Thursday, December 12, 2013

Winter Solstice - Going Inside

The shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, is about to arrive in the northern hemisphere. I’d like to explore aligning with the powerful cycle of the seasons. 

Each season expresses a unique energy pattern. When we align with these patterns we are able to use them to benefit our growth. Men are particularly sensitive to seasonal fluctuations.

Winter is about the dark, the quiet, the ancestral. As it approaches we feel ourselves slowing down. As light levels decrease we want to rest. We need to sleep more. We tend to spend more time indoors.

We should also be spending more time inside ourselves. Deep personal practice is important now. It will sustain us by keeping us positive as energy levels decrease. Winter shows us what is buried deep inside ourselves so that we can bring it to the surface. 

Our traditional holiday time is often filled with celebration.  During this dark, cold, period it is also important to be quiet. Introspection is key to really harnessing the power of winter energy. 

All of this deep work can feel like heavy lifting. It is important to remember how our ancestors celebrated this solstice. They looked to the return of the light that starts immediately after the shortest day. Working to bring light into the darkness is a powerful path of transformation.

One of the best energies to work with at this time of year is Yemonja/Olokun. In Ifa, we always work with these twin Orisa of the ocean together. Olokun is the deep, dark, world at the bottom of the ocean. He represents hidden things that we can discover buried deep in our unconscious. 

Yemonja is the surface of the ocean, and the light that plays there. We can use this aspect of ocean energy to bring light, and understanding, to the difficult emotions that we have discovered. Using these energies together we can bring feelings to the surface so that we can see, and release, them. 

Use this time of year for connection with the deep emotional healing that is possible with the Yemonja/Olokun matrix.

Do you feel the pulled inside as winter approaches? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Face Everything

One of the key components in spiritual development is allowing yourself to face the truth. It is important to do this in a gentle, and self-nurturing, way. Recognizing your current state is meant to help you see where you can make changes, and foster the most productive growth.

But, what do you do when what you see something you don’t like? Take an honest look. The more gentle you are with yourself, the more easily you will be able to avoid a crisis. 

Right now, I want to be doing more in the world. The specifics are elusive. I am just starting to think that my Ifa Mentoring practice may not be able to keep me busy, motivated, and fulfilled in the long term.

Part of me feels like I am questioning a dream. That is disturbing. As I look at the time I have available, I’m trying to figure out what I can add that will allow me to feel even happier, and more on track with my purpose. I am looking for a way to expand the dream. To make it bigger. To give it more components. But, for now, I am starting to feel inertia.

Facing everything is about being honest with ourselves. It is about seeing our potential and living up to it. There will be times when you look at yourself and you cannot see the possibilities. That is perfectly fine. 

Know where you are. Understand where your feelings, and ideas, are coming from. Then gently push yourself until you start moving again. 

The light will return as soon as you let it. Get out. Get moving. Know that you will figure out your next step somehow, at some time, in the near future. For me, writing about things always helps. Just getting these words out has helped me to see some possibilities.

Have you ever faced something that seemed impossible and them overcome your paralysis  and started moving forward again? I’d love to hear about it.

Contact Brian

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Your Guardian Ancestor

Our ancestors are one of the pillars upon which we stand. This week I’d like to explore our relationship with one particular ancestor.

Before you came here you made a number of choices: your destiny; your Life Path; and your Guardian Energy. At that time, you also chose a specific ancestor to be your guardian throughout your life. 

Our relationship with the Guardian Ancestor is more intimate than with the rest of the ancestral pool. Your Guardian Ancestor acts as guide, counsel, and representative to the rest of your ancestors. Your Guardian is a blood relative who passed before you were conceived.

Our Guardians were with us in the womb. They have witnessed all the details of our lives. They help us achieve our destiny. Even before we reach out, they send us messages through dreams, and intuitions. Sometimes, that inner voice of conscience  is your Guardian Ancestor. Once you start to develop a relationship with your Guardian the guidance gets stronger. 

You can have your Guardian read by an Ifa priest, but, even before you have the details you can  build the connection. The best way to build your relationship is through consistent work. Start calling on your Guardian every day. Light a single white candle beside a glass of water. Then ask your Guardian to communicate. Be still and allow it to happen.

Once you know who your Guardian ancestor is,  you can check names in your family tree to see if you can get more specific. Many people may not know the names of their ancestors. Some people have very ancient Guardians whose names will never be available. 

Having a name can make things flow better.  You can always choose a name. If you have a name you’d like to use, ask your Guardian if it is OK to use it. I have a client of Italian descent. She calls her Guardian zio, which means uncle in Italian. It has bee a great way to make their relationship more intimate. 

Your Guardian Ancestor is there for you all the time. You can call for help, or guidance, whenever you like. Your Guardian always has your back.

Have you ever felt the presence of your Guardian Ancestor? I’d love to hear about it.

Contact Brian

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ase and Initiation

In this post we’ll explore the use of animal sacrifice. We’ll look at some options that align better with modern lifestyles.

In cultures where animals were raised for food,  blood offerings were often used. Sometimes to give thanks to a deity. Sometimes to ask for help. Remnants of these practices can still be seen in many traditions.

The blood itself is not important. It is the life-force of the animal that is being offered. In Ifa, life-force is called Ase (pronounced ah-shay). Ase is a powerful energy that is used in many rituals around the world.

In traditional Yoruba, and Cuban,  practice the life-force of animals is used to generate energy. In their cultural context this is completely appropriate. The killing, and butchering, of animals is part of daily life for them.

I am not making judgments about people who still choose to use animals in this way. A priest of good character treats animals far better than a slaughterhouse would.

Most of the people reading this live in a modern, western, cultural context. Many have never witnessed an animal being killed. It is as if our meat was never alive. We are separate from the the process of slaughtering, and butchering.

The Ase of the animal  is  directed by the priests to a specific purpose during a ceremony. It is the Ase that is important. It can come from many sources.

In cultures that never raised animals, medicinal herbs, and potions, are used instead. Even breath can be used to generate sufficient Ase to accomplish the work at hand.

I have received initiations with, and without, blood. I received the highest initiation for a male Ifa priest in a bloodless ceremony. It is to date the most powerful experience that I have ever had. I do all of my work bloodless. I do not believe that the Ase of an animal is necessary.

What is your position on blood offerings? I’d love to hear.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mind-reading and Stress

Most people think that they know what other people are thinking. This week we’ll explore this phenomenon, known as mind-reading, and how it contributes to stress.

You may not be psychic, but, you are a mind-reader. It happens when you interpret that look your partner gives you. Perhaps when you “know” how someone is feeling based not their past behaviour. You believe that you can perceive , and understand, what’s going on inside other people. 

Mind-reading is a natural part of human communication. It allows us to anticipate actions. It helps us interpret non-verbal queues. Mind-reading is helpful,but,  it can create misunderstandings. It can become a significant source of stress.

Mind-reading is particularly common in business settings  where we are encouraged to avoid communicating our emotions. We are forced to guess what people are feeling. This often leads to defensiveness, and miscommunication.

For instance, you are having a conversation with your boss about a challenging employee. She seems agitated, annoyed, like she just wishes you were out of her office. You decide, based on experience, that she likes your employee and is upset that you have an issue. All very reasonable.

What if your boss is just in a bad mood? She’s having car trouble again. She is fed up. She would have seemed upset even if you had brought her coffee, and her favourite jelly doughnut.

Your mind-read has gotten you nowhere. It would have been far better to ask her if there was anything wrong. You may not have gotten the whole story, but, at least you’d understand where she was coming from.

If it had been about your employee, then you would know where you stand. It would have created an opportunity for dialogue.

Mind reading is part of how we operate with one another. It is normal, but, not optimal communication. Can you see how guessing about other people’s feelings can get you into trouble and cause unnecessary stress? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ifa Initiation: Receiving Sango

In this week’s post I’ll be discussing the powerful experience of initiation. In Ifa we become priests of our Guardian Orisa. It is also possible to “receive” any, or all of, the others. Over the course of the last year I decided that it was time for me to receive Sango.

Sango is the energy of strategy. It can help us with creative thinking. I tend be serious and methodical. Thinking outside the box has always been a challenge for me. I have a powerful attraction to children of Sango. Perhaps I was looking outward, for connection to something I was missing.

I was planning a trip to the Ola Olu retreat centre in Florida. I decided to receive Sango while I was there. I confirmed that it would be highly beneficial in a reading.  I made arrangements to complete the initiation when many of my fellow priests could be involved.

In spiritual matters we often think that we are attracted to something for one reason then spirit makes it clear that it was happening for another.

I received the Orisa in a bloodless ceremony that used a powerful herbal potion, and the Ase the priests who assisted, in the place of the blood that might have been used in Africa or Cuba. The initiation was very moving. The effects were immediate.

A flash of understanding regarding the creative, and passionate, nature of the energy. Seeing the balancing feminine principle in Sango. Grasping the joy, and fun, that are part of this energy. Feeling my masculine, warrior, energy  coming to the surface.

The deepening was more of a surprise. Sango helps us see the truth. The energy can cut through falsehood, and smoke-screens. That aspect of the energy hit me like a storm.

I felt the energy calling me out on my stuff. Showing me that it is time to shift if I want to move forward. It was disturbing, uncomfortable, and very powerful.

Now I will spend time, up to a year, integrating my newly deepened connection to the energy of fire, and strategy.

What has your experience of the Sango energy been like? I’d love to hear.

Contact Brian

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Surrendering to what Is

Circumstances beyond our control will always show up in our lives and create stress. Dealing with them in a realistic way can help to minimize the effects of that stress.

After a recent software upgrade I opened my contact management application and discovered that all my data had been erased. The result, panic, and a whole boatload of stress hormones raging through my bloodstream.

The most interesting part of the experience was that I had some distance from my own emotions. I watched the reaction. The anger, panic, crazed attempt at emotional problem solving.

It was interesting to witness all of this in myself. It gave me a great opportunity to make a different choice. In meditation we sit and observe. Allowing everything to be as it is provides wonderful practice for facing a crisis when it shows up.

What happened had already occurred. Nothing could be done about it. Panicking wasn't helpful at all. What I needed was calm, acceptance, and some help.

As luck would have it, the database on my phone had not been corrupted. It was only a week old. By patiently waiting for support to get back to me, I found a reasonable solution. With minimal effort I was able to get everything sorted out.

The point here, is that we will all face crises, of some sort or other, eventually. We will also likely react to most crises in a less than productive way. What we do in the throws of that reaction is what really makes the difference. Do we allow our emotions to get the best of us, or do we see what's happened as an opportunity to respond? Can we gather our resources and face the crisis with calm, and resolve.

Can you see how regularly allowing yourself to step back and witness your mind can help bring perspective, and positive solutions,  in times of crisis? I'd love to hear why, or why not.

Contact Brian

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ancestors: Not Entirely Human

   Connecting with our Neanderthal ancestors seems kind of out there. In fact, the average European, or Asian, DNA is three percent Neanderthal. Let’s explore our spiritual connection to these ancient cousins.

We used to think that Neanderthals were a completely separate species. Now, most scientists agree that they are our evolutionary cousins. Neanderthal physiology was extremely well adapted to cold climates. Which explains their prevalence in northern Asia and Europe.

The persistence of Neanderthal DNA has significance. We have ancient ancestors who were on a different evolutionary path. They have been preserved in us so that we can benefit from their unique experience. We first met in Asia, starting about 140,000 years ago. Our last mingling may have been as late as 40,000 years ago. They understood how to survive in harsh, cold, climates. They may be the reason that we learned to.

I went for a run last February in the mist, and drizzle, of a Vancouver winter. As II sank in, I was connected to  a current of powerful ancestral energy. It took me some time to realize that it wasn’t exactly human. I believe that it was my Neanderthal ancestors coming thorough.

As I ran, the world around me seemed to grow colder, more wild. I felt heavier but moved at a fast pace. I felt the mist on my face. I heard sounds form the ocean to my right, and in the forest to my left. It was a powerful connection to someone whose blood flows in my veins.

I have been trying to make sense of the experience for some time. Then I discovered our relationship to the Neanderthals.

Their ancestral energy is more intense, it sharpens the senses. You can honour your Neanderthal ancestors by placing bone carvings on your ancestor altar. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for something special to add to mine.

Can you see the significance of our connection to our non-human ancestors? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Relationships, Stress, and Opportunity

Whether beginning, or ending, romantic relationships create tremendous stress. They also present an opportunity to put our lives into perspective.

Times of great change are a source of stress for most of us. Our emotions run high. We add an extra layer of complexity to our busy lives.

Hidden under the stress is an opportunity for a more realistic view of what’s most important in our lives. There are more important things than our workaday routines.

The end of a relationship is clearly stressful, even if it is long over-due. We must deal with our emotions, restructure our lives, and think about moving forward. Most of us easily put aside work to deal with these kinds of personal crises.

The beginning of a new relationship is pure delight. Its highly charged emotions also create stress. New love can open up new outlooks on what’s important. We maximize the time we get to spend with the new person in our lives.

The source may be different. The potential for healthy new viewpoints is the same. Anything in our  personal lives that demands our immediate, undivided, attention can help us shift our attitude towards work.

The demands of our jobs don’t suddenly disappear because we are in the throws of change. We, correctly, place our personal lives at the top of our priority list. This shift of perspective is extremely powerful.

While in the midst of a shift it may be impossible to look at the big picture. Wait until things start to settle down. Then look at how much time you suddenly found. Do it before old routines start to take hold. Did your work suffer? Probably not. Did your business collapse? Of course not, you wouldn’t allow that happen.

Grab onto the time you’ve just found. Find something positive to do with it. Engage in a long lost hobby. Try something new. Spend more time with the important people in your life. Use your transition time to create a different kind of life for yourself.

Can you see the potential in using times of transition to create life-balance? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Age, Wisdom, and Destiny

In our youth-obsessed culture we have lost touch with wisdom, but, wisdom is the essence of Destiny. The deepening of wisdom is the whole point of our journeys here.

Wisdom can only be developed through the use of knowledge, over time. Knowledge itself comes out of experience. We need a lifetime to really achieve our destinies.

Instead of honouring and integrating all of our years of life, we chase after youth. We end up missing some of the lessons that are available to us. Youth has its place. Its joy and exuberance are worth hanging on to. Embracing the aging process and the wisdom, and wrinkles, that comes with it, allows us to grow throughout life.

We under-estimate how much our culture has lost by devaluing the wisdom and perspective of age. The pace of change has accelerated to the point that older people seem out of touch. Even the difference between my 14 year old nephew, and my tech-savvy self, is striking. When I compare him to my parents it is hard to believe they come form the same culture.

The question becomes, how do we integrate the wisdom of our aged population into lives that are being lived in a drastically different context? Perhaps in the same way that we use an ancient African philosophy to guide our modern lives. Rather than dismissing everything that our elders bring to the table we can look for value in their perspective, and apply it to our won context.

Just because grandma doesn’t understand the internet, doesn’t mean that her insights aren’t worth anything. Older people, with good character, can teach us a lot about being good people. They can help us balance our depersonalized world. They can remind us that people count. They can teach us how to use technology in ways that are uniting rather than alienating.

Don’t you think that our elderly relatives, and mentors, have more to bring to the table than the 20 somethings that are ruling our culture? Can’t they teach us about bringing substance back into our lives? I’d love to hear what you think.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meditation and Stress

When life gets chaotic stress levels go up. Spiritual practice helps get us through the roller-coaster times of our lives.

Meditation has many benefits. Significant stress relief is among them.

Meditation helps with stress by giving us a bigger perspective. When we get good at it,  it gives us a break from the pressures of life. It can help us to to see what’s really going on. It can help us let go of our need to control things.

Much of the stress we experience is self-created. We pressure ourselves to be a certain way, or to perform at a certain level. Even when ideas are unreachable ideals, we strive for them anyway.

Pushing to make ourselves better is good. The issue is trying to mould ourselves into something we aren’t. Meditation can help us accept ourselves as we really are. We can see areas that need improvement. We can see the limitations of our biology  and experience.

Being at ease with your current state is one of the most powerful things you are ever likely to experience.

Take meditation practice slowly. Otherwise you may create even more stress. Start with five or ten minutes, then,  increase the time when you are feeling reasonably comfortable. Meditation is “practice”. You will always be able to improve. You can never do it perfectly. You can never do incorrectly either.

The technique I use is taught by Enlighten Next, and its founder Andrew Cohen. It is extremely simple, and extremely easy, but, only if you let it be.

The instructions are to: sit still; pay attention; and relax.

You can have your eyes open, or closed.

Sit upright in a position that you can be comfortable in for as long as you will be meditating. Stay as still as possible.

Be as alert as possible. Observe the thoughts, feelings, sensations, sights and sounds around you.

Stay relaxed. There is nothing to do. There is nowhere to get. Whatever you experience while you meditate is the point of that meditation.

Allow everything to be as it is. Don’t try to change anything. Don’t try to do anything. 

How was this meditation for you? Did you find it easy? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ifa: The Existence of Good, and Evil.

How do the forces of darkness factor into a benevolent Universe? In this post we’ll explore the Aje, the “little mothers”,  or “witches” in Ifa.

I have no doubt that Olodumare, God, is a completely positive force. The benevolent We are on a course of development and growth. Why then would anything “negative” exist?

There are two reasons for this. The first, is the nature of Olodumare him/her/itself. The energy, and intelligence, that created the Universe, is oneness. The opposites don’t exist from the creator’s perspective. There is no darkness or light.

Separation began at the moment of the big bang. Suddenly, there was duality. Balance became the structure that holds the physical universe together. In our reality there must be darkness in order to have light. Order requires chaos.

Enlightenment is about balancing everything, until we have no preferences. No attachment to what is good, or unpleasant. We become a reflection of the oneness of Olodumare.

The second reason is that we are here to learn and grow. We need to experience things. Life comes with preferences. We choose comfort over discomfort, pleasure over pain. Without struggles, we would not benefit from what experience teaches us. Without chaos, we would never create higher order. Without seeing our darkness we would never build more good.

We need duality to complete our journeys, and achieve our destinies. Hardship was not created by a cruel entity who wants to harm us. It was not made by an ambivalent god who doesn’t care. 

We are the Universe awakening to itself. All it sees is an ecstatic movement forward. It invites us to get caught up in its positivity. From the Universal perspective the whole process is good.

Can you see how the challenges we face are part of a larger plan? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Success: Positively Charging your Values

This is the final installment in the success series. We’ll look at “away-from” values and how to deal with them.

An “away-from” value is any value in your values hierarchy that has a negative charge. That charge is an emotion.

We must clear the negative emotion in order to remove the negativity, and transform this value into a “towards” value. Any emotional clearing technique will work. One excellent approach is the Sedona Method. It is a simple technique that is very effective for this kind of work.

Here is how to clear an “away-from” value:

Get conformable, make sure you won’t be disturbed.

Have your list of “away-from” values with you.

Work form the top of the list down.

Get in touch with the topmost away-from value, and with the emotions associated with it. See if you experience a physical sensation.

Your awareness is important, it helps “light up” the issue to clear it.

Use your favourite process to release the emotions associated with this value.

Once you’re done it is very important to check the “away-from”.

Ask your unconscious mind if the value is moving 100% towards what you want.

Pay close attention. If you get even the most subtle inkling that there is something left repeat the process.

Keep repeating this process until the value is 100% positive.

You’ve just transformed a value. Work through the rest of your list, until all of your values are pulling you in the right direction.

Most people feel lighter, and less conflicted, almost immediately after cleaning up their values. Was this the case for you? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

This is the last post in the success series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. The ideas and techniques I’ve shared with you are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to explore how we can use Neurolinguistic Programming to move your life forward, click here, or contact me form more information.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Truths to Live By: Wisdom as a Key to Empowerment

The last aspect of the Ifa empowerment equation is wisdom. I would like to use this definition of wisdom from “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action”.

In Ifa, destiny, our purpose for being here, comes down to the development of wisdom and knowledge. They are then shared amongst our entire lineage upon our return home. In order to develop wisdom, knowledge must come first. In order to develop knowledge we must be open to learning.

Everything that we experience in life teaches us something. Using our challenging experiences to live a better life is an important part of the puzzle. It is equally important to learn from our positive experiences. That way we can create more good in our lives. 

Knowledge comes from using our lessons to make our day to day decisions. Knowledge deepens as we use it, and see the results that we get. Always making adjustments as we deepen our understanding of the truth.

Wisdom is built from knowledge. In order for knowledge to become wisdom, it must be used in the broadest possible contexts. It must be applied, through time, in many situations. Our ideas of what is right, and true, must grow with us. Wisdom is a dynamic process, not a static goal.

Authentic wisdom also requires judgement. It is not enough to have the understanding. That understanding must be applied, with the best possible character, in order for our judgments to be correct. That is how our actions become just.

It is our flexibility that allows wisdom to deepen and grow. We can only develop it through experience. It is critical for us to be honest with ourselves about the impacts of our actions so that we can apply our wisdom in the best possible way. Where we see a difference between our highest realization, and our actions in the world, it is time to take a step back, and shift our behaviour to re-align.

Can you see how your wisdom has developed over your lifetime? I’d love to hear why or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Success: Moving Towards Your Goals

If you want to get somewhere you need to head in the right direction. In this post we’ll explore “away from” values. These are values that unconsciously set you on the wrong course.

One of the most powerful discoveries in NLP is that our unconscious mind is unable to process a negative. If I ask you not to think of a blue tree, the first thing you have to do is to make some representation of a blue tree in your mind.

That might not seem important, but, it explains how the value prosperity and the value  “not being broke” can lead to very different results.

Prosperity is a “towards” value. It points you straight towards your goal.

“Not being broke” is called and “away from” value. It makes sense to you. At the unconscious level it generates more financial difficulty. It tells your unconscious mind that you want to be even more broke.

Even within a positive value like prosperity that can be some hidden negativity. This week we’re going to take another look at your Values Hierarchy. We’re going to smoke out all of your “away from” values so that we can deal with them.

Here’s how to spot the “away from” values in your list:

Look at each value starting from the top and working all the way down.

Ask your unconscious mind if that value is 100% positive, completely moving towards what you want.

If not then write down what percentage it is moving towards what you want. Just go with your “gut” response.

Continue until you have run down your whole list.

Now you know how much your “away from” values have been impacting you. Can you see how dealing with the “away from” will move you more powerfully towards your goals? I’d love to hear why or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Truths to Live By: Growth as a Key to your Empowerment

Growth provides the second key to your empowerment. It is the second aspect of the sixteenth truth of Ifa.

We are in a constant process of growth and change. Many people ask me when it ends. The truth is, it never does. The purpose of life is to evolve. In order to align ourselves with Universal evolution we must grow and evolve within our lifetimes.

Don’t mistake this continual growth for a constant digging for issues. It is critical to release emotional, karmic, and ancestral baggage that stands in the way of our development. These are the only “issues” that we need to work on.

Each of us has an infinite world of hurt inside us. It is far too easy to get lost in this world. There is a lifetime of  “shadow work” to be done. Our base impulses, and the emotions that trigger them, are not going anywhere. They are part of our evolutionary heritage. Accept them. Rise above them.

Once we are clear enough life starts to flow. We engage in a more positive way. We feel good a lot of the time. It can be tempting to say “That’s it, I’m done.” and rest with the status quo. 

It may seem almost impossible to push forward beyond this comfortable place. But, push you must. Once you have stabilized in a more positive world-view your work is expanding your consciousness.

For the first time in the history of our planet, and perhaps the Universe, there are beings that are capable of self-awareness. We are beginning to awaken to a deeper reality that rests at our cores. It is the spark of life that we call Olodumare. Olodumare is becoming aware of itself through you.

Our ultimate spiritual purpose is to align with that evolutionary impulse and to harness our uniqueness in its service. We must express more joy, love, and harmony in the process, come together to become more. Always reaching forward.

This may sound exhausting, but, when you get caught up in the flow there is infinite energy is available to you. Do you feel the pull of the Universe calling you to grow? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Solstice: The Power of Sango

Sango, the energy of Strategy, fire, expressed in nature by the power of the sun. As summer gets under way in the northern hemisphere I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on this powerful Orisa.

The summer solstice, June 21st, is the longest day of our year. The warmth of the sun is all around us. We witnessed its power in the Spring as flowers blossomed, and trees budded, and turned green. At the solstice this life-giving force reaches its most powerful position.

The fiery drive of Sango is reflected in the power of the sun. Like the sun this energy can warm and sustain, or, it can destroy. The sun’s energy produces life. It helps our bodies to manufacturer vitamin D, which is so critical to our overall health. The sun can also be a killer. Over-exposure can lead to deadly skin cancers. It’s all about balance.

Sango is the energy of strategy. It is also associated with the lessons which build good character. It is only through the expression of our good character that our strategies can come to fruition. Correct strategy, executed with good character, builds true success into our lives. Much like the force of the sun, the way in which we use the energy of this powerful Orisa will determine our results.

When we are strategic we must consider our long-term good. We want the Sango energy to work like the gentle force of the life-giving sun. When we fall out of balance, we may use the energy to create immediate results, with little regard for the future. We fail to consider the well-being of the larger whole. At that point the Sango energy becomes like the scorching desert sun. It  destroys life with its unrelenting glare. Apply your good character to the Sango energy and use it to fuel your life.

Have you ever been burned by short-sighted, but strategic, thinking? I’d love to hear your story.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Success: Get Your Vlaues Flowing

In this installment of the Success series we’ll get the values list you created flowing so that all of your values can support each other. The break in the flow is called a values conflict. By clearing these conflicts the flow is re-established and life can move more fluidly

We’re going to start at the top of your list and work our way down dealing with each pair of values that has a conflict. Review the instructions first so that you’ll have a good grasp of the steps. It’ll make the process a lot easier.

Choose two values to work on.

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
Put your hands palms up on each knee.
Get in touch with the uppermost value.
What do you call it, what does it look like, how does it feel, does it make a sound?
Ask the value to stand on one of your hands.
Get in touch with the second value.
What do you call it, what does it look like, how does it feel, does it make a sound?
Ask the second value to stand on your other hand.
Ask the second value to relax and observe while you ask the first value some questions.
Ask the first value its highest intention for you.
Keep asking until you get to a very big universal like love, joy, or even existence.
Ask the first value to observe while you ask the second value some questions.
Ask the second value its highest intention for you.
Keep asking until you get to a very big universal like love, joy, or even existence.
Repeat the process until they reach the same purpose.
Ask them to notice that they have the same highest intention.
Ask them to consider that they were once part of greater whole.
Suggest that the purpose of the greater whole was to ensure that they reach their common goal.
As a unified whole they could accomplish their highest purpose more effectively.
Allow your hands to come together as you process this.
Give the values enough time to integrate.
When your hands come together open your eyes, and then your hands.
Notice a “super part” that has formed between you hands.
Notice all of its qualities.
Bring your open hands to your heart and absorb this new “super part” into you.
If you have any questions send me your comments.

How do you feel now that your values are flowing naturally? Has it provided clarity? I’d love to hear from you.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Truths to Live By: Balance, Growth and Wisdom Provide Empowerment.

In Ifa balance, growth and wisdom provide your empowerment. Each of these values comes out of, and supports the other sixteen. I’ll cover them over several posts.

Balance is having each area of your life functioning in harmony.  It is about fulfilling ourselves by embracing all of life. Ifa readings can can help us find and maintain it.

We need to have both our everyday and emotional/spiritual lives working. This means dealing effectively with practical matters. Once our material needs are met we can then work to enrich our lives with positive emotional experiences and spiritual growth. Loosing sight of either of these areas leads to disastrous consequences for the individual, and society.

The six areas of life flow from the format of an Ifa Current Reading.  I have arranged them in order of significance.

Destiny is first. It is the primary reason that we are here. Fulfilling our destiny is the goal of life.. Neglecting destiny leaves us feeling purposeless and lost. Fulfilling it is a great challenge in a culture that doesn’t recognize its importance.

Second is Health. Health includes being fit physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Be the strongest, and most vibrant, person you can.

Third is Success. Material success is important and desirable, but, it is not the point of life. It is balanced on the emotional/spiritual level with fulfillment, and joy. This definition of success allows us to value more than the material.

Fourth is Relationships with people outside your family. This area is about anyone who is significant in your life. Both casual day to day, and  emotional/spiritual, relationships. It is about support, and partnership. It includes romantic connections. Imbalance in this area leaves you feeling isolated in challenging times.

Fifth is Family; blood relatives; and ancestors. It is about the journey that you are on together. You see a bigger picture that includes your ancestors, and your descendants. Building strong, supportive, relationships is equally important here. Focus on closeness with the people you live with, and deeper bonds that support you when needed.

The final subset is Victory. It is about how you handle the unexpected. It is having the resources you need to face the challenges that, inevitably, show up in your life.

All of these areas need attention. Sometimes life will make one more dominant. All should be working well. Focus your work on the ones that aren’t flowing.

Do you feel like you have good life balance? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Succes: Do Your Values Flow?

To get the best results in life, and have those results align with your destiny, it is important to have your values working together. In our third installment in the success series we’re going to start taking a closer look at your values.

Look over your Values Hierarchy. You may notice that many of your values came from your parents, or your culture. Some were adopted from your peers. Others are based on your life experience.

With all these different sources, values sometimes conflict. Let’s look at the flow of your values. Flow allows your values to work together and support your goals.

Your values flow in two directions. From top to bottom, where each “higher” value leads to the one below it. Then from bottom to top, where each “lower” value supports the one above it.

As you do this be as honest as possible. Go with your immediate reaction. You will probably find a significant number of values that don’t flow well. That’s fine. In my next post we’ll talk about how to correct the flow.

We’re going to look at your list from the top, down, first. Take a look at your first value. Does it create the second value on your list? Is the second value implied in the first value? Is there a natural flow from top to bottom?

For instance, let’s say that your top value is fulfillment, and your second value is safety. These values may relate in some way, but, they don’t flow naturally.

If you find a conflict mark it with an arrow on the right side of your page. Continue this process by looking at your second and third values. Move down the list until you have looked at everything.

We’ll move up the list next. Take a look at your bottom value. Does it support the value above it? Dose it provide a stable foundation from which you can reach the higher value? If you find an issue with the flow then mark it with an arrow on the left side of your page.

When you’re done you’ll probably be left with a page full of arrows. That’s totally normal. 

Have you discovered something you didn’t know about yourself while you did this exercise? I’d love to hear what it is.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Truths to Live By: Divination Provides the Roadmap

Divination is meant to help us stay on track. It was given to us to guide us towards our destinies. It helps us stay focused on the bigger picture.

It is important to distinguish divination from fortunetelling. Reading fortunes attempts to predict future events. The belief is that events are predetermined. People are victims of fate.

Ifa divination is a way of reading energy flows. This allows us to be guided to the best position in life. It helps us achieve our destinies while maximizing joy, love, and harmony.

There are two types of divination in Ifa. The Life Path and the Current Readings. The Life Path reading is a look at the biggest possible context. It determines the energies that one chose before coming. We discover the Guardian Energy or Orisa, which explains how we express ourselves and how to behave so that things go as well as possible.

The Current Reading is a look at where we are in the moment. It is a snapshot of our current condition, and alignment.  It helps us understand both where, and how, to focus our energy. Over time Current Readings lead us to maximum success, and growth.

Ifa divination is performed by an initiated priest connecting to the energies of wisdom and knowledge, Orunmila, and Ela. Through this connection a person’s current state and needed course of action can be determined.

Unlike other systems, success with Ifa divination is dependent upon a partnering with the energy flow that is uncovered. This can include offerings to specific energies. It always includes using the advice we receive, and focusing on the area of our life that is most prominent.

It is up to the individual to do the work necessary to stay aligned. Ifa emphasizes personal empowerment, and responsibility. You chose your destiny. It is your job to stay on track, and get it done. No one else can do that for you.

Do find the possibility of discovering and walking down your destiny path exciting, frightening, or a bit of both. I’d love to hear how you feel.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Success: What's Most Important to You?

Let’s take the next step in defining success and figure out what’s really most important to you.

You should already have a list of values. If not please get it ready here.

The values at the bottom of your list are the least conscious. They may be hidden, but, are usually the most important.

So how do you figure out what your most important values are? Why would you want to?

These values determine how you create success.  The highest, or most important, value has the most influence. The top five values and the driving force. The next five are strong influences.

To start ordering your list, look at each value. What is it about?

Next, ask yourself which is most important. How about second? Continue until you have a list of your top ten.

Be honest. See what you can learn. Start to understand what’s really driving you.

Take a break for a day to allow you unconscious mind to process the list. You can think about it but don’t get it out and make any changes.

Let’s refine your list. Look at each value carefully. Is it absolutely more important than the value below it? If you are certain great. If not, see if they work better in the opposite order. Change the order if you need to.  Continue until you have all your values in order.

This ordered list is called your Success Values Hierarchy. It is the process that you use to create success. In the next post in the series we’ll look at how getting these values working together will get you more of what you’re want.

As you consider your first value, do you like it? Are you comfortable with it as the driving force behind your success? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Truths to Live By: We Choose Our Destiny

Ifa is about  personal empowerment. We begin our journey on Earth fully empowered. We choose what we wish to learn in our life-time. This learning is our destiny. It is the primary goal of our time here.

We come here from the realm of the ancestors. We choose life here in order to learn things that we can’t  in the ancestral world.

Before we leave home we decide which experiences will be necessary to lead us to the wisdom we are looking for. Experiencing life is how we achieve our destinies.

Our destiny-choices are always big-ticket items. They are general. We need the flexibility to grow through any experience that we have.

Discovering the destiny path is part of everyone’s journey. We all forget the choices that we’ve made. By deepening spiritually, and aligning with our Ori , we can reach our destinies. Divination is a gift that the Universe gave us to help us stay on track.

If one of our destiny choices was to experience a variety of cultures, for instance. We could fulfill it through our career, travel,  or even living in a large city.  The fluidity is there to give us the best possibility of succeeding.

Remember that the Universe is benevolent. It consistently gives us information to help us move forward. We are usually the ones standing in our way. By holding on to negative emotions we can miss the clues that are meant to get us where we are going.

Our destiny journey is meant to be filled with joy and love. If we aren’t experiencing them it is time to make some serious changes in our lives. We will all experience challenges. Our joy will give us the strength, and resources, to face them. We will be able to maintain a positive attitude in the face of the greatest crisis.

Do you feel like you’re on your destiny path? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What is Success?

How you define success has a lot to do with how successful you feel. If your definition doesn't match your values then success and satisfaction will not come together.

Most people define success in terms of money and possessions. Material things are great, but, if you’re looking for happiness and fulfillment they won’t automatically come with money.

Money can’t buy happiness. Poverty can’t deliver it either. The extent to which you feel satisfied in your life has more to do with your values. What matters to you most makes you fulfilled.

A value is an idea. Wealth may be one of your values. Happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, may also be values for you. All these values are distinct. Wealth doesn’t always lead to happiness any more than happiness always leads to wealth.

We need our values to feel good, both consciously and unconsciously, and to get the most out of life. This is where wealth gets tricky. Values are general. There is always more to have when we make material things too important.

The best way to find balance is to have some values that are not material. If you want happiness, it needs to be near the top of your list.

If you feel like you want more peace, satisfaction, or fulfillment in your life, you need to focus less on wanting what others have.

Challenge your status quo by listing everything that is most important to you. What are the things that make you feel successful? Be honest. If you discover things you don’t like you can always change them.

Once you have a list of 10 to 15 items, stop. Take a look at your success values. This exercise has shown you how you define success. In future posts we’ll discover what to do with this list to make your values work for you.

Are you surprised by something that you discovered when you listed your success values? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Truths to Live By: Diversity is the Hallamrk of Creation

Open your eyes and really take a look around you. You will see that diversity is a hallmark of life. Even in an urban environment the sheer number of living things is remarkable.

Our species is also varied. Diversity has been a critical factor in our success. Our large brains, and our adaptability, have allowed us to survive in almost environment.

It is critical for us to open our eyes and see the wonder of our diversity. As far as we know, we are the most advanced expression of our benevolent Universe.

Each one of us is unique on every level. Our physical differences are apparent. We are constructed of different emotional, mental, and even spiritual, stuff. In Ifa our unique combination of energies is our Ori.

Each individual has their own Ori. At their best, they express themselves with good character, as an essential part of the whole. We need all of us, to be the best we can be. Our evolution depends on the full expression of every human being.

Our differences should  be celebrated. They make us strong. They give us so much to explore. We have an amazing number of cultural expressions. Every culture contributes to our evolution, even if we can’t see how.

You can appreciate someone, who is very different form you, without agreeing with them. Agreeing to disagree is key. Before we can understand being human, we must become more aware of the people around us. 

Start by making an attempt to relate to someone very different from you. This can be something as simple as reading about another culture. Be open to a positive experience with every person you encounter.

We all have biases towards people based on their race, ethnicity, or culture. As a gay man, I avoid people from cultures that, I assume, are homophobic. We are all works in progress. This is an invitation to take a step out of your comfort zone. Discover something new about the human race.

Can you see the wonder in the diversity of humanity? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Into Balance

Spring is a time of renewal. It is also a great time to plant seeds that will bring balance into your life.

To get the most out of our lives, we must look at the whole of ourselves. We need to care for the various aspects of ourselves.  But, we need to remember that we are one, whole, person.

I’d like to invite you to take a look at how balanced your life is. This will allow you to plant some seeds that will move your life forward.

Think about the physical, your health, diet, and exercise regime. Look at how you are supporting your body. You need to be strong and healthy to live your best life.

Think about your mind, do you give it enough stimulation, are you still learning?

Think about your emotional life. What do you do when a negative emotion arises? Negative emotions are pointers. They show us work that we need to do. Dealing with them lets positive emotions to come through.

Do you have a regular spiritual practice? Yoga, meditation, even long quiet walks, can be sources of renewal. They can feed the deepest parts of your being.

Think about each of the parts of yourself. Figure out which get the least attention. They will probably be the areas that you feel least comfortable with, and most uncertain about. Commit to bring more focus to them.

Take it easy. Be reasonable about how much you commit to. Push a little. Some discomfort will probably be good for you. Pushing too hard wont’ do you any good.

It is also important to remember that you are unique. Balance doesn’t necessarily mean and equal amount of time spent in every area.

Some people will always prefer quieter intellectual and spiritual activities.

Others are more outgoing. They are most comfortable in the physical and emotional realms.

A little effort can go a long way. Your whole life can make a leap forward with a bit of focus on a neglected area.

How is your balance? Do you find some areas of your life very challenging? I’d love to hear which ones and why?

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Truths to Live By: Discrimination is Destructive

Prejudice is destructive to both the individual, and society. The only basis for judging others must be their character.

Discrimination is caused by a process called generalization.  Generalization can be very useful. It allows us to get into any car and run it. Otherwise we would have to learn to drive over and over.

When generalization isn’t used with caution it can get us into trouble. A blueberry is tasty and healthy. Not all fruits that have the colour and shape of a blueberry are edible. Belladonna is deadly.

We should question our generalizations before we act upon them. Many are based on ignorance and hate. Acting on negativity only brings more negativity into our lives. Incorrect thinking in a society can create oppression, even genocide.

Even positive generalizations can dehumanize people. They attempt to force an individual into a mould. This separates us from the real person, and creates a shallow relationship.

We are all unique pieces that are essential to the functioning of the whole. Fulfilling our destinies will move the entire species forward. In order to achieve our destinies we must express our personal energy. We need to work to be who we truly are. We should always express good character.  This allows us to help our species, and the Universe, evolve.

If someone has good character and we treat them badly anyway, we move everything backwards. The Universe is reaching forward. It calls us to move with it towards greater complexity, and greater integration. There is no room to make anyone less because they are not like us.

Can you see how generalization has led to prejudice in your life? Can you see that it is a valuable tool that can bring greater understanding? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I help many of my clients build confidence. Letting go of fear is a big part of releasing stress and moving towards a better life.

Anxiety is a type of fear. Many people believe that they need their anxiety to give them an edge. They think that if they were to relax they would not be able to generate enough energy to get the job done.

Prolonged anxiety taxes your energy. It can led to serious long-term health issues.

Think about a situation where you worry or are anxious. If you can, choose one that is particularly important. The stakes should be high. You need an extra push to make sure you stay on top.

How much sleep have you lost in those situations? Have you made careless mistakes because you were distracted? If you were dealing with a customer, or client, how many times was your communication less effective because you were worried about issues that might not even have been there. These are some of the  impacts that anxiety is having.

 Anxiety is never positive. Healthy productivity comes from  motivation, and excitement.

Think about a project which excited you. You felt completely motivated by it.  You were confident in your ability to succeed. The situation gave you energy. It felt great to get up in the morning to see what developed. You were at the top of your game. Your confidence was contagious, it inspired those around you.

Coming from a place of confidence isn’t just more effective. It is also a lot healthier. It will build you up. Strengthen you. Encourage you to take bigger risks and push out of your comfort zone.

Don’t wallow in your anxiety. Deal with it. Look at what you are trying to control. Control is an illusion. Face your fear, sit with it, get calm.

Look at all the rational reasons that you can succeed. Build your confidence by remembering past successes. Allow that anxiety to fade. Create space for confidence and achievement. Watch your outcomes, and your life, get better.

Do you believe that you need anxiety to succeed? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Truths to Live By: Never Harm the Universe

Part of good character is never harming the Universe that you are part of. As we grow, so does our character. Our understanding and application of this truth will grow with us.

Human beings develop along a similar trajectory. As infants we are completely egocentric. There is no world beyond us, our needs, our pleasures, and discomforts. We are the whole of our universe.

As we mature we move into the ethnocentric stage. At this point our orientation shifts to the communities we are part of. We identify with our race, ethnicity, and nationality. Our sphere of care expands to the group. Good character demands that we consider the good of the group.

If we move forward, we expand to a world-centric perspective. We  broaden our sphere of care to include human beings,  the planet, and its ecosystems.  We understand that we are essential to the world’s functioning. Every piece plays a valuable role. Good character demands the we care for ourselves, all humans, and all other species.

The next level is rare. As we push forward we experience the essential unity of reality. We start to become Kosmocentric. We see ourselves as a part of all that exists.  We extend our sphere of care even further.

For some this will be an expression of absolute compassion. These people develop to the point that they rest in the ground of being. They radiate peace and stillness. They work tirelessly to alleviate suffering and spread peace.

Others will explode forward. They identify with the energy, and intelligence, that created the Universe. It is an ecstatic compulsion to grow and move forward. To discover, and create, radically new things in the world. Their sphere of care moves into the future.

In both cases, harming the Universe, in any way, is unthinkable.

 As we develop and grow, good character demands the we deepen our practice of this truth. We can then use the power we gain to affect the world in a positive way.

Has your sphere of care expanded as you’ve grown and developed? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I respect any relationship where both partners are equal and being fulfilled. I have chosen to be in a monogamous relationship. Recently I’ve been wondering what all this “open relationship” stuff is about? The open relationship model has never worked for me. I used to think I was too insecure, competitive, and  temperamental for it.

For a while I was certain that monogamy is a more mature choice. The reasons for an open relationship always seemed suspect. They revolved around meeting needs, and fulfilling fantasies.

You can never find everything you need in another person. That kind of thinking will doom any relationship.

Life is not about having all of our needs met, and fantasies fulfilled. That immature way of thinking will spell trouble for any adult relationship. It is up to us, with our partners, to ensure that basic needs are met. Beyond that our needs are like toys. There will always be more to need. Will an endless search for things your partner can’t provide be good for your relationship?

Fantasy is wonderful, but, reality is often disappointing. Obsessing about fantasy fulfillment can also undermine our relationships. It can take time away from our partner. If there are important things missing in your relationship talk to your partner. Find out how your needs and fantasies can be embraced while everyone remains respected.

I know people in successful , mature,  polyamorous relationships. I have deep respect for their ability to hold it together. Relating to each other in that way is very challenging.

People should be free to define their relationships as they see fit.

I no longer see open relationships as a modern ideal which I will never reach. For me, monogamy just seems right. It has always worked best. My husband agrees with me wholeheartedly. We are happy with the way we define, and embrace, our relationship.

Have open relationships worked for you? Have you every wanted to find out? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Truths to Live By: Never Initiate Harm to Another Human Being

In Ifa we understand that actions cannot be judged out of context. Harming another person must also be looked at in context. This week we’ll explore the implications of this position. I will contrast it to the more absolute rules enforced by other traditions.

With a world-view that expects us to make decisions for ourselves, guidelines make a lot of sense. In Ifa we are forbidden from initiating harm to another human being. We are permitted to defend ourselves, or prevent harm from coming to another. Lethal force is, obviously, a last resort.

The concern with guidelines is that they are subject to interpretation. The biblical sixth commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, has many interpretations and translations. People who say they live by it have been responsible for unbelievable violence.

 The Buddhist prohibition against harming sentient beings has many interpretations. Heated debates rage about what sentience is. The most common definition, is that anything that can move of its own accord, is sentient. Every day we unknowingly murder countless micro-organisms.

Clearly, killing can only be justified if it is required for survival.

Let’s look at war.  Is a soldier making a conscious choice when, and why, to kill?  Trying to turn a human being into a killing machine has serious issues. Following orders does not remove the burden people face for killing. The suffering created for our armed forces personnel has been immense.

Capital punishment is among the most misguided human behaviours. Killing someone to defend yourself is one thing. Killing someone to prevent something they might do in the future, is completely different.  Much like war, killing for the common good, is not good for anyone.

These are questions much too complex to be addressed in a simple post. It is my hope that this post can start a conversation. Please join me in deepening it in the coming months. Where do you stand on this very difficult moral quandary? I’d love to hear.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Feeling Trapped

Do you feel trapped in a life that isn’t your own? Let’s explore this common theme. We all feel blocked sometimes, but,  are we really?

We form habits as we live. Just like the way tires can make deep tracks in mud. We can get stuck as our habits create tracks in our brains. It’s that “stuck in a rut” feeling. We realize that our life is not what we want.

The habits get so strong that it seems impossible to do anything else. There are an infinite number of excuses for why you can’t. It is critical that you see the resistance for what it is. Your brain’s unwillingness to look beyond the rut.

Getting out probably won’t be easy. It will take powerful determination to crawl up the wall of that rut and see the possibility of freedom. It will take courage to step out of your comfort zone. It will take perseverance to stay out of that painful, but comfortable, place you used to be in. It will test you to your limits. The effort is worth it.

One of the most powerful ways that you can support yourself in moving forward is meditation. The simple act of sitting still and allowing everything to be perfectly OK will strengthen you. In moments of deep meditation it feels like everything is perfect just the way it is.

As you practice you will discover something radical. You are, and have always been, absolutely free. There is a part of you that has never been born, has never suffered, and has never been limited. The experience gives you the strength to crawl to the top of the deepest rut and look out to the potential that your life truly holds.

No matter how difficult things are right now there is always the possibility of the future. You don’t have to be enlightened to experience glimpses of this freedom. You simply have to allow yourself to experience it. Once you see what’s possible, moving in a positive direction will be more compelling than staying in that rut.

Have you pulled yourself out of a hopeless situation?I’d love to hear how you made it happen.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Truths to Live By: Supremacy is Evil

In Ifa we consider supremacy evil. Believing that you are more valuable than another human being is clearly wrong. Supremacy can only be accomplished through oppression. We understand diversity to be the hallmark of God’s creation. Supremacy has no place in the Ifa world-view.

Oppression requires you to actively hold someone else down. It most often involves devaluing the things that make the other person different.

Distinctions are important. We need to understand the difference between good, and bad Without distinctions we can’t grow. We would have no way of knowing that something is better.

When we dislike people for anything other than bad character we are starting a downward slide. Systems that prohibit anyone from participating fully, as equals, are a problem.

In Ifa women are equal to men. Men and women receive the same initiation as Ifa priests. Men are referred to as Babalawo and women and Iyanifa. This is a difference in name only.

At the highest level, men receive Igba, and women Nanna.  Men are forbidden from Nanna, and women from Igba. However, these energies are equally powerful, and equally respected.

The point at which distinctions become supremacy is when someone is oppressed. I consider Ifa a highly evolved tradition. Christianity does not agree with a lot of Ifa principles. If I act against Christians because of that I would be wrong. I accept all other viewpoints that respect everyone’s right to their own.

Most religions engage in silencing opposing views. Atrocities have even been committed in the name of Buddhism. People of faith must take care to respect people from other traditions.

If someone does something that doesn’t directly harm anyone, how can it be in bad character? If you take issue with something, think about it. Are you reacting to unconscious programming? Think for yourself. You’ll find it easier to accept other people.

Have you noticed your very human tendency to act against people who are different from you? Have you been able to see it for what it is? I’d love to hear why or why not.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What to do When Motivation Disappears

Ever had a day when you just didn’t feel like doing anything? I’m had one of those last week. January is hectic. I have been swamped with people interested in getting their lives on track. I got a lot done in the last couple of weeks. The rush is over. My energy is sagging. I’m feeling a bit let down. What do you do when you don’t have anyone to keep you going?

First I said “I just don’t feel like it. I don’t want to write. What’s the point? Everything I’m thinking is so uninspiring. I wouldn’t even want to read it.”  Then rather than giving up I decided to blog about what I was going through.

It can be a blog, or a journal. You can sit and think about what’s going on for a while. Give your mood some apace so that you can understand it better. Taking action starts revving you up. My energy picked up as I wrote this.

This process may help someone get over the occasional bout of the blues. Really. I wasn’t feeling positive or hopeful  that day. Don’t deny your feelings and push on. Don’t collapse. Get curious about your experience and explore what’s going on. Exploration carries the seeds of the cure. I felt better just expressing this. It gave me an opportunity to look at myself more objectively.

It won’t always be easy, or quick.  If you can get curious about the emotion you’re facing, you’ll start focusing on solutions instead of the problem. You probably won’t suddenly have an amazing day, but, at least you’ll be able to face what needs to get done.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Truths to Live By: Good Character

In Ifa we believe that good character is the key to positive results. This week we’ll explore what good character is about.

The first element of good character is common to Ifa, and our culture. It involves being honest and ethical. This comes down to being a good person and to treating others, and yourself, with respect.

The second is about understanding what it means to be alive. See yourself and the role you play in a bigger, and bigger, context. Understand that every action you take, plan you make, and even thought you think, has an impact on the whole. This isn’t about sacrifice for the greater good. It is about realizing that creating win-win situations is the only correct approach.

The third element is caring for your world. Start with yourself.  Include your loved ones. Support the communities that you’re part of. Contribute to the world. Play your part in the Universe.

The fourth element of good character is long-term orientation. See the big picture in terms of time. This can be as simple as not sweating the small stuff. It can be as complicated as looking at your actions.  What  impact are you having on the  world? Let go of just wanting to feel good all the time.

Living in good character isn’t easy in our “get it now at any cost” culture. The Yoruba said that it is easier to change a man’s destiny than his character. The strength of our character determines how good our life will be. In the long-term, people of good character live healthy, happy, fulfilled lives. Those with questionable character eventually suffer. Bad character always finds its way home to roost.

Strengthening our character is part of life’s journey. What was once a flawless demonstration of character becomes a daily habit. The Universe gives us opportunities to better ourselves as we move through life. This is particularly true for those of us on a spiritual path. The work of building our character brings us growth, joy and fulfillment.

Do you believe that good character determines our results? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

Connect with Brian

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Keeping Your Resolutions

We’re heading quickly towards the middle of January. How are your 2013 resolutions working out for you? If you’re like many people your resolve is fading.

New beginnings can be inspiring. It is natural to look to the year ahead and think of  things  we’d like to improve. All of them are good ideas. The issue is trying to tackle too much at once.

I’m certainly familiar with giving up on an impossible goal. The resolutions themselves are fine. Shifting your approach can make all the difference. Take a good look at what you took on for the year.

Remember that every journey is a series of small steps. The bigger the change, the longer the journey. The longer the journey, the more you need to preserve your attention for ongoing work. You’ll only accomplish real change with sustained interest.

Look at the work you’ll need to do all year. On December 31st you want to be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

You have twelve months. Is that realistic? If it is then break the goal down into its monthly parts. Your goal will start to feel doable as soon as you take the pressure off this way.

Once that’s done break each month down into a goal for each week. Do this at the start of the month. Adjust based on how much you accomplished in the previous month.

You can take it a step further and identify what you need to do each day. For most people this won’t be necessary. If you like a lot of structure, daily goals will help keep you going.

At the end of each week, and month, take a look back and see how far you’ve come. Then take a look at any slack you may need to pick up. You may discover that your goal isn’t as realistic as you thought. Don’t give up, adjust it and carry on.

I started to work on my yearly goals in early December.  It’s been working pretty well for me this year. Having to stay focused over the holidays was good for me. Now, I’m even more excited about the changes I’m making.

Have you been making resolutions, and keeping them? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Truths to Live By: Our Symbioitc Relationship

Happy New Year everybody! All the best for 2013.

In Ifa we see ourselves as part of the greater whole of our lives, and of the Universe. We are a piece of all that is. We depend on it, and it depends on us. This week we’ll explore the implications of that perspective.

From our personal perspective we are dependent upon the rest of creation for our existence. Have you ever stopped to think about it? Having what we need for human life is nothing short of a miracle.

We have the right temperature to live in and grow food.  We have water to sustain us. We have an atmosphere that we can breathe. If even one of these things was out of whack we would not survive.

The gift comes with responsibility. We need to preserve the world that we are part of.  We are completely dependent on it. It has been here since long before our species was born. It is easy to take for granted.

Symbiosis is simple. Two organisms naturally work together in a non-competitive way, to support one another. Our free-will, makes it more complicated. We have to choose to work with the Universe and to act on its behalf. If we don’t then we risk destroying ourselves.

The bigger picture is also dependent on us. The Universe needs us, and our unique insights and contributions, in order to stay in balance. The Universe evolves through consciousness. We must understand our role as conscious beings, and step up to it.

We may be the first, and only time, that the Universe has become aware of itself through the consciousness of its own creations. It needs us to move that process forward by fulfilling the destinies, consciously evolving, then sharing our learning with our entire ancestral line iso that the process can continue.

As inspiring spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen puts it “Throughout history when we were in need we would pray to God for help. Now at the beginning of the twenty first century God needs our  help.” Do you feel like you’re in a symbiotic relationship with the Universe? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

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