7 Steps to Shining Bright!

When I was littLet your light shine hands making heartle we used to sing a song called “This Little Light of Mine” in church. It was one of the few light and joyous parts of my early church experience.

My spiritual path took me in different directions and I hadn’t thought of that little song in years. But months ago, in the midst of unforeseen challenges that led to a great deal of unexpected and unasked for free time I started, once again, to learn to play guitar. In was sort of therapy and distraction.

One of the songs in the songbook that was easy enough for me (given my pretty lame state of guitar skill) was “This Little Light of Mine.”

This upbeat little tune goes like this:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!

Many of you have probably heard it and even sung it.  For me, in these recent challenging times it started to become something of a mantra. Sitting in the middle of the big mess my life had become everything seemed dark – what had just happened, my past, my future, my spirits.

In one of my darkest moments, although I never really contemplated suicide, I did reach the point where I longed for release from this life. I wanted escape from the battle, to just be able to stop fighting and check out.

It scared me and I realized I’d let the darkness grow too strong.

From that moment I set out on a path to REDISCOVER MY INNER LIGHT.

In that long process I have learned that we are all sparks of creation, ONE-OF-A-KIND SPARKS OF LIGHT, with our own unique paths and purposes in this amazing human experience.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, “People are like stained glass windows.   They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”

More than ever before I started noticing people who really seem to radiate from the inside out – certain friends, special colleagues, the woman I always love running into at the gym, the little kid in the park that just seems to glow extra brightly.

I started studying and interviewing these bright ones and there seem to be some universal characteristics they share.

  • Gratitude.  Being aware of and appreciative of the good things in our lives helps us stay above the challenges and stay optimistic during difficulties.
  • Being Present. I think if you’re paying attention at all you can’t help but notice when a person is really present and focused when they are interacting with you. And in those moments you can feel their inner light. WHEN YOU ARE THAT PRESENT WITH OTHERS THEY CAN FEEL YOUR LIGHT! I’ve had close encounters of the most beautiful kind when I’ve set aside the “busyness” and distraction and really been present with the stranger in line at the bank!
  • Don’t you notice when someone offers you a little random kindness? Like when you have only a bag of cat food and a cantaloupe in the grocery store and it’s really busy and the person with the fully loaded cart ahead of you let’s you go in front of them? Or, you accidentally drop your wallet and a stranger hands it back to you? Our inner lights shine through in these simple, kind moments. KINDNESS ROCKS! AND IT SHINES.
  • Everyone I’ve ever met who has a blindingly bright and beautiful inner light has some sort of spiritual framework, a sense that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Self-love and acceptance. People whose inner lights shine like beacons aren’t egomaniacs or narcissists. On the contrary they aren’t even very self-absorbed. But, they are secure in themselves. They know they aren’t perfect and they are usually still striving to be better and more, but at their core they accept, appreciate and improve of themselves. There is SUCH a powerful lesson in that. It’s like when you’re on a plane and the flight attendant advises that if the plane runs into trouble and the oxygen masks drop down be sure to put your own mask on before you start trying to help others. THE MORE LOVE AND BRIGHTNESS WE SHINE ON OURSELVES THE MORE WE HAVE FOR OTHERS.
  • They’re Funny! The people I see shining most brightly have a sense of humor! I don’t mean they’re clowns or comedians; it’s just that they don’t take everything so seriously. They see the humor in our beautiful stumbling human behaviors. They may be fierce in most aspects of their lives but they also let in and out some levity and lightness.

When a good ol’ gospel choir really gets cranked up it’ll launch into a second verse of “This Little Light of Mine.”

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine! 

Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!

Yep, WE ALL HAVE THE CAPACITY TO BE LIGHTS!  So, you unique spark get up! Crawl out from under whatever that bushel may be and LET YOUR UNIQUE LIGHT SHINE! There’s no other quite like it on Earth.

Cylvia Hayes

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If I ever really get brave I’ll do a video blog singing and playing “This Little Light of Mine”, but that will surely have to be filed under comedy instead of inspiration!

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