by Debra Moffitt

Photo by Debra Moffitt, Lakeside Couple

Photo by Debra Moffitt, Lakeside Couple

An acquaintance, a successful professional man I know, is all in for the Tinder, hookup, culture. When he found himself single, instead of healing his hurts, he got on Tinder and OKCupid, and he scheduled four meetups (yes, the number 4, ladies!) in one weekend. Now I’m not judging. Everyone is different. But for me, that’s not the way I roll. In fact, I believe, that despite pop culture’s emphasis on fast-food style sex, that many women prefer getting to know a mate and creating an emotional connection. This is where respect comes in. This is where we discover who’s really demanding to be let into our intimacy, into our bodies. For guys it’s just not the same. They’re not letting anything in.

And often this is exactly the way it feels after the connection ends. They took something away, but gave nothing of themselves. I’m not saying all men, I’m simply saying that for men it’s more often than not, “not a big deal.” They won’t go away thinking obsessively about the woman they just bedded. They’re off looking at the next one that presents herself on the mobile phone app. Human nature? A physical, genetic thing that pushes men to reproduce?

By the way, I know that the man I mentioned is not typical. My many men friends are mostly faithful partners and don’t find sex without emotional connection very satisfying either. So this is in no way man bashing as we’re all in this together. I prefer someone who’s not so impulsive and instinctual. Someone who moves with me, heart to heart, and opens up to experience and connects with me as a person, not an object to be consumed. I like tenderness — physical and emotional — and to cultivate it takes time.

So girls, check-in and reflect. Make conscious choices about who you allow into your life. Want to make a superficial connection or do you want something that goes deeper? Know what you want and what works for you. And don’t let society, media, or your girl groups dictate your code of conduct. By making a conscious choice and knowing what you’re okay with and what you’re not, you’ll have a happier and healthier emotional life! Enjoy!

Copyright, Debra Moffitt, July 2015. (Reproduction or recopying on sites must be authorized with express, written permission of the author.)Bio: Debra Moffitt is an award-winning author who believed in “the One” and in living “happily-ever-after” with one man, but life turned out differently. She has had two wonderful marriages and two okay divorces. And her last boyfriend was about fifteen years younger which her grandmother would probably find exciting and shocking at the same time! Debra observes human nature and loves and respects men. She aims to help women and men connect better in relationships — and also to bring a little humor to it. A laugh almost always soothes the heart.

A great summer read for lovers of the French Riviera.

Check out Riviera Stories for more love and adventure. Cover of Riviera Stories: Just Below the Surface

“We’re being turned into a noun when the aliveness is in staying a verb.” – Mark Nepo

I met Mark at the Sophia Institute and he is a heart friend — someone who is — simply and unabashedly a verb. Here’s a short clip with some of Mark’s words of wisdom.

I met Mark at the Sophia Institute and he is a heart friend — someone Mark Nepo speaks of simplicity, patience, and compassion. Here’s another short clip where he speaks of simplicity, patience, and compassion. Mark Nepo – The Power of the Heart

A true soul mate is one who grows your capacity to love. As summer turns many people’s thoughts to finding love, hearts yearn to find someone who understands and loves them perfectly. But what if the equation is backwards. What if instead of searching for someone to love us, we were to go about searching for someone who we truly love unconditionally? Many of us seek to grow and learn consciously or not through our relationships with others. Whether they’re romantic relationships, friendships or relating to colleagues and family, every relationship offers some path to learning about our capacity to love, to open our hearts and to accept another exactly as he or she is.

It’s as if we carry an imprint or a blueprint within us of an ideal Love. This ideal draws us to search for perfection. It often includes ideals of transcending time and place, of bringing joy and of giving us what we want. But that kind of love is often fleeting because it’s based in what we want rather than what we can give. Often existing relationships are tossed aside too quickly because they do not fulfill our immediate demands and desires.

This is especially true of romantic relationships. It seems that in places like India where arranged marriages are still customary, that couples have a better chance of building an enduring relationship because they do not carry the burden of such high expectations of their mates to fulfill an extensive list of demands.Their understanding of the purpose of marriage is to reduce ego and increase spiritual practice. It’s a way to grow and open the heart even when times are difficult and challenging.

The tests and trials that we face with others in relationship are gifts in disguise. It means that soul mates may not only be those who we seek out for romance, but may include sisters, mothers, friends and strangers we pass on the street who give us a chance to help them. Those who persevere on behalf of love may, in the end, find a deep healing and a love beneath the surface that heals and fulfills. As, spiritual wisdom increases, it can actually bring us to see and love the timeless, eternal divine in others.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Sex and spirituality don’t often end up in the same sentence. Particularly in America where attitudes about sex split between making it dirty and lust-related or “free” and easy. Both can be traps. On the side where physical attraction and sexual energy are viewed as “evil”, it denies human beings of our natural desire to connect with others and share this beautiful energy. On the other side of the spectrum, those who opt for being “free” with their precious sexual energy and “open” to hook-up with many partners, can fall into another sort of trap. When women or men, need the physical connection as a way to affirm themselves and gain a sense of self-worth, it can become an addiction. 

The media plays on images of bodies, desire and attractiveness to give a false sense that we are only physical beings. Just look at the images of pouting young women and men in the jeans and fragrance ads. They limit and confine us to a material world, when we are so much more. If we’re not conscious, the advertisers can harm our deeper sense of self-worth by giving the sense that we are only as valuable to society as our sex appeal.

For women who look at the media standard of feminine attractiveness, sexy is practically the only way that we are portrayed. Some people may interpret the ability to wear mini-skirts and tiny shorts as “freedom”. But being free to wear sexy clothing is not necessarily liberating. In fact quite often it’s a trap for women and men who feel an obligation to dress sexily. They may restrict themselves and others to physical appearances and relate to each other only at this level. From this level, people may use sex to provoke, manipulate and control. Sex can become a way to take power over someone and disconnect. Or sharing one’s sexual energy in a healthy, loving way, can create a space for deeper union that happens when all aspects of the human being are engaged – body, mind, heart, and spirit.

A relationship where all of the individual is fully engaged, the person we feel attracted to is no longer an object to be consumed like a meal and then forgotten. She or he becomes a being worthy of respect. We know them as dynamic, alive, and vibrant and they expand our universe. Our partner, becomes a way for us to grow and learn, and experience the Divine in a delightful and magnificent falling-away of barriers where we open ourselves to being vulnerable in the most intimate way. This kind of connection and union nourishes our spirit, appeals to the senses, pleases the sensual, and satisfies desires in a deep and fulfilling way. It engages the emotions and the subtle senses. For some of us, this form of relating, can only come in a relationship where both partners are willing to be transparent and stand spiritually, mentally and emotionally naked in front of each other. It’s more than just bodies that meet. When the energy of love arises and both share the highest intentions and deep consideration for what is best for the other, the world of relating transforms.

Relating through the heart brings the wisdom to know when it’s appropriate to share one’s self in all of these ways, and with whom. The wisdom heart knows. It protects and guides us to make wise decisions that promote self-care and respect for self and others. When fully engaged at this level intimacy challenges us to face our fears, be fully present to the moment and live in a divinely inspired way. There’s nothing superficial about it.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Visit her online at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Photo by Debra Moffitt swan family good 205

Swan family tending babies. Photo by Debra Moffitt

Karma simply means the effects of our actions. It’s like planting a seed and watching it grow. The more conscious we are of the seeds we plant through our thoughts, words, and actions, the more we can consciously shape our destiny. When we eat a little too much today, tomorrow, and again the next day, the result is a need to buy new pants to accommodate that expanding waist line. That’s karma.

Like overeating, the consequences or results of karma are not immediate. It takes months or even years (and some would say lifetimes) for some actions to bear fruits. Though it’s often associated with negativity, karma can be good and bring good results too. Anyone raising a child knows that each day of loving care results in a healthy adult. Writers putting pen to paper know that long-term, the many words together can result in a book.

Our lives are created through each moment. The decisions we make, either conscious or not, create our future. If we follow human values and focus on uplifting thoughts, words and actions, we can create a beautiful and meaningful life. This is guided by a deep spiritual connection to the Divine.

If we choose the path of ego instead, then we will harvest the results of ego. We see it clearly in the lives of criminals. A small decision to lie may dull the conscience which warns when actions bear bad karma. The conscience wears away and the inner mechanism that keeps him or her from doing acts that harm himself and others no longer functions. He may move onto cheating, theft, and even murder.

By listening to that inner voice of wisdom that elevates us to take the harder path and do the right thing at the right time, we naturally know what direction to take. Take a moment to contemplate where you are and the thoughts, decisions, and actions that have brought you here. Consider, too, where you’d like to be in a year or in ten years. If you’re searching for peace, love and compassion, begin by extending the same to others today. Every action counts.

Copyright Debra Moffitt – First appeared on Mallika Chopra’s Intentblog.com April 2013

Bio: Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss”. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook.

airplane quote on self doubt from Internet

Be a rebel. Credits: Caroline Caldwell

By Debra Moffitt

“In a society that profits from self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”

“Love yourself.”

Companies that make beauty products, fashion, media and magazines generally don’t want us to be happy with who we are. They profit from our insecurities. They even add to them and create unreal ideas about who we could or should be. The worst culprits tend to be women’s’ magazines that assault us with a barrage of ads of supper skinny, poreless, zit-free, wrinkle-free, Photoshopped women and girls. The images of perfection they uphold slip into the psyche and gnaw at us.

They give us the impression that there is a standard of beauty that we must conform to, but they also make it clear that we will inevitably fall short. Even the models they use in their ads don’t look like the final photos — and the women like the supermodel, Cindy Crawford, say so. The media, keeps trying to give us its definitions of beauty which look very narrow and limited as well as limiting. This can undermine our individual sense of beauty and uniqueness and play on our self-doubts. And it’s not only affecting women, but men are feeling the pressure now too.

I love the example set by Weleda. Weleda, a health and beauty products company created in 1920 by Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman, believed in respecting the human psyche and working with the whole person. They respected the individual. Today Weleda’s beauty products use advertising that draws on nature — beautiful images of flowers and plants. Their motto reflects their values: “In harmony with nature and the human being.” When I visited the company headquarters in Arlesheim, Switzerland, one of the company’s managers told me that they consciously aim to advertise with respect for the individual — and to not play on our insecurities. Imagine if/when all beauty products companies did/do the same. What a wonderful world it would be — will be.

No two flowers are the same. Photo by Debra Moffitt

No two flowers are the same. Photo by Debra Moffitt

I love people watching and part of the pleasure and joy of it comes from appreciating all of the differences and types of beauty. All ages are beautiful. All body shapes are unique and beautiful. All sexes are beautiful and intriguing. I sit back and watch, simply fascinated by the beauty and the diversity of us. The beauty I see is not always the conventional kind, it is the unique kind and it comes with the ability to be grateful for the wide variety of experiences that being embodied in human form offers us. Isn’t life amazing and fun?!

Self-love means accepting one’s self. It can start inside or by accepting and loving others – and silencing the inner critic who judges everything against the magazine-ad-standard of beauty.

Copyright Debra Moffitt, June 2015

Why does a woman beaten by her mate continue to love him? Why do mothers feed and love their babies so totally and unconditionally? What is this thing called “romantic love” that draws people together makes them embrace a relationship with each other and then spin off in different directions to seek that energy somewhere else? To begin the exploration, I asked: “What does is Love?” Little signs gave indications along the way. In India in an ashram I read this sign posted on the canteen wall: “Love is neither emotion nor sentiment. Love is energy. — Sathya Sai Baba.”

A light bulb went on inside me and ignited a spark. I realized that when I love I feel energized and alive. I certainly feel love as energy. But how would I know when I was working with love and being loving in relationships? No sooner had I asked the question when a friend read this to me: “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always perseveres. Love never fails.” — I Corinthians 13:4

I turned it into a formula to help it make sense to my mind. It looks something like this: Patience + kindness + trust + perseverance + truth + protection – rudeness – boasting – self-seeking – pride – envy = Love This became my scientific formula to know when I bring the presence of love into relationships. If love was like math, then it would be clear and easy. But Love mixed with human nature makes it more challenging to perceive. It seems to me more and more that the easy way to practice Love is simply to be empty like a flute, let go of ego and desires, and allow the energy to pass through unobstructed to everyone around. Children do this naturally. So do we, as adults, when we return to this pristine, trusting, childlike state of being. “Through the eyes of Love, all beings are beautiful and the world is one vast family,” Sathya Sai Baba said.

Isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t that feel good? This is the kind of love I embrace. It includes romantic love, love of a parent, love of siblings, and most importantly it embraces self-love.

Copyright Debra Moffitt, June 2015.Also published on ABC News website. (National)Debra Moffitt is author of “Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life.” and “Garden of Bliss“. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Visit her online.

Recognizing relationship cycles can add a twist to what it means to have a “happy ending.”

IPaper wedding hearts on dock. Photo by Debra Moffitt  believe that every relationship has a life cycle — a period of time that we’re meant to be with someone where we learn, grow, share, build something, maybe create a family or a business, and then — sometimes, we need to move on to grow and learn with someone else or simply on our own.

This is not a failure. It is a change in the paradigm of how we think of romantic relationships.That old paradigm was based on financial security and our survival. Today we can have relationships and maintain them — or not — based on how we feel and what our life purpose may be.

What if relationships are now about learning, growing, and constructing, rather than financial partnerships? Though they can be that too. What if when we get to the end of the cycle and recognize that it’s over, instead of resisting and trying to pretend it’s still alive, we mutually acknowledge it and move on?

It can be beautiful and honor the other and the relationship, and recognize that conditions change. In one relationship, I deeply and dearly loved a man and we had a wonderful emotional and physical experience together. We shared joy, love, good sex, and fun times. We spoke honestly and encouraged each other to grow. We supported each others’ life goals, and all seemed perfect. And it was. Then one day, we both felt it. He had an overwhelming urge to have children. Not to adopt, but to have his own children. I believe that being in a relationship where he felt loved and supported, that natural urge for babies suddenly arrived. It was natural. We talked about it. Nothing hidden. And we both knew that while it was right for him, it wasn’t right for me. With breaking hearts, we both decided to separate as lovers. But the deep honesty and love between us transformed into an abiding friendship. And we’re still friends. We honored our change in relationship through a private ritual of respect and gratitude.

P1030614Our friends remarked on how they’d never seen anything like it. What was so different, I wondered? The difference came from being aware and accepting. Instead of trying to force the other to be different, instead of denying what we both felt going on and the transition we felt coming, we shined a light on it and brought it into the open. Neither of us denied our feelings about it. It did not make parting easy.. I still felt the grief of loss and so did he, but we both continue to love and befriend each other. We didn’t try to get friends to choose sides or blame each other. We both simply had different goals and dreams and we accepted it.

What made the difference with the ways most relationships end?

1) Awareness of the change/feelings and a willingness to confront them.

2) Deep respect and openness and honesty.

3) Love and caring for the other’s well being and desires.

4) A desire to grow and become better human beings.

We can make transitions in peace — with ourselves, our mates, and our family and friends. We don’t have to fall into the same old trap of creating angry explosions and forcing endings in unconscious and unnatural ways. We can make all of our relationship “endings” happy ones. The choice is up to us.

Copyright Debra Moffitt, June 2015

Bio: Debra Moffitt is an award-winning author who believed in “the One” and in living “happily-ever-after” with one man, but life turned out differently. She has had two wonderful marriages and two okay divorces. And her last boyfriend was about fifteen years younger which her grandmother would probably find exciting and shocking at the same time! Debra observes human nature and loves and respects men. She aims to help women and men connect better in relationships — and also to bring a little humor to it. A laugh almost always soothes the heart.

Photo by Debra Moffitt www.debramoffitt.com

Photo by Debra Moffitt http://www.debramoffitt.com

by Debra Moffitt

If you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy you have not yet begun to live. – Thomas Merton

Everyone wants to find happiness, but what if there is something deeper, something more lasting? Happiness is good. It’s a wonderful feeling that comes from buying a new dress or eating an ice cream cone. It may be connected with having physical desires met, and experiencing physical pleasure, but happiness based on things and experiences can be fleeting and very temporary.

Joy dives deeper and lasts longer. It touches into the spiritual and comes from within. Bliss is the ultimate harvest of living a conscious life. It’s an experience that transcends the physical and according to wisdom traditions, it is our true nature.

If you want to find that path through the shades of happiness and joy to bliss, how do you get there? One way to begin is to cultivate your inner secret garden, that sacred space within you where  the seeds you plant can be cultivated and grow into a harvest of joy.

Some essential tools that help to dig deep and tend the inner garden include a regular meditation practice, a dedication to pay attention to and act on the guidance of your inner gardener – that higher, wiser part of you that is Divine – and a yearning to get rid of inner junk and pests that stand in the way. This junk is often old stuff from the past, including attitudes and habits that may have served us well at one time, but now just get in the way and hold us back. It’s time to let go of these and grow into the new life that’s waiting.

Copyright Debra Moffitt

Debra’s IPPY award-winning book, Garden of Bliss explores discovering the inner path of joy and wisdom.

Debra's book,

Debra’s book, “Garden of Bliss” won an IPPY Silver Medal award.

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Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Originally posted on Debra Moffitt:

Can you feel the excitement in the air? The days are hot and sunny, and summer officially begins this week on June 21st. It’s

Stonehenge Summer Solstice man on stones Stonehenge Summer Solstice man on stones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the longest day and the shortest night in the Northern hemisphere. I love this day. In the South of France it’s celebrated by jumping over bonfires as a way to gain courage and embrace the power of light and fire. That tradition dates back to pagan times, long before the Catholic church arrived to taint it with negative views about the appreciation of nature and the power of the five elements.

There’s a whole history of rituals related to this day and ways to honor and capture some of the magic of this mystical portal into summer. For centuries people have gathered at Stonehenge to welcome the season. Author Deborah Blake who writes on magic and…

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