Category Archives: transformation

My Inner Charlie Brown

My Inner Charlie Brown
By: Jessica Burnham

How many of you grew up watching the famous holiday cartoon- Charlie Brown’s Christmas? Or, reading the loveable character’s foibles in the comic page of your newspaper? Charlie Brown always felt depressed- and usually his depression came from his commonly chattered statement “I can’t do anything right!” Just recently as I trudged through my own inner turmoil regarding my life’s ups and downs, I heard myself saying just that. Tears streaming down my eyes, fear and frustration curling over me like a heavy blanket, I roiled “I can’t do anything right!”

I took a deep breath as I observed myself engaged in this belief system. I realized that I had to embrace this part of me, my inner Charlie Brown. And the tears came tumbling down at light speed! What can I say? In the daily work we all engage in called life, we have this perception of ourselves. We know we are working hard and trying to deliver what we envision as our greatest self- so why is it that when something doesn’t go as we expect it to go, it is so easy to spontaneously combust over our self judgments? It is so easy to attach to what someone says about us and then to take the flag running into our self inflicted fire.

I have probably watched Charlie Brown fall apart over his disappointing Christmas tree a couple hundred times. Yet every time I watch it I feel great compassion for his character. How many times does Charlie have to stumble upon his belief that he can’t do anything right? How many times do I need to stumble over this same belief system about myself? I sometimes find myself wishing (foolishly!) that I also had an inner tape recorder that released a statement to my mind like a red alert every time I start to go into this story- “Jessica, please take a look at yourself- do you really believe you can’t do anything right?” And the answer would be “YES” from my mind’s point of view. But it is just that, a point of view. And just like all points of view, they can easily be adjusted to create a journey that is more empowering and in line with what you ultimately deserve in this life.

I have full confidence that since I have chosen to accept the part of me that truly believes and lives this belief system every day, “I can’t do anything right,” I will be able to choose something that aligns with my heart. I have lived this work deeply over the past two years, so I know I can trust this process. I now have the choice to feel compassion for the Charlie Brown that lives within me instead of judging him like Lucy or any other of his harsh critics. Life is difficult enough as it is, juggling everyone else’s belief systems and projections. How much easier could my life be if I opened up to what is available from the universe that sees me for who I truly am? Rather than always seeing myself through filters and lenses that are attached to points of view?

Nietzsche has been quoted as saying “There are no facts only interpretations.” Interpretations, opinions, points of view- are they not all the same? My dear friend’s grandfather taught her growing up that one of the most important ways of being in life was silence, to not open your mouth. This is something I look at with the deepest awe. To not respond with an opinion, an interpretation about our behavior, as well as others, gives us the space we need to experience the emotions of being human without sacrificing the truth of who we are. And the truth of who we are is not an interpretation or a limit- it just simply is- bound by nothing, open to the possibilities of the universe.

Because I’m a Pisces!

Because I’m a Pisces!
By: Jessica Burnham

Recently, I was helping my step daughter in her ballet lessons from home. With her competitive nature, comes the desire to always find a way to blame her teacher for bringing her down whenever the going gets tough. I noticed this occur when she first took karate, and now, even with the sport she loves the most, she still does it. In her frustration with a teacher who told her she had not been paying attention, I asked her this question- why aren’t you paying attention? You would think I had just set off a bomb within her mind. Her response was lots of tears and an excuse that I loved- “but I’m a Pisces!”

I was so surprised by her responses! But why should I be surprised? Children are amazing mirrors for us, and they innocently show us the workings of the mind without so much internal manipulation as an adult. Adults are more masterful at hiding their shame and making excuses for themselves. So here was a child already learning different ways to avoid responsibility for not paying attention by actually blaming her inability to pay attention on an astrological tendency.

What?

It brought much laughter to me later. This laughter existing, because we all do it, just in different ways. All of us make up excuses for ourselves in the most complex ways to avoid taking responsibility for our emotions, actions, lack of action, and beyond. Most of the time, we are unaware of it because we have become programmed machines doing it as an automatic response any time we feel discomfort or want to avoid something. How amazing would life be if we could see our selves from the outside perspective, like I could see my step daughter so clearly, and laugh at ourselves rather than allow our mind to hold onto its rationalizations for dear life in pure dramatic form?

Sometimes I think of that scene in the movie Meet the Parents, where Ben Stiller’s character is on the airplane near the end telling the flight attendant that the only way she is going to get his bag from him is if she can take it out of his kung fu grip. His reaction is like the pure manifestation of our mind’s kung fu grip to old belief systems and judgments. How do we obtain the openness and flexibility to be able to confront such a grip on reality? What kind of structures can we place in our life to assist us in seeing ourselves from the observer point of view when we start to go to that place of denial?

In my coaching work with the Ford Institute, one of the ways we do this with ourselves is to write down all of our typical excuses, rationalizations or justifications in advance so we identify what they are from a point of awareness. Once they’re out there, it shifts something and it makes it more difficult to give power to them when we know what we are doing on a whole different level. We recognize as the observer of the mind that this is something we really do; it is not just something someone is telling us they see. There is power in observing from our own awareness. When others tell us what they see, the mind usually reacts discordantly. There may be more resistance, more stress.

From the Buddhist perspective, we have slowly become addicted to the mind’s power and the wheel of karma. There is so much suffering, yet we still engage in the same behaviors that cause us suffering without regard to the deeper consequences- the karmic ones. Reincarnating countless times, until finally our awareness evolves to a level deep enough that we just touch on the surface of enlightenment. Yet our laziness and resignation to the mind’s way of constantly dragging us into the past, into our worries of about the future, and its need to be right pops us in and out what we truly are like a contestant in a pinball game. The lights go on, the noise distracts us, and we give away our power to move in a certain trajectory to wounds that never heal.

Taking the step to acknowledge our weaknesses and make the commitment to become more aware of them is the beginning of liberation. Once we start to question the mind’s addictions and its constant wasting of energy, we start to bring the power back in and see how choice can enliven the soul. The choice to say- I’m not going to react in autopilot today. Let the liberation begin! Namaste.

The Great Escape

The Great Escape
By: Jessica Burnham

Recently I was reading a book and the narrator was discussing an experience in Tibet. On her journey, she came to the realization that she was no longer able to escape herself. I though it was a profound way to explain how our world is full of great escapes from the deluded part of our spirit. It came right at a point when I had an experience of feeling trapped within myself. Only it manifested in an argument I had with my significant other.

“I’m so sick of myself!”

In the argument, I found myself feeling scared. I was being told by this mirror before me that I had been grumpy and unevenly tempered over the last weeks. Only I was confused, because I didn’t understand what he was talking about- OF COURSE. As I experienced this, I immediately felt trapped and confused. I was trapped in my delusion, sick of being around a mind that had been heavily processing emotional garbage for my coaching program. “What was I to do?”

There is a great scene in the comedy, The Forty Year Old Virgin, where the main character gets drunk and starts complaining about relationships. The character continues a dialogue regarding his perception of relationships. He says, one person is complaining and the other only hears, “Blah, blah, blah”, and then the other person is saying the same exact thing, “I don’t understand what you’re saying”, and all they hear is “Blah, blah, blah”. This struck me as a comedic representation of our being trapped within our delusions and feeling sick of being there.

The feeling I had in my own relationship argument was like being in a strait jacket. It reminded me of one of my greatest fears as a child. My friends and I would play a game of laying on the edge of a carpet. We would then roll up the other into the carpet. I felt frightened as I was rolled up. I couldn’t move and I was at the mercy of the other. I had to trust that they would unroll me, and not step on my chest, crushing my lungs and causing the inability to breathe.

How many of us have felt this within our own circles? Where we experienced another, so it seems, telling us something that was painful to hear. And we felt that sensation again- of being rolled up in the carpet with nowhere to go. Then, having to trust in our openness, that we would not be suffocated by these words, as the mind would tell us through fear and emotional chaos- “You are going to be destroyed.”

Entering this ‘risky’ territory is like walking into a room with uneven footing in the darkness. As we take a new step, we have no idea where that foot will land. But once we face this unknown darkness, and open ourselves up to the possibility of our intimate relationship with it with acceptance, the fear dissolves. The key is to trust that this outcome can exist, and that you deserve it.

There is no real escape from the darkness of the self and its deluded positions. Freedom comes with this realization. No matter what we do, or how hard we look, the only thing you will ever see over and over again is what you run away from and try to escape.

What do we use as escapes? What is the first thing we turn to when our greatest illusions come to the forefront of our awareness? Do we become victims? Do we turn to shopping, food, mind altering substances or illness? I’m sure we could all create a list of our very own, and perhaps we should.

But eventually, our “great escape” plan fails us, and sitting right in front of us is that which we began to run from. Resistance is probably one of our greatest manifestations. What kind of life could we have if we took all the energy we put into resistance, and channeled it into loving and appreciating the wholeness of our beings?

What does the word wholeness mean to you? Does it include your darkness? What would be given to us through the acceptance of our darkness? I feel our darkness is a living part of us and this world. It lives within us. It is feared, escaped and loathed. Our darkness needs the opposite- acceptance, compassion, forgiveness and love. Only then will our awareness increase to recognize the greatest gift in our soul- our oneness, or our wholeness. Peace will emanate into our heart, and the hook of hate that we project from within onto another will dissolve. Just like a friend who is lonely and going through something traumatic, our own darkness is that friend within ourselves.

When we are in a safe place, with like minded individuals, all relating to a similar stage in growth, it becomes easier to not let go of our positions. When we are out there, really out there, being challenged every day in our jobs, the grocery store, traffic- this is when the darkness can really show itself. You are constantly receiving messages in random conversations or happenings. If we can be open to the teachings within these experiences we enable our life to be one big teaching, reflecting every aspect of the divine like a miracle. This is the brilliance behind being alive.

“I believe in you. I believe in me.”

We are never lost, we are always being led. And no matter the temporary delusion of escaping- your gift of life will continue for you to use, whether it is in this life or the next. Why not take advantage of this one, acknowledge this incredible gift. Acknowledge the work you are constantly doing for the world, as you bloom in your awareness by facing your wholeness- your darkness and your light. When darkness encapsulates the light that you see around another, turn to them and say, I believe in you. Do it by loving them unconditionally, seeing them for who they really are and who they are becoming. In the same moment, turn to your own heart with a belief in spirit’s grand capability. Feel the unconditional love that comes from your soul. Look at any resistance you may feel toward love.

My stubborn personality is called “Stubborn Suzie.” She comes out the most when I want to hold onto a position of being angry or sad about a situation. My friend could give me the biggest hug in the world, but no matter, I resist opening up to this love because I want to hold on to my emotional commitment to anger or sadness. I feel like a little girl when this happens. But the most important thing about this type of experience is that it is a gift. The resistance to open up to love is a sign that you are holding onto something, and the longer we try to escape this message, the longer it will ache and cause you emotional discomfort. When we surrender to the love of our spirit, our connection to the highest, a genuine release takes place. This is what we all deserve. Give that gift to yourself, and be ready to manifest your highest potential- whatever your dreams may be. Connect into your heart center and feel the joy and butterflies that charge when you know you’re on the brink of your created, highest destiny.

In the whole scheme of things, the only person that is really hurt by holding onto anger, is our self. We all know the old adage that when we project hurtfulness onto another, we are really hurting the projector. We are all one, and the more we shift within ourselves, the more others around us will shift, the more our perceptions will shift, and the more the Earth will shift into light.

Our Universal Plan

Our Universal Plan
By: Jessica Burnham

You know that feeling? When you’ve had a really peaceful meditation, and it sticks with you throughout the entire day? You carry this beautiful energy through you like an electric current, and even the most annoying things- for some reason- don’t annoy you? And you sit there, in your car, and think- I wish I had this reaction every day!

Life is strange that way. But in its strangeness, when we are given gifts like that, it helps us see something different. And then our whole life has a different perspective when stress rears its ugly head. Perhaps this is what happens as we grow out of the mind’s streaming program into our bliss. Recently, as I was encountering my usual mood altering circumstances (like mind altering drugs I suppose- are they really different??), I felt this stream of peacefulness flowing through me and I realized all I had to say to myself was “This is what the universe has planned for me today.” When I heard this, all thoughts of restlessness, impatience, frustration dissolved in my consciousness. I saw something completely different, and it felt really good. I didn’t feel like I was being controlled by anyone and others’ circumstances- it just simply was. What was happening around me was not some conspiracy by my outside world to test me beyond acceptance.

Whatever that good feeling was by spirit’s definition, it basically felt good because it simply was the lack of negativity projected by my own issues. It was not anything beyond that. I was not striving for some ‘great’ feeling like we do with all our searches. What I realized is- this really is who I am. Inherently I am this peace. I am nothing beyond that- not even ‘good’. I simply am without my negativity born of karma and past experiences. The inherent desire to not want to deal with our garbage puts us into this delusion. Our resistance to seeing our flaws and our darkness, through shame, creates a deep bog that can become unbearable at times for our beingness.

Have you ever witnessed a confrontation and thought to yourself, why are they getting so upset? If someone said that to me, I wouldn’t get so upset. But then when someone does confront you in a similar way you find yourself agitated and angry, and defensive? And they say, why are you getting so upset (this is when the bubble pops over the character’s head and reads “Haven’t I heard this somewhere before”)? And you don’t want to admit to yourself that you’re getting upset by something that you’ve questioned someone else for getting so upset over. You are all of a sudden sandwiched, cornered by your own rejection. So you fight back, trying to get out of your corner.

What is even more interesting about this kind of situation, is how completely different we feel when someone else tells us what they see in our behavior. If we say it to our self, it has no meaning- but when someone else says it to us, we react. Why is it when another conscious being calls us on something we react, but it is okay for us to say something negative to our self? To take it a step further, why has our society taught us that self abuse is completely acceptable, but abuse from others is not?

Someone once told me that when the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ was taught, its true meaning was that the soul could never be killed. No matter what we think when a body dies, the human experience disappears before us in that body- but it still exists, because we are still existing. We are a part of that soul’s experience- and in that oneness, nothing can ever die. Can the mind’s madness continuum ever dissolve like the body in death? I believe the answer to this is no. But- where we act from, and what we connect with inside can change. And this is what brings us peace in our lives. This is the lightness that we deserve.

Every day we venture out into the world, we are encountering a plan. Whether it was something we, as a part of the universe, thought of years ago, or thought of yesterday, the plan appears. But the plan can morph from day to day based on where our consciousness resides. What a relief to know that sometimes, the plan presents itself, rather than me always having to present a plan in some formal way like I am the delusional micromanager of my universe!

There remains a balance to achieve in our understanding of this concept. A balance that keeps us in check, so we are not always waiting for the next great plan to appear. Rather, we are constantly planning in all that we think and do, the catch is accepting the ones that don’t always seem so appealing without resistance. I think this is a deep accomplishment for all of us. Profoundness lies in being in this state of acceptance regularly. Encountering the happenings of every day life, without attachment to what should have happened and our expectations of what ‘good’ truly is.

Indecision Blues

Indecision Blues
By: Jessica Burnham

Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting o’er lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faith and decision making- how do they relate to one another and how do we not allow our inability to trust ourselves and our faith in spirit to interfere with living our lives? How do we intertwine the trust we have in spirit, and the trust we have in our inner map so we don’t put up road blocks to opportunity and the flow of our greatness?

There is a fantastic character in the film called ‘Along Came Polly,’ that has the curse of never being able to make a decision. When Polly calls up her friend to set up a date, she will go around in circles for 20 minutes giving him several choices because making a solid decision about something as trivial as dinner is as painful as a root canal. It is extremely comical watching it in a film- but in real life, have you ever been in this situation, or had someone close to you do this with each decision making process in their life? Watching someone live their life like this, always with one foot out the door, can be a tortuous experience. Especially when you really care about that person, and you see their self sabotage move through not only their life but those close to them like lightning again and again.

I say lightning because it is paralyzing. When we cannot make a solid decision when given the opportunity, we paralyze ourselves. We never go anywhere and this begins to reflect in all aspects of our being, including our spiritual growth. There are many forms of indecision makers out there. Perhaps the most common is the person that believes that they have no power in their life, and the universe is only going to deliver to them what is ‘meant to be’. They are constantly watching for signs, and are distracted easily into the ‘next best thing’. This includes everything- jobs, healing, spiritual commitments, and relationships. Something happens in the sky, and they have to move to a new town. Okay, maybe that is a little drastic- but perhaps it is not?

When we receive a sign from the universe, our angelics, it is up to us to go inside and look through the glass with our inner knowing. This inner knowing serves as our antenna and the signals sent to it are pretty clear. It is our connection to everything around us, it is spirit. When we harness our power and let go of our fear of honoring our dreams and self judgment, making a decision suddenly becomes a much more simple process. We have this extraordinary gift called free will, and so many of us are afraid to use it. The gift of free will affords us experiences of all colors. Many include suffering, but so many more include the moments of revelation within our selves.

Stagnation is a transformative process in its own right. It transforms your desired outcome into stuck energy. This stuck energy clouds our mental capacity to see beyond our fears, and brings us nothing but wishes and unfulfilled hopes. If you don’t know what to do next- just doing something gets the juices flowing and the energy moving out of stagnation. It is like writer’s block. A writer can procrastinate sitting down and writing; because they fear they don’t know what to write about or what they write about will be perceived as schlock by their peers. But if they sit down and just start writing about some thought, some knowledge, then transformation takes place. When you succumb to the stagnation of your mind and its paralysis behind indecision, you are giving all your power away to the inability to become, constantly afraid of having nothing rather than something.

To become something doesn’t mean you have to be doing a hundred things at one time. That in itself happens much of the time out of fear of doing nothing in your life. It becomes a mechanism to feed your fears of being a ‘nobody’. When we sit and watch a flower over time grow with the seasons, bloom and open itself up to the sun, the elements, we are witnessing a subtle process of transformation. That is the way our lives are meant to be. Everything has its own steps, its own sequence of transformation. But when we become melancholy or overwhelmed with possibilities and the thought of making the ‘wrong’ decision, then we end up off the path to something much greater than our little power-tripping mind could ever dream of.

When Dorothy was lead to the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz, and she came to a cross roads, a very clear sign came to her- the Scarecrow. What if Dorothy sat there and said to her self, “Well, I don’t know if I can trust this guy. And, what if it isn’t a real sign from the universe leading to where I need to go? I don’t know. What should I do? Please give me another sign. I’d rather be safe and just sit here for who knows how long than do something I’m not completely sure of.” Then she would have sat there in front of a Scarecrow who claims he doesn’t have a brain, wondering, maybe I should have taken that offer a couple hours ago. We all know what happens after Dorothy makes many of her choices- a great adventure filled with meeting her darkest fears and greatest joys of friendship. And the outcome- I’d say a huge success.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said in the beginning quote, “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” The boldness to surrender your fears to the universe, to the great spirit within your heart and soul, and make a decision based on what you hear from inside, in meditation, from the joy that you are meant to be- now that is truly magical. Harnessing your power, as it was meant to be used and not abused- now that is truly magical. Let us all move beyond the stagnation of our minds and become rather than live in the possibility of becoming. So many people in this world and in the world’s past have been deprived of choices because of tyranny. It is our responsibility to take our given gifts in choices, and make them instead of fearing them.