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How To Feed The Hungry Heart

 

By Dr. Brenda Shoshanna April 2007

 

Most of us live our lives hungry - hungry for love, attention, praise, success. But no matter how much we take in, itís hard to be satisfied. The pleasure lasts for a little while and then before long weíre craving more. It is easy to spend each day waiting for tomorrow when we will get what we dream of, arrive at our goal, find a new job, have good weather, or finally, magically, meet the love of our life. Then things will be better. Right?

Wrong. When tomorrow comes itís another day, just like this one. Unless we know what this day is, and how to live it fully and truly, the joy we dream of never comes. Or if the joy and success does come, it lasts a few moments and then leaves us oddly insecure.

After getting what we have wanted or worked for, for a long time, there can be a strange emptiness. Is this all there is, many ask? Others become afraid to lose what they have found Ė and start grasping it tightly. Others just want more, greed arises, hunger, addiction. In Zen itís called being a hungry ghost- someone at a banquet who eats and eats, but is still unable to taste the food, feel full or be nourished by it.

The good news is that there are ways to live which allow us to eat, digest and be nourished all that comes to us. Many have no idea how to do this. They become so driven chasing the elusive golden ring on the endless merry go round, they lose the fun of the ride. They may not have even realized the ride is over, the sun has gone down and itís time to go home. Some have even forgotten where home is.

Zen practice is about stopping the merry go round of our minds and heart. We take our attention off the prizes we think are waiting for us, somewhere else, someday, if we were only good enough. We take our attention off being good enough, and realize weíre good enough now. At this very moment we are that which we seek so fervently.

How To Take The First Step?

 

Stop For A Moment

Practice is about stopping. We stop our usual way of running, moving, chasing, fixing, thinking, doing and take a breath. Just a simple breath, just like one we take every moment of our lives, but pay no attention to. The first step is to take charge of our focus and pay attention to whatís happening right here, under our eyes, to the breath we are taking, this very moment.

Where will that get me, some ask? They do not realize that without this very precious breath and the next one that follows it, they would not be anywhere. Strange, isnít it, how we take this breath for granted. What else do we take for granted? Itís worthwhile to look and see.

 

Exercise: Pay Attention

Consider for a moment what you pay attention to all day long. What seems important to you, what do you take for granted and hardly attend to at all? Write it down. Do not judge your answers. Be honest and simple. As you keep track all week long, youíll be amazed at what claims your attention, what you give your precious life force to.

We take so much for granted, as though it will be here for us forever - our breath, our children, our health, our spouses. But all is given for a short while. All comes into our lives and eventually goes and we may never even have taken the time to realize what was there.

As we live most of our lives paying attention to the dreams created by our racing, yearning, scheming minds, we are allow our Monkey Mind to rule us. The monkey mind is the mind that hops from branch to branch, person to person, job to job, desire to desire, thought to thought. It always wants more and more, never feels good and doesnít now how to say thank you. It is unruly, reactive, unhappy and cannot be made to feel content. It chatters endlessly and is an expert in spoiling, judging and criticizing everything.

That Monkey Mind lives in us all. Sometimes it is very loud in our lives. Other times it settles down for awhile. This monkey mind pursues that which has no value and doesnít know how to find that which it is yearning for. In order to fill our hungry hearts, we must learn how to recognize and dissolve this monkey mind, to take our attention away from it, to turn our focus to what counts.

 

Exercise: Stop The Monkey Mind

Spend some time getting to know how the Monkey Mind is operating in your life. Much of the misery we go through and blame on others, has nothing to do is simply the effects of our own monkey mind. The first step is becoming aware of its thoughts, deeds, impulses. We need not hate, reject or try to get rid of it, just to recognize whatís going on. This recognition takes its power away.. As we learn to make friends with this part of ourselves we help it to settle down and take its proper place.

When a sense of hunger, loneliness, dissatisfaction and craving comes, donít blame it on others, or on circumstances. Instead, stop and look within. Know it is the monkey mind that is robbing you of the joy and fulfillment that is your natural birthright.

As you pay attention, stay in the present and take power back from the monkey mind, little by little you will be returning to your original nature. This nature is beyond words and thoughts. It is the part of yourself which knows the truth, which is kind and filled with clarity and satisfaction. This part of yourself will take over as you continue to practice paying attention, staying in the moment, and truly experience all that comes to you.

Everyday life and the struggles it brings, will become transformed into a series of moments that are fresh and new. You then take your newfound focus and are able to ďbe hereĒ in a brand new way. Not only does this eliminate hunger, dissatisfaction and cravings, but it brings new spaciousness and possibilities to those you interact with as well.

 

Discover the surprising truths about love that will save your relationships, in Dr. Shoshannaís new e-book Save Your Relationship (21 Basic Laws of Successful Relationships).

Dr. Shoshanna is a psychologist, relationships expert on iVillage.com, speaker, and author of many books, including The Anger Diet, (30 Days To Stress Free Living), Zen And The Art of Falling In Love, (Simon and Schuster), Why Men Leave (Putnam), and many others.  You can contact her, or visit her personal website.

 


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