My vow of silence—a radical experiment

When I decided to take a vow of silence for one year, I really meant it. I’m starting from scratch because I lost it last weekend. I just couldn’t control myself and I blurted. I am determined to practice silence for one year. This means that it is a conscious practice. I’m not just doing it as a novelty or a personal experiment.

I really believe that peace must start with me. It must. Peace doesn’t happen “out there.” It has to happen from within myself, because everything I perceive comes from my own mind.

I overlay my interpretations onto everything I experience. That means that the entire world originates from my own heart. If I see violence in the world, it must come from something inside me. That means I have to change it. It is my responsibility.

Last weekend I broke my vow of silence. It was a conscious choice. It was motivated by anger and fear. I admit it. I am a human-becoming-spirit-being. I know that by speaking angry words, it can only come back to me in the future.

I accept that I made a mistake and that I must move on with determination to perfect myself. Why? Because that is the only way I can create a world full of perfectly happy beings. I realize that this is a radical perspective that contradicts the worldview I was raised in and the worldview that the majority of people operate in. But this doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If I’m right – that peace starts with me – then I have to prove it to myself.

I am determined. This is not just a little experiment. It is a radical self-transformation motivated by the desire to change the world. My one-year vow of silence has been extended to September 22, 2013. And I will extend it for as long as I need to. I am learning.

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Whatever I Give, I Get Back a Thousandfold

A sketch gifted to me by Luez, El Salvadorian art professor, visiting and teaching in Guatemala City, September 2012

One morning I decided to meditate on offering objects of beauty to people and to the Earth. The very next day, I was sitting in a restaurant and noticed a man across from me who was making a pencil sketch on his place mat. He kept looking over at me, and I realized that he was using me as a model for his sketch. After I finished my meal, I walked over to the man, and he introduced himself as a visiting art professor from El Salvador. I commented on how beautiful his sketch turned out. It was the face of a young woman who resembled me in some ways, but many of her facial features looked much different from mine.

He then offered to give me the sketch as a gift, and at first I was hesitant to accept. It seemed like such a generous gift, considering that it took him at least an hour to complete the drawing. But I decided that not accepting it might offend him, so I smiled and accepted his gift with gratitude. I hung the sketch near my altar, and every time I see it, I am reminded that the intelligent universe always reciprocates.

Whatever I give, I get back a thousandfold. It is the law of the universe. Whatever I give to others, the universe always gives back to me.

Whatever I give, I get back a thousandfold.

A sketch gifted to me by Luez, El Salvadorian art professor, visiting and teaching in Guatemala City, September 2012

One morning I decided to meditate on offering objects of beauty to people and to the Earth. The very next day, I was sitting in a restaurant and noticed a man across from me who was making a pencil sketch on his place mat. He kept looking over at me, and I realized that he was using me as a model for his sketch. After I finished my meal, I walked over to the man, and he introduced himself as a visiting art professor from El Salvador. I commented on how beautiful his sketch turned out. It was the face of a young woman who resembled me in some ways, but many of her facial features looked much different from mine.

He then offered to give me the sketch as a gift, and at first I was hesitant to accept. It seemed like such a generous gift, considering that it took him at least an hour to complete the drawing. But I decided that not accepting it might offend him, so I smiled and accepted his gift with gratitude. I hung the sketch near my altar, and every time I see it, I am reminded that the intelligent universe always reciprocates.

Whatever I give, I get back a thousandfold. It is the law of the universe. Whatever I give to others, the universe always gives back to me.

If You Want Watermelons, You Have to Plant Watermelon Seeds

WatermelonsLast week a friend asked me to write a recommendation letter for her graphic design work. I was happy to recommend her, but I was busy with something else at the time I received her email. I was in the process of writing letters to editors of magazines where I wanted to publish some of my articles. I decided to put off writing my friend’s recommendation letter and finish my letters first.

But then I remembered the wise words of Geshe Michael Roach, one of my favorite teachers, “If you want something, you have to give it away to someone else first.”

I thought to myself, “I want to be noticed by magazine editors so that I can publish some of my articles.” In that moment, I realized that I wanted the same thing as my friend – to be noticed for a job well-done, and to then be offered a new job. I remembered my teacher’s metaphor, “If you want to grow watermelons in your garden, you have to plant watermelon seeds.”

I decided that instead of finishing my articles, I should drop my personal agenda for a while and spend an hour writing a recommendation letter for my friend. I thought, “If I plant the seed for my friend to get a job, then I will get “a watermelon in my garden” – an editor will notice me and offer me a writing job.

I wrote my friend’s recommendation letter and emailed it to her right away. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my watermelon seed sprouted and grew quickly. The next day, I checked my email and found a long response from a writer and editor whom I respect.

She had taken the time out of her busy life to read my website in detail and to provide positive, encouraging feedback. She offered to connect me with her professional network, and since then I have been able to publish articles in online venues that I didn’t have access to before.

Whatever I give to other people, I get back a thousandfold. This is the highest yoga. Thank you, and blessings to Geshe Michael for sharing this teaching with the world.

If you want watermelons, you have to plant watermelon seeds.

WatermelonsLast week a friend asked me to write a recommendation letter for her graphic design work. I was happy to recommend her, but I was busy with something else at the time I received her email. I was in the process of writing letters to editors of magazines where I wanted to publish some of my articles. I decided to put off writing my friend’s recommendation letter and finish my letters first.

But then I remembered the wise words of Geshe Michael Roach, one of my favorite teachers, “If you want something, you have to give it away to someone else first.”

I thought to myself, “I want to be noticed by magazine editors so that I can publish some of my articles.” In that moment, I realized that I wanted the same thing as my friend – to be noticed for a job well-done, and to then be offered a new job. I remembered my teacher’s metaphor, “If you want to grow watermelons in your garden, you have to plant watermelon seeds.”

I decided that instead of finishing my articles, I should drop my personal agenda for a while and spend an hour writing a recommendation letter for my friend. I thought, “If I plant the seed for my friend to get a job, then I will get “a watermelon in my garden” – an editor will notice me and offer me a writing job.

I wrote my friend’s recommendation letter and emailed it to her right away. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my watermelon seed sprouted and grew quickly. The next day, I checked my email and found a long response from a writer and editor whom I respect.

She had taken the time out of her busy life to read my website in detail and to provide positive, encouraging feedback. She offered to connect me with her professional network, and since then I have been able to publish articles in online venues that I didn’t have access to before.

Whatever I give to other people, I get back a thousandfold. This is the highest yoga. Thank you, and blessings to Geshe Michael for sharing this teaching with the world.

Journaling: A daily practice for self-awareness, health and wellness

This week I have become increasingly aware of ways that I can continue to release negativity from my thoughts, my home, and my relationship with my partner.

I cleaned up my altar space and rearranged the sacred objects. Almost instantly I noticed positive changes in my life.

I would like to share the journal process I use to reinforce positive, life-affirming truths and accomplish important goals. The STAR (Self-Administered Tool for Awareness and Relaxation) is a multidimensional model for spiritual growth and awakening based on the concept that “I create my own reality: Everything I experience originates from my own mind.”

Affirmations for this week from my STAR journal:

  • I practice radical self-responsibility.
  • I enjoy my husband’s company.
  • I publish blogs to share and help others.
  • I maintain a clean, sacred altar space.
  • My vow of silence creates peace around me.
  • I take walks to the park to appreciate nature.
  • The people I see around me are happy.

I identified realistic, short-term goals related to these affirmations. Here are some of the goals I accomplished this week:

  • Took a 45-minute walk every day to the park.
  • Reorganized my altar space and cleaned off sacred objects.
  • Contacted magazine editors about publishing my articles.

I made prayer cards based on these affirmations to focus my daily prayer on what is most important to me for my loved ones, the earth, and myself at this time.

Thank you for witnessing my STAR journal process. If you would like to learn how to use the STAR, please follow this blog for regular updates.