasn’t jumping, because I was in front of the door, blocking everyone else. If I refused, in all likelihood they would throw me out anyway.

There was no way back – this was happening.

And then it all changed. As my brain encountered the raw, unfiltered truth of what was about to come to pass, I realized that since I couldn’t stop it, there was no point in worrying about it. I couldn’t change the outcome now, all worrying would do was spoil any enjoyment of the moment that I could find.

So I decided to just enjoy it, to live it, to celebrate all the changes in my life that had led me to celebrate the accomplishment of losing so much weight and enjoy the sensation of weightlessness.

And from that moment on, it was an amazing experience. As we tumbled out of the plane and reached a stable position, I felt a glorious, awe inspiring and life affirming feeling of joy, gratitude and celebration.

This was life, and I was living it. Yes it was scary, yes it was tough and yes, it could still go wrong, but I had chosen to face my fears and participate in life in a way that pushed me out of comfort zone and into a new life.

And it was glorious.

Wherever you are today, please live your life. Yes, it may be scary and yes, it could go wrong, but you have today, now, this moment. Live it as fully as you can, embracing all the good you can do in the world, and be the person you were meant to be.

My hope for you today is that you will fully live your life, with gratitude for who you are and with courage to become all that you can yet be.

Live life, feel gratitude and celebrate peace.

And become.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Morning Reflection: An elusive sense of peace

An elusive sense of peace.

In my youth, I craved excitement, adventure, the new, the fast, the different. As I have grown, my desires have changed, as I search for calmness, a wider perspective, a more balanced alignment of my soul.

Yet peace is elusive, and I think I am beginning to understand why. It may be that my requirements for peace are driven by my ego, and not by a sense of reality.

Growing up in a somewhat dysfunctional home, I developed a sense that in order to find peace, I had to have control over everything. Chaos was an ever frequent visitor, and as a child, chaos robbed me of one of my needs, a need for certainty.

In my quest for control, I learned several skills, or behaviors, that sustained me as a child, but as an adult have caused pain for myself and those around me.

I learned to withdraw from uncertainty, which creates strain in my relationships as I fail to open up, be honest and share my true feelings.

I learned to manipulate people; to change their actions towards me in an effort to protect myself. This is something I desperately try to avoid as an adult, yet I find myself doing this as a reflex and I wonder if people really like me, or the manipulations that they see affected in my day to day behaviors. This creates a profound sense of uncertainty.

I learned that in order to achieve peace, I had to avoid risk, which has resulted in massive pain for myself and my family as I wasted almost a decade of my life working in a situation which did not benefit us.

I learned to live with the pain of not living my purpose, trading a potential but uncertain future for a certain but painful now.

As an adult, I continue to struggle with these child-formed beliefs of control, which are fantasies not realities. This behavior continually deprives me of a possible sense of peace, one that is rooted in faith rather than fear, courage rather control, and possibility rather than perfectionism.

Peace, I have found, is far more elusive than I had imagined.

And it is a difficult journey.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, February 19, 2018

Morning Reflection: The difficult dichotomy of Jekyll and Hyde

The difficult dichotomy of Jekyll and Hyde.

All of us have the capacity for good, and a capacity to act in ways that are more painful and destructive. The truth of our lives is how we navigate the two, the balance that we create.

Why are we sometimes able to be such good, caring, kind and considerate people, only then to act later in a way that is destructive to ourselves and those around us, even those whom we profess to love?

In working with people, I have come to the conclusion that the part of us that acts in ways that are destructive arises out of an imbalance of our needs, and an inability to see into ourselves. As I have written before, the truths of ourselves are often shrouded in pain, which is hard to confront and even harder to control.

And sometimes, they are buried so deep that we are unaware of them, yet they create such a pull on us that we are drawn into emotions and behaviors that are not in alignment with our highest aspirations.

All of us, however far along our journey of enlightenment, need the assistance of others to help us see the truths of ourselves that escape our awareness. While reflection and meditation can help us to learn deep truths about who we are, oftentimes the kind observations of a caring friend can allow us to open new paths of understanding into our deepest soul.

In my own journey, I seek to balance the wounds of my soul with the peace and happiness I find in helping others. The more I serve, the less my soul cries out for its own needs, and I find a peaceful balance that brings me joy, and sets my feet on a pathway of peace.

Balance is the key. I just wish it were easier.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, February 16, 2018

Morning Reflection: Failure is not an option, it is a requirement

Failure is not an option, it is a requirement.

Often as I talk with people about their goals, dreams and aspirations, the concept of failure is the quiet unspoken monster lurking behind their words. What happens if I try and it doesn’t work out? What would people say about me, how will I feel?

The fear of failure has killed more dreams and stifled more aspirations than actual failure ever has. In my life, I have allowed fear of failure to enslave me and prevent me from trying and achieving.

But it’s rarely the actuality of failure that we are afraid of. That’s simply something “not working out”. What we fear is what that failure would ‘mean about us’, and how it would affect our sense of significance and worth.

Where did this harmful and destructive belief come from? Anyone who has ever become great at anything has failed many times over. Why don’t we celebrate the effort, the intent, the willingness to risk and the acceptance of the possibility of things not working out?

Because we are afraid of judgment, both others and our own.

Because somewhere in our societal evolution, we accepted the lie that not achieving some arbitrary standard said something about who we are as a person.

Because we ourselves have adopted the falsehood that our worth is measured by what we achieve.

How would your life be different if you built failure into your plans? I am trying to do this now. As I evolve through my journey, I am beginning to plan for failure, which is just simply things ‘not working out’.

If I plan for things to not work out, then I can accept that risk easier, knowing that it doesn’t say anything about me, but is simply a reflection of the reality that things can go wrong, and sometimes do.

Changing ‘failure’ to ‘not working out’ is a small shift of language, but a powerful release of energy into the channel of your dreams and aspirations.

How has this fear held you back, and what can you change with this small understanding?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Morning Reflection: When you can’t explain the pain that you feel.

When you can’t explain the pain that you feel.

Sometimes, there are no words to adequately express the things we feel. How do you describe the agony of losing your first love, of your first significant public embarrassment, or of shame when you realize that you have let yourself down?

How do you describe the overwhelming feeling of happiness when you truly, madly and deeply love another person beyond all understanding?

Language, it seems, is insufficient to fully explain our emotions. Poets craft with words, singers with songs and artists with paint and canvas… but usually we fall short.

Often when I am coaching with someone, we reach a point beyond which they are unable to vocalize their feelings about a certain event in the past or express their fears of what could come in the future. As though the ability to explain has been taken from them, they hesitate, stutter and often fail to even briefly explain the thoughts and feelings that they encounter in their soul.

These are known as mind blocks, but I choose to think of then more as soul barriers. Often the truth behind these barriers is wrapped in pain, and is usually originally experienced in childhood, where our reasoning is limited, and our vulnerability amplifies the intensity of the pain.

Such painful emotions are not coded in language, but in sensations and images. The feeling part of our brain uses no words, but the part of our brain that tries to understand these feelings uses language to make sense of things.

And so the disconnect is born, and we have to painfully drag out these emotions, and examine them through the lens of language, so that we might pick out the falsehoods that accompany these sensations and images, and lay them to rest.

The next time you feel afraid, angry, sad, threatened or any other unwanted emotion, try to explain as clearly as possible why you feel that way. The answers may surprise you.

For practice, try explaining the emotions that the picture accompanying my words evokes. Share your description if you feel so inclined.

This process of explaining emotions is hard, but worthwhile. Unresolved pain creates more barriers to peace than anything else I have encountered.

The journey of self awareness is a long road, but the destination is a place of wonder.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Morning Reflection: A desire to be seen.

A desire to be seen.

Someone very dear to me once told me that being loved was having someone “notice you, so the passing of your days meant something, and didn’t just disappear into obscurity”. Another dear friend offered the perspective that love was a peaceful haven in the midst of an impersonal and uncaring universe.

I would suggest that love is “how you spend your soul”.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, I would ask you how you are “spending your soul”? Are you waiting, hoping and longing for someone to notice you so that you have someone with whom you can share? Are you meagerly withholding love as a protection to your heart, or as revenge for past deeds and failures.

Love is the strangest emotion, in that the harder you give it, the greater your capacity to feel it grows. Ultimately, love is the most uplifting and purifying emotion, when it arises from a deep and overwhelming concern for the welfare of another.

In its truest form, love moves us to care outside of ourselves, and make the world a better place.

Today, please be aware of those who live without the love that they desire, and share some of your love with them. In spending some of your soul with another, you will find peace, happiness and enlightenment as you transcend your own concerns, and give without taking, and love without losing.

Who are you loving today?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Morning Reflection: The truth will set you free, but first you have to find it.

The truth will set you free, but first you have to find it.

As human beings, we use stories in our heads to explain our experiences. The story of our childhood, the story of our relationship, the story of why something didn’t work out or why we can’t achieve something.

But how often are those stories true?

As a parent, I’ve had to try to talk to my two wonderful boys about something that happened, and marveled at how they have two very different stories about why something got broken, or why a disagreement started. It’s instinctive as a child, and often still as an adult, to create a story in our mind that reflects what we want to have happened or to happen, rather than what did, or what could.

Stories are so very powerful because once they are told, we rarely go back to examine their veracity. They are accepted as truth, and we live our lives from the meanings we draw from them.

When was the last time you questioned the stories that you tell yourself in your head? The more I examine the truth of my own stories, I find meanings that enable me to justify my actions, live in my comfort zone and sometimes justify my continued bad opinion of another.

If we are not careful, we find ourselves writing the stories in our heads to meet our 6 human needs, but not in a way that positively encourages our growth.

Today, I invite you to reflect on the deepest stories that you tell yourself, and see if they are really true, or shaded to protect you and limit your vulnerability.

The more adept you becoming at seeing the real truth behind the stories you tell yourself, the greater self knowledge you will achieve, and the more at peace you will feel.

Know yourself, accept yourself, live yourself, and find peace.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, February 12, 2018

Morning Reflection: Healing by Serving

Healing by serving.

All of us have injuries to our soul in one form or another. For some, it may be due to a difficult childhood, an abusive spouse, or a sudden and catastrophic loss of a part of our life that can never be recovered.

Others may have wounds that are ‘self-inflicted’, from an unwise choice, a momentary lapse in judgment, or a desire to meet a need that spirals into a history of bad choices leading to broken dreams.

No one escapes pain in this life, and no one gets to live without hardship, difficulty and struggle.

There is rarely a ‘way out’ of these situations, but there is often a way ‘through’.

If we are prepared to live it.

I recently asked a mentor of mine how I could move beyond where I am at in a certain aspect of my life. His answer touched me with a simple truth.

“Try to serve at a higher level’.

When we move from surviving to serving, we move from fear to fearlessness. When we dedicate ourselves to a greater cause than our own comfort, our pain and sadness can often be swallowed up in a servant heart, willing to bear our burden for the sake of others. When the hardships of life are viewed through a prism of hope, we encounter a sublime truth that can elevate our soul beyond its current engagement into a higher evolution.

We learn that often, our suffering is only such because of the way we interpret it. Suffering viewed through selfishness produces pain, while hardship viewed through the hope of helping others lifts us out of ourselves, and into a higher order of living.

Today, I invite you to find lift your heart through service, especially if that service stretches you beyond your current comfort into a greater giving.

Service is the pathway to peace, the decision through your difficulties, and the surest way I know to strengthen your heart to bear hardships with happiness.

Serve where you stand, and soon you will stand higher.

How may I serve you today?

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, February 9, 2018

Morning Reflection: I gave, even though it wasn’t enough

I gave, even though it wasn’t enough.

Last night, after a long work day, I stopped to pick up a milkshake for my son who is sick. Through the window of the drive through, I saw something that stopped me cold.

A man sitting at a table on the other side of the restaurant was rubbing his hands. Repeatedly, fervently, agitated and uncontrollable. His appearance was unkempt, and he seemed uncertain of who or where he was. In those few brief seconds of vision, I could begin to see the difficulties that his life held.

My snap diagnosis was either mental illness, or some kind of cognitive deficit. In that moment, I felt an overwhelming sadness envelop me, as I pictured the life that this poor man has. For him, each day is a struggle. Not to achieve the shining heights of his ambitions, but to survive in a world that is confusing, difficult and often cruel.

As I pulled away from the drive through window, I suppressed the urge to cry for this poor man. I asked my wife, who had seen my sadness, “how do we make it right, how do we balance this”? The scope of the problem seemed overwhelming.

But in the moment that I asked her, I realized a powerful truth. That too often, I have done nothing because it seemed that anything would not be enough, and that fate itself would laugh at my small effort.

And so I rebelled. I rebelled against the despair that tried to hold me down. I rebelled against my ego that wanted to protect me from feeling uncomfortable. I rebelled against the voice in my head that told me I was trying to hold back the tide with my bare hands. In that moment, I rebelled against suffering, pain, sadness and hopelessness.

And I did something. I asked her for the $10 bill that we had just received in change. She gave it to me, and added the free sandwich gift card that we had also been given. I pulled out of the drive through, and back towards the front of the restaurant.

As I saw him again through the window, my original diagnosis seemed to hold up.

I stopped the car, and with a deep breath entered the door and walked over to him.

In a brief dialogue, I told him that I wanted to give him the $10 and the gift card. I told him that he was my “good deed” for the day. He stared at me, unsure as to why this stranger was giving him money in the midst of a fast food restaurant.

Truth is, I’m still not sure why I did it either.

But something in me, some part of my soul, connected with him in a way that I cannot express.

I realize that what I did will not change his life. I’m not sure what would. I was probably trying to hold back the tide.

But for one moment, in one brief intersection of two human beings, I acted in defiance of all that seeks to debase our existence. I can’t change too much of the world right now, but I can make small changes to help someone else have a day that is a little brighter, a night a little warmer, and a life just a little bit happier.

I don’t tell you this for my gain. I tell you this to ask for your help. Today, please find someone, anyone, who is suffering, and try to make their lives just that little better.

The universe can be cruel, hurtful, deceitful and unkind. My mission is to try, in whatever way I can, to alter that.

And I need your help.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Morning Reflection: Are you addicted to this?

Are you addicted to this?

As I look around in the world, I see more and more people suffering from addictions. Some are addicted to drugs, both prescription and illegal; some are addicted to status with their brand labels and designer tags; some are addicted to their electronic worlds which provide endless distraction often at the expense of value.

But most of all, I see addiction to certainty.

People like certainty. It provides a buffer against the chaos of the universe, but it also provides protection against possibilities. The possibility of being wrong, the possibility of being hurt, the possibility that things are not as you believe them to be.

We like certainty because it feels good. Calming. Comfortable. Controlled.

But certainty addiction can also create blockages on the pathway to peace. Being unwilling to let go of a certainty, and embrace possibility, is often the greatest blockage to truth. Truths that are now accepted were once taken as heresy. Things we are certain of today will eventually be shown to be wrong.

I invite you to become comfortable with uncertainty. Know less, listen more. Only with an open mind, and a heart willing to listen, can you progress beyond where you are at.

This does not mean that you have to change who you are. Rather, be willing to listen to an opposing point of view with honest sincerity; be willing to examine your own views before trying to break down those of another.

Above all, be willing to give up your certainty about who you are, and instead embrace who you can become. When you learn to identify with principles rather than labels, your life and service will change.

Trees survive the storm, because they are rooted but flexible. Certainty is stiffness, being willing to trust and become comfortable with uncertainty is flexibility.

Flexibility is growth, and growth is peace.
-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Morning Reflection: Malignant does not necessarily mean malicious

Malignant does not necessarily mean malicious.

I wrote yesterday about how we sometimes maintain psychological relationships with those who have died, and how those relationships can be a source of strength and/or pain, depending on the nature of the relationship.

But it has become clear to me that sometimes, as a result of a ‘fear of speaking ill of the dead’, we shy away from truly understanding the effect that an ongoing psychological relationship with someone who has passed on can have in our lives. (This can also be true for those who are still living, but I’ll write about that another day).

Somehow, we may feel that admitting the truth that someone who has passed on either had, or still has, a malignant effect in our lives, is disrespectful and unkind. Rather than behave in a way that we feel is wrong, we shy away from examining and making peace within the relationship.

Today, I would invite you to reflect on the truth that malicious and malignant are not always synonymous. Just because someone had a malignant effect on your life doesn’t necessarily mean that they were a bad person.

In my life, there have been two people who have caused me great pain. I honestly believe that neither of them intended to.

Because of limitations of their own, caused by their own previous trauma and ongoing environmental and emotional issues, they caused and still in some aspects still cause me to feel pain and a lack of peace.

Recognizing that they are toxic to me is a start.

Recognizing that they did not intentionally hurt me helps me to release some of the pain and anger I feel in the ongoing psychological relationship.

Recognizing that I need to examine and make peace with their memory, and that I can do so without it being a negative statement about who they were/are as a person, allows me the freedom to truly go deeper into my soul, and make peace with the chaos I find there.

One day, I hope for the pain I feel to be swallowed up in my concern for those who may be causing me distress. This will only occur as I balance my needs, grow in humility and kindness, and practice daily the art of caring for others.

Malicious is not necessarily malignant. Accepting this truth can help you to find balance and peace now with those of your past, present and future.

It is my deepest wish for you to find peace, and then lead others to it.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Morning Reflection: The dead are never really gone from us.

The dead are never really gone from us.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of a phone conversation with a wonderful lady who was trying to work through a problem. She was willing to talk with me to see if I could offer a different perspective, and in a conversation that lasted over an hour, we were able to identify a possible cause of pain and resistance.

Together, we understood that although a family member of hers had passed on, she was still in a psychological relationship with that family member because of some of the things that were said and done by that person. The relationship was not a completely peaceful one, and even now, years after the person’s passing, was still affecting my friend deeply.

Over this last weekend, I was privileged to help another person, someone who has had a very hard time adapting to the death of a family member. As we talked together, she came to the realization that some of her deep anger and frustration was because of the loss of the way that family member had made her feel.

She had felt unconditional love from this family member, which was not necessarily what she felt from others in her family. As we talked, it became clear to us that a significant portion of her being ‘stuck’ in her anger was because of the loss of that unconditional love. Understanding this will hopefully help her process through this a little easier now.

This post was almost titled “The dead never leave us”. In truth, we maintain psychological relationships with those who have passed on, good or bad. They may be relationships that are a source of strength, or they may be relationships that continue to hurt us, even though the person is no longer actively hurting us. Mostly, these ongoing relationships are subconscious based, whispering to our souls in a language we understand, but fail to put into words in our conscious mind.

Understanding those relationships, and working through acceptance and forgiveness, can eventually lead us to a peaceful relationship with those who have gone before us. This can be a freeing, powerful and uplifting experience.

Although the dead may have gone onwards, they live in our hearts and especially in our minds.

I think I will write more about this tomorrow. There are things that need to be said and understood.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, February 5, 2018

Morning Reflection: The Eye in your Identity

The Eye in your Identity.

It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Truly a miracle, our eyes speak as loud, if not louder, than our words. Joy, pain, hatred, love; all of these are communicated to the outside world by the very thing that we use to see that world.

Unfortunately though, we don’t always trust what our eyes show us. Even though our vision shows us as we are, many of us suffer with a picture of ourselves that is not supported by the things that we actually see.

Why don’t we trust the picture in the mirror? Why do we see others as better, and ourselves as the perpetual underdog in a competition that exists nowhere outside of our minds?

Seeing is believing they say, but we seem to have a hard time believing what we see when it speaks to our value, our worth, our goodness.

Today, I’d like to invite you to see yourself as if from another’s perspective. To do this, strip away all the negative self beliefs that you have, and really focus on all of the good things that you could see about yourself, if you really wanted to.

If you will allow it, there will come a feeling of peace as you being to see yourself as a true reflection. The world tries endlessly to make you feel less than you can see.

But only when you see and understand that you are enough, will you be able to find a sense of calmness in your soul, and be able to reach out to others with everything you have.

Today, see you. The real you. See your goodness, see your love, see your worth.

And believe.
-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Friday, February 2, 2018

Morning Reflection: A Sacred Existence

A sacred existence.

Today, I invite you to pause, and reflect. Reflect upon the unbelievable opportunity that you have been given to be alive, now, here.

In the midst of all of life’s trials, tribulations, struggles and strife, there can come an overwhelming joy and happiness, if only you realize where you are.

While our planet, our world, has many occupants, it only has one of you. You are empowered with passion, power, potential and possibility.

If it has been a long time since you felt a sense of wonder at your existence, I invite you to consider that in all of time, in all the worlds, in every facet of reality that makes up this universe, you are here.

While here may be difficult, frightening, painful or lonely, please take a moment to look up and comprehend that our world, this sky, this ball of rock, these majestic oceans, are moving through a universe of unparalleled beauty, magnificence and grace.

And you are a part of it.

Your existence is sacred, because it is happening.

-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Morning Reflection: Question without judgment, question for progress.

Question without judgment, question for progress.

As I continue this journey into my heart, mind and soul, I realize that although I become more aware of my thoughts by questioning, even the questions I ask myself are often limiting.

These questions are often imbued with judgment, which in turn restricts my answers, and continues to create barriers to even the process of self examination.

In the beginning my questions were loaded with self loathing, in such terms as “why am I so stupid’, or my all time favorite ‘why does God hate me so much that he keeps doing this to me”. The former victimizes myself, and the latter takes solace in the palace of victimhood, wherein I cannot be expected to take any action because after all, someone else is to blame (anyone, as long as it was not me).

Eventually, my questions became more mature, and I came to an initial level of acceptance of who I was. My questions reflected this progression, by changing to a questions of why. “Why do I act this way?” or “Why do I have a pattern of this behavior?” Over time, as I became more adept at reading myself, I began to find answers, which inevitably led to more questions. From the wisdom of the Bene Gesserit (from the book ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert) we ultimately learn that it is how we navigate between our questions that determines our eventual destiny. Still, some of those questions are loaded with judgment, which in turns increases my burdens and slows my progression.

But now I feel that my questions are beginning to shift again. Now, along with the introspective Why, which still has so much value, I find myself starting to ask a new question, a question of process…How?

How do I make a difference in the world? How can I be a better servant? How can I lift others and use the talents and knowledge with which I have been entrusted?

For it is not sufficient to gain knowledge; I must apply that knowledge to gain wisdom.

How is process, how is growth. How forces me out of my comfort zone, where I have lived far too many years, and bids me take my place in the ever evolving future of possibility.

How makes me accept who I am, and assume the responsibility of who I can become.

How is powerful, how is scary.

How am I doing?
-- Dr. Alan Barnes

Monday, January 29, 2018

Morning Reflection: Who are you angry with?

Why I can’t let it go.

I had a revelation today, that answered a question I have been struggling with for a long time. Specifically, why do I remain angry at certain people in my life, and why can’t I let it go and move on?

I know that holding on to anger affects me negatively, and I try my best between meditation and life changes to release these feelings, but some stubbornly remain.

When I view anger at someone else through the lens of my 6 human needs, I find that it meets at least 3 of those needs. In being angry, I achieve my significance need by looking at the way I was treated, and feeling like a victim. But in addition, and this only came to me this weekend while teaching a class of 14 year olds who said that they struggle with forgiveness, I’ve realized that being angry at someone allows me to continue a relationship that for some reason I would like to perpetuate, even if the relationship was in some ways painful.

And further, I’ve realized that by being angry, it allows me to control the parameters of the ongoing relationship in a way that probably prevents me from being hurt again, which is a form of certainty.

So by not forgiving someone, I am able to supply my needs of certainty, significance and connection. It is said that any action that meets three of our needs will become an addiction if we do not take steps to control it.

So if I am to learn to more effectively forgive, I must learn to become self sufficient in my own needs.

And that is so much harder than I thought possible.

Who are you angry with?
-- Dr. Alan Barnes