by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I had a great discussion (via the Zoom conferencing app) with friends recently that encouraged me. They reminded me that if I want to change my environment, I must first change my heart.
This year has challenged the best of us; pandemic restrictions and their toll on wellness, our nation’s clear divisiveness, and the economic and physical suffering for our entire planet have brought the reality of our shared troubles in this world front and center.
My discussion with friends illuminated my need for pausing to uncover what this situation is teaching me and how it can serve me to change something in my life, my perspective, and my actions. Taking responsibility is a strong catalyst for making things go more smoothly and improving or finding meaning in a problem.
We shared how our daily rhythm with self-care and personal growth efforts help us see solutions more readily when facing turmoil.
Our world mirrors us. It’s sending a clear signal we need more effort toward growing ourselves, overcoming our negative impulses, and taking care of our mind, body, and spirit. Taking care of ourselves allows us to be better for those we care about and build peaceful, prosperous communities.
A GOOD ENDING LEADS TO A GOOD START
How we end things this year will lead to what kind of start we’ll have in the new year. We cannot avoid the sufferings of our world. Burying our hearts and trying to ignore or deny the fierceness of our collective challenges creates nothing.
But we can make the causes for future victory and look forward to the new season of spring by facing ourselves and our challenges with courage and compassion. Doing this with perseverance brings hope into our hearts.
BEGIN WITH A SMALL SHIFT
It can happen with a seemingly small, insignificant shift in our hearts.
Facing relationship issues or communication problems?
Redirecting my heart toward finding an outcome best for everyone—can help move the dialogue in a more positive direction. When we strive to put aside our ego and our feelings for the greater good, a miracle happens: we create a bridge!
LOOK FOR A NEW WAY
In this weird holiday season when many of us are unable to hug our loved ones, especially heart-wrenching for our elders, those grieving a loss, and those struck with Covid-19, we’re given a beautiful opportunity to find the value and potential in this situation.
Creative solutions arise from limitations and even problems. Humans are innately creative. This skill or process is not reserved exclusively for artists. We each have the power within us to look outside the box to find a new way or a new perspective for this unique moment in history. This practice of gratitude lifts the heavy heart and brings its own reward.
When we can’t see eye to eye with someone, for example, we have the chance to look for the best in that person as valuable and good, instead of equating the worth of that person with their behavior in the moment or argument.
Difficulties—again—are mirroring exactly that we need to change something in our lives for the better. And to use them as a springboard with that intent.
REMEMBER THE KEY TO VICTORY
The point is that you and I can transform anything. Don’t get discouraged by this year’s depth of problems for us and the rest of the world. Instead, remember that how we face each moment right now becomes the cause for the seeds of our bright future.
Remember that the key to any struggle is perseverance. Let’s look to the new year of 2021 by first taking care of our spiritual wellness. Then, let’s set new goals and move forward toward our new victory.
Transforming our hearts first will lead us to improve ourselves, the situation, and encourage those around us to find hope. Our ability to win over our struggles becomes our mission for empowering others to do the same.
During this pandemic holiday season, I will be taking care of myself including mind, body, and soul. I'll be planning for the 2021 new year.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you.
This week, some of my group members gave video presentations about grief support during the holidays. Click here to join the group and see these comforting tips.
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
People think I have a large life. My energy commands a room. But it’s not intentional. In fact, sometimes I think I have two personalities.
And, no, I'm not schizophrenic.
I developed my exterior confidence through my job as a music educator, and my role as a Buddhist facilitator. Directing, leading and teaching large groups of people performing music, and facilitating faith-based activities with diverse groups provided abundant training.
When I’ve had the opportunity to lead, there was no room for ego or attention to myself. There was a task to do. I’ve honed that skill to focus on the task at hand without regard to my personal feelings.
I appreciate this skill.
It enabled me to achieve more as a teacher, chorus conductor, faith leader and performing musician. It allowed me to see beyond myself and do more than I would have otherwise envisioned had I stopped to ponder my capability.
Battling An Attack of Self-Doubt
On the flip side, my alter-ego is debilitatingly shy and constantly fighting doubt. Through sheer life experience and in particular debt to my SGI-USA Buddhist philosophy, I’ve managed to function well—beyond my insecurity.
But it relentlessly attacked me when least expected with insomnia. Even when I thought I’d confronted my inner demons, fear and doubt insidiously assaulted my thoughts until the wee hours of morning.
I’d combat it with my intellect, of course. I spoke to myself with a voice of calmness about reality and fool-proof strategies to turn away my inner demons. I distracted myself with reading, deep breathing and imagery of relaxed, happy visions.
I chanted my Buddhist mantra while attempting to empty the barrage of negativity swirling in my brain. I got out of bed and stretched. I wrote my thoughts in my journal. I fought the battle until 3am, despite exhaustion.
Finally, I’d drift off for about three hours of rest.
In the morning, it would all seem perfectly stupid. In the light of day, my evening struggle seemed like a mirage. Except that I was depleted for two days afterwards.
Making Headway By Forging Inner Strength
This darkness beat at my inner doors all my life. I’ve dramatically lessened the effects of it. It used to cause such stomach-upset agony I couldn’t function beyond bed-rest. It caused me to develop respiratory issues. I had no stamina against this demon.
I continued consistently battling it from the inside out with my determined prayer. I forced myself through the exact experiences that caused me anxiety, repeatedly. I forged directly through anxiety until I incrementally gained strength over it.
I no longer have those anxiety attacks that shook my whole body with nausea or stomach pain. I no longer get respiratory illness or stage fright. I have no qualms about public speaking, performing, or facilitating. I've led hundreds of groups as a music educator and chorus conductor, performed in front of thousands as a vocalist/pianist, and spoken in front of countless audiences from musical to community events, from weddings to funerals and beyond.
I don’t worry about what people think of me anymore. All those battles forged my strength and grew my confidence.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'
Notably, when I’m striving to reach a personal goal, or break through to a new level of success in any aspect of my life, my doubts rear their ugliness to challenge me.
That’s how I know I’m on the right track.
A Strong Opponent Builds Your Spiritual Muscle
My Buddhist practice confirms this is a sign of my inner growth; I’m pushing myself beyond comfort and growing my capacity larger than before. There should be some fear or doubt because...I’m human. I’m tackling new and bold territory.
I’m on to these twin evils (fear and doubt). They appear so I may open the path to my future with my true essence—my inner power fueled by belief in the human heart. My heart.
There’s resistance so I may develop spiritual muscle. These most powerful opponents enable me to forge my full potential. Anything easy would not warrant a victory celebration.
I wage on—with a resolute vow to never give up until I win absolute victory over every new challenge. I know it is always a test of my faith. A chance for me to see how my determined prayer—starting from the inner realm—manifests in tangible, conspicuous external proof, based on the interconnectedness of life.
I just have to do the inner work first.
Take that, doubt and fear. Take THAT.
I'd LOVE to hear from you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you for liking and sharing this blog with someone who may benefit from the information.
Your Troubles Are Your Progress Barometer & Catalyst For Your Full Potential
5 Ways To Use Music & Nature For Self-Care
Defeat Fear & Doubt with Your Courage & Capability
How To Deflect Negativity To Become Happier
Believing In The Positive
My Top Tips For Winning Over Insomnia
You can also find me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook!
COMING SOON: Watch this space for new ebooks, products and courses for nurturing creativity and inspiration!
In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.