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What if we could embrace contradictions rather than be torn by them? Rev. Kris Alexander suggests "We can develop our paradox mindset, the ability to hold multiple opposite ideas at once” and do exactly that.

A paradox is "contrary to...opinion", or "the appearance of contradiction between two components", according to Brene Brown. We see them everywhere, and they're natural and normal, yet moving from our innate either-or thinking to a yes-and perspective takes commitment and practice. The rewards are worth the effort, though, as our learned open-mindedness opens countless doors of possibility and opportunity for us and others.

After reading Rev. Kris's introduction to this month's Global Theme for Centers for Spiritual Living, and Rev. Dr. Petra Weldes' article in this month's Science of Mind magazine, "Contemplate, Play With, and Compare the Paradox", I began to think about what the most common paradoxes are that I have encountered in my life and work. Each of them seems to have a myth at their core, ready to be busted. Read on and see if you can relate. I bet you can!

Myth #1: Life is a race. You've got to push to get ahead. If you're having fun, you're not doing it right.

Myth-Buster #1: Life is a dance. You can choreograph and dance your way to success. If you're having fun, you're doing it right.

I remember putting this and other spiritual principles to the test as a professional yacht crew member back in the early 90’s. We were working a very busy charter season with back-to-back charters, long days, and short turnarounds. Yes, just like “Below Decks”! I decided to incorporate a few spiritual practices and types of self-care into my daily routine, and the results were amazing.

I used visualization and pre-framing to have a better rapport with our Captain (others got in shouting matches, quit, or got fired). I choreographed my tasks, listened to inspiring speakers, and used affirmations as I worked, and it seemed as if time stood still. I did better work in less time and enjoyed myself in the process. I still had time for meditating, journaling, cat naps and runs, all while working 12-16-hour days. It’s amazing what a few shifts in perspective can do!

Myth # 2: "You can't always get what you want", sings Mick Jagger. It's a sin to pray for yourself or something you desire. Better to accept what you can see around you and work with that.

Myth-Buster #2: "You must ask for what you really want, don't go back to sleep", says Rumi. Desire arises when circumstances are ripe for something to occur, says New Thought teacher, Dr. Raymond Holliwell, in "Working with the Law". "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." says Jesus of Nazareth. Or if the Law of Attraction feels like a better fit, whatever we believe we receive. And the Observer Effect in quantum physics tells us that we get what we measure for. 

Another demonstration occurred while I was taking a class at a Center for Spiritual Living. It was the manifestation of an amazing job which tripled my salary in just saying “yes” and quadrupled it in the end. This time it was the equivalent of “Below Decks Med” and I went from working at a catering company in North Carolina to crewing for a busy charter yacht during the Mediterranean season in just ten days. It happened so fast, I had to hire my housemate to pack up my things. I asked for what I really wanted, in terms of satisfaction in work and financial prosperity, and I stated it all as if it were already so, in what we call a Spiritual Mind Treatment. The phone rang within the hour and the rest, as they say, is history!

Myth #3: "You can't give what you haven't got." Once that changes, then you can give. In the meantime, be very sparing with what you've got.

Myth-Buster #3: "To keep it, you must give it away." Giving will create a flow and increase of what you already have. Start being very generous with what you've got. Give whatever you'd like to have more of - without thought of what you'll receive in return - and watch as your good increases.

The other part of the Mediterranean miracle story is that I was practicing tithing when I got that job. I was giving 10% of my good to the people and institutions which fed me spiritually. I continued that practice everywhere I went and had the most amazing experiences of giving, receiving and increase. I practice tithing to this day and continue to marvel at the good things which result.

Whether you're trying to give up the race for the dance, to give up settling for what is for what you desire, or to give up waiting for "someday" when you can afford to share, these are all just symptoms of trying to make it in life while not fully understanding how it works. The great news is that every one of these challenges, indeed everything that life throws at us, causes us to seek answers and to find the solutions that have been waiting there for us.

When your life feels like a race instead of a dance, try catching yourself before the feeling escalates, stress builds, and your quality of life diminishes. Have some affirmations at the ready to counter-act those negative feelings and get you back to living and working well.

When it seems that your life is made up of just what you need - and maybe barely that - but not what you want, ask yourself, "What do I really want?" What small steps could you take to begin cleaning up the inauthentic choices, concessions and compromises you've been making? How might you replace them with ones which honestly reflect who you are and what makes you feel more alive? As you give yourself permission to "ask for what you really want", practice believing that these things are possible for you, and watch as they begin to show up in your life.

When it seems like there's not enough of something that you want or need, experiment with giving it, purely and generously, without thought of what you will receive in return. This is one of the biggest paradoxes of all, that to "keep" anything, we must "give it away". Try it and see for yourself, as giving time brings you more time, giving appreciation brings you more appreciation, and - yes - even giving more money brings you more money. Experiment with one thing - anything - and watch what happens.

Any time - every time - you prove a spiritual principle through your own practice and experience, your ability to believe will increase, and thus your ability to demonstrate and manifest will increase, too. And, since you're dealing with the Infinite, there's no limit to what you can achieve. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why not start experimenting with "Playing with Paradox" today? Your dreams await!