Tag Archives: #31dbc

Change Your Life Message #1

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Back Camera

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Viktor Frankl

Original Artwork by Beth Terrence

Book Review: Making A Change For Good by Cheri Huber

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“At a certain point we must,

without self-hatred,

stand at the crossroads,

hear the little voice that says

“You can go in a new direction,”

heed that voice,

and make a choice to end suffering.”

~ Cheri Huber

It has been my intention to include book reviews as part of the information shared on The Heart Of Awakening.  In alignment with this month’s theme of change, I’d like to share about Cheri Huber’s book, Making A Change For Good: A Guide To Compassionate Self-Discipline.

For those who are not familiar with Cheri Huber, she is a Zen teacher, writer and speaker.  In 1983, Cheri founded the Mountain View Zen Center, and in 1987 she founded the Zen Monastery Peace Center in California.  She conduct workshops and retreats at these centers, other places around the U.S., and internationally.  In 1997, Cheri founded Living Compassion, which is  a nonprofit organization dedicated to peace and service.  She is the author of 20 books including the very popular, There Is Nothing Wrong With You.

Making A Change For Good was published in 2007.  As with all of Cheri’s book, this one is written in a fun, user-friendly style that supports deep exploration and transformation.  It’s the kind of book our inner children love to read.  It’s written in a fun font, with spaciousness on the pages and there are many cartoon like drawings that help to understand the concepts shared in a creative way.  In this book, the focus is on Change.  Huber speaks of shifting our perspective on how to create change from harshness and rigorous self-discipline that arises from our conditioned mind to a path of gentleness, compassion and self-acceptance.  In her words,

“Compassionate self-discipline is simply allowing the intelligence and generosity that is your authentic nature to guide you in every moment.”

The book offers two parts, the main content, which provides an exploration of compassionate self-discipline, beliefs, meditation, awareness practice and becoming a mentor to ourselves.  She also addresses some specific topics such as time management and eating which can be places where we may really have difficulty moving beyond our conditioning into  compassionate self-discipline.  The second part of the book is a Guided Retreat, entitled “30 Days To Compassionate Self-Discipline” which can be done in conjunction with reading the book or on its own.

I have really benefited personally from this book;  it is one of my favorite books on change.  It’s not just a good read on the subject but it’s a step by step daily process for transformation.  When working with the 30 Day practice, you have the opportunity to choose a specific topic to work on and as you do so, there is a process of self-awareness that occurs related to that specific issue or pattern.  Some of the topics I have utilized this book to explore include self-care, clutter, writing, etc.  I have probably worked with the 30 Day Guided Retreat at least 10 times, sometimes completing it and others not, but always learning more about myself and growing in the process.

There is a strong foundation of meditation as part of the practice and another way to use book can be to help support or deepen in the development of a daily meditation practice.  Whether your chosen change is focused on meditation or a specific area of your life, learning to be fully present to your experience and moving beyond the conditioned mind is a necessary part of the change process and it the gift that meditation brings to our lives.

I recommend Making A Change For Good to anyone who is working to cultivate change and would like explore creating change is a conscious, caring and compassionate way.   Also, if you have struggled with change, and particularly, a specific issue or area of change, this book offers a process that supports deep exploration into the nature of resistance as well as a path to transform old patterns, feeling and beliefs that may be keeping you stuck.  I often recommend this book to my clients as an adjunct support to the transformational work they are already doing.  The Guided Retreat includes a Daily Evening Review, which is a great way to track what is arising during the change process.

I hope you’ll explore Making A Change For Good: A Guide To Compassionate Self-Discipline.  If you have worked with this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections, too.

To learn more about Cheri Huber’s books and programs, visit www.cherihuber.com.

Seeking the Shaman Within: An Interview with Beth Terrence

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I wanted to share an interview done by my good friend and colleague Herbalist/Health Educator Leigh Glenn about my path as a shaman and healer. Leigh and I live local to each other in the Annapolis, MD area and had a mutual friend suggest that we meet, but it was actually through our blogs that we connected in the Spring of 2012. I just love that! Since then we have explored together in many ways.

Leigh and I will be offering a workshop on Saturday, July 27th in Annapolis on Living From The Heart From Cholesterol To Consciousness. This workshop focuses on the heart as guide. Through education and experiential practices, we will explore living a deeply heart-centered life through accessing the heart holistically – on the level of body, mind, emotion and spirit. To Register or learn more, visit http://livingfromtheheartworkshop.eventbrite.com.  I hope you enjoy Leigh’s post and be sure to explore her site, Art of Earth, which offers lots of great information and insights on herbs, health & wellness, plant spirit medicine, sustainable living and more.

Art of Earth

My first personal encounter with shamanic practices came in 2007, in an appropriate-to-our-times trio of CDs recorded by therapist and shamanic practitioner Sandra Ingerman. It was entitled, The Soul Retrieval Journey: Seeing in the Dark.IngermanSoulRetrieval

As Ingerman defined it, “Shamanism is the first spiritual practice of human kind,” dating back at least 30,000 years. Shamanic practices are cross-cultural, with variants used in Siberia, Australia, Africa, North and South America, and parts of Europe and Asia.

The word “shaman” comes from Tungus, a Siberian tribe (today called the Evenki), and it translate as “one who sees in the dark.” That phrase resonates as shamanic work often involves going into the depths of what we don’t see in our everyday, conscious lives and bringing ideas, revelations, and more nuanced views of old experiences into our consciousness so that we can grow our awareness of ourselves.

Fast-forward to 2011. I’d heard about…

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Poem Of The Week: The Journey By Mary Oliver

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Poetry has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child I wrote short poems and that evolved as I grew into a teen and adult. I always loved to read poetry, too. Some of my favorite poets include Wordsworth, Dickinson, Cummings, Naruda, Rumi, Stafford and the list goes on and on. That is part of the inspiration for sharing a poem each week.

As a writer, I find reading poetry to be such a powerful inspiration. And, as a seeker and healer, I find the words expressed in poetry often open a doorway to deeper feelings and insights that may be difficult to access on our own. “The Journey” by Mary Oliver is one of my all time favorite poems and one I tend to bring into many of my classes and workshops as it really speaks so beautifully of the journey of life, of stepping out of old paradigms and of moving more fully onto the path of authenticity and self-empowerment. I hope you’ll take some time to explore it in the moment or as a prompt for writing and for life over the coming week.

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

ForestLight

One day you finally knew


what you had to do, and began,


though the voices around you


kept shouting 
their bad advice–


though the whole house
 began to tremble


and you felt the old tug
 at your ankles.


“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.


But you didn’t stop.


You knew what you had to do,


though the wind pried
 with its stiff fingers 
at the very foundations,


though their melancholy
 was terrible.


It was already late
 enough,

and a wild night,


and the road full of fallen
 branches and stones.


But little by little,
 as you left their voices behind,


the stars began to burn
 through the sheets of clouds,


and there was a new voice


which you slowly
 recognized as your own,


that kept you company
 as you strode deeper and deeper
 into the world,


determined to do
 the only thing you could do–


determined to save
 the only life you could save.

Five Steps To Becoming Your Own Agent Of Change

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“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ~ Alan Watt

1. Accept responsibility for your own change or healing process.

The most common definition of the word responsibility is “the quality or state of being responsible” and sometimes this is seen as a burden.  I had an Aha moment with this word when I attended a college psychology class with a friend.  Oddly, I had dropped out of school at the time but while visiting went to class  and heard his professor define responsibility as “the ability to respond”.  I can’t even tell the exact nature of that lecture or the class overall, but hearing those words impacted in a way that has shaped my life.

Interestingly, part of the reason I had dropped out of school at that time was because I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and some of the symptoms such as fatigue and severe muscle pain caused me to be unable to attend classes consistently.  At the time, Fibromyalgia was a relatively new diagnosis and there weren’t a lot of treatment options available.  I learned quickly that if I were to regain my health and return to college, I needed to take “responsibility” for my own healing process.

Having that alternative definition of responsibility opened a door of possibilities for me as I began to explore holistic and alternative modalities so that I could become better able to respond to what I was experiencing and create change in my life.  “Being able to respond” is a core concept  in my personal work and in the work I share with others and I view it is a key to becoming your own change age

 2. Be curious and open to exploration.

As I began to explore alternative and holistic modalities, I began to learn and grow in ways I never imagined.  Carrying a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia for a young aspiring 20 something seemed like a burden, even a curse at times, and yet, this burden, led me to a path of self-exploration and discovery that defines who I am today.  This burden ended up being one of greatest blessings in my life and has led me to a life path I feel passionate about.

Some of the tools I explored were very beneficial, others not so much, but either way, I was building my toolbox and getting to know myself on a much deeper level in the process.  We don’t know what will help us in creating change until we try it and what works for one person may not work for another.  Being open and curious is such an important part of any change process.  In meditation and other spiritual practices, it is often suggested to come to it with a Beginner’s Mind.  This is a great way to approach life and change as well.  When we come to our explorations with this type of openness, new possibilities emerge that we may not have been able to see if we hold the “I already know” paradigm.

3. Track your experiences and build your personal transformational toolbox.

By now you are probably getting tired of me talking about the importance of journaling as a transformational tool, but without somehow tracking your experiences, it is difficult to truly identify what is working and what is not working in your change process.   Also, one of the keys to becoming your own change agent is to build a transformational toolbox that can support you in the changes you are currently making and in future changes.  Having some type of journal, log, and list becomes your personal guide to change.  And, no one can truly write this book but you.   In Five Steps To Mastering Anxiety, I share an example of some ways to track your experience and begin to build your toolbox that may offer some ideas to explore.

 4. Be willing to be uncomfortable and roll with the resistance.

This is a step that most of us don’t like and it is often where we tend lost our steam in the change process.  Being willing to roll with the resistance that arises as we initiate change is a vital component of any transformational process.  If we approach change with some of the above steps, we can be more conscious of our resistance and awareness as it is arising and this s a key to working with it.  Also, often doing some deeper work, such as an inner child process, can help to create safety and security within, which is often where our fear of change arises.  Developing practices that support being present with what is arising, such as meditation, can help.  Also, be sure to develop a good support system and use it

5. Recognize the need to continually adapt.

In the words of Greek philosopher Heraclitus,

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.”

We are constantly changing, as is our world.  Our cells our changing, our relationships are changing, nature is changing and yet, we somehow long for things to stay the same.  This is where much of our suffering arises.  By acknowledging that we are always changing and that we will continue to change and by recognizing that as a result, we need to continually adapt, we truly become agents of change.

At times, it may feel like we need the majority of people to change for our world to change, however I feel much like Margaret Mead,

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Each step we take toward change in our personal lives and in our relationships creates the potential for transformation to occur in a greater way in our world as we are all connected through the beautiful, amazing web of life.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and reflections and most of all, enjoy the journey!

Poem Of The Week: The Guest House by Rumi

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Dervish

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. 

– Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

7 Ways to Cultivate Love and Compassion for Yourself

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Learn to trust your
Feelings and, most of all,
allow yourself to
grow;

Perpetual expansion
is the way of the
Heart and the Soul
.

– Maria Lucia

One of the earliest posts on The Heart Of Awakening was “7 Ways To Cultivate Love And Compassion For Yourself”; this continues to be one of the most popular and what I feel is one of the most important posts found here. In my personal journey of healing and transformation, learning to love myself was the key that opened the door for new possibilities to emerge.  Although I had tried to work on this on my own in various ways, I had not had tremendous success as the patterning and critical voices I carried overpowered any voices of self-love I might have tried to develop.  Even having focused for years on the heart as a focal point of my spiritual practice, I still felt like I wasn’t worthy enough of my own love and compassion.

In 2003, I had the blessing to connect with a teacher of the heart, Maria Lucia Picaza and spent a year devoting myself to the heart as guide through her program, School Of Spiritual Heart Studies, aka “Heart School”.  This year was a turning point in my life. Interestingly, I was in the beginning of a period of tremendous change – relocation, the loss of my mother, separation, financial stress and a lot more was to come over the next few years.  I call this a blessing because had I not begun to devote myself to the heart and to loving myself at that time I don’t really know how I would have made it through that difficult time.  I continued to have intense major losses for a period of about 3 years and much of that stirred up old traumas and patterns I had not resolved.

Being gifted with the tools that Maria Lucia shared in addition to my spiritual practices and a number of other heart-centered guides in my life, I was able to consciously work to let go of old patterns, feelings and beliefs that were no longer serving me and to move into a new way of being – one of love, compassion and acceptance of myself and others.  If you explore, you may be able to find a copy of Maria Lucia’s book, The Heart’s Unraveling: The Birth of a New Evolutionary Directive, which offers a foundation in shifting our consciousness from a mind based directive to a heart based path.

The post “7 Ways To Cultivate Love And Compassion For Yourself” developed out of an essay I wrote that summed up what I learned about the heart during that year of devotion to the heart.  As I mentioned, even though I attended to this in various ways, previously, this was the first year I totally devoted myself to the heart and it has become my path ever since.  These steps have become a foundation in my personal life, in the work I offer to others individually and in workshops, and in my writings.

I hope you enjoy the post and as always, feel free to share your thoughts, feelings and reflections.

The Heart of Awakening

Perhaps one of the hardest and most healing things we can do for both for ourselves and for the world is to cultivate love and compassion for ourselves.  In the Buddhist practice of Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, it is taught that in order to have love and compassion for others and the world, we must begin with offering those energies to ourselves. In the practice, we begin by generating the feelings and qualities of love and compassion and then repeating phrases like these: 

May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free of suffering. May I have ease of well-being.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is understood that without a strong foundation of compassion for ourselves, we will not have the ability to truly embody those qualities in the world and extend them to other beings.  For many of us, who have grown up in western culture, it goes against…

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Meditation ~ A Universal Tool For Well-Being

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Quanyin

“Watchfulness is the path of immortality:
Unwatchfulness is the path of death.
Those who are watchful never die:
Those who do not watch are already as dead.Those who with a clear mind have seen this truth,
Those who are wise and ever watchful,
They feel the joy of watchfulness,
The joy of the path of the great.And those who in high thought and in deep contemplation
With ever living power advance on the path,
They in the end reach NIRVANA,
The peace supreme and infinite joy.~ Buddha, The Dhammapada

One of the main practices that we explore on The Heart Of Awakening Blog is meditation.  I have found this to be one of the most essential practices for living as a human being.  I began my personal exploration with meditation when I was 14 years old and have been a practitioner and spiritual seeker ever since.  I have explored meditative and contemplative practices from a variety of spiritual traditions and cultures.  I have certain foundational practices that I continue to work with and I am always open to exploring new ones.  What I have found in my own journey and in working with others is that it is important to find a practice that supports where you are and where you would like to be and that is resonant with who you are today.

Overall, meditation is a process of focusing, calming and observing the movement of the mind.  It is an important tool to achieve mental clarity, well-being and spiritual awareness.   Almost all spiritual traditions have some form of meditation or contemplation as a way to practice and deepen our sense of connection with self, others, the world and spirit.  Metta meditation is a Buddhist practice that cultivates loving-kindness and compassion.  It begins with self, as creating a foundation of compassion for self is seen as necessary to be able to offer this energy to others.  I find this practice to be highly beneficial for both beginning and experienced meditators; that is why I offer the annual May Is For Metta: 31 Days Of Loving-kidness practice during the month of May each year. (Note: The practice is available to start anytime)

Regardless of what type of meditation practice you are working with, it is fascinating to consider how science is really beginning to identify many of the benefits of meditation, which spiritual practitioners have known for so long.   Many institutions including Harvard Medical School and NIH have now shown that meditation can have positive effects on an individual’s health and overall well-being.  Research shows that this is accomplished as meditation brings the brainwave patterns into an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes a healing state.  There is even scientific evidence that meditation can reduce blood pressure and relieve pain and stress.

As I was writing the post, I came across an article by David DeSteno on the Daily Good, entitled, “The Morality Of Meditation”.  DeSteno heads up the Social Emotions Group at Northeastern University; as stated on their website, the group’s goal is “to illuminate the complex and reciprocal relations binding emotion and social behavior. In short, we’re most interested in how emotions shape decisions and actions underlying many of the most important facets of social living.”  Aware of many of the positive benefits of meditation, the group wanted to actually explore Buddha’s original teaching that meditation is the path to ending suffering.

What they found was it took only a short period of time for people who just began meditating to become more compassionate than a control group.  There has been other research on the aspect of the development of compassion through meditation, whether we are using a compassion practice, such as Metta, or another type of practice.  Meditation makes us more compassionate – as we become more connected to ourselves, others and the world, that is a natural response. There are many benefits that have come to light through recent research and that support what meditation practitioners have long known, so at this point, there is really no reason not to meditate and every reason to practice.  Meditation practice makes us healthier, more balanced and more loving and compassionate.

Here is a list of some of the ways that meditation can benefit us on the level of body, mind, emotion and spirit:

Physical:

  • Decreased high blood pressure.
  • Lowered cholesterol levels.
  • Deep rest measured by decreased metabolic rate and lower heart rate.
  • Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate, two chemicals associated with stress.
  • Reduction of free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage.
  • Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
  • Decreases the aging process.

Mental/Emotional:

  • Greater creativity.
  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Decreased depression
  • Decreased irritability and moodiness
  • Improved learning ability and memory.
  • Increased self-actualization.
  • Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
  • Increased happiness.
  • Increased emotional stability.
  • Increased brain wave coherence

Spiritual:

  • Experiencing a sense of oneness and connection
  • Deeper understanding and fulfillment of purpose
  • A sense of completion
  • Strengthening intuition and insight
  • Deepening our sense of empathy and compassion for ourselves, others & the world.
  • An overall experience of well-being

Here are a few other posts on HOA related to meditation that you might like to explore:

SoHam Mantra Meditation: Breathing, Connecting, Being

The Power Of The Breath

Exploring Metta Meditation

May Is For Metta

Meditation On Actualizing Intention

Loving Ourselves As A Key To Change & Healing

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HeartBeing

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~ Rumi

One of the foundations of The Heart Of Awakening Blog is the concept of Loving Ourselves As A Key To Change & Healing.  As change has come so strongly into the container this month, I am feeling to share a link to one of HOA’s most popular posts, 7 Ways To Cultivate Love & Compassion For Yourself.  This post offers a great exploration of this concept and some simple steps to begin to deepen is self-love and acceptance.  This is an important aspect of any change process and particularly if we are working to move out of limiting patterns and beliefs which we may be carrying that no longer support us.  Often, this can be related to the inner critic or approaching change with an attitude of harshness or rigid self-discipline.  As we begin to shift into a place of gentleness and compassionate self-discipline, new possibilities emerge for us on our journey of change and healing.  I hope you will take some time to explore this post.

Also, during the month of July, I will be offering a Free Teleclass on Monday, June 22nd at 12 PM EST that will explore Loving Ourselves~ A Key To Change & Healing as well as a live workshop in Annapolis, MD on Saturday, 7/27 on Living From The Heart: From Cholesterol To Consciousness With Herbalist/Health Educator Leigh Glenn of Art of Earth.  If you’d like to learn more about these events or to register online see the links below or feel free to drop me a note.

Loving Ourselves~ A Key To Change & Healing Free Teleclass on 7/22

Living From The Heart: From Cholesterol To Consciousness Workshop in Annapolis, MD on 7/27

I’d love to hear your experiences and reflections on loving ourselves as a key to change and healing or anything that is arising in your change process at this time.

Love & light,

Beth

Exploring A Holistic Approach To Living & Well-Being

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Chakras

“To be great, be whole;
Exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is not you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are
Into the smallest thing you do.
So, in each lake, the moon shines with splendor
Because it blooms up above.”
~ Fernando Pessoa

As human beings, our life consists of four basic levels: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical.  In order to create a healthy, balanced way of living, we need to give attention to each of these aspects of ourselves.  As we do so, we become able to heal the specific parts of ourselves that are in need in any given moment and we begin to create a greater sense of wholeness by attending to all aspects of ourselves.  Life is always changing and so are we, but as we deepen in our experience of ourselves, all aspects of ourselves, we begin to create a foundation for living a more joyful and balanced life.

When go through life transitions, we tend to lose the structure of caring for ourselves or we may have never even had one.  Also, when we are desiring to create a certain change in our lives,  a new structure is needed and in the transition, we are lacking a foundation to support that change.   This is a natural part of the change process.   Although there may be discomfort with the  uncertainty and instability that accompanies  change, there is an opening for a new way of being to emerge.  By being willing to look at where we are, what we have experienced and what changes we wish to bring forth in our lives, we have a great opportunity to delve deeper into ourselves and to create a new structure for living life in a more loving and conscious way.

In my personal healing journey and in my work with others, I have found that taking an integrative holistic approach to life and well-being supports a return to balance.  This model also offers a structure for self-reflection and action during the change process.  It can also be used in an ongoing way as part of a holistic self-care plan.

Defining The Four Levels

Spiritual:   This is our soul or our inner essence that connects us to universal source and the oneness of life.  By developing this part of ourselves, we can begin to experience a sense of belonging to a greater whole, to having deeper purpose and meaning in our lives, and to feeling we are more that just an individual.  This level creates a foundation for all the other levels of our being.

Mental:  This is our intellect, our ability to think and reason things out.  It includes our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and values.  Developing this level supports us in our abilities to think clearly, to be open-minded and to be discerning.  Through our minds, we are able to gather information and knowledge from our life experiences and from the world we live in.

Emotional:  This is our ability to relate to others, to ourselves and to the world on a feeling level.  It allows us to experience life deeply and to have meaningful connections with others.  Developing this level supports us in having a full range of experiences and to bringing fulfillment to our relationships with others and ourselves.

Physical:  This is our physical body.  It includes our ability to survive and thrive on the material plane.  We develop this level through caring for our bodies and learning to be connected to our physical being.  It also includes the development of skills to live and manage life in the material world.

Caring for the Four Levels

Caring for all of the levels is equally important.  To live a balanced and healthy life, we need to focus time and attention on each level.  Most of us develop certain parts more than others depending on our life experiences.   We may have been supported or discouraged from developing certain parts.  At certain times in our lives, we may need to focus attention on a specific area to assist us in where we are and what we are experiencing or in healing traumas and wounds from the past that may exist on any level.  There is no right way to heal or change.  We can proceed by developing one area or working on all at once.  Allowing our lives to guide us by being present with where we are and accepting who we are is a major part of the process.  We cannot change where we have been, but by being gentle, loving and present with ourselves in the now, we can create positive changes in our lives.  And it is this moment, which creates the next.

Here are some ways to explore caring for each of the levels.

Spiritual:   Develop or explore a spiritual practice, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi or studying a spiritual teaching.   Spend a few moments in prayer each day.   Create a gratitude journal and write in it.   Spend time in nature, gardening or hiking.  Practice mindfulness in your daily activities.  Spend some time each day checking in with yourself and asking for inner guidance.  Take time to be alone and quiet, just “being” with yourself.  Explore creative activities such as painting, dancing, singing.  You know it’s a spiritual practice when you feel it feeding your soul.

Mental:   Pay attention to your thoughts.  Write down some of your repetitive thoughts and beliefs.  Make a list of core beliefs and examine where they came from.  Explore which beliefs support you and which limit you.  Be open to exploring new ideas and letting go of old ones.  Explore things you do well and like to do, as this is part of your native intelligence.

Emotional:  Honor all of your feelings.  Ask what they are about; allow the feelings to guide you to what you need.  Learn to appreciate your different moods and emotions.  Journal about what you are feeling.  Get help or support on emotional healing from friends, family, a therapist, a healer or a support group.   Have healthy boundaries.  Give yourself time and space to process your feelings.  Be open to receiving love and support.

Physical:  Tune in, feel and listen to your physical body.  Consume plenty of water.  Eat a diet that is appropriate for you.  Eat regularly.  Get plenty of rest.  Get fresh air each day.  Get regular exercise and daily physical movement.  Heal you addictions.  Experience physical touch, affection and closeness.  Cultivate your ability to practically manage aspects of living in the material world.  Get some bodywork or massage.  Listen to your body’s innate wisdom and follow it.

A Holistic Self-Care Exploration

Take a few moments to answer these questions.  The intention of looking at each of the four levels of existence is to see how you are experiencing these aspects in your life at this time.  Notice any areas that may need attention and notice those areas that feel developed and balanced.  Also, be open to noticing and exploring any resistance that may come up about any of the levels.  Write down any ideas you have about how you can create more balance in any specific area or overall.  Also, write down anything you have done in the past, particularly before recent transitions, which may have supported you in any of these areas.

Spiritual:    Do you feel a sense of connection to your spiritual source?  Do you have a relationship with your own inner wisdom or intuitive guidance?  Do you feel you are a part of a greater whole?  Do you spend time alone just “being”? Do you have a spiritual practice, which supports you being?

Mental:  Are you satisfied with your intellect?  Can you think and express yourself clearly?   Do you have a belief system that supports you and works for you?  Are you open to new ideas without being overly impressionable?  Do you have clarity?  Are you able to stay focused?

Emotional:  Are you in touch with your feelings and able to express them appropriately?  Do you allow yourself to experience a full range of emotions or do you find you shut down certain emotions if they arise? (E.g. fear, sadness, anger, joy, love)  Are you able to set appropriate boundaries with others?   Are you able to be open and honest with others and your self about your feelings?  Can you relate to others in a close, intimate way?

Physical:  Are you physically healthy and active?  Do you feel comfortable in your body?  Do you like your body?   Do you eat a healthy, balanced diet?  Are you comfortable in the material world?  Are you practical and down to earth?  Are you financially stable?  Do you enjoy your sexuality?

This review can be useful in the process of creating changes in your life.  It can also be used regularly as part of a holistic self-care plan.  It is a great way to do a check-in or review of where you are in the change process.  I tend to use it monthly just to touch base with the various aspects of myself and to see where I may have moved out of balance or need to give more attention based on what is arising in my life.  It is also great to see the progress and how I have grown in certain areas as well.

As always, please feel free to share you thoughts, feelings and reflections.

Know Yourself: The Foundation For Change

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You cannot transcend what you do not know.  To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

I am excited to be starting a new 31 Day Blog Challenge.  Every year when I do May Is For Metta, I feel like this is an opening to write more and daily.  Then, June comes and find I just don’t make it back to the page as much as I intend to.  Having a motivator, a challenge or a deadline that is accountable to others is something I find I need.  I am not sure why this is the case. I’d love to just say I am going to write everyday and do it, just because I want to.  It’s curious and something I am exploring in myself.

So, here I am in July, feeling the call to join a 31 Day Blog Challenge.  I guess another aspect of this is that writing or the process of writing itself tends to be a very solitary process.  So joining in a collective group of writers and bloggers who are journeying together during this time really helps to create a container for that energy and offers a drive to be more proactive.  I am looking forward to exploring the variety of bloggers and blogs that have signed on for Lesa Townsend’s 31 Day Blog Challenge.  I hope you’ll join me in this exploration here on The Heart Of Awakening Blog and check out some of the other blogs as well.

One of the things I have been working on this year is creating a program that is at this point called, 30 Days To Change.  This program has stemmed from some of the workshops, articles and individual sessions I have done over recent years.  What I have found is that 30 or 31 Days is a great container to initiate a foundation for change.  I have seen research on varying amounts of time but this is a framework that I have found works well with the processes I have developed around holistic self-care, mastering anxiety, transforming your inner critic, and discovering the healer within.

It just occurred to me recently that this process can be applied to any area of focus or type of change –  30 Days is a good way to begin to cultivate healing and transformation in a powerful way and can offer a foundation for how to work in an ongoing way.  I like that this time frame can involve both a daily process and also be segmented into 4 weekly segments.  I plan to spend some time over the summer developing this as its own model for change to be applied to whatever area one might like to focus on.   So, stay tuned for more of that exploration to emerging here.

For today, I’d like to share a step that I find is a key component in creating any type of change:

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Know Yourself.  We live in such a busy and chaotic world.  Our lives are full of distractions and disruptions both inwardly and outwardly.  How can we create change in our lives if we don’t know who we are and we aren’t truly conscious of what we are experiencing.  How can we know what changes would best support us or how we want to be in the world without that self-knowing?

There are many ways to get to know oneself on a deeper level.  Developing a contemplative practice such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, or prayer can be a good starting point.   Just spending some time in stillness, whether indoors or out in nature, just being and listening  and allowing our inner voice to be heard is a great step, too.  Writing or journaling can be a powerful way to deepen in self-reflection and self-awareness.

Take the time and space to explore some tools and practices that can support you in getting to know yourself more fully and deeply; this is probably the greatest thing you can do for yourself.  Take some time to consider areas of your life where you feel out of balance.  Are there certain changes you are feeling to make?  Is there something that is going on in your life that is causing you considerable distress?  Are you willing to take some time to just be with that and explore what might be beneficial for you in terms of change?

So, whether you have a specific change in mind or just feel to explore a bit, I hope you will join me this month in my exploration.  It won’t be totally linear, but I will be sharing bits and pieces of my developing program.  Is there a practice or tool you feel to bring in that can support you in getting to know yourself?  Or, perhaps you feel to explore some new practices to see how they might support you.

As always,  I would love to hear how others have worked with creating change, particularly if there is a certain time frame you have found beneficial or certain practices that support getting to know yourself.