An Open Letter to those in search of Spiritual Freedom Part #1

This is part one of my series on the principle that has guided my own journey and now underlies every element of my burgeoning coaching, teaching, and mentoring practice: Spiritual Freedom. (Learn more at http://www.annamariaback.com)

Ever since I embarked on the journey of stepping out there and doing what truly brings me joy, I have been battling with the formulaic suggestions of the standard marketing principles for identifying my divine audience. The principles make sense. And yet, they don’t.

Whenever I’m asked the question, “So, Maria, who do you work with, who’s your target audience?”, I feel the fire in me starting to dwindle as I verbalise some of the attributes and circumstances that I’ve come up with – “Ooh, she is between 35-55, she lives in a city, she is either in a corporate middle-management position or runs her own business, she doesn’t have children of her own, she feels bored, unfulfilled, and wonders if this is all there is.” Now, don’t get me wrong, this way to describe an audience works well – and – what I notice, is a feeling of the world having shrunk. The external labels are not who we are. Talking about my divine client this way I no longer feel fired up – far from it. Any excitement I had is gone and the whole thing lands like a dead fish by my feet.

I consider myself a free spirit. I live an uncomplicated life; I am liked, respected, and successful in my work; I can come and go as I please… And, as I have learned more about who I am, I have become aware of how important Freedom is to me. Freedom to choose, freedom to be who I am, freedom to take responsibility for who I am, freedom to be curious, freedom to operate beyond the constricting boundaries of expectations – both mine and others’.

So, I’ve been pondering what fundamental aspect of freedom motivates my work. Meaning, what fires me up, what makes me want to take action, to change, to grow, to evolve? The answer that leaps to mind is simply, “Spiritual Freedom”. For myself, my friends, my clients.

Now, I could dive into a story of how this fundamental desire for freedom can be a “limitation” or “problem” in our structured world, but I won’t. I’d rather focus on describing what Freedom means to me, and more precisely Spiritual Freedom – what it isn’t, and how one can recognise it. Continue reading An Open Letter to those in search of Spiritual Freedom Part #1

Does the idea of being a Graceful, Mindful & Soulful Leader stir something in you, but you’re not quite sure what?

Let’s face it…

…Graceful, Mindful & Soulful Leadership isn’t something we usually think about when we wake up in the morning. And, if we were being asked to describe it – we wouldn’t necessarily know how to, or what it might look like.

That said, when mentioned…you may feel something stir in you, which, in turn, hopefully awakens your curiosity. ​​If this is the case – read on!

My entire professional career – now spanning 30+ years – ​​I’ve been engaged in the corporate world. In the early 2000’s, I had arrived at a point where work and life no longer felt as fulfilling as it used to. It didn’t feel quite right. My work has always been very important to me and although a part of me still enjoyed it, I felt bored and disconnected from my own life, disempowered, and no longer vibrant and alive. I remember thinking, “Surely, this couldn’t be all there was…?”.

My brain tried to figure it out – where did the feeling come from? Why did I have it? It made no sense.

As a result, I felt ungrateful as I lived an uncomplicated life. I felt guilty as I had had the fortune of living and working in three different countries. I was valued, respected, and appreciated at work and in life. I had an active social life. ​I was a free spirit, I could come and go as I pleased. Come on, what was there not to like?!?

I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Something kept persisting. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was amiss, that there was a part of ME missing somehow, that I didn’t show up fully, that I was stuck in story. It dawned on me that I had seemingly got most boxes ticked and I was a free spirit, but I didn’t have spiritual freedom… Continue reading Does the idea of being a Graceful, Mindful & Soulful Leader stir something in you, but you’re not quite sure what?

Identifying Our Soul’s Values – How Do We Actually Do It? (part 2)

4 Steps to defining and connecting with your Soul’s Values

© 2016 Anna Maria Bäck & Sourcing The Way

A quick re-cap from part 1 of this blogpost:

We’re all leaders, regardless of position, life style, or creed. For me, leadership is closely linked to my values and to questions like “Am I the best I can be? Am I taking responsibility for my actions and reactions?”

It’s difficult to answer such questions without knowing what our values or guiding principles are. For the most part, we seem to use values to distinguish between “us” and “them”, or what is considered “good” or “bad”. We’re also used to talking about “moral values” and “ethical values”, but how often are we encouraged to explore our soul’s values?

The cool thing about our soul’s values is that they connect us to something deeper, something bigger than ourselves, and they help us align with actions and expressions that bring meaning and fulfilment to our lives.

Sticking to your Soul’s Values promotes and supports your personal and professional growth. It increases your experience of clarity and sense of freedom and possibility in your work and life.

As a result you will:

  • Feel empowered to up-level your service and contribution in the world, leading you to new beginnings and empowered self-leadership.
  • Experience peace of mind, while being aware that we create our own realities with our thoughts, beliefs and actions.
  • Manifest inner balance and harmony.
  • Build confidence in your innate worth and abilities.
So, what are the steps – how do we actually do it?

Continue reading Identifying Our Soul’s Values – How Do We Actually Do It? (part 2)

Being of Service to Your Soul’s Values – A Tool for Inner Transformation (part 1)

 

Living Your Soul’s Values – A Novel Concept?
    – How to define, connect with, and live one’s values

© 2016 Anna Maria Bäck & Sourcing The Way

 

Leadership is a verb, not a job.

Chris Clark

 

We’re all leaders, regardless of position, life style, or creed. Thinking that we don’t matter, or that our actions or reactions don’t matter, is not only irresponsible, but also a testament to a deep feeling of separation. For me, leadership is closely linked to my values and to questions like “Am I the best I can be? Am I taking responsibility for my actions and reactions?”

It’s difficult to answer such questions without knowing what our values or guiding principles are. We usually enter the conversation about values through one of two doorways. For the most part, we seem to use values to distinguish between “us” and “them”, or what is considered “good” or “bad”. We’re also used to talking about “moral values” and “ethical values”. Both approaches speak to human behavior, but there’s a third doorway – to knowingly embody and consciously live our values. In other words, to ask “Am I “being” my values? Am I being true to them for myself?”

The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.

John Wooden

To ground and integrate the values we aim to live by, the natural first step is to identify and define our soul’s values — our foundation. But identifying and defining values isn’t enough. For me, it has been equally crucial to connect with my soul’s values – by bringing them into my body and mind, and stay connected to them in my everyday life.

It’s easy to get lost in abstract thinking when talking about values. For a more practical approach I like Jaemin Frazer’s descriptions of the “Be-Do-Have” model and three common approaches to trying to get ahead in life, “The Victim”, “The Worker”, and “The Winner”, excerpted here:

Continue reading Being of Service to Your Soul’s Values – A Tool for Inner Transformation (part 1)

Challenging the Ego – Is it worth it?

With everything that is up in this world currently – the US election circus, the roaring patriarchy, the rise of the feminine in both men and women, our disregard for mother Nature, the arising call for people’s equal inherent value, to name a few – I feel called to write this post.

So, why the question, “Challenging the ego – is it worth it?”.

In spiritual circles it is sometimes said that we need to conquer the ego. That the ego is bad, that it is only out to serve and protect itself and its interests. I take a step back and compare this with what is going on in our human collective psyche – the seeming opposing forces calling for, on the one side, the individual’s right to choose and be in charge of his/her own life, where there is a belief that the success and therefore right of an individual has precedence above everything else, and on the other side, the call for a more humane attitude as there is an awareness that we are all connected, where looking out for one another will inherently mean that we are also looking out for ourselves, where there is a belief that it is possible to thrive by supporting one another.

For the past 10 years I have challenged my ego to own up to its ways while following an unseen trajectory. It has been a fascinating journey which has involved a lot of dedication, will, and a deep desire for evolution.

When I look up the meaning of ego I find: “A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. In psychoanalysis it refers to “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” In philosophy (in metaphysics) it refers to “a conscious thinking subject“. And from the Cambridge Dictionary: “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability”.

What I have found is that I have a choice. In my own experience I have learned that my views, beliefs, judgments about the world coming from my ego, can be either very limiting or very open and expansive. That my attitude creates a frame for how I perceive the world around me and my own life experience.


Early on it became clear that the structure I had created as a result of upbringing, social circle, and personal experiences was a tightly fitted suit that did a good job at keeping things in place, but was, however, equally limiting my ability to move and gain an expanded view of life and the world we live in.

On November 6th, 2006 I asked a similar question in my then blog, “Little Green Men and Tall Angelic Beings”. I wasn’t aware then that what I was challenging was the ego, my own as well as other people’s. I blush when I think that my voice from 10 years ago will be shared here as a raw expression of innocent curiosity and in part a hurt ego. I smile as I read this early contribution to the written word. It isn’t a poetic and eloquent expression, but a heartfelt sentiment to the experience of deviating from the norm, from spilling over other people’s measuring cups:

Is it worth it?

Standing out or being different is not easy. At the beginning I had to defend myself all the time, explaining to people why I would want to move abroad again… “Hadn’t I already been there and done that?” I tried to explain that it isn’t about what I do, it’s who I am.

My mother had said to me that I’d always been extremely curious and always had the need for change and learning new things. As if moving abroad was not enough, I know some of my friends lifted an eyebrow (some of them two) when I told them about my quest for spirituality.

Why is it that people automatically judge in a negative way when something different is on the horizon? Why is it so difficult for some people to sit back and just listen, take it all in, and then give their verdict? Many times I have had to fight verdicts based more on the other person’s fear of the unknown than on the actual facts. I think it is rude to slag someone off without knowing all the facts. The world would be a better place if humanity would focus on the good instead of the bad.

So, is it worth it? Hell, YES! I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have learned so much about myself as well as about other people. And I have become a better person as a result of it.

It is worth being different. Believe in yourself!

Many rivers have floated under lots of bridges since that post… In my “quest for spirituality”, I have made it central in my life to practice forgiveness and gratitude. I understand that one aspect of who we are is the sum of our experiences, and, based on our individual lens, all of us do the best we can with what we perceive that we’ve got. This isn’t a justification for awkward behaviour or action/reaction, just an expanded perspective as we all have “our own perceived truth”.

A few key learnings from the past 10 years:

  • Everybody needs to feel seen and heard
  • Everybody does the best they can with what they’ve got
  • We are always part of someone else’s experience
  • Our ego wants us to be safe
  • We can never fall off our path

I’ll end this post with my very first blog post ever, as the questions I posed then are still very much present and “up” in the collective:

Why is it…

30/10/2006  

Why is it…
…that most people are afraid, and feel the need to only believe that which they can see, hear or touch? …that most people don’t ever stop for a moment to live in ‘the now’? …that we are terrified of finding proof that we are not alone?

What would be so terrible…
…if we were to find that we are getting help with the big as well as the little things in life? …if humanity started to believe in a higher power? …if we were to accept that the universe is there for us and all we have to do is ask? …if we were to start to think about the person behind the mask we rush past in the street? …if we started focusing on what we have instead of mucking about focusing on what we don’t have?
 

Although the above wasn’t originally written with the ego in mind, I can’t help notice how the questions do their bit to keep the challenge alive.

The Business of Beyond: Setting the Stage

Lately, I have been given the opportunity to ponder what set me on to the path that I am on, and what it was that got me started. Curiously, what I notice is that one was a life event and the other was a life decision, or life choice if you will.

The life event I’m referring to is my grandmother’s passing in 2003. I wasn’t aware at the time that something had kicked off. Mostly there were life situations and things happening that propelled me forward, not much of what I would today refer to as “conscious decision making”. I didn’t see any connections between events, and the thought that it would be possible to them to string together, taking me in a certain direction, never crossed my mind. The events were easy to respond to in that they showed up with enough space in between them to help me see and understand that there was a next step there for me, i.e. it was time for a change.

The life decision that got me on to the path that I am on, happened in 2005. Or should I say – that consciously got me on to the path I am on… I had recently moved back to the UK. I was still in the same job as I had been in Sweden, the only difference being I now worked remotely. I continued to live life the way I had in Sweden, just in a different country. I had felt nudged to move back to the UK for no particular reason other than that I missed it. Or so I thought…

Looking back, once I had moved into my new place in St Albans, Hertfordshire, I was presented with one situation after the other, each speaking to their value as pieces in a puzzle.

Continue reading The Business of Beyond: Setting the Stage

When I knew my gut could be trusted…and 3 things I learned along the way!

 


Have you ever felt the answer to a question or a circumstance in your gut, while the world around you is saying something different…?

I have.

The story I am about to share with you has helped broaden my understanding for how my gut(-feel) is a refined instrument and a trustworthy – and worthy – source.

The unseen tapestry…

My experience is telling me that there are many layers of information available in each situation (a tapestry of sorts). And to the extent that I am able to avoid having a preferred outcome in mind, I will open up to an equal extent to these added layers of information, leading to a deeper and richer experience. Or, expressed in another way – leading to a path of least resistance.

There is an enormous web of interconnected layers of information surrounding us all the time. There are the most immediate ones that are linked to our personal experience, then there are the ones that are linked to the people around us and the way we are connected. The richness of this web is extensive. Based on my own experience, trying to force a preferred outcome to happen is just as fruitful as trying to squeeze water from a stone. Not that preferred outcomes never happen – they can and they do. However, if they do, they usually come with a lot of effort and they cause a lot of bumps along the way.

I have been cultivating my intuition and gut-felt sense (e.g. deep listening, listening for aliveness) since 2005. During this time I have come to integrate this practice into all areas of my life. I use it in my decision-making process, to find clarity and to understand which direction is resonant, and to identify next steps. It has been, and continues to be, a deeply profound and rewarding journey and – for me – a way of life.
Continue reading When I knew my gut could be trusted…and 3 things I learned along the way!