Tag Archives: Awareness

Mindfulness Mondays: Listening To Your Body

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“We may ignore or deride the messages of the body but its rebellion demands to be heeded because its language is the authentic expression of our true selves and of the strength of our vitality.”

Alice Miller

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How to practice, where to practice, when to practice? These are all great questions that come up about meditation! And, ones that can sometimes become an obstacle to actually practicing, especially for those new to meditation or just returning to a practice.  I’ll be sharing a few posts on this topic over the next month or so.

Today’s practice involves a bit of an exploration of posture and how to explore mindfulness through the body.  This question of posture is one that comes up often in my meditation groups. And, it’s important to know there is not one answer!  Depending on the style of meditation practice, certain specific postures can seen as beneficial.  Sitting cross-legged on the floor or in lotus posture is a common suggestion; however, this is not comfortable for everyone.

It is very important to listen to your body.  For most of us, as we move through our day, we tend to sit on chairs most often.   So taking time to explore how to practice meditation in this way can help us to bring mindfulness into our daily life.  It can also help us to begin to listen to and in a sense “befriend” our bodies.  This might not seem to be what we think meditation is all about – but being present with our bodies is a way of knowing ourselves more deeply and can be an anchor for many mindfulness and meditation practices.

I invite you to be curious!

Here’s a simple practice to explore:

Sit at the leading edge of chair so that your feet are flat on the floor.  Feel the support of mother earth beneath your feet.  Allow you spine to be straight but not tense; shoulders and stomach relaxed.  Place your hand on your knees or your lap.  If you are comfortable, gently close your eyes or have a soft gaze on the floor a few feet in front of you. 

If you feel tense, take a few deep breaths — breathing in for a count of five and out for a count of five.  If possible, begin to let some of the tension in your body go. Then, let your breath fall back to its own natural rhythm.

Begin to open up to observe your whole body; and then begin to notice any specific sensations you may be feeling.  Perhaps feeling your body on the chair, your feet on the floor, or the feeling of your clothing against you skin.  Noticing if the air is moving or still, are you feeling hot or cold, or tired or energized and so on.  Focus on any sensations you notice related to your physical body.  Just noting them and them moving on to the next sensation. 

You might notice areas where your feel pain tension, pain or discomfort. Observe them and then continue on to other sensations that are present.  This is a time to notice physical sensations without attaching to or resisting any one of them. You are simply noticing!

If you notice that your mind is wandering, which it will, (this is the nature of the mind) simply bring it back to the next feeling or sensation that arises in your body.

To finish, take another moment to tune into your whole body.  Then, focusing on your breath, envision yourself  breathing into and out of your entire body for a few cycles of breath.

Finally, take a moment to express gratitude for your body and all it does to support you in being alive and awake in each and every moment!

As always, feel free to share your reflections in the comments below.

Tashi Deleh (I honor the greatness within you!)

Mindfulness Mondays ~ Coherence Breathing

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Breathe in slowly for a count of 5.
Breathe out slowly for a count of 5. 
Continue for 5 or 6 cycles of breath or as long as you feel to practice.

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One who has gradually practiced, 
Developed and brought to perfection 
Mindfulness of the in-and-out breath 
As taught by the Enlightened One, 
Illuminates the entire world 
Like the moon when freed from clouds. 
Developing a relationship with our breath is at the heart of many mindfulness and meditation practices.  Although some feel that altering our breath, may not fall under the realm of mindfulness, I have found that a practice of coherence breathing is highly beneficial in cultivating our relationship with the breath and is particularly helpful in becoming present with the in and out breaths.  Counting in and of itself, without changing or deepening the breath, is another good practice, which we will explore in another post. 
 
In the book, “The Healing Power of the Breath”, authors Richard Brown, MD and Patricia L. Gerber, MD, share:
“Breathing can alleviate negative feelings, such as fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, depression, self-blame, confusion, restlessness, and physical discomforts. With regular practice over time breathwork can bring improvements in physical health, physical endurance, and resilience. But breathing is not just a treatment for life’s ills,; it can also enhance pleasurable and creative activities such as musical performance, writing, team sports, or just being with nature. Breath practices nurture positive emotions, loving feelings, compassion, our sense of connection with what is meaningful in life, and our sense of bonding with others.”
Coherence Breathing is a simple way to work with your breath by synchronizing the in and out breaths for a count of five on both the in and out breaths; this can be varied from four to six counts depending on your comfort and breath patterns. This type of breathing can have a profound impact on your body, mind, emotions and spirit.  
Meditation teacher Tara Brach refers to this technique as a “heart breath”.  In a sense it is training your system to have deeper, slower breaths, which supports greater calm, balance and well-being.   Often, our natural tendency is to have shorter, shallower breaths. Coherence Breathing also supports your ability to become more mindful as you practice; and as you cultivate a deeper relationship you also deepen  your awareness of your whole being.

Scientists have found that there is an ideal breath rate for each person, somewhere between 4 and 6 breaths per minute using equal timing for breathing in and breathing out.  This patterning helps to increase our heart-rate variability and balance our stress response systems. Also, the electronic rhythms of the heart, lungs, and brain become synchronized, which is known as a resonant rate amongst researchers.  Although the research is new, this pattern of breathing has been known amongst meditation practitioners and traditions for centuries.  

Here is a chart of some of the benefits of Coherence Breathing vs. Shallow Breathing:

For this week’s exploration, practice Coherence Breathing by working with breathing in for a count of five and out for a count of five.  You may need to vary the in and out between a count of four and six depending on what feels comfortable for you.  Ideally, practicing for 5 – 10 minutes is good start, but even one minute can be beneficial.

Namaste.

Beth

 

 

Join HOA’s 7-Day Writing To Heal Challenge! Cultivating Self-Compassion ~ Day 1

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7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge

Cultivating Self-Compassion

Day 1

Member-JournalingAs I have been diving into the preparation for the next session of Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change 30-Day Online Writing Program, I felt called to share an introduction of writing to heal here on The Heart of Awakening Blog.  Writing has been a part of my personal healing journey since I was a teenager.  If I didn’t have the sacred space of my journal, what seemed at times to be my only true friend, I am not sure that I would have survived some of the life challenges I faced.

I’ve continued to write in the form of journaling, poetry, personal essay, and articles related to holistic healing and spirituality.  Some of my writing is more public but it is a practice that continues to be at the heart of my own healing journey. And, it is one I love to share with others in a variety of ways as a tool for transformation and healing.  I invite to join us here on The Heart of Awakening Blog for 7-Days of Writing To Heal.  Each day, I’ll be sharing some thoughts, reflections and a writing prompt or two for you to explore.  You may wish to go day by day or just come back to them whenever you feel drawn to.  It’s your journey!

We live in exciting times when science can help us to understand tools which have been long practiced. Recent scientific evidence has discovered that the act of writing actually accesses your left brain, which is the analytical and rational part.  When you begin writing, your left brain becomes more strongly engaged which then frees your right brain to create, intuit and feel more deeply.  So, in a sense, writing takes you out of your head and into your heart; that’s a big theme here on HOA! This shift allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. And is one reason why writing can be such a powerful tool for healing!

Writing and journaling can help you to:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings.
  • Know yourself better.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Be healthier.
  • Solve problems more effectively.
  • Resolve disagreements with others
  • Practice good self-care
  • Access your creativity
  • Release and Express Held Memories & Emotions
  • Set Intentions

You may be saying to yourself, “But, I’m not a writer, so how can writing or journaling work for me?”  There are many ways to explore journaling and many types of practices.  Writing offers an opportunity to explore who you are, what are your likes and dislikes, and your strengths and weaknesses.  It is a vehicle to find your voice and explore ways you can flow more easily with life.

Over the next 7 days, I’ll be sharing a variety of ways you can begin to use writing and journaling as a tool for healing.  Feel free to share in the comments your thoughts, feelings and reflections as well any other ways you might work with writing as a tool for healing.  I have chosen a theme for these 7 days that has been coming up strongly in my own personal work as well as my work with clients most recently – Cultivating Self-Compassion! Sometimes it may feel like we’ve done so much of that work and then suddenly it’s clear there is more to do. There are always deeper layers to explore!  As we discuss during annual May Is For Metta practice, it is in cultivating self-compassion that we create a foundation for offering it to others and the world.  And, so we our journey begins…


 

Day 1

You might like to take some time today to decide where you will write both physically in terms of your location, e.g. your desk, out on the deck, on a cozy chair in your living room, etc. And, also, in terms of your writing space such as in a notebook, journal or on your computer.  You may just like to play around with a few options during these 7 days to see what feels best for you.  Also, do you want to write first thing in the morning, before bedtime at night or at another point in the day.  I encourage you to be open, creative and explore.  

Each day I will be sharing a few prompts for you to use to spur your exploration in writing to heal.  This will include a variety of types of prompts so you can continue to create your own writing to heal process going forward.  Our theme for this week is on Cultivating Self-Compassion.  Here are some prompts to explore today…

Quotes ~ If you’ve followed HOA for any bit of time, you know that I absolutely love quotes! They inspire me in so many ways but I have found them to be particularly helpful when I want to begin writing on a certain theme or just need a thought to get my words flowing.  I have shared two quotes and prompts below on our theme of Cultivating Self-Compassion.  Feel free to use the prompts or just write stream of consciousness on what arises as you consider the quotes…

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
― Gautama Buddha

When you read the Buddha’s words, what thoughts and feelings arise?  Do you feel you are deserving of your own love and compassion?  What have you been taught about loving yourself?  Are there any negative messages you have received about cultivating self-compassion like it’s selfish or wrong?  Are you willing to begin to cultivate self-compassion in a bigger way? If not, what’s stopping you?

“Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Pema Chodron

Make a list of all the parts of yourself that you are aware of need more self-compassion. Perhaps there are some wounded parts, your inner children or maybe some parts you just don’t like to see.  Begin to write stream of consciousness or create a list of any parts of yourself that you think might need a big dose of love and compassion.  Be willing to list any feelings, patterns and beliefs that you might like to keep hidden, even from yourself.  This is a way to bring light to the shadow parts of ourselves.  Be gently and loving with yourself as you explore…

Feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments below.

See you tomorrow!

Love & light,

Beth Shekinah

My Word for 2015 is…CLARITY

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images-5It’s been a few years now that I have chosen a word for the year. Some years I have to really meditate and percolate to come up with a word.  Last year, my word was ALIGNMENT.   Interestingly, I read something about the current astrology around Saturn moving into Sagittarius in December and how this is fostering a greater sense of alignment.

One thing I have recently discovered about the new year is that choosing a word for the year or making resolutions, doesn’t mean your there.  It means you are setting the intention for the coming year and it will require work through the year to actualize that intention or resolution. This year, I had many invitations to join groups or sign up for courses in December to help me set goals and vision for 2015 so I could be ready when January 1st arrived.

I have to admit I dabbled in this a bit but didn’t get too far. I did struggle seeing others seemingly create a vision and action plan for the new year and feeling like in some way I must be slacking in this or already failing. Then, I remembered the awareness that came to  me last year at this time to really honor the rhythms of nature, of winter and the yin energy of this season.

For me, all the goals, resolutions, etc., need to come from within, not from the mind but from my heart and soul.  And, not from any forces outside myself, only those within.  This requires going slow, being patient, and honoring my own rhythm.  This is what a year of alignment has taught me.  I knew it before but now I feel more able to honor it in my daily life.

So here I am on January 16, 2015, just diving into my word of the year post and feeling my intentions, goals and visions for this year emerging.  I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks meditating, doing inner work and allowing this year’s word to come forward. Once I created space and ask the question, the word came shining through.  My word for 2015 is…

CLARITY

I feel pretty strongly this energy came from the alignment of last year.  I can’t say 2014 was an easy year; in fact, it was challenging in many ways.  I struggled with finances, relationships and life direction.  Even more so, I had a layer of trauma surface that required my willingness to dive very deeply into old feelings, patterns and beliefs.

Although, I had done this many times before, this layer was particularly painful.  I was surprised at how much I had been continuing to hold patterns that were not my own, but were shaped my mother’s mental illness.  And, I discovered how in an unseen way, these patterns and feelings were continuing to drive my life experiences.

As a shaman, my work is to journey into the darkness to find the light.  I have been on this path for close to a decade now doing my own inner work and assisting others in their journeys.  Still, I was amazed at how powerful a hold the trauma and misperceptions of the past had on me even today.

Seeing it was the beginning of a process of unravelling that has taken the last 6 months and continues.  I imagine the word CLARITY has emerged from this exploration.  On a daily basis, I have been looking at what’s the real me and what’s the false me.  When I feel a feeling or hear an inner voice, I stop to ask it is the true me or a false me.  Each time I do this, I become clearer, stronger and more grounded in my true essence.

I am excited to see what CLARITY brings in 2015!

Do you have a word for the year or an intention you’d like to share?  Feel free to drop a note in the comments below.

Many blessings for a beautiful year!

Love & light,

Beth

Take Your Mindfulness Meditation To Work! A Conversation on Let’s Coach With Mark & Carolyn

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“Meditation is a way of being, not a technique. Meditation is not about trying to get anywhere else. It is about allowing yourself to be exactly where you are and as you are, and the world to be exactly as it is in this moment.”  ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Listen To The Show

Today, I joined hosts Carolyn Owens and Mark Thorn on their Blog Talk Radio Show, Let’s Coach With Mark & Carolyn.  Our topic was “Take Your Mindfulness Meditation To Work”.  I just wanted to share some of what we discussed and a link to the show for you to explore.

The relationship between our personal lives and our work lives has often been one of disconnection or separation.  When we go to work, we put on our work persona.  When we come home, we take it off.  Even when organizations and individuals desire to be more open, authentic and heart-centered, the transition is difficult.

It is such a fascinating time when we see science is getting on board with what spirituality has long know – meditation is a powerful tool for both consciousness and well-being.  I am amazed to see each week new information being shared about a variety of practices and one that seems to be in the forefront is mindfulness meditation.  Here is a brief summary of recent research from Dan Seigel, co-director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center:

• University of New Mexico researchers found that participation in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course decreased anxiety and binge eating.

• Office workers who practiced MBSR for twenty minutes a day reported an average 11% reduction in perceived stress.  

• Eight weeks of MBSR resulted in an improvement in the immune profiles of people with breast or prostate cancer, which corresponded with decreased depressive symptoms.

• A prison offering Vipassana meditation training for inmates found that those who completed the course showed lower levels of drug use, greater optimism, and better self-control, which could reduce recidivism.

• Fifth-grade girls who did a ten-week program of yoga and other mindfulness practices were more satisfied with their bodies and less preoccupied with weight.

• A mix of cancer patients who tried MBSR showed significant improvement in mood and reduced stress. These results were maintained at a checkup six months later.

• The likelihood of recurrence for patients who had experienced three or more bouts of depression was reduced by half through Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, an offshoot of MBSR.

• After fifteen weeks of practicing MBSR, counseling students reported improved physical and emotional well-being, and a positive effect on their counseling skills and therapeutic relationships. (Source: The Science Of Mindfulness)

So, what is mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.

Mindfulness is a not just a practice, but a state of being in attention to the present moment.  When you’re practicing mindfulness, you are observing your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judgement, comparison or the need to understand.  It is a way to be present to life as it unfolds.  It’s simply practicing moment to moment awareness.

Here are some of the overall benefits of mindfulness practice:

  • Reduced stress
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Improved self-awareness
  • Boosts to working memory 
  • Clarity and Focus 
  • Less emotional reactivity 
  • Relationship satisfaction
  • Improved immune functioning
  • Sense of well-being
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Increased empathy and compassion

How can this support our us in the world of work?

As Dan Seigel mentioned in his overview of scientific research, mindfulness meditation has been shown to benefit people at work as well as in their personal lives.  Mindfulness supports greater clarity, clearer focus, improved wellness, reduced stress, increased productivity, stronger resiliency and even enhanced creativity – these are all things that can benefit us in the world of work, whether we work in a large corporation or are a self-employed entrepreneur.

For an individual, mindfulness meditation offers a way to stay present, focused and bring more of our authentic self to our work.  For organizations, mindfulness meditation offers an opportunity to cultivate a culture of clarity, focus and employee engagement.  For both, it also supports a new paradigm for leadership development that is based on authenticity, self-awareness and openness.

Basically, bringing mindfulness meditation practice to work is a win-win situation.  So, whether you are an individual wanting to bring your personal practice more fully into your daily life or an organization wanting create change, bringing mindfulness practice to work offers a powerful tool for transformation.  We can see this happening at companies like Google, Apple, Proctor and Gamble, General Mills, Harpo Studios and The Huffington Post.

Some ways to incorporate mindfulness into your work:

Ways to incorporate mindfulness into your work:

  • Practice the “just one breath meditation”.  Simply take a mindful breath, noticing the sensations of the breath, where you feel it in your body, the rhythm of the breath and/or labeling it “breathing in and breathing out.
  • Count your next five breaths.
  • Give yourself a break – get up, stretch, step a way for just a moment.
  • Go for a mindful walk around the office or go outside and get some fresh air.
  • Feel your feet on the floor. Feel the support of the earth beneath you.
  • Give some attention to you body.  Notice where you feel might feel tension or discomfort.  Bring the breath to that area for just a moment.
  • Pause and notice all of the sounds around you, just listen and notice.
  • Get a mindfulness app or set a timer to remind you to pause several times during the day. 

Feel free to comment or share on how you bring mindfulness or other meditation practices to your world of work! 

Stay Connected!

Learn more about Integrative Holistic Healing Programs For Individuals, Groups and Organizations. Sign up to for my Discover The Healer Within Monthly E-news.

Website: www.bethterrence.com

Blog: The Heart Of Awakening: Searching For A New Paradigm

Twitter: @BethTerrence

Facebook: Beth Terrence ~ Holistic Resources & Wellness Programs

Linked In: Beth Terrence

Journaling, Journaling, Journaling…

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I’ve been busy writing in my journal (pictured above) this summer and not so much here on The Heart Of Awakening.  It was healing to take some time to be unplugged.   I am sorry for the gap, but I am excited to be back.  I have a number of posts in the works ~ so stay tuned!

I did a series of guest posts this summer on the Heal My Voice Blog on writing and journaling.  One of them was on “Journaling For Health & Well-being” and was picked up by Dawn Herring, the host of #JournalChat.  She shared the post and invited me to be a guest panelist on a Live JournalChat Event happening this week on Facebook.  I’d like to invite you to explore the JournalChat Facebook Group and this live event which is happening from 9/2 – 9/4.   Learn more…

Also, here are some of the posts I shared on writing and journaling for you to explore:

Journaling For Health & Well-Being

Journaling For Reconnection ~ JournalTalk Podcast

30 Quotes To Inspire & Ignite Your Writing

7 Ways To Jumpstart Your Writing This Summer

Empowering Women In Addiction Recovery Through Writing & Creativity

As always, feel free to share your thoughts, reflections or favorite suggestions for writing or journaling in the comments below.

Love & light,

Beth

 

Love Yourself, Live Your Life Summer Breakthrough Program

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“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” ~ Lucille Ball

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One of my favorite sayings is “we teach what we need to learn”.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is where many of my posts and offerings stem from.  As someone who has been on a spiritual path for quite sometime, I have found there are certain essentials that we work on throughout our lifetime ~ this is part of the being a spiritual being having a human experience. 

Whenever we are creating change or working on healing, we hope that we will get this part and move onto the next piece.  On some level this happens, but more often than not, we find that we cycle back to old patterns, feelings or beliefs and need to work through them in a deeper way.  This doesn’t mean we have failed – actually we are progressing on what we might call the “spiral of healing”.  Cycling back is part of the path to our evolution.

Life is about transformation, growth, self-discovery and finding new possibilities.  The journey of life is a sacred path and it is natural to seek teachers and teachings to help us find our way.  But, as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj shares so beautifully, “The only true guru (teacher) is the path itself.”  And, this journey is a continuous one.  We might consider it like the labyrinth.  We enter in not knowing the path to center but we find the opening, follow along and eventually we end up in center.  We pause, reflect, set some intention and then begin to move out into the world once again – simply following the open path.

In a sense there is a bit of a puzzle to solve, but rather than just look at the labyrinth and try to sort it out mentally, we take one step and then we take one more.  We surrender to the path that is before us and in trusting each step is where it needs to be that we discover the divine presence is guiding us in each moment.  In life, when we feel we have a setback or have “spiralled down” rather than up, we tend to see this as a failure or as a wrong step.  The truth is the path is full of ups and downs on the spiral life; we are in a constant state of expansion and contraction.

Sometimes we may feel we have lost our path or have gone astray, but even when this is what we are feeling, we are where we need to be.  There is beauty and wisdom to be found in every experience.  And, as the shamanic path teaches so beautifully – it is the darkness and the shadows that we find the light within ourselves.  Still, we can find ourselves in  times of doubt or confusion that leave us feeling stuck or out of alignment with our deeper purpose in life.  What is it that can bring us back, not to a different place, but to willingness, acceptance and understanding? 

I have found the answer to be one of the essential teachings that I devote myself to both personally and professionally ~ the journey of the heart and the cultivation of greater love and compassion for self.  As we explored during May Is For Metta, loving ourselves is seen in the Buddhist tradition and others as the foundation we need to foster love and compassion in our lives, relationships and the world.  I also see it as one of the most potent keys to change and healing.

I have been devoting a lot of my time this summer to writing the final chapters for the May Is For Metta book.  Immersing myself in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion has opened the door for a new program I have been developing to emerge sooner than planned.     I am excited to share information with you on the Love Yourself, Live Your Life Summer Breakthrough Program. This is an introductory series that will be offered through 5 weekly tele-classes, a Facebook group, guided practices and optional individual sessions.

I am happy to share a Free Gift with you; it will give you a glimpse into what the Love Yourself, Live Your Life Program will be like.  This previous teleclass on “Loving Ourselves: A Key To Change & Healing” is a great way to explore loving yourself on a deeper level.

I hope you’ll take some time to explore and join me for this new program designed to support you in embracing and loving all of who you are so that you can live the life of your dreams!

Here are the details of the program for you to explore:

Love Yourself, Live Your Life
Summer Breakthrough Program With Beth Terrence
5 Session Teleclass Series
Discover The Healer Within
 
Do you want to live more from the heart? 
 
Is it a struggle to be gentle and loving with yourself?
 
Are you ready to step into your soul purpose from a space of the heart?
 
Does your inner critic keep you stuck? 
 
Do you want to have a deeper sense of connection with yourself, others and the world? 

 

In this 5 Session Teleclass, you will: 
 
  • Learn to connect with your heart on a deeper level and live more from the heart space.   
  • Cultivate love and compassion for yourself using a variety of transformational tools including meditation, shamanic journey work, affirmations, self-reflection and creative exercises.  
  • Uncover limiting beliefs and obstacles that prevent you from embodying greater love and compassion for your self and others and also, keep you from moving forward in your life.  
  • Learn to access your essential self and embody your soul purpose from the space of the heart
  • Begin to facilitate your own process of transformation and healing and create a foundation to continue that process in your life.
 Dates: Tuesday, July 22nd – August 19th  
 Time: 7:00 – 8:00 EST 
 Where: Wherever You Are – Call in by phone or listen online
 Audio replays will be available after the weekly call

 

 Basic Package $97, includes  
 – 5 weekly teleclass sessions 
 – an mp3 audio of calls 
 – weekly transformational resource handouts
 – private Facebook discussion group, plus 
 – 2 special audio bonuses 
 
 Register by July 14th for Special Pricing on Basic Package ~ $77
 
 Premium Package $247, includes
 –  Basic Package plus  
 –  One 1 1/2 hour Individual Session with Beth Terrence  
 in person in Annapolis, MD or By PHONE/SKYPE (Reg. $150)
 
Register by July 14th for Special Pricing On Premium Package ~ $227
   
Are you ready to embrace the truth of who you are –  
a being full of loving-kindness and compassion?

How much longer do you want to continue struggling?

Do you want the heart to be a guiding force in your life? 
 
The journey begins with you!
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Day 8 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Loving-kindness For A Benefactor or Mentor

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“How and why we love change the qualities of our love.  Love with loving-kindness transforms love into the nectar of wisdom.  Love with attachment transforms the love into poison, into a state of afflicting emotions.  Therefore, we must recognize the characteristics of the love that is loving-kindness and learn how to generate it in ourselves.” ~ Tulku Thondup

May Is For Metta 2014

It is taught that there are four essential ingredients in the practice of Metta. They are as follows:

  • positive images
  • positive words
  • feelings of loving-kindness
  • trusting in love

Trust involves all of aspects as it includes trusting in the power of the images, words and the feelings of loving-kindness.  Trusting in love allows our loving-kindness meditation to be most effective.  And, as we have discussed this can sometimes go against our grain.  For some of us, trusting in love is not what we learned to do as a child or adult; and yet as we begin to open to trust by loving ourselves, our whole word changes.

Today, we will continue our practice working with the Benefactor/Mentor.  You may continue to practice with the same person you chose yesterday or you may explore working with another.  If you are not sure with whom to work, just call a few possibilities into your mind.  Imagine each being coming into your heart center, notice how you feel and try out the phrases on each one until you feel clear who you wish to work with for today.  Allow your heart to guide you.  This is a good way to learn the language of your heart.

Daily Practice:  

Do your foundational practices.  Begin by getting comfortable and settling in to your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart or imagining yourself sitting in your circle of loving beings.  Really allow your self to feel enveloped in the energies of loving-kindness and compassion.  Remember, creating a strong foundation is an important part of the practice; be careful not to neglect this as you begin to offer Metta to others.  When you feel ready, begin to offer the Metta phrases you have been working with to yourself.

  • May I be safe.
  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free from suffering.

Bring an image of the Benefactor/Mentor clearly into your mind and let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being.  Really allow yourself to enjoy the feeling of being with that person.  This is someone who warms your heart just by thinking about them.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Begin repeating the phrases for your Benefactor or Mentor:

  • May you be safe.
  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.

If you notice your mind has wandered, bring your attention back to the phrases and the image of your benefactor.  As I touched on yesterday, another option if you are having a lot of distraction or difficult feelings coming up is to switch your practice back to yourself for a few moments; then when you feel more centered, return your attention to the Benefactor/Mentor.  This is a way to become more loving with ourselves.  We listen, we become more attentive and we respond to ourselves when we are having difficulty.   And, we respond to ourselves with loving-kindness and compassion rather than harshness or criticism.  This is an opportunity for a paradigm shift.   

I encourage you to explore this practice of switching back and forth as you need to during your practice – do it as often as you feel to.  You can also explore turning your attention to yourself, your heart center or imagining your circle of loving beings throughout your day when you have trouble staying present in the moment or when you are have difficult feelings arise.  Those difficult moments during your day are the perfect opportunity to bring your Metta practice into your daily life.

Continue to practice for your Benefactor/Mentor for as long as you can or have committed to for your practice.   Then, return your awareness to the image of sitting in your circle of loving beings or being present in your heart center.  Allow that feeling to really sink into you, into every atom and cell of your being.  Let it surround and envelope you.  As you move out into your day, imagine yourself embodying loving-kindness and compassion with each step and each breath.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  How does it feel to practice for a Benefactor/Mentor?  Did you explore switching back to yourself?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to spend some time sitting everyday or have you decided to incorporate your practice in some other way?  What are you learning about yourself?  Are you being gentle and loving with your self as your practice or explore?

May you be happy. 
May you be peaceful.  
May you be free of suffering.  
May you have ease of well-being today and everyday.

Namaste.

Poem Of The Week: Everything Is Waiting For You By David Whyte

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A Path Awaits

It’s been awhile since I have posted a Poem Of The Week.  Time seems to have slipped away between the end of last year and the beginning of the new, but here we are!  It feels like a perfect time to share this poem by one of my favorite poets, David Whyte.

You may wonder why I share poetry on The Heart Of Awakening Blog.  I have found that both reading and writing poetry is a great way to connect with the energy of spirit and to find inspiration for creativity and for life itself.  My hope is to share poems that will light you up and invite you to explore yourself and the world more deeply.  Enjoy!

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

  — David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press

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Inspired Voices Book Cover

Read Beth’s story, Lost & Found: The Birth Of A Shaman, in Inspired Voices: True Stories Of Visionary Women available on Amazon.com.

Reflections Of The Soul Cover

Also, read Beth’s poem, Be Still, in Reflections Of The Soul, A Spiritual Writers Anthology also available on Amazon.com.

Finding My Way Into 2014

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“The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday.” ~ Steve Maraboli

Today, I attended a workshop called Revolutionary Resolutions.  I’m not too big on resolutions or the idea that we need to use the beginning of the year to create change in our lives.  I believe any day can be our “new year” and really every day needs to be that to be a conscious, authentic and evolving human being.

I understand the importance of goals and goal setting in terms of achievement and success.  This year for some reason, I was inundated with folks offering their new program to help me meet my goals in 2014.  It felt like anyone and everyone had spent most of 2013 planning for this rollout and quite honestly it felt pushy, plastic and inauthentic.  I found myself more than ever wanting to avoid the mass movement toward “resolutions”.

You may wonder, then, why had I signed up for this workshop?  Overall, it was kind of a feeling thing.  But, I do like to gather with others to explore and I was hoping I get some different insight into how to begin this New Year.  For some odd reason, I was feeling a bit like doing nothing for most of the holiday season.  I am usually quite proactive and so was just observing this in myself throughout December and into the New Year.

I was happy when I arrived at this workshop and found that there would be a burning bowl ceremony.  I find Fire Ceremony to be a powerful way to honor our transitions.  There was a focus on identifying what we needed to let go before we began to explore what we would bring in for 2014.  One of the things that had happened during my time of “non-doing” was that I got clearer on some of the feelings, patterns and beliefs I need to let go of and work to transform.  So, when the time came to write down what you would let go on little slips of paper, I was ready to release!

Later on in the workshop, the facilitator mentioned that she wasn’t starting her new program until February.  I thought that was interesting.  While I was “doing nothing” and thinking about all of what I “should be doing” to prepare and put things out for the new year, I found myself feeling very strongly to not start anything in January but wait until at least February or early March to begin my new groups and offerings, too.

The subject of the Chinese New Year came up and we discussed that this is the last month of that cycle.  This year is the year of the Snake according to the Chinese cycles and the energy of the snake is all about letting go, releasing and as they do “shedding” their skin.  The facilitator mentioned that this was a factor in her postponing her beginnings and as she shared that, I realized this is exactly what I was feeling.  Now is not a time to be birthing new things, it is still a time to be clearing and letting go.  It is also a time for spiritual discoveries, creativity and a desire for inner truth, what better energy to support a foundation for new beginnings!

I have been very focused on clearing my space – outwardly in my home and my office, inwardly in feelings, patterns and beliefs, which are no longer serving me.  Over the last week or two, I kept butting up against the massive movement to be rolling the new out, to be done with letting go and clearing, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I considered that it is still the height of winter, a more inner time, but hadn’t consciously considered the energy of the Snake.  This potent energy has brought a lot of turbulence to this past year, which many folks have been experiencing emotionally and energetically.  It feels so important to take this last month and really allow what needs to be released to go.

According to the Chinese calendar, the coming year will be the year of the Horse; this begins on January 31st, 2014.  The Horse brings an energy for movement and power.  This year will carry the element of Wood as well, which is all about growth and new beginnings.  It feels like there is an intensity to this shift and taking time to be present with ourselves is key.  Clearing and releasing creates the space for more of ourselves and our deeper intentions to become manifest.  This is more important than any resolution or goal – this is life!  What greater resolution is there than to create space to allow our essence to emerge and our light to shine out into the world.

It is possible that I am feeling this all the more because I was born in the year of the Horse; I’m not totally sure.  What I do know is that it is important to listen to our own inner rhythms, to connect with natural cycles and to find ways to harmonize our being inside and out.   A big part of this comes from just being willing to be still and listen to our own inner voices.

I hope you’ll take some time this week and over the next few to listen your inner voice and to explore what you are ready to release and let go of.  Perhaps you have already set your goals for the New Year or maybe you are like me and still considering them; either way, take some to ask what you are holding onto that may keep you from achieving your goals and what can you do to let that go?

As always, please feel free to stop by to share your experiences, thoughts and reflections.

Namaste.

The Heart Of Awakening is an online resource for transformation and healing written by Beth Terrence.  Beth offers Integrative Transformational Healing Tools For Individuals, Groups & Organizations.  To learn more, visit www.bethterrence.com.

Top 13 Posts Of 2013 On The Heart Of Awakening Blog

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It’s hard to believe that it’s not even been 2 years since I started The Heart Of Awakening Blog.  It’s been a joy to journey and explore with folks from all over the world who are interested in transformation and healing.  This year, I have found much more of a community forming here on HOA and I have some new ideas to expand that in 2014.

I have so much gratitude for all of you who have been a part of HOA this year.   The mission of The Heart Of Awakening Blog is to support:

Living from the Heart

Embodying Awareness, Authenticity and Purpose

Integrating a Holistic Approach to Being

Embracing the Interconnectedness of All Things

Honoring and Respecting the Sacredness of Life

As we are moving toward to close of the year, I just thought to share the top 13 posts from 2013.  This year marked the third annual May Is For Metta virtual sangha (2 years on HOA) and I plan to continue this in 2014.  I’ve also added some new features this year including the Bach Flower Of The Month post and a Poem Of The Week.  As you can probably tell by now, I live on spirit time and so my week’s and months may vary! but I hope you have enjoyed these additions.  My intention is to share resources, tools and inspiration to support The Heart Of Awakening mission.

Also, if you have any personal favorite posts or topics that you’d like to see more of, please stop by and drop a note in the comments so I can know.  I have some special events planned for 2014 including teleseminars, group discussions and more.  If you’d like to stay up to date,  you might like to sign up for my Discover The Healer Within E-News where I share information on Upcoming Events, Transformational Tips, Integrative Transformational Healing Programs, Holistic Resources and more.  Sign Up Now!

The Heart Of Awakening is an online resource for transformation and healing written by Beth Terrence.  Beth offers Integrative Transformational Healing Programs For Individuals, Groups & Organizations in the MD/DC area and virtually.  To learn more, visit www.bethterrence.com.

Poem Of The Week: On Giving By Khalil Gibran (From The Prophet)

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In the spirit of this month’s theme of Gratitude, I felt to bring in this section from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, On Giving.  It so speaks to the true spirit of giving and receiving.  There is a beautiful synergy that arises as we open and allow our hearts to guide us on this beautiful journey of life, to give as we feel called to and also to receive with openness and grace.  I love how it acknowledges the many ways we give and asks that we “give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors”.   I hope you enjoy the poem and take some time to reflect on the deeper meaning of giving and receiving as we move into the holiday season.

“On Giving” By Khalil Gibran (From The Prophet)

Then said a rich man, “Speak to us of Giving.”
And he answered:
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.
You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life – while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers – and you are all receivers – assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.

Poem Of The Week: Ode To The West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Ever since I wrote my last post, Autumn Tips For Happy & Healthy Living, which included a quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley, this fascinating poet has been on my mind.  His words in “Ode To The West Wind” speak so beautifully to the energy of the season, the journey of life and our connection to nature and spirit.  It was interesting to learn that his writings and actions provided a strong influence on Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi and the principles of non-violence.  He also was a proponent of vegetarianism as well as social justice for the lower classes.  He saw the need to fight for the rights of all living creatures that he saw being treated unjustly.

I hope you enjoy the poem.  Feel free to share you thoughts, feelings and reflections.  Happy Autumn!

Ode to the West Wind

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I.
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!

II.
Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion,
Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aery surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith’s height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh, hear!

 III.
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave’s intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh, hear!

 IV.
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
And then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne’er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

V.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O, Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Bach Flower Of The Month: Walnut (The Remedy Of Change & Transition)

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WalnutI have been utilizing the Bach Flower Remedies since the late 1990’s when I began working with a practitioner to help in my healing of Fibromyalgia and emotional pain.  I had been on a near decade long  journey in healing through Fibromyalgia.  With little help from conventional medicine, I began an exploratory journey into alternative and holistic treatments.  After making many changes including diet, supplements, exercise as well as spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation, I found tremendous relief from my symptoms.  I would say by the point I came to work with Bach Flowers I was about 70% symptom free.

I had some life events happen around that time that really raised my awareness of the need to address the emotional body as part of the healing process.  I had done therapy at that point, but hadn’t really addressed emotional healing in an energetic or integrated way.  The Bach Flowers really opened the door to a whole new understanding of emotions and their role in healing; and, also offered me a foundation to do some deeper emotional healing work.

After one year of treatment focused on emotional healing, which included ongoing work with the Bach Flower remedies, emotional release work and some deep inner child work, I found myself symptom free of Fibromyalgia for the first time in over a decade.  I had already been working in the field of holistic healing doing bodywork, energy work and teaching meditation.  This experience really expanded my understanding of dis-ease and the effects that emotions play in how we experience health and well-being.

I share this because this month’s remedy is one that I feel was highly beneficial in my own healing process. It continues to be one that I use personally and is one of the most frequently used remedies in my work with clients.  It supports both adjusting to existing life changes as well as moving out of old patterns, feelings and beliefs, which are keeping us from creating the changes we desire.  Although all flower essences assist with change, I consider Walnut to be the official remedy of change and transition.

Dr. Bach shared the following words about the Walnut remedy:

“For those who have definite ideals and ambitions in life and are fulfilling them, but on rare occasion are temped to be led astray from their own ideas, aim, and work by the enthusiasm, convictions, or strong opinions of others.  This remedy gives constancy and protections from outside influences.

Walnut is the remedy of advancing stages, teething, puberty, change of life.  For the big decisions made during life, such as change of religion, change of occupation, change of country.  The Remedy for those who have decided to take a great step forward in life, to break old conventions, to leave old limits and restrictions and start on a new way.  This often brings with it physical suffering because of slight regrets, heart-breakings, at the severance of old ties, old associations and old thoughts.  A great spell-breaker, both of things of the past commonly called heredity, and circumstances of the present.”

Just as the shell of the walnut is very hard and protects it’s softer center, the Walnut essence helps to strengthen and stabilize our energy field so that we are more able to hold our center and engage in the world with clarity, focus and intention.  In a sense, Walnut offers a shielding quality that helps us in holding center, maintaining our choices and flowing with changes that are occurring both inwardly and outwardly.

Walnut has many benefits that support our ability to move through change and transitions.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Provides a shielding quality that supports creating & maintaining our boundaries and borders
  • Helps protects us from the effects of outside influences
  • Eases emotional and energetic sensitivity
  • Helps to adapt to periods of change and transition including life changes and development phases
  • Helps to let go of or break old patterns, limiting beliefs and core issues which no longer serve us
  • Aids in resolving dysfunction stemming from family of origin
  • Helps acclimate to new ways of being, such as new phases of life, work, family, etc.
  • Supports spiritual transformation and growth
  • Protects from the influence of suppressive energies or parasitic infestations (including physical, mental, emotional & spiritual)
  • Supports finding and holding our center and connecting more fully to our soul purpose

Here are some questions to see if Walnut may be beneficial for you at this time:

  • Do you find it difficult to adjust to change and transition?
  • Are you feeling disoriented, out of balance or having difficulty adjusting to change?
  • Are you currently experiencing changes in life or environment such as work, school, moving, etc?
  • Are developmental changes a factor such as puberty, menopause, aging, etc?
  • Do you feel drained by other people?  Are you aware that you take on other people’s energy or emotions?
  • Are you overly sensitive to ideas and influences of others?
  • Are you moving through a time of spiritual growth and transformation?
  • Are you committed to breaking old patterns or let go of beliefs, which no longer serve you?
  • Are you actively working on healing dysfunctional family or ancestral patterns?

Working with the Walnut remedy can greatly help to ease periods of change and transition, whether we initiate them through personal work or are going through a period of life change that arises on it’s own.  Whether you choose to work with Walnut or not, I hope you will take some time to explore current transitions in your life or consider changes you might like to make.

  • Do you need to change your self-care based on recent transitions?
  • Do you need to take time to connect with nature?
  • Do you need to spend more time going within?
  • Is it time to find new tools to support transformation and healing in your life?
  • Do you have a clear sense of your soul purpose at this time?
  • What choices you are making or would you like to be making to engage in the world in a more intentional way?

Walnut reminds us that one of the ways that we can move more easily through change is to be present with it in a conscious and loving way; and, that by returning to our center, again and again, we are able to allow our deeper essence to emerge.

I’d love to hear your experiences with Walnut or any thoughts and reflections that arise as you explore change and transition in your life at this time.

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For additional information on the Bach Flower Remedies and Dr. Edward Bach, visit http://www.bachcentre.com.

If you are interested in a Bach Flower Remedy Consultation & Treatment, I offer these sessions in Annapolis, MD, by phone or by Skype.  I have found the Bach Flower Remedies to be one of the most beneficial transformational and healing tools that I utilize both personally and in my holistic healing practice.   I have worked with the Bach Flowers for over 15 years and I am a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner through the Bach Centre, home of Dr. Edward Bach.  Please feel free to visit my website or contact me if you would like to explore how the Bach Flower Remedies and an Integrative Transformational Approach may benefit your own process of transformation and healing.  (www.bethterrence.com)

Also, you might like to explore the following posts on the Bach Flower Remedies:

The Bach Flower Remedies: A Tool For Transformation

Visionary Voices: Dr. Edward Bach

Bach Flower Remedies For 2012 Transitions: Walnut

Bach Flower Of The Month: Agrimony

Bach Flower Of The Month: Pine

Bach Flower Of The Month: Rockwater

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