Tag Archive 'friendly Universe'

Nov 02 2013

Rewiring an Unfriendly Universe into a Friendly One – #105

We become what we immerse ourselves in. This awareness hit home for me recently when I found myself becoming increasingly stressed and emotional and realized that I was immersing myself in the Breaking Bad marathon. I was spending hours each day engrossed in its harrowing 62 television episodes, marinating in suspense and danger. As a result, I found myself smack dab in an unfriendly universe, bracing for something to break bad in my own life.

I remember that unfriendly universe well – the first third of my life was spent immersed in it. Early childhood experiences wired me for danger and drama, with emotional suppression always threatening a sudden and frightening Jack-in-the-Box explosion of feelings from those around me, and, mortifyingly, from myself. By the time I was 21 I was clinically depressed and hospitalized twice for suicide attempts – I wanted out of my unfriendly universe!

Fortunately, I was able to see at that young age that my thoughts and beliefs were responsible for which universe I inhabited. For over 40 years I’ve been in the monumental process of rewiring that unfriendly universe into a friendly one. I recently reconnected with childhood friends I hadn’t seen or heard from in nearly 50 years. As I reviewed my life and summed it up for them I was delighted by the realization that I have accomplished some major rewiring in this lifetime!

I have come a long way from the tortured soul I once was. I now live in a beautiful place, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Life is good! I’ve even come to perceive my experience with cancer as the perfect plan of a benevolent universe conspiring for my highest good, my richest life, my deepest learning and healing, prompting me to return to the safety of knowing I am loved, watched over, and right where I’m supposed to be, no matter what.

To be sure, I am an ongoing work in progress, and still hardwired for danger: I cautiously lock my doors, I startle easily, I’m a nervous and annoying car passenger, (“Watch out for that pedestrian!”). But the scale has significantly tipped more into the friendly zone. A big difference now is that I have developed a compassionate witness, so instead of constant hyper-vigilance, I have a higher vigilance where I see life from the perspective of my soul.

Rewiring my brain for happiness has required steadfast commitment and focus because, as it turns out, negative experiences imprint more deeply and quickly than positive ones. In the book Hardwiring Happiness, neurophychologist Rick Hanson states that the brain has a negativity bias: it’s like “Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.” We are wired for survival and that’s why the negatives are more compelling and more easily imprinted in the brain. He says that in order to build neural pathways for positive experiences we need to soak in them and absorb them for at least 10 to 20 seconds – the longer and more intensely it’s felt, the deeper the imprint.

As soon as I realized I had gone off track recently, that I was breaking bad, I began re-immersing myself in a sense of safety, joy, and connection, what  Rick Hanson calls “Taking in the good.” I’m allowing myself to deeply savor and sink into the peace and pleasure of daily practices like meditating, walking in nature, time with loved ones, even laying on the couch at the end of the day playing online scrabble with my sister. Since I’ve been savoring and taking in the good, I have come back Home to my beautiful world – as Tom often says (whenever we pull into the driveway), “Home again, home again, jiggity jig.”

How about you? Where have you been immersing yourself? Are you taking in the good? Or are you breaking bad? Remember, we become what we immerse ourselves in.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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May 29 2013

A Little Bit of Danger, A Whole Lot of Aliveness – Issue #102

I just received my latest cancer test results. They show that I’m still in the ‘faintly positive’ range. That means I still have a little bit of cancer in me.  A part of me would love to be declared ‘cancer free’ so that I can completely relax about it. But another part of me, my Big Soul Self, LIKES that I still have a little bit of cancer!

It is the kick in the can(cer) that’s keeping me awake, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and motivated to savor this sweet life. Every day I have two small squares of rich, creamy, high quality dark chocolate (sweetened with a healthy sweetener). I let each bite slowly, sensually melt in my mouth and try to make it last as long as I can. I’m savoring my life in that same way: feasting my eyes on Tom’s sweet face, luxuriating in my time with him and loved ones, not taking anyone or anything for granted.

I’ve heard of people who’ve had a near-death experience that ignited in them a more vivid sense of joy and appreciation of life. Yet as time goes by, for many of them, that vivid aliveness begins to fade. Mine is not fading – that little bit of cancer is keeping me wide awake! How perfect is that?!

When I view this as the perfect design of my soul, it helps me relax into it, trusting that higher forces are at work here. That feels so much better than thinking that I’ve screwed up somehow, that I’m doomed, that I’m just unlucky.

My soul is in charge. I’m right where I’m supposed to be. That’s the story I’m telling myself, and I know that the story we tell ourselves has a powerful impact on our bodies and beings. Einstein said: “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

That decision affects us on a physical level; when we trust the universe, it helps us relax, which enhances our life AND our immune system. Fearing and distrusting the universe stresses us, and suppresses our immune system. Therefore, relaxing about having cancer can help heal it! And the only way I can relax about cancer is by trusting that it is all perfectly part of the grand plan of my higher self.

In addition, when I perceive my cancer as a soul-generated growth opportunity, I am filled with awe and respect for the courage of my Powerful, Wow-erful Big Soul Self! I ask myself, “Who ARE you!?” I always thought I was the world’s biggest fraidy cat, but I’ve discovered that the soul that I am is a rip-roaring, bad-ass Lionness! One day when I was appreciating the perfection of it all, my Lionness enthusiastically exclaimed to Tom: “I’m so happy to have cancer!” That spontaneous declaration surprised us BOTH!

With this little bit of cancer I have no physical pain, and, to be sure, if I were suffering with pain or chemo and radiation (like I did 3 years ago) I would not be such a happy cancer camper. (I’m not a fan of physical suffering – saint I ain’t!)

But right here, right now, I am alive and thriving. And, no matter how much time I have, I know that, just like with chocolate, it’s the quality that counts, not the quantity.

Are you having challenges in your life? How is it perfect? How is it all part of the grand plan of your courageous, magnificent Big Soul Self?

In Love,

Janet Jacobsen

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Mar 21 2011

“Pronoia – The Suspicion the Universe is a Conspiracy on Your Behalf” – #69

This is one freakin’ scary, exciting, dramatic, shaking, shift-inducing ride we are all on together on planet earth! In light of the recent disaster in Japan, and the continuing possible peril from a nuclear meltdown, it brings up the question: Is the universe friendly or is it fiendish? I vote for friendly, because while many of us when faced with our vulnerability on this precarious planet are scared to death, many more are scared to life! We are shakened and awakened and motivated to turn to the only thing that has permanence – the ultimate safety of an eternal, all-loving, omnipotent higher power.

That has been my experience with my own inner earthquake/bodyquake called cancer. It’s caused me to feel, as writer John Perry Barlow wrote, “Pronoia – the suspicion that the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf.” I have come to believe that ALL of life is benevolently designed to wake us up to love, to our true self and our higher purpose. Rob Brezsny writes in his book Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia, “No matter how upside down it all may appear, we will have no fear, because we know this big secret: All of creation is conspiring to shower us with blessings. Life is crazily in love with us – brazenly and innocently in love with us. The universe always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.”

Be it earthquakes or cancer or any of the innumerable catastrophes that can befall vulnerable humans, when shit happens it spurs shift to happen and turns it into gold. The entire planet literally shifted on its axis from this powerful 9.0 quake…and many people have shifted as a result into more love, compassion, empathy, generosity, purposefulness, presence and the awareness that we are all connected.

Some of the exquisite beauty that has arisen from this terrible tragedy is evidenced in many of the heart-warming, soul-stirring stories being reported. For example:

A news crew shot footage of two muddy, disheveled dogs in the middle of scattered rubble. One dog was anxiously hovering over the other dog who was lying beside him, immobile. The anxious dog moved towards the camera crew and then back to his stricken buddy. He sat close beside him, putting his paw on his pals head, as if to say, “Please help my friend.” Both dogs were rescued and are doing well.

There’s an amazing story about an 83-year-old woman outrunning the tsunami on her bicycle! And there’s the miracle of a four-month-old baby girl who was found buried in rubble for three days after having been swept from her parents arms when the terrible wave hit their home. She was reunited with her overjoyed parents unharmed. No one knows how it was she didn’t drown.

More gold from this tragedy is the outpouring of love and compassion from all over the world. Even China, a long-time adversary of Japan, has reached out with rescue teams and millions of dollars in aid. Studies have found that such acts of compassion benefit the receiver AND the giver – for all involved it creates feel-good oxytocin, stimulates the immune system, and enhances feelings of serenity and fellowship. Compassion raises our vibration to a higher part of ourselves.

Another inspiring story is of the workers who are staying behind at the nuclear plant to try and avert a meltdown. They are true heroes, putting the good of others ahead of themselves. And it’s possible that on the soul level the courageous people of Japan who lost loved ones or their own lives may have volunteered for this great mission, a mega heroes journey, helping to catalyze immense compassion in the world, reminding us all of the fragility and impermanence of earth and body and the all-embracing permanence of spirit, as well as reminding us to cherish our life and those we love.

When I first learned that my cancer had returned and my chances of survival were slim and that most probably great pain and suffering was ahead, there were times when I just wanted to check out of Hotel Earth. “Get me out of here!” I hoped that a bolt of lightening or a heart attack would strike and spare me from the ordeal ahead. I wanted to bypass the terrible fear, pain and suffering. But instead I turned towards spirit and asked for help and guidance and it came. Fear became faith, paranoia became pronoia, and I was led to finding precious gold amidst the rubble.

In times of crisis our frightened ego may feel like the sky is falling, yet our awakened spirit remembers, “I am the sky.” When it seems that life has turned on us, it has instead turned us ON, turning up the volume of spirit, light, love, and aliveness. Life can seem like a terrible trial, but if you move the ‘I’ forward in the word trial it becomes ‘trail’, a trail that leads us Home, to love, to Spirit – all part of the divine plan of a friendly universe that wants only to awaken us.

How about you? Is your universe friendly or fiendish, pronoiac or paranoiac? Do you have any personal disasters shaking your world right now? From my perspective it’s just the universe shaking and waking you to your magnificent Big Soul Self.  “All of creation is conspiring to shower you with blessings” no matter how it may appear.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Jul 23 2009

Mental Aikido – A Key to a Friendly Universe – Issue #21

Albert Einstein said, “I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the Universe a friendly place?’” One of the reasons that this question is so important is that scientific research has verified that how we perceive the Universe affects our stress level which in turn affects us at a cellular level, greatly impacting our health and quality of life. In other words, believing in an unfriendly Universe can literally damage our cells and make us sick, not to mention miserable.

Most of our beliefs are formed at a very early age and become deeply ingrained. By the time I was 19, I felt trapped in an unfriendly Universe, locked up in the cage of my hardwired beliefs. I began searching for a key that would free me from that cage. One of the things I did was read the book, The Power of Positive Thinking. I found that learning to think more positively did help: however, I also found that there was more to it than that. In fact, when we try to force positive thoughts that we don’t really believe, the critical part of our brain becomes activated and resistant. Our critical mind scoffs, “Nice try Pollyana, but you can’t fool me.”

I eventually learned that the best way to change a belief and shift a feeling is to first come into union with it. In the spirit of Aikido, a Japanese marshal art in which you blend with the energy of the opponent, (Aikido literally means “way of adapting the spirit”), you can be with beliefs and feelings in that same way by aligning with them, listening to them, being present and accepting them as they are. Then – here’s the key to changing it – give it a twist upwards by adding onto it a true and positive suggestion that shifts it to a whole other place. I call this Mental Aikido. To anchor this concept, just imagine…what does A Key Do? It aligns with what is there and then you give it a twist upwards and it opens the door to a whole new state of being.

For example, when I’m sitting at the dentist office in the electric chair – I mean dental chair – I have often felt terrified. I actually twitch and tremble sometimes and have even been known to cry on occasion. I feel like a big weeny. If I tell myself, “Just relax, you’re safe, this will be over soon,” it doesn’t help me. Trying to push away my fear is like trying to push a basketball down in water. It just doesn’t work.

What I’ve learned to do instead is to align with the fear and flow with the energy of it by saying to myself, “This is scary isn’t it? Someone is poking at your gums and teeth with a sharp instrument. I totally understand your feeling scared. It’s okay to feel scared. Let yourself feel it.” Then something amazing happens: I feel seen and heard, and my breath softens and my body starts to relax a bit. That creates an opening where I can give an upward twist by introducing a true and positive suggestion, telling myself, “I think you are courageous for coming here and taking care of your teeth, even though you’re so afraid. You have done a great job finding a caring and highly competent dentist and hygienist who know what they’re doing and are gentle with you. You are taking such good care of yourself. I’m proud of you.” I begin to relax even more, trusting myself, seeing myself as a courageous winner, instead of a wimpy, weepy wiener.

I’ve been using this Mental Aikido over the past several months with my experience of having uterine cancer. My fear of cancer was one of the bogeymen hiding in the shadows of my Universe. I have come face to face with this bogeyman, accepting that it is what is, allowing and fully feeling the feelings that have come up…And then turning the key and opening my mind to a friendly Universe by focusing on the great gifts that are coming from this experience, such as seeing the courage I didn’t know I had, feeling appreciation for the gift of life, and making a commitment to live my dream and do what I feel passionate about. Through the magic of Mental Aikido, the bogeyman that was cancer has been transformed into an ally in my spiritual growth, and my Universe is transformed into a friendly place.

What is your experience of the Universe? Is it a friendly place? Do you have beliefs about your world that are keeping you from feeling safe and happy and living your fullest life? I highly recommend using Mental Aikido as a key to transforming your perception and experience of the Universe. It is a powerful tool that can help us answer Einstein’s question in the affirmative: “Yes, the Universe IS a friendly place.”

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

P.S.  I gave this newsletter as a speech this morning at Toastmasters. Click here to see the video.

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