A Holiday Gift from Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World

Dec 17

Happy Holidays to All!

Here are some affirmations, bringing you love, joy and peace.*

Just click on the left side of the black bar below to listen.


Much love,


P.S. This was a wonderful, fun team effort with John Mahoney of RavenPheat Productions, Sule Greg C. Wilson, and Norma-Jean Strickland. Many thanks and gratitude to you all for contributing your amazing talents!


*From Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World audiobook, http://amzn.to/1dkC6Ea

Dancing with Words – Dancing with Wisdom

Jan 18

Is it possible that we simply cannot know anything beyond our perceptions and what our minds do with those perceptions?

We are all subject to a constant bombardment of sensory data. More often than not, we give that sensory data an emotional charge. Some of it hurts, for example when another person calls us stupid. Some of it is confusing, for example when two experts give opposite advice. Some of it brings us joy, for example when we are immersed in a beautiful sunset.

Good|Evil ambigram design by Punya Mishra
Used by permission


The black and white lines on the ambigram above have neither meaning nor emotional charge until our minds chop them up and give them both. When we see the word “good”, we feel safe and warm. When we see the word “evil”, we feel contracted, unsafe, and afraid. Yet none of the sensory data changes. All that changes is what our minds have done with it.

Our minds have taken that neutral energetic flow of sensory data, selected our focus either consciously or unconsciously, chopped the flow up into parts or objects, attached whatever emotional charge gives our lives meaning, and taken action based on a highly limited perspective. If we see “good”, we relax and trust. If we see “evil”, we contract, feel fear, and perhaps even react by grabbing a gun to destroy the “evil” our minds have told us we see.

Ouch! More fear and pain.

If one of us sees only “good” and another sees only “evil”, our perspectives can’t help but collide. We see differently, we chop the sensory data up differently, we word-label the parts differently, and we give different emotional charges to what we see. Then we end up fighting about whose word labels are right and whose word labels are wrong.

If it is true that we can’t know anything beyond our perceptions, and that our minds, thoughts and words simply organize these perceptions, is this terrifying, overwhelming, or freeing? Not to overdo the point, but doesn’t it depend on our perspective?

From one perspective, it’s exhilarating and freeing. My perception is just as good as anyone else’s. I don’t have to accept anyone else’s perception as Truth. I am always at choice as to what I see, how I see it, how I feel about it, and how I act upon it.

But oh my gosh! If I can create what I see, how I see it, how I feel about it, and how I act upon it in each and every moment, I suddenly have huge responsibility. Am I going to create war or peace, calm or turmoil? Am I going to blame and judge you or listen to you with respect? Am I going to fight with you or bless you and walk away This responsibility of conscious choice in each and every moment often feels overwhelming. Yet bringing this responsibility of conscious choice down to each present moment keeps it very simple.

And, of course, if I have this freedom to create in each and every moment, so do you. If I don’t trust you, that could be terrifying. Will you use your freedom in an accountable way? Will you use your freedom to harm me and those I love? I don’t know, but what I do know is that if I place my focus on what you may or may not do, I give my power away. If I keep my focus on what I am going to think, feel, say and do, I take my power back.

Settle down. Breathe. Meditate. Ask for help from whatever God or Higher Power or Universal Energy you believe in. Breathe. Allow your breath to breathe you.

Then bring your mind back to this wonderful present moment where you are safe, secure, fed, and clothed, and ask yourself, “What is my intention for my life? How do I want to use it as well as possible? What can I do right here right now to move my life toward what I want to create?

Then just do it.

Benevolence and Leadership. Valuable? Possible?

Jul 31

A recent post on the Business Spirituality LinkedIn site asked: “What difference can a benevolent leader bring to people and organizations? Is it possible to be benevolent without being naive?”

I’m not sure benevolence is the right word here. Benevolence, to me, implies giving to others, sometimes without including myself in the benevolence. I find myself preferring the word compassion. The word compassion, to me, has more of a sense of having walked in the shoes of the other, having experienced their suffering, and supporting all of us in moving toward a more joyful, purposeful life. Compassion is essential to good leadership.

One of my life long lessons has been learning how to expand into my own spiritual understanding and power and then use that spiritual understanding and power to support others as they expand into the fully developed, unique individuals they are intended to be. Supporting them does not mean giving them whatever they want. Often, it means challenging their current thought processes or flat out saying ‘no.’ This is the role of the spiritual warrior.

I was very fortunate to have had two wonderful parents. Both were teachers. Both were fair and compassionate. Both valued order and structure, and yet, there was always space for play and creativity in our home. My parents truly led by example. Because I was happy, I never questioned their leadership. I knew I was loved, respected, and valued. I did what they told me to do simply because I trusted them.

Then I moved out into the rest of the world and discovered, over and over, through painful experience after painful experience, that not everyone was as kind, benevolent, compassionate and fair as my parents. Other people said negative things about me, verbally abused me, bullied me, and betrayed my trust. I had to learn how to protect myself from all this negative energy. I had to learn how to detach mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. I had to learn how to release my fear. I had to learn how to refocus my outrage from judging and blaming the bullies and abusers to shifting the energy of that outrage into being just, fair, and accountable. As painful and sometimes terrifying as it often was, I had to learn how to say ‘no’, I will not enable and support that conduct. I will not stay in a relationship where I am not respected. I will move out of relationships where I am verbally abused. I simply deserve better.

For me, finding the balance between benevolence and naivete requires a constantly shifting awareness of the energy dynamics of any situation. I can then change those dynamics by changing myself. It always requires staying in integrity with my own values of compassion, non-violence, mutual respect, and accountability.

I’ve walked in the shoes of the other. I’ve experienced their suffering. How can I be anything but compassionate toward us all?

The Perennial Philosophy—A Golden Thread of Awakening

May 25

By Guest Bloggers, Lee and Steven Hager


In our world, nothing stays the same for very long. We’re taught to rely on the advice of experts, but their opinions seem to change with the breeze. If you knew that something had remained unchanged for over two thousand years and had continued to help people find the peace and joy they were seeking for that entire time, would you be curious?

The perennial philosophy is a golden thread of spiritual thought that can be found in virtually all cultures and time periods. It’s a group of harmonious spiritual concepts that are free of dogma and ritual. It’s been a part of so-called “primitive” and pagan belief systems as well as the mystical branches of nearly every organized religion.

The concept of an “eternal philosophy” that incorporates universal spiritual truths and exists free of human influence has intrigued philosophers for hundreds of years.  In the West, it’s been thought of as a “philosophy of harmony” or a “universal religion” that remains untainted by sectarian views. In the East, it’s been thought of as Sanatana Dharma (eternal law) or Manava Dharma (religion of man). In 1945 Aldous Huxley wrote the aptly titled Perennial Philosophy, which outlines the universal truths that have continued to crop up in spiritual thought worldwide.

The perennial philosophy is not a formula for enlightenment, but its simple concepts have encouraged countless seekers to reach spiritual mastery. Although the perennial philosophy has far more to offer, here are four of its most basic and helpful concepts:

  • There is a Divine Ground that permeates the universe. The world we think we see is a temporary projection that originates from that Divine Ground
  • A change in consciousness is required to become aware of, and experience, the Divine Ground.
  • Everyone has the ability to experience the Divine.
  • Experiencing the Divine is life’s highest purpose.

Simply put: Life-giving intelligence permeates everything in existence. This intelligence wants to be known and can be known.

Most of us have been taught that spiritual mastery is a nearly impossible goal, but the perennial philosophy does not agree. No secrets, methods, formulas or spiritual practices are involved, and none are necessary to experience the Divine.  Knowing the Divine does require a shift in our awareness, but everyone is capable of making that shift. How do we shift our awareness? Huxley pointed out that successful spiritual seekers have all shared a mindset that includes these features:

  • “Pure in heart.”  This does not mean we need to “clean up our act.” It refers to our motives. A pure heart is looking for a connection with the Divine for the sheer joy of that connection.  A pure heart isn’t asking for material blessings.
  • “Poor in spirit.” This has nothing to do with poverty. It means that we understand that the world can make us rich, but it can never enrich us. We’re poor in spirit when we understand that our life will be empty until we have a direct connection with the Divine.
  • “Empty hands.” Seekers with empty hands are willing to let go of all mental conditioning, preconceived notions and the desire for a particular outcome. They are willing to be instructed by the Divine instead of trying to fit the Divine into their own belief system.

These qualities are free and available to everyone, no matter what our circumstances might be. Most of us have been taught that we can learn about God by taking in information, but there is no need for us to be satisfied with that.

Spiritual masters have never been interested in learning “about” the Divine; instead, they expect to “know” the Divine through personal experience. You don’t have to become a spiritual master before you can experience the Divine, in fact, it works the opposite way. As you open yourself to the experience, you grow spiritually. The perennial philosophy tells us this is not only possible, it’s our highest purpose.  Best of all, experiencing the Divine is the beginning of a life of fearlessness that you can enjoy.

Know by your own direct experience that the Divine within you is the Divine in all—Shankara ______________________________________________________________________________

Lee and Steven Hager are the authors of The Beginning of Fearlessness: Quantum Prodigal Son, a spiritual quest and scientific adventure based on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, quantum physics and the gnostic gospels. Their blog http://www.thebeginningoffearlessness.com/blog features articles on oneness, spiritual awakening, quantum physics, the gnostic gospels and the direct, personal experience of the Divine.



Feb 21

Words are Shorthand for Human Experience

Just as shorthand is a method for transcribing words quickly, words are a method for understanding and communicating our human experiences. Even words like “heaven” and “hell” can be given meanings related to personal human experience.

From the moment we are born, parents, priests and educators teach us to chop our experiences up into words: “Mommy” and “Daddy”, “blue” and “green”, “good” and “evil”, “right” and “wrong”. As science, technology, psychology, and philosophy develop, we make up new words: iPod, space station, animus, ego, epistemology.

Sometimes we use the same words to chop up our experiences. Sometimes we use different words. None of the words is either right or wrong. They are simply little black marks on white pieces of paper or guttural sounds we utter.

However, we all give words emotional overtones. We can call this “creating filters”. Suddenly, those guttural sounds or little black marks on the white pieces of paper become charged with fear, anger, love or joy. The emotional charge often depends on what each of us has experienced in the past in relation to the words we are hearing now and the emotions with which we’ve filtered those past experiences.

The Same Words Can be Used to Describe the Same Experience

Sometimes we use words in the same way to chop up our experiences. For example, if you and I are both looking at a daffodil, we might exchange words about the beautiful yellow flower with the strange odor. We are using the same words to describe the same experience. Our communication is clear because we are both focusing on the same object.

The Same Words Can be Used to Describe Different Experiences

Sometimes, you and I may use the same words to chop up different experiences. If you are standing on the gray sand next to the Atlantic Ocean in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the cold, gray waves may be rolling in as breakers, the beach may be crowded with bathers, bikinis, tan bodies, little children building sand castles with their fathers, red, yellow and blue umbrellas, seagulls squawking overhead, black scallop shells, a boardwalk peppered with bikers and joggers, and casinos in the distance. The water may be cold, murky, and thick with stirred-up sand. With a land breeze, nasty, biting black flies appear. You might verbalize this experience as a “day at the beach.”

I, however, if I live in Roatan, Honduras, might use those same words “day at the beach” to verbalize a very different experience. On Roatan, it is rare to see breakers. The sea is often a clear, placid mirror of blues, greens and turquoises. Seaweed gently washes up on the white sand. Weathered driftwood and palm trees dot the deserted, narrow stretch of sand bordering the sea. An occasional boat accents the skyline. There are no sun tanners here, for the tropical sun burns tender skin far too quickly. Instead of nasty, biting black flies, I am tormented by chitres, those dastardly, invisible no-seeums that, with a single bite, leave a welt the size of a tennis ball.

Atlantic City and Roatan are very different “beach” experiences, but you and I are using the same word “beach”. Our communication is not as clear as it could be. Instead, it is as murky as the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. If you had never experienced the Roatan beach and I had never experienced the Atlantic City beach, we might even argue about whether beach sand is really gray or really white or whether the ocean is really gray or really blue.

With the words “heaven” and “hell,” many of us have been taught that these are physical places “we” go after our bodies die. How can anybody really know that?

There is, however, a different meaning we can give to the words “heaven” and “hell” within the context of our personal experiences. Who has not suffered the hell of his own anger? Who has not suffered the torture of her own fear? Who has not experienced the total beauty and personal immersion in a heavenly sunset? Who has never experienced the limbo of his own purgatory where he feels stuck and unable to move forward?

Different Words Can be Used to Describe the Same Experience

Sometimes you and I chop the same experience up differently. For example, if we are both looking at the same flower garden, you may be looking at roses and I may be looking at trellises. You may talk about the beautiful red flowers with an exotic odor and I may talk about wood patterns and climbing thunbergia. Different words can be used to describe the same experience where the speakers have different focuses. When this happens, communication again becomes as murky as the Atlantic Ocean. Until you and I realize we are simply looking at different aspects of the same experience, we may argue about what is really in that garden we both see.

Searching for Healing? Pay Attention to Your Words

Aug 30

Did you know that you shape the world in which you live by the words and emotions you allow into your mind and heart? If you need to heal, put healing words and emotions into your life.

Forty years ago, I would have been skeptical of that message. The way I viewed the world then led me to believe that the problems I experienced were caused by others. After all, I was doing the best I could and yet awful things were happening. 

Now, I know differently. Forty years ago, I was simply giving my power away to people who didn’t deserve it. I didn’t have to do that. Because I was unaware, I unconsciously allowed it to happen. I permitted dysfunctional people to have free rent in my head all the time. 

What changed? As a young mother, I unexpectedly had a mystical experience. That experience started me on a long journey through the world of perception, thoughts, words, pain, despair, paradox, anger, fear, terror, joy, peace, skepticism, faith, humility, gratitude, self-esteem, and personal power. 

The mystical experience was not one I was seeking. It just happened. I couldn’t find the words to describe it. My religious training offered me no ready-made vocabulary. Yet the experience was so magnificently transforming I needed to find some way to communicate it. I desperately wanted to understand it. My search for the ‘right’ words turned into a forty-year quest that ultimately left me acutely aware of how many different ways I could perceive the world and how the ways I perceived it affected how I felt. 

I’m not going to go into detail here about the mystical experience. Those who want to read more can go to my website at http://wordsculptures.com/experience.htm or read the first chapter of my book Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World. 

As a child I’d been fascinated with optical illusions. The famous one of the old hag and the young woman is a good example:

Old Hag - Young Woman

Old Hag - Young Woman

The lines on the paper don’t change. What changes is the way our minds shape those lines and the meaning each of us gives to them. Depending on what we see, we use different words. We either use words like, young, beautiful, vibrant, charming, gentle or we use words like big nose, toothless, hag, jutting chin, drooping eyelids. Depending on what we see and the words we use, our emotions and energy levels change. Most of us feel better about the words young, beautiful, charming and vibrant than we do about the words drooping eyelids, big nose and toothless. 

Our real world is just like an optical illusion. We have a choice as to what we see, the words we use, the emotions we feel, and the actions we take. Perception, words, emotions, and actions are all interrelated. 

Eastern religions speak about piercing the veil of illusion. This is exactly what they are talking about. Christians talk about salvation. Same thing. Both are simply talking about consciousness-shifting experiences that suddenly allow us to view our world in a new, more harmonious, and creative way. 

How does shifting our consciousness allow us to heal? 

When we accept the fact that the influx of sensory data is what it is and that each of us is in a dance of consciousness with that sensory data, we suddenly realize that we have the power to change that dance by choosing our own perceptions, words, emotions, and actions. If our partner wants to tango and we want to waltz, we simply stop doing the tango. Either our partner will waltz with us or we will find a new partner who loves to waltz as much as we do. 

In short, by becoming acutely aware of the choices we have every minute of every day, we can seek out those people and experiences that enhance our energy and well-being and blithely dance away from those that do not.

Warm regards,


Janet Smith Warfield
Ordinary words, extraordinary insights
Author of Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World
WINNER: 2008 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best New Age Non-Fiction

WINNER: 2008 COVR Best Website Award

Do People Need to Socialize?

Aug 09

This is one of those questions that truly can’t be answered in its present form. There is no general answer. Some people need to socialize. Others don’t. You may need to socialize sometimes and not others.

One of my workshop topics is “Ask the Right Questions to Get the Answers You Need.” Isn’t that the bottom line? Getting an answer you need, right here, right now?

The questions I’d ask would be: 

  1. What do I get out of socializing with other people?
  2. What do I get out of being alone?
  3. When do I need to be with other people?
  4. When do I need to be alone?
  5. What kinds of people do I enjoy socializing with?
  6. What kinds of people drain my energy?
  7. Do I need to socialize with someone now or do I need to be alone?
  8. If I need to socialize, who can I socialize with who will support me and fulfill my needs?

Those are questions each of us can answer for ourselves at any given moment.

Socializing with positive, creative thinkers can be hugely supportive to your goals and visions. Choose wisely the people you socialize with.


To my Oldest Son Bill on His 48th Birthday

Jun 12

Dear Bill,

I remember how excited I was when I discovered I was pregnant. My first child. Would you be a boy or girl?

Well, I had that one all figured out. I was going to have two boys and then two girls. You fit into my plans, as did your younger brother Steve. Your youngest brother Russ didn’t. It was time to reconsider.

You did cause me a bit of morning sickness, but after our first trimester of pregnancy, that stopped. In our ninth month, it was hard for me to bend over and move. You, on the other hand, were moving around all the time, even in the middle of the night. You’re still moving, aren’t you?

I was very careful with my diet. I did everything the doctor told me and gained only 20 pounds. I wanted to give you all the support I could.

I couldn’t wait for you to make your appearance on this planet, both for your sake and mine. You accommodated my wishes and arrived ten days early. Even though you were early, you were large – eight pounds, twelve ounces.

Your birth was not easy – on you, me, or my gynecologist. My water broke around 3 a.m. You didn’t make your appearance until around nine that evening, after eighteen hours of labor for both of us. You were born head first, but didn’t have enough room in my womb to turn around and be born in the normal position. Shortly afterwards, you had difficulty breathing. The pediatrician placed you in an isolette. I developed a kidney infection. We remained in the hospital for nine days.

I can’t tell you how mesmerized I was when the doctor placed you (this perfect little baby) on my belly. Five beautiful little fingers on each hand, five beautiful little toes on each foot. (I counted them.) Even then you were active. We looked at each other in amazement.

From the moment I brought you home, I adored you. I adored all my sons. They all seemed like such beautiful little miracles. I sang to you every night before you went to sleep. When you were old enough to understand, I read stories. After supper, the whole family sat at the dining room table and played Parcheesi, Monopoly, fish or crazy eights.

You rebelled against toilet training, but then you’ve always been a bit of a rebel.

When you were little, I can remember taking you on amusement rides in Ocean City, New Jersey. You were always more interested in how the ride worked than you were in the thrill. You raked leaves in the fall, jumped in them with your brothers, and got asthma. You were never much interested in my garden, but you did occasionally pop strawberries, raspberries, peas, and blueberries into your mouth.

You climbed trees and explored the woods near our Vineland, New Jersey home with your best friend, Mike Hemighaus. I was glad you and Mike found each other. He and his family were a positive influence in your early years.

We often spent weekends at Union Lake in Millville. Your father raced his Sunfish while I sat on the beach with you boys. Occasionally, your father would take all of us out on the lake in his largest sailboat. He taught you a lot about sailing.

We frequently spent summers at your father’s grandparents’ home on Penobscot Bay, Maine. It was easiest for your father and me to drive at night. You slept most of the way so we didn’t have to listen to “When are we going to get there?” When you were awake, we played games – finding signs with every letter of the alphabet, looking for license plates from every state in the union, playing I See Something Red, and of course, singing.

That Maine water was frigid, but you boys never seemed to mind. You jumped off the rock at the side of the house and explored the beach at low tide. Occasionally, we’d take boat trips to Spectacle Island or car trips to Bar Harbor.

You were always a good student. In high school, you joined the chorus. I got goose pimples listening to you.

When you decided to go to the Naval Academy, I was both proud and uneasy. What would the Academy do to my son? At the end of Plebe Summer, I found out. In just six weeks, you had transformed from a wet-behind-the-ears kid to a man. I remember hearing about a few escapades that were not repeated and getting stuck with a Naval Academy yacht (was it the Cinnabar?) on a sandbar in Delaware Bay.

Upon graduation, I could not understand why you chose the submarine service. Being stuck in a submarine for weeks on end seemed claustrophobic to me. “Submariners are the cream of the crop,” you explained. Even then, you valued excellence.

I remember the day you took us out on a Dependants’ Cruise from Norfolk Harbor. Because you were navigating, we got to stand with you in the conning tower. How fascinating to sail over the Bay Bridge Tunnel and out to the continental shelf, watch the dolphins through the periscope playing in the bow wave, and listen to them on the sonar.

I think you and Carol Anne had already decided to marry when you first introduced us. I remember thinking how pretty she was. A few years later, Sydney and Chan made their debuts onto the planet.

So here you are, twenty years later, two submarine commands under your belt, decorated with medals, and having visited Tokyo, Guam, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrein, Italy, Switzerland, France, and many other places you can’t talk about. You, Carol Anne, Syd and Chan have lived in Virginia Beach, Annapolis, Aiea, Hawaii, and Saint Marys, Georgia. You have navigated the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Adriatic Sea, and many other bodies of water you can’t talk about. You have also successfully navigated a world of character-building experiences (as you would say) and developed substantial wisdom.

Now, as you, Carol Anne, Syd and Chan look forward to a new and very different life, I want you to know I love you and wish you well on your journey.

Happy 48th Birthday, Bill. I am honored to be your mother.

© 2009 Janet Smith Warfield All rights reserved