It’s not just luck

Even without catastrophes throwing us for a loop, it seems hard
enough to stay happy in an on-going way when everything is copacetic.
The little niggling things get people down more than disasters. And
if we think that contentment happens randomly—when we throw a
really good party, or only when our best qualities and the stars are all
properly aligned—then we feel helpless and at the mercy of external
forces. We try to woo happiness, grab it, hope it will be bestowed upon
us. All this maneuvering takes a lot of effort, expended in the wrong
The fact is that joy—feeling peaceful, happy, and filled with gratitude
at the beauty of life—does take work. The rigor of being attentive
to our own process in every moment is what uncovers, grows, and
sustains it. When we make a commitment to connect with our joy,
being sloppy in our mental habits becomes a luxury with too high
a price. We no longer can afford to fall unconsciously into old, selfdefeating
behaviors. We commit to being attentive of our perceptions
and attitude, of the world around us, and to working with our
Grounding and centering bring you back to your body in the
present, making an end run around your frayed, over-worked
thoughts. Grounding and centering base your present experience on
what is real—not what is seen through the lens of old beliefs, but on
your perceptions in the here-and-now. The more you return to your
bodily experience, the more you build a truthful definition of reality.
~~from chapter, “Joy Takes Work”

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How Centering Changes Your Life

To be life-affirming and experience-altering, centering needs to be
based on a belief that we are wonderful!
When they first truly center, people are often amazed to notice that
they feel grateful for what they have and who they are. As we continue
to practice, this sense of a full self builds into a solid core. We then
can experiment with a different response pattern, taking the stance
that we are fine, good, and wonderful, and behaving in line with that
conviction. This is a crucial step in uncovering joy and really changing
how we feel in our lives. Developing the habit of feeling ourselves, at
our core, to be valuable and good is the key to building a new personal
Our center continues to strengthen over time as we stop ourselves
from going down old, worn paths of self-blame, excessive apology, or
excuse-making—whatever our automatic artillery is. Then we must
insist on taking the stance that we are fine. We can then see what life
is like when standing in our “worthy” position, noticing new options
that appear—not just our old usuals. from chapter ‘Value Yourself Highly”

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When We’re Centered, We Remember Who We Really Are

“When we remember who we really are, we bring together the universal with the personal. Instead of becoming more disembodied or rigidly spiritual, we have a sense of humor about the whole dance of life, and everything becomes easier and lighter. We can care for the hydrangeas in our garden, watch our cholesterol, speak out against injustice, and raise money for tsunami and earthquake survivors. And we can meet each person in his or her nobility and timeless beauty, beyond age, gender, and race. We can accept the ever-changing seasons of life and know their fleeting, ephemeral dance. Honoring the paradox of our true nature, we can laugh with wisdom and tenderly care for the precious days we are given. ~Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart, pg 91.

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(from Value Yourself Highly)

In her wonderful, eponymous book, Tara Brach develops the concept of “radical acceptance.” She discusses the internal critic as ubiquitous. Beyond accepting ourselves though, those who have had their sense of self disrupted more seriously need to develop staunch and consistent self-championing.
Valuing ourselves is not just a nice idea. It is crucial, in order to turn away from those deeply grooved pathways of self-doubt, second-guessing, anticipating disaster, and despair. We cannot wait for circumstances to pop self-confidence over our heads like a new sweater. We must train our minds to see ourselves as valuable and precious.
Joy is not an externally induced event, which actually is a great relief. Our joy is not dependent on events or other people. Even if it feels as though we’re breaking taboos and the wrath of all the gods will pour down on our heads for doing so, we can choose to invest in a true, positive sense of ourselves.
Turning our focus toward our good qualities connects us with our true self. Really. When we do so, we can see that self-negation is not accurate at all. It’s been loaded heavily with the weight given to negative thoughts. When we see that those self-doubting voices are merely an attempt to keep us out of trouble by keeping us from taking risks, we can calm them down and begin to let our old self-image slip off our shoulders…
It’s a miracle of being human that the more conscious awareness we bring to any system or function, the more development occurs in that area, because awareness sparks energy, and more energy can build more structure. To help that old-view-of-us atrophy, we need to champion our healthy view of ourselves staunchly, even fiercely. Especially when we’re in the middle of some stressful event, it takes committed effort to combat old fault-finding thoughts.
Insist on seeing yourself as good and valuable by rehearsing affirming messages, even if they seem artificial at first. After a while, your self-perception will start to shift.

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The Beautiful Cover!

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The book is finally at the publisher!

Sarah Gillen
Great News! My book is at the publisher! The name has been changed. While most people like Uncover Joy, and I aim the book at wonderful people who want extra tools for getting beyond stuck places, the kind we all have, I really want to reach people struggling with trauma as well.
But then, when the publisher started putting the new title, The Path Beyond Pain, with images, it looked as if it was about death and grieving. Since it’s actually about transforming self-defeating patterns, including those from trauma, and achieving joy, that was NOT what I wanted.
So the title has been changed again. New, and final title:
FROM HURT TO JOY: HOW TO TRANSFORM SELF-DEFEATING PATTERNS WITH ENERGY DYNAMICS. Finally! I’ve gone around on various titles since I started writing the book in 2007.
And the cover is beautiful! Will share soon.
For others publishing books, there IS light at the end of the tunnel!

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Using Intention to Uncover Joy (or, How do you make these techniques work anyway?)

When I was learning to see energy and use psychic skills, I met with a group once a month for a day or a weekend. This was before there were any acupuncture schools in the United States, let alone any recognition for consciousness work. There was a surge of interest in alternative medicine, eastern religions, and spiritual topics but no structure for them and no acceptance by the culture at large. Back then, we didn’t talk in terms of laws of intention or attraction. In the group, we explored expanding our perceptual abilities, experiencing different states, transmitting them to each other, and checking veracity and accuracy.

One early exercise to learn to affect energy and reality was to create parking spaces. For the month, our homework was to open up parking spaces before we’d arrive at a destination and would need one. Mind you, we were from the greater New York City environs, where many folks don’t own cars, if only so they won’t have to find and pay for parking spaces!

I learned as much from hearing the different ways that people approached it as from the assignment itself. One friend was Sammi, a high-powered and assertive executive in international marketing who was very clear about who she was and comfortable wielding power.

Another group member was Bridget, mother of six children who had just gone through a very nasty divorce. She hated her job because it demanded that she be high-profile and persuasive. She was much more comfortable in roles in which she provided support and advice, and she made amazing things happen from the background.

Then there was me. I was in New York dancing and trying to figure out a structure for using my clairvoyant and healing gifts. I was aware of all this energy and perception that wanted to flow through my system, pressing to be used. Yet at the same time, I was struggling with old abuse issues, so I tended to be harshly self-critical.

When we come back after the month, the leader asked us to describe what we actually did to create the parking places. Sammi said that at first she was sure she could assertively open a space by putting the force of her energy into it, carving out space for her car with her will. It didn’t work. When she asked, ‘If it is in my best interest and in the best interest of world around me, could I please have a parking place?’ – then she’d find one.

I looked at her in amusement and said, “That’s so funny, because I thought I should do the polite thing – ask carefully, be respectful, but it never worked. I drove around for hours and never found one. It wasn’t until I went into my center and toughened up and fiercely demanded it, saying, “I want it, I deserve it, and so show up NOW!” – that I’d find a space. I could even swear. All that mattered was that I be forceful and bingo, there it was. I was so confused by that, because I thought it wasn’t spiritual enough, not the way one should interact with “higher powers.”

Sammi was so assertive that her energy was limited in the ways it could interact, due to the force with which she was planted in herself. She could not take the energy of situations or other people into account until she softened and stepped back. Creating the parking space pushed her to be more aware of her relation to others.

At that time, I, on the other hand, walked through life not taking up enough room. So I had to move into the experience of deserving a parking place in order to open one for myself, rather than unconsciously emitting the intention that there was no room for me.

Bridget’s method still makes me chuckle because it was such an illustration of the nature of her gifts and energy. She psychically sent out a note to whoever was near where she wanted to park. “I’d call to all those people who were hemming and hawing, standing on one foot and then the other, not able to say good-bye, and I’d help them make the decision to leave. I just reassured them that it was okay to go now, told them to get in their cars and stop messing about. Then I could have their parking place.”

This story is a good illustration because intention – clarifying a goal, your desire to achieve it, and marshalling your energy to go for it – is a function that requires that you align yourself, be willing to be precise about what you want, to ask for it clearly, and to open space for the thing to appear. You can learn a lot about yourself by working on your technique. There is a specific area to identify in your body in which your intention consolidates. To become adept at using it successfully, it is helpful to know the energetic steps needed to create through intention.

The reason why I am including a chapter on intention is that, in the skills you will learn other chapters in the book, it will be necessary to focus yourself with intention in order to create a certain energy, or to become aware of some aspect of the skill, or to move into a new area. Intention is not just about creating Maseratis. It is also used in Energy Work to move your awareness to new levels of complexity, to increase your perception, to develop new internal abilities and states. Energy practitioners and intuitives use their intention all the time to ask for information and see the ‘unseeable.’

How do you use intention in your life? What tips would you offer others?

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