A safe place for gay men to explore the intersection of sexuality and spirituality
“As gay men, we are uniquely qualified to bring the message of compassion, forgiveness, and self-acceptance—for we have been there and know how important it is to be proud of who we are.”
Alan Downs, PHD The Velvet Rage
Why do so many gay men struggle with issues of self-worth? What is it about gay culture that has us all so hyper-focused on our appearance? Is monogamy a realistic expectation in gay life? Why are there so many lonely gay men unable to find love? Who needs a religion that hosts an angry, judgmental deity? If God is Love, then why isn’t society more loving and accepting of gay people?
These questions and more will be the focus of our group meetings. Other issues such as addiction, pornography, gender identity, and masculinity will be addressed in future meetings. Join us as we connect, heal, cry and laugh together.
FACILITATOR – Dr. Chris Michaels
First and Third Wednesdays – 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Love Offering Accepted
Center for Spiritual Living 4849 North Dixie Highway Oakland Park FL, 33334
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
Humans can be cruel beings. This is made abundantly clear every time I turn on the news.
With that being said, humans can also be loving, kind, compassionate and empathetic beings. Stories of kindness may not always be as easy to see, but they are there.
Now I am not naive. I do understand that there is a big difference between being kind and being nice. Nice is to be agreeable. I am not saying we should all go around and blindly agree with each other. But I do think we could be more humane, considerate and empathetic. Being kind is to be humane.
So why I am telling you all this?
Because kindness is powerful.
And our world needs more kindness. If we want a kind world, we have to first be kind to ourselves. We must love ourselves in order to love and be loved.
I know this can be difficult especially when you’ve had a particularly horrible day. It can be hard if you just lost your job and you are feeling hopeless. It can be hard to love yourself when you feel fat and you don’t even recognize yourself in the mirror anymore. When you have those days it is easy to dive right into that bottle of Pinot Grigio or start binge watching Netflix until your eyes burn.
But you don’t have to resort to watching old seasons of Modern Family.
There is a simple yet profound alternative. It’s called a metta (or lovingkindness) meditation. This meditation can help you reserve and focus your positive vibes. It can help you learn to love yourself. And it can help you approach the world with more empathy.
It can even help with fear. According to legend, Buddha was taught lovingkindness as the direct antidote to fear.
There are many studies explaining the benefits of metta meditation. But reading about meditation isn’t the same thing as doing it.
Don’t take my word for it.
Try it yourself.
Here is a great lovingkindness meditation from Susan Piver.
I challenge you this month to embrace radical self-care. I challenge you to look for love. I challenge you to love yourself.
Everyday for the next week give yourself fifteen minutes to do a meditation of your choice. Maybe the metta meditation works for you or maybe you prefer a non-guided meditation. Either way commit to sit! Open your heart and make a nice comfy spot for yourself in there. I would love to hear how this goes for you. Please send me an email or leave me a comment.
P.S. Need a little extra love today? GET MORE LOVE HERE.
For many years, my soul was trying to guide me, but I wasn’t paying attention.
Like many people on the path of purpose, I looked for answers outside of myself. I ignored the warning signs or the intuition that was telling me, go this way…
I started my spiritual journey in my twenties. That is when I started searching for my soul’s assignment.
I talked to successful people. I traveled around the United States and watched how others lived their life. I read many books about personal vision. But after a lot of time and research I didn’t find myself any closer to an answer.
I knew then, that I really needed to look within. So I meditated for thirty minutes a day for thirty days. The first few days were difficult. My mind was racing and filled with monkey chatter. But on day ten things started to shift.
Ideas filled my mind. I realized then that my soul’s assignment didn’t have to be a job. It wasn’t an ego agenda.
It was and is a calling.
Since that moment, I have set forth to live my purpose and help others do the same.
Are you ignoring your soul? Have you lost touch with what matters? Are you walking around with unrealized potential?
Let me help you.
Would love to see you there.
Ps. Join us and win money! I will be giving away a $1,000 grant to one audience member at the Discover Your Purpose event at the Center of Spiritual Living. There are no strings attached. All you have to do is sign up and show up.
You know what you are meant to do in the world.
But each time you try to move forward something pulls you back.
Through research, writing books, creating programs and even through investigating my own life I have found that 90% of the time, the underlying cause of people not living their purpose is their need for approval.
For the majority of my life, I depended on others to confirm my sense of self-worth. I grew up in a small rural town where conformity was the norm. There wasn’t a lot of room or acceptance for boys like me.
After I left that small town I still looked for acceptance. Throughout my 20’s I jumped from city to city constantly searching for approval, thinking that a consistent stream of validation would bring me security.
Ironically, however, I realized that my chronic craving for approval was keeping me from really living.
I knew things had to change.
I think it is safe to say we have all been there.
And I think it is safe to say that we all return to that place occasionally where our need to be loved and accepted overrides our dreams. But when approval dictates the majority of our life and decisions we get stuck in patterns.
Then we aren’t just sad one day, we are depressed. We aren’t just nervous, we are anxious. We aren’t just watching one Netflix show we are watching ten.
So how can you get over this need for approval?
You have to accept yourself. No one else can do that for you. Having a strong foundation and sense of self can get you through the ups and downs of life. Keep a journal, where you start acknowledging things you’re most proud of about yourself. Write about times you have stayed true to yourself.
Practice pleasing yourself
Let go of seeking validation from others. What do you want? What makes you happy? When someone asks you which restaurant you want to go to, don’t say I don’t care. Tell them where you want to go. Don’t wait for someone to tell you that you made the right choice or did the right thing.
Instead, when you do make a decision, check in with yourself to see that it feels right.
Say what you think
There are so many stories out there right now about how women communicate. Watch how you communicate today. Do you say just in your emails a lot? How often do you apologize? Do you say things like, I know I don’t know as much as you do about this subject, but I think… Try saying what you are thinking. You don’t have to be mean or rude. But you can say what you want and what you are thinking clearly. You might just be surprised by how the world responds.
At the end of the day, remember you can’t control what others think, anyway.
So be you.
ps. I have created a FREE EVENT at the Center of Spiritual Living. Join me on Wednesday, October 21st from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. for a soul searching evening. I will share my story and how I turned pain into purpose.
Facebook is a great place to go to connect with friends and family. It is a great place to read moving articles. It is a great place to keep in touch with old friends. Simply it can be a fun distraction.
But Facebook is also a great place to compare yourself to others.
Oh look at Jenny! She goes to the beach every other week! I wish my life was filled with travel. I wish I was that free…
Bob and Sarah must really love each other. They write each other love letters on their Facebook page every other day. When they don’t post love letters they post photos. They look like they are so in love. I wish I had a love like that…
And Courtney she is so fit. No matter what I do I could never be that thin. I will always be uncomfortable in my body. I wish I could feel and look like Courtney…
Comparing yourself to others is so dangerous.
You make huge assumptions about other people. You don’t know what is really going on with them. Jenny may have lost her job. She could be island jumping and spending her life savings with no real plan. Bob and Sarah may be working through infidelity. There daily affirmations might be their life raft. Courtney may be struggling with body image issues of her own.
You just never really know.
And remember, most of the time we all put our best photos on Facebook. Facebook is a curated view, not realistic one.
When you compare yourself to others you are essentially telling yourself, I am not enough.
And that is not true. You are enough. You have a unique gift to the give the world.
I listened to a positive psychologist the other day, Emiliya Zhivotovskaya. She talked about something she saw at the pool this summer. There was a big diving board with a long line. Kids would eagerly move to the end of the board and jump off in funny unrestricted shapes. They didn’t care what they looked like or how they were “supposed” to jump. The adults would walk carefully to the end of the board and dive in perfectly. Or they would jump off in a straight line like a pencil and hold their nose.
I found this fascinating. As adults we are so conditioned by the shoulds. We should be… We should look like… It makes us rigid, cookie-cutter robots.
This rigidity affects our happiness. It keeps us stuck in unhealthy cycles. Ultimately it takes away the magic that is in us. It strips away our unique power. We stop recognizing ourselves.
Don’t do this to yourself.
The next time you get on Facebook and think, I wish I could like her, take a deep breath. Say to yourself, I am enough. I am everything I need to be in this moment.
Another way to enable your confident soul to be unapologetically you is to spend less time on Facebook. When you are bored call a friend. Talk to her about what is really going on in her life. We are more connected than ever, but we aren’t always really connecting.
When you get on Facebook be real. When you show up in the world be real. Be your vulnerable imperfect self and love that self.
Turn on some music and dance. Nurture and celebrate the unique that is you.
Instead of watching the world live their life, go out there and live the life you want! Don’t look back.
Women are regularly criticized. They aren’t just criticized for their work or professionalism. Often women are criticized for their personality or their looks. All you have to do is get on the internet and you can see it everywhere. She’s not pretty enough. She’s not kind enough. She’s not smart enough. She’s full of it, who does she think she is? What kind of mother would do that?
The negative comments are endless.
The truth is women have been dealing with this for years. Women have been conditioned to not rock the boat. Women need to be likeable. Throughout history a woman’s life depended on it. Today for some women around the world their life still depends on it.
I think about this a lot when I am working with women. Many of them don’t voice their ideas or pursue their most important work because of their fear of criticism. Or they don’t take risks or speak their truth because they are dependent on praise. Praise is where many of us find validation.
If people don’t love your work then it must be unworthy, right?
I see this in some ways as a natural reaction. We all want to feel like we matter, like we are loved and appreciated.
At the same time we need to establish a healthy relationship with feedback and criticism. The goal, in my view, is not to become immune to criticism. You don’t want your skin to be so thick that you can’t hear the world around you.
The point it to become focused. The point is to know yourself. Your inner wisdom should always be your guide.
Your boss might say, “Your work this week was sloppy.” Or your family may think dinner was disgusting last night. Or maybe a coworker says something passive agressive about your weight.
Look inward. Ask yourself, is this feedback true?
If it is true look at it objectively. Do you want to make this better? If so, how can you make it better? If you don’t care whether you are a good cook or not, then don’t let those comments take up space in your heart.
If this isn’t true, do your best to let it go. And also know that feedback can only tell you about the people giving the feedback.
The truths we know about ourselves are very powerful. Our beliefs make up our soul. You could be very fit. But in your heart if you believe you aren’t fit enough there is no amount of praise that will ever make you feel better.
Look inward. Build your beliefs. And know that all meaningful work brings both praise and criticism.
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You are about to walk into the most important meeting of the year. You are presenting to the top dogs of your company. You feel confident. You have come up with the perfect solution to a problem that has been plaguing the company for months. You feel excited and alive. You aren’t nervous at all.
But then you walk into the conference room.
You scan the faces in the room. Bob looks tired. He almost looks like he has been crying. You hope everything is okay at home. Then you see Evelyn. Evelyn looks like she has consumed gallons of coffee. She stabs away on her laptop keyboard. She doesn’t look up. Her face is a frozen frown. Her eyes dart back and forth over an email you imagine feels like a personal attack.
You feel Bob and Evelyn’s energy fill up your body. All of sudden you start to think maybe this isn’t a good day to talk about this… I don’t want to overwhelm Bob. And Evelyn she has been working crazy hours lately. Not to mention, she is in the middle of a nasty divorce. Maybe this isn’t the time to discuss such a radical shift in company policy.
You smile at them apologetically before you even say hello.
The meeting doesn’t go well.
If this is how you think or how you act in certain situations, you may have an empathy problem.
What is empathy? Empathy is the ability to temporarily step out of your experience and step into another person’s experience. You can see things clearly from the perspective of other people.
Don’t get me wrong. Empathy helps us be compassionate giving beings. And we need compassion. Our world NEEDS empathy.
On an individual level, empathy can be an amazing strength and gift that can help you find success in your personal and professional relationships. Empathy can help you find meaning and happiness in your life.
We really can’t live without empathy.
But if you can’t manage your empathy or turn it off, you will become an overloaded sponge. You will absorb every good and bad emotion that you encounter. Your dreams and intentions will be lost in a sea of emotional information you are constantly processing. You will forget what you need, what you feel and what you desire. You will no longer be you.
So, how do you manage your empathy?
First, you have to pay attention to your feelings. You have to drive in your own lane. This can be hard to do. Especially if you are a sensitive soul.
If you think you have tendency of always putting others’ needs before your own, try creating a morning routine. When I say morning routine I don’t mean running to your computer to answer emails and chugging coffee. A morning routine is a simple practice you create.
If working out for an hour makes you feel empowered and ready to take on the day, then start your day off with exercise. If writing in your journal or drawing in a sketchbook gets you in touch with your soul and all that is good in the world, do that in the morning before you enter the office. Or if you love reading then wake up a bit earlier. Take thirty minutes in the morning to sit in your favorite chair, sip tea, and read a book.
These may seem like simple ideas. Or you may be thinking, who has time to read in the morning? I have a job. I have kids to get to school. But I will tell you, these moments of self-reflection, these small changes create meaning in our lives.
Starting your morning off in a way that nourishes your soul is a great form of self-care. It is a great way to take control of your life.
Meditation is such a powerful tool. Take a few minutes daily to sit still with yourself. You can learn so much from your body. Your body is constantly telling you what you need and what is or is not working. But if you don’t listen, if you don’t pause to hear those messages, you will be missing out on the most valuable information you will ever receive.
If you know you are going to have a stressful week or if you are really empathetic meditation could really change how you interact with the world. It could be the best way for you to recharge your soul.
You can also use visualization as a form of meditation. I use this often when I start my day, before I speak on stage or at the end of the day when I am feeling drained.
If you want to start meditating but don’t know how? My friend Kristoffer Carter aka KC can help you get started.
Like I said above, empathy is beautiful gift. Once you learn how to channel it you will be unstoppable.
This week we have a guest post from author Lisa Brunette. Read her full bio below.
“Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.” – Zora Neale Hurston
We’re often taught that anger is a shameful emotion. It’s something that should be managed, or better yet, squelched. As a society, we look down on or pity those who can’t control it, who allow their facade to crumble, who “lose it” so that everyone can see the emotions roiling inside them. We judge them for this perceived weakness.
Especially in the spiritual community, we also tend to canonize people who don’t show their anger. Many of us aim for the spiritual ideal of the calm, serene, monkish enlightened one who reacts to every situation with never-ending grace and acceptance. We imagine Jesus this way, for his “turn the other cheek” teaching, and the list goes on: Buddha, Mother Teresa, Ghandi. You could even add Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lennon to the list.
But this is exactly the wrong approach for many of us who’ve been marginalized and oppressed through sexism, racism, homophobia, or other negative patterns of behavior. Especially for trauma and abuse victims, denying anger might add another layer of damage before the healing can even begin.
The Hurston quote above captures this beautifully. Imagine a victim of domestic abuse, afraid for her life and unable to express anger about her beatings, for fear of incurring more of the same. It’s often a struggle for law enforcement to get the victim to stand up to her abuser by filing charges against him. Victims are often unable to leave. They might also suffer in terms of their own self-worth, blame themselves for their predicament, or feel protective of their abuser because of any familial or love ties.
But victims must tap into their own anger in order to dispel the fear that traps them in victimhood.
In terms of social change, anger also plays a key role. It’s anger that gives someone the courage to stand up to injustice or to fight for what’s right. Anger can be a galvanizing force for good in the world. It sparks protests, outcries, campaigns, letters to the editor, electoral and legal victories, new laws. All of these things can lead to a better society for all.
Martin Luther King marched on Washington, called racists out for their prejudice, and continues to inflame hearts to this day with his spirited, angry speeches. Note in the video below how he shouts, “I’m not fearing any man!”
Of course, like other powerful forces, anger can consume. An abuse victim’s healing isn’t served if she becomes obsessed with revenge. And the negative pattern only continues if she becomes an abuser herself.
Likewise, a protest can turn violent, causing more problems than it solves. Laws meant to protect can also be used to harm.
So grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear. But then replace the anger with something that feeds your spirit.
As Chris says here on the blog, this begins with knowing how to say no. But it ends in understanding when to say yes.
Lisa Brunette is the author of a forthcoming book of poetry on this topic called Broom of Anger. Her published work includes the Dreamslippers mystery series and short stories based on her childhood as a military brat. Read more here: www.catintheflock.com
How important is purpose?
In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and the world’s best researchers to identify areas around the world where people lived long, healthy, and happy lives. What he found was that diet is an important factor in longevity, but purpose is what keeps people alive. Purpose gets us up in the morning and gives meaning to our lives.
The problem is: purpose isn’t something we are taught to pursue. So we follow society and go through the motions. We have children. We buy homes. And we work harder and harder to keep up with our lifestyle. These unconscious choices have an effect on our lives. Before we know it, five, ten or even twenty years have passed without any thought as to what our purpose might be.
So the question today is: Are you living your purpose?
Do you have a dream that’s deferred? Have you recently lost your job? Are you counting the days until retirement? Maybe you just started a new business and want to take it to the next level?
At different stages in life, it’s important to reconnect with your values and make sure you’re living a purpose-filled life. That’s exactly why I have created The Life Purpose Project.
What is the Life Purpose Project?
The Life Purpose Project is a program that helps you reconnect with your passion, no matter where you are on your journey. It gives you one-on-one support and tools to keep you moving toward your best life.
Here are a few ways the Life Purpose Project will change your life:
How will I learn?
You have options.
Option 1: You can take the full program, which includes a webinar, two one-on-one coaching sessions with me, and a weekend intensive. The weekend intensive will be out of this world. We have five speakers from a variety of industries. You can read more about them here. But I will also be sending you more information about them as we go. So stay tuned!
Option 2: You can just purchase a day pass. This is the first time we have ever offered a day pass for one of my programs. This day pass will be for the event on Saturday, June 13th.
The Life Purpose Project is not for everyone. It’s for those who really want to make a difference by connecting their heart’s desire with the world’s need. It’s for people who want to live a more meaningful life.
If you’re ready to take charge of your future and jumpstart your passion, I’d be honored to help you make it happen. If you have more questions check out our website here. Or feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.