Monthly Archives: April 2014

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The Gifts of a Blind Eye

“Are you sure you don’t notice anything unusual about my face?” I asked her again.

It was Saturday afternoon. A gorgeous sunny day at a winery somewhere among the vineyards of Napa County. We’d been chatting about ten minutes when it struck me that this was the first time I’d ever met and had a conversation with someone who didn’t do that awkward double-take, nervously looking away from my face and back again, trying to figure out what was going on with me and which eye to look into.

I’d seen that response all my life. Having been born minus one optic nerve, my left eye generally just floated around. That plus the thick lenses I wore for the severe myopia in my "good" eye meant I was teased regularly in school.

Molly Nov 1964I remember standing against the gym wall with the two learning-disabled kids in my class, feeling humiliated that the team captains couldn’t decide which among the three of us to choose next.

You develop a thick skin. You come to understand that what a person looks like on the surface may not tell an accurate story about their capabilities and who they are.

I remember transferring to a new high school my sophomore year and, upon arriving my first day, being immediately escorted by a kind lady to the classroom for students with physical and mental limitations.

You learn to speak up for yourself.

“This can’t be my classroom,” I said. “It must be a mistake.”

I remember spending an entire summer trying to learn how to return a tennis ball until I realized, this is just not the sport for me. Along with baseball, basketball, frisbee . . .

You become resilient. You work hard to discover where you can excel.

I remember a woman in an aerobics class, who’d apparently gotten herself all worked up by the time she finally turned around and screamed: “Why do you keep staring at me?!”

You learn to smile at the little ironies of life. Before that moment, I hadn’t even known she was there.

I remember a young woman in college I’d just met who said flat out, “Why don’t you get that eye fixed? It’s really unattractive.”

You develop empathy. It’s been said that facial defects are the most difficult for people to accept, and I’ve noticed that is true for me, too, when I meet people who have them.

“No, I don’t notice anything unusual about your face,” the woman sipping the chardonnay said again. “Now you must tell me why you’re asking!”

Mali post-surgeryWhat was different that day in Napa was that I’d just recovered from surgery to straighten my eye. It wasn’t 100% successful, but enough so that my misbehaving eye wasn’t the first thing someone noticed upon meeting me.

What a freeing feeling that was!

And yet . . .

This “defect” has been such a gift to me. The more I contemplate my blind eye and limited vision, the more I learn from it, the more I see how this “disability” has helped to shape who I am.

I’ve always recognized that my visual limitations encouraged my other senses to develop more fully, including my intuitive senses. Navigating life without them would be much harder than navigating it minus one eye.

Seeing the world without normal depth perception has made me into someone who searches for the depth in everything.

Having precarious vision in my sighted eye, with no spare to count on, has made me incredibly grateful for this truly magical sense. I’ve always been in love with sight. If you know me, you know I never take a sunrise, a rainbow, a baby’s face, or the cross-section of a red pepper for granted. (And I'll try to make sure you don't, either!)

Mali todayA while back, I overheard a couple in a restaurant talking about their baby daughter. They had just found out that she was blind in one eye. They sounded scared, really worried about what effects this would have on her life.

I just couldn't not go over and introduce myself.

“I wouldn’t say that there haven’t been challenges along the way,” I told them, “but facing those challenges has everything to do with the person I am today. Yes, she probably won’t be a natural at softball or tennis, she will need to learn some special tricks to be able to parallel park, but with you helping her to discover all the gifts in her special circumstances, her life is going to be exceptional.”

If you’re dealing with a challenging life situation, what’s to lose by spending a little time contemplating what gifts that situation just might have for you? 

~Mali Apple, coauthor of The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover

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A Man with Soul: Paul Nijar

Hello! I am the founder of a yoga style called Yoga Do & Kali Do Yoga. They encompass my entire life, through my training in martial arts, personal training, studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine, meditation and yoga. All aspects of my spiritual journey have been implemented into these classes to provide an awakening experience for the practitioners. I am currently seeking out publishers for my first book, Everything I Thought I Was & What I Came to Be, a book that shares my struggle from shifting from a pessimist to a person realizing their divine spiritual path in life.

Describe one of your most soul-opening moments.

Paul Nijar Sunset MeditationGrowing up I experienced many struggles trying to find the person I was to become and struggling within finding the level of success I sought out. As I tried and tried harder over and over again, I became frustrated with myself. I felt at a loss, thinking that I was some sort of defect. As we talk to ourselves more than any other individual out there, I realized the only way I could remedy my bleak perspective was through checking the quality of my internal dialogue. I started to write in a journal as a coaching tool to shape my mind into something more preferred. The words that presented themselves before me came from somewhere else. They seemed very foreign to the current mind set I had been carrying. I began to investigate myself further through meditation.

Meditation coupled with writing has channeled a new energy within me. From further practise I learned that there was nothing wrong with me. I came to understand that as I was trying hard at things and failing, it was because I was simply making things hard from “trying hard.” It was from that realization that I started to just BE. I let go and unclasped the clench of control I had and allowed myself to free myself from the shackles of expectation. This was such a great spiritual awakening for me because I was consumed with great liberation at this moment.

From this liberation I was able to discover love: love for myself. Rather than berating myself through “setbacks” and “failures” I received each instance through compassion. Nothing was a failure, there are no setbacks, just building blocks contributing towards my spiritual evolution.

When and with whom do you feel your most soulful?

Writing is such a beautiful time for me. It provides an opportunity for self-expression and to actually connect with my true spirit. When I start writing, insights into questions that cycle through my mind present themselves before me. Writing creates an open dialogue with myself and my true spiritual self. I tune into a meditative state during this divine moment of conversation. Time is of no consideration during this time. This is an important note to ponder because time itself is manmade. The concept of time does not apply within the realms of spirituality. When I’m writing through a meditative state, I exist merely in form on this plane, while having full consciousness of my spiritual truth in the spiritual realm.

When I’m not marinating in the sweet solitude of my time writing, I am blessed to have met a beautiful soul of whom I am inspired by every day. Meeting this great woman has created such a beautiful harmonic balance to my life. It is such a great blessing to meet someone who is aware of our spiritual existence. We are in sync energetically and spiritually. All of a sudden I am experiencing the love that the movies, songs and poems are talking about.

This is a great realization for me because, rather than considering my role within this Universe as being separate, I see the inter-connectivity of us all. We all have a shared purpose in this realm and there is no differentiation of you, me and them. We are all one. This helps an individual who is struggling in their lives thinking that they are alone.

What qualities do you feel a soulful relationship has?

A soulful relationship is our greatest blessing on this plane. When it is provided for us upon the grace of the Universe, we gain a sense of oneness and purpose. We see that the relationship has a divine purpose to achieve some sort of work in this plane. Realizing the spiritual truth of your partner is such a great understanding to hold. When the two people recognize each other beyond form and see the infinite being for who they really are, they become one. As the relationship develops and the energetic connection builds, the couple is able to be communicate telepathically and feel one another no matter the distance. A cellphone call becomes obsolete when it comes to this connection, as it transcends all cellphone coverage.

Paul NijarBeing aware of one’s spiritual truth enhances the relationship beyond all numerical values ever associated in comparison. While many people fear aging as per not being able to hold a physical attraction for their lover, the spiritual awareness in a relationship will defy all time. The soul never ages and it is always pure and an embodiment of love. This love will hold the test of time.

What do you feel your soul’s purpose is?

This was a question that I struggled with for many years growing up. I never could see the purpose of my life. Through all the struggle and setbacks I felt I was having, I couldn’t seem to piece together what the point of all of it was. Through meditation and surrounding myself with like-minded people, I was able to understand the theme of my life. I first took on the role of teacher at age 7, this is something that I continue to do in different aspects of my life. This theme of teaching and sharing a piece of who I am and what I can offer others is my soul’s purpose.

Whether I am teaching, yoga, martial arts, fitness, nutrition, life coaching, meditating, sharing spiritual insights on YouTube or writing, I am offering a piece of my spiritual understanding. As I share my insights and struggles with others, I do so in the hopes that they can live through their struggles with greater grace.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Indonesia Yoga Paul NijarOne of the greatest lessons I learned in my years is that success, happiness and peace are things that are not reserved for a select few. We all have the capacity to live the lives we fantasize about. We can make all desires a reality. The ego mind will tell us otherwise. We must remember our spiritual truth that we are infinite, unbound energy beings and everything is possible. The undesirable feelings and emotions we are plagued by at times do not belong us. Those feelings do not depict our truth. Realizing that all emotions pass is a great understanding in realizing that when they do leave, our true nature remains intact. Rather than identifying ourselves with those undesirable thoughts, emotions or feelings, we must continue to hold our spiritual truth close to our heart.

Visit Paul's blog and feel free to say hello to him on twitter, Facebook, Instagram (SatoriJewelryDesigns), and YouTube. 

We love knowing you're out there doing such great things, Paul! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love

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Kiss Your Fights Good-Bye: A Book Review

KissYourFightsGoodbyeIf you're experiencing conflict, disagreements, or other communication issues in your relationship, you might take a look at the new book Kiss Your Fights Good-Bye: Dr. Love’s 10 Simple Steps to Cooling Conflict and Rekindling Your Relationship.

Dr. Jamie Turndorf, aka Dr. Love, shares in clear, understandable language her truly powerful method for healing destructive patterns of relating and transforming conflict into connection. What we think makes this book so special is that she’s willing to go deep into the trenches with you, help you assess exactly what’s been keeping you there, and then, step by step, help you free yourself again.

There's a lot of great information here, like:

  • Why we get into negative conflict and communication patterns in the first place
  • Why we can tend to misinterpret our partner’s words and actions in the most negative way
  • How to break through negative—and often unconscious—communication patterns
  • Why biological differences between the sexes can lead to poor communication patterns, and how to use that knowledge to increase connection
  • Ways to identify behaviors that cause conflicts to spiral out of control
  • How to recognize and defuse common “fight traps,” like scorekeeping, globalizing, power plays, and guilt trips
  • How to determine when old traumas or wounds are contributing to your conflict and start on your path to healing them

Here's just one of her powerful suggestions:

The next time you and your mate have a conflict discussion, turn on a voice recorder. Try to forget that it’s running and speak naturally. Then listen to yourselves afterward. Honestly examine how you both sound. I bet you’ll be surprised.

Even if you don’t often fight, we think this book is insightful for anyone who wants to understand more about how to make a good relationship great or turn conflict with anyone—like family, friends, and co-workers—into deeper connection.

Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love