Tag Archives: Beth Terrence

Celebrating 20 Years of Zero Balancing!

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Hello Beautiful Beings!

I was sharing a post of a video with Dr. Fritz Smith a couple of weeks ago on my Facebook page when I realized that it’s been 20 years since I began studying and practicing Zero Balancing.  In the video, Fritz shares about how ZB can induce expanded states of consciousness similar to meditation that can lead to healing and a deep sense of well-being. Below, I’ve included this video as well as a post about my journey with Zero Balancing, which in addition to informing my work as a body/energyworker and holistic healer, has also helped me to experience a sense of safety and wholeness I never imagined was possible.

In honor of this anniversary, I am offering a Celebration Special Offer on Zero Balancing Sessions in Annapolis and Energy Balancing Sessions by Phone/Skype now through 8/31 and a free Guided Pyramid Meditation for you to explore.  See below for details on special offer, to access the audio and how my journey with Zero Balancing changed my life!  Plus, be sure to check out Fritz’s video…


My Journey Into Zero Balancing…

I had not even received a Zero Balancing session when I attended my first course but it was highly recommended by my acupuncturist in New York City, Dr. Li.   There was something in his enthusiasm about this that led me to sign up for an upcoming four day course.  We met is a dance studio in Tribeca and were a small class of only 6 people. We started each day with a pyramid meditation and in addition to learning hands on Zero Balancing protocol, we spent a lot of time exploring the concepts of ZB of balancing structure and energy. When I left that studio after the 4th day, I was a different person!

That was just the beginning of my journey with ZB and over the last 20 years Zero Balancing has supported my life in many beautiful ways!  It was a few months later at my 2nd ZB course that I met Dr. Fritz Smith, founder of Zero Balancing.  It was clear from the onset that this was an amazing man to know.  His breadth of knowledge and experience about body and energy work was incredible but even more so was his enthusiasm not just this work but life itself.

I came to see life in new way after that weekend.  This came from all that I learned and experienced but even more so from one short moment when I received a demonstration of a fulcrum from Fritz. We were working on the feet which is a foundational part of ourselves. Our discussion was on how far one needed to go to make a connection and what arose was the understanding that as long as the door is open there is an access point for connecting. The door can be wide open, but it can also be slightly ajar and yet – it is still open.  In the course we were speaking in terms of technique, however this idea is one we can carry into other areas of life!

As Fritz performed this foot fulcrum on me, I felt a tremendous sense of anxiety come over me, almost to the degree of a panic attack. My heart was racing, my palms sweaty.  I suddenly was a child in my room in the middle of the night with my mother, who suffered from schizophrenia, standing over my bed saying she would kill me.  This was a recurring theme that I had experienced as a child and teen.  I’ve shared about this more in my story, Lost & Found: The Birth of a Shaman.  After a few moments of this memory, I was back in my body on the table with Fritz.  I felt a sense of safety and calm that I had never experienced in my life and one that until that point, I had not imagined was possible.

In Shamanic Healing, we speak of a concept called soul loss. This occurs when a part of ourselves leaves our body because it does not feel safe.  Sometimes the part returns on it’s own.  Sometimes support such as a Soul Retrieval process or ongoing healing work is needed.  I know this moment with Fritz wasn’t the end of my healing but it was a moment that informed me on a deep level that safety and calm was possible in a way I had not experienced in my life up until that point. And, that profoundly changed me!

At the time, I was just coming to understand the impact of trauma on my life and my health – physical, mental and emotional. In addition to Fibromyalgia, I had struggled with chronic migraines, anxiety and depression since my teens. I depended on alcohol, substances and process addictions to cope with my pain.  Many of my memories had been repressed and this momentary experience woke me up in many ways.  It might seem that stirring up this traumatic experience would cause more pain, however having these feelings held so deeply within me had been paralyzing me in ways I didn’t understand until this release occurred.  In a flash of awareness, a very deep clearing occurred. I came to understand how much repressed emotion I was holding inside of me and how body-energy therapies such as Zero Balancing could help to transform my pain.

We all hold feelings, patterns and beliefs from our life experiences. Some are more traumatic or affect us more than others.  They inform us whether we are conscious of them or not.  In ZB, we hold that we are all energetic beings and that as such, bone is the densest form of energy. There is understanding of the relationship that occurs between energy and structure.  Working in this way helps to facilitate the movement of energy on all levels – body, mind, emotion and spirit.   As Fritz shares in the quote above it is these imbalances in our energetic field that can lead to disease if not addressed.  Most simply this is the mind-body connection that we hear so much about today!

Zero Balancing has supported and informed my life and work since 1997.  It’s one of the core modalities utilized in my Integrative Shamanic Healing Sessions as well as on it’s own to support overall balance and well-being.  It’s also been an essential part of Holistic Recovery Pathways, too.

I still today get ZB’s regularly to help me stay healthy, balanced and grounded so that I can support others and live my life to the fullest!

Did you know I currently offer Zero Balancing sessions in my Annapolis, MD?  These sessions are available on their own or as part of an Integrative Shamanic Healing Sessions. I also incorporate some aspects of Zero Balancing into my Energy Balancing Sessions, which can be available in person in Annapolis, MD or by Phone/Skype.

In honor of practicing Zero Balancing for 20 years, I am sharing a Celebration Special Offer now through 8/31/17…

60 Min. Sessions of Zero Balancing or Energy Balancing ~ Regularly $100, now $85.

Packages of 3 Sessions ~ Regularly $270, now $245.

Visit my Discover The Healer Within Website to access this special offer….

Also, if you would like to explore Zero Balancing, one of the most cutting edge body/energy therapies, I encourage to look for a practitioner in your area.  Visit http://www.zerobalancing.com/about/practitioners.

Also, I am excited to share this guided Pyramid Meditaion for your to explore!  I experienced this powerful practice in my first Zero Balancing class and it’s been one of my most beloved practices ever since!


Featured Benefits of Zero Balancing

Zero Balancing offers many powerful benefits to people of all ages. Here are some of the compelling reasons why you should seek Zero Balancing:

Increases feelings of health and well-being
Zero Balancing induces a state of deep rest that allows you to feel truly relaxed, renewed and well. Regular Zero Balancing sessions may help you to feel more vital and alive.

Releases stress and improves the flow of energy in our bodies
Did you know that bones and other connective tissue actually conduct energy? Zero Balancing helps to free the flow of energy in the musculoskeletal system to help relieve stress and boost your body’s natural energy.

Reduces pain and discomfort
Blocks in the body’s energy often lead to imbalance, discomfort and pain. Zero Balancing helps open stuck areas in the body’s natural shock absorbers: the tarsal bones in the arches of the feet, the joints where the ribs meet the spine, the neck, the hips and the sacrum. Once these areas are free, pain can release.

Enhances stability, balance and freedom
Zero Balancing helps to create a wonderful feeling of inner and outer balance, alignment and organization. When your body is clear and balanced and your posture is aligned, you can move with freedom.

Amplifies the sense of connection, peace and happiness
Zero Balancing is deeply satisfying. Often during a session, you experience a sense of expansiveness, peace and contentment.

Releases mental, emotional and physical tension
Zero Balancing works on multiple levels to release tissue-held memory and tension patterns that may be affecting your mental, emotional and physical states.

Supports us through transitions and transformations
A Zero Balancing session supports positive changes in behavior or attitude by giving you the chance to state your personal goals for change – which then become the focus of the session. With the ZB practitioner’s attention and touch, energy is realigned so that old patterns can drop away and resistance to change subsides.

Improves quality of life and increases capacity for enjoyment
Zero Balancing helps us to feel better equipped to handle daily pressures. Many people who receive Zero Balancing on a regular basis find themselves more joyful and satisfied in both personal and work relationships.

Now through 8/31/17…

ZB Celebration Special Offer…

60 Min. Sessions of Zero Balancing or Energy Balancing ~ Regularly $100, now $85.

Packages of 3 Sessions ~ Regularly $270, now $245.

Visit my Discover The Healer Within Website to access this special offer.

I hope you enjoy the guided meditation and will come explore as you feel guided to! 

7 Ways To Cultivate Love & Compassion For Yourself! Plus, Still Time To Join HOA’s Virtual Compassion Program…

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This week, I started a new virtual program called “Compassion Practices For Challenging Times.” As I was putting together some of the materials, I kept coming back to this post originally written in 2012 on “7 Ways to Cultivate Love & Compassion for Yourself.”  As I share during May Is For Metta each year, it is essential to have a foundation in lovingkindness and compassion for ourselves so that we can then extend it to others and the world.

Now is a time that it is easy to look outside ourselves; and to focus on others and what needs to change in the world.  I encourage you to slow down and to begin to choose compassion by fostering within yourself. Then, with open-heartedness and compassion, choose what changes you can best support in the world. As Gandhi says so beautifully, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I invite you to explore the 7 Ways to Cultivate Love & Compassion for Yourself and if you’d like to explore this and go a bit deeper, come join me for Compassion Practices For Challenging Times 18-Day Virtual Program. We started on Monday but are just getting going and registration will remain open through Saturday.  It’s a program you can do on your own timing and at your own pace. This virtual program is offered on a donation basis to support us in these challenging times. 30% of proceeds will go to a charity of the groups choice.  Come explore!

Learn more or register at https://compassionpracticesforchalleningtimes.eventbrite.com.


 7 Ways to Cultivate Love & Compassion for Yourself

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 our grain to love ourselves first.  This can be seen as selfish and self-centered.  At this time in our personal lives and in our collective experience, loving ourselves is a key part of the new paradigm which allows for greater love and compassion for all beings and for our world.

There are many ways to cultivate love and compassion for oneself.  The key is that it is a process, it takes time and it requires some commitment to ourselves.  In addition to Metta practice, which we will explore more fully in future posts, here are 7 Ways to Cultivate Love and Compassion for Yourself:

1. Be Still.  Connecting with the heart, with the deeper aspects of oneself requires slowing down and going within.  Just as the turtle pulls into it’s shell when it needs to feels safe, we need to go within to begin to create a different relationship with our self.  Taking time each day to slow down and to be still allows us to connect more fully with the heart and to access the parts of ourselves that need love and healing.  Find a comfortable position either sitting or lying down.  Place one or both of your hands on your heart and focus your breathing in the center of your chest, your heart center.  Allow yourself to feel your heart and be open to being present with what is arising.  No where to go, nothing to do, just being there in the heart.  Start with 5 minutes per day.  Ideally, this practice is done for 10 to 30 minutes per day, especially when working actively on connecting with the energy of the heart.

2. Journaling.  Writing is a way to connect with the deeper aspects of ourselves and particularly to track what comes up in still time or as we are working to cultivate self-love.  It is a way to begin to work with the beliefs and feelings that keep us from loving ourselves more fully.  Create a list of your positive qualities or nice things that others say about you.  Create a list of the negative messages or voices you uncover as you begin to be more present.  One of the other important aspects of journaling or writing things down is that it concretizes your experience – it can make it more real for us, which is one of the reasons it can be difficult to do.

3. Affirmations.  I know you are familiar with the phrase, “fake it till you make it”.  This is true with loving ourselves as well.  We may not feel it right away, it may bring up a lot of difficult feelings, but by beginning to express love and compassion openly we can create a change in how we respond to ourselves.  Affirmations are one of the best ways to bring in a positive energy.  They work on two levels.  1. Affirmations help to bring in the energy or feeling we wish to cultivate.  2. What arises when we work with affirmations shows us the beliefs and feelings, which are keeping us stuck and in this case, keep us from loving ourselves.  Some ways to work with affirmations include:

  • Write affirmations repetitively. Post them in various places so you will see them throughout the day such as on  your mirror or on the dashboard of your car.
  • Mirror Work  – sit in front of the mirror and repeat affirmations as you gaze at your own self.  This is a very powerful technique that Louise Hay has taught a lot about.
  • Create a recording so that you can listen to the affirmations over and over in your own voice. Add this to your mirror work.
  • Some suggested affirmations include:  I love myself.  I love and approve of myself.  I love myself completely as I am.  I am beautiful and lovable however I am feeling.  Also, create your own affirmation that feel right for you.

4. Recognize Critical Self-Messages.  Whether it is through your work with affirmations or as you go about your day, begin to notice the negative or critical voices.  Many of them were learned as children, but they have grown in harshness and power over the years.  Sometimes they are so powerful that we don’t even know they are there.  Now, we are choosing to listen, to see the voices and messages that are driving us.  It is these same voices that keep us from loving ourselves by perpetuating the cycle of harshness and sometimes, abuse in our lives.  By uncovering these messages, we can begin to change our habitual patterns.  Keep a list in your journal of these critical voices.  Begin to cultivate loving messages in response to these voices.  When you hear them, ask “is that so?  How do you know that?”  Bring in positive affirmations to create new patterns when these voices arise.

5. Learn to Feel More Fully and Express Emotions Constructively.  For many of us, we learned to stuff or suppress our feelings from a young age.  As adults, we continue to follow the unhealthy patterns we learned as children.  Learning to experience and express our feelings is one of the most loving acts we can do for ourselves.  This can also be a very uncomfortable place.   For many people, it is a place where we become numb.  Our thoughts move faster than our emotions and unless we are willing to slow down and be present with what we are feeling, it can be difficult to access.  Give yourself the time and space to begin to experience your feelings.

6. Consistency.  In building any relationship, it takes time and it requires consistency to feel safe and loved.  In cultivating a more loving relationship with oneself, it is important to be consistent.  Find some time daily, or as often as you can, even if it’s only a few moments, to slow down and connect with yourself.  Showing up for yourself in a regular way is a very loving thing to do for yourself.  Embrace this and create a structure for cultivating love and compassion in your life that you can commit to.

7. Be Gentle and Loving with Yourself.  Many of us have experienced harshness and severe criticism in our lives.  Our messages about love are very mixed up.  It is vital to approach ourselves with gentleness and kindness.  This includes accepting who we are and where we are in our life’s journey.  By moving from a place of acceptance, with gentleness, we can begin to create new ways of being and we can create a loving relationship with ourselves.  As you go about your day, notice when you are being harsh or self-critical, begin to give yourself a break and practice cultivating loving-kindess as a way to be gentle with yourself.

I encourage you to take some time to explore loving yourself more fully and consciously.  This is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself, to others and to the world.  It’s an essential practice for our times!

Compassion Practices For Challenging Times ~ New Program Starts 11/21! Come explore!

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 
― Albert Einstein

In times of challenge and adversity, our natural human tendency is often to close our hearts and shut down. However, if we can stay present to these feelings of pain and suffering, we see that there is actually a call asking us to allow our hearts to “break” open more fully!

We are living now in very challenging times!  They have been and will continue to be.  And, right now there is an emergence of the collective shadow that wants us to continue to feel ourselves as separate – separate from others, from ourselves and from our Source.

When things are calm and going smoothly, we often don’t feel the call to look within. That’s just human nature. Now is a time when we are being called to not only look within but move beyond the illusion of separation that is emerging so strongly in our worldThis is not purely about politics or election results, it’s about our future as people and community – it’s about unity!  We are being called to embody this truth in our lives more fully at this time – that is clear!

Back in September, I was invited to participate on a panel for World Peace Day. We were asked if we believed peace on earth was possible and I found myself responding “Yes” and “probable, too”. That’s what my heart wanted to say at that time and at times I truly believe this. And then, there are others times when I wonder if it’s possible.

In many spiritual traditions, the Earth is seen as a school where we come to learn and grow. As we incarnate, we enter into a state of separation which we are then called to move beyond that so that we can grow and move on spiritually. If that’s so, perhaps the nature of Earth is to be in chaos and conflict; otherwise we would not grow.

And yet, I do believe, as others do, that it’s possible that as our critical mass changes and expands in compassion and unity that the energy of our world can change, too!

Right now that there is a lot of fear, anger, hurt, judgement and pain surfacing in the hearts and minds of humanity.  It’s particularly strong here in the US with the energy of opposition and divisiveness that is pervading our national stage.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that, although we can take steps to try and change things outside ourselves, it is essential that we work to resolve these feelings and reactions inside of ourselves. As Gandhi so beautiful shares, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That’s really how true change happens!

And, how do we do that? The most powerful way I have seen and experienced; and that is practiced cross-culturally is through cultivating compassion.  It is in opening and softening our hearts to ourselves, others and the world itself, that we can find peace amidst the challenges and chaos of our lives and our world.

How do you wish to proceed in life today?

I invite you to choose COMPASSION!

I invite you to join me and The Heart of Awakening Blog community for an 18 day journey into “Compassion Practices For Challenging Times”.  18 is a number that in some spiritual traditions, including my Jewish roots, represents life or is consider auspicious.

So we will journey together from November 21st through December 8th…

  • Each evening I will share a post which will include a reflection and suggested practice for the following day.
  • You will receive posts via email; and if you’d like can join a private Facebook group for sharing.
  • We will also come together for 3 teleseminar calls. Dates/times TBA – all will be recorded if you cannot attend live. I will be scheduling based on who joins us and their locations.
  • I will also be sharing some audios and videos with guided practices for you to explore.

Some of the practices we will explore include Loving-kindness, Gratitude, Meditation & Mindfulness, Shamanic Journeywork, Prayer, Emotional Awareness and Council.

When: November 21st – December 8th

Where: Virtually via Email, Teleseminar, Audio/Video and FB group (optional).

*Cost: Suggested Amount $27 or Heart Based Donation in any amount your heart guides you to. All Welcome!

*30% of all proceeds will be donated to a charity of the participants choice.

Register at https://compassionpracticesforchalleningtimes.eventbrite.com.

Come join us as we choose compassion today!

Inquiry As A Tool For Transformation

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ForestLightIt’s been a combination of different things that have come up over the last couple of weeks that have reminded me of how powerful Inquiry is a Transformational Tool

One was a call from my shaman to open up and deepen into my inquiry of “What I am called to do in the world?”.  There are times when I feel clear on the answer to this question and at others more uncertain.  I view Life not as a linear path but more of an upward spiral. I find that as I grow and change, the answer to this questions shifts. Perhaps I am still moving toward to the deeper truth of “Who I am?”.  

One thing I have learned is that it is in being open and willing to the practice of asking questions and deep listening that our inner wisdom and guidance emerges.

Knowing oneself is a key to transformation and healing.

Using a process of inquiry is seen in many spiritual traditions and cultures around the globe as a way access a deeper truth.  There are many ways we can work with this. Some questions may be ones that we have answers to – that can help us to know ourselves more deeply and inform our healing process.  Others may be quintessential questions that we may never have the answers to; and yet, by being willing to practice asking and listening, we allow ourselves to enter into the unknown, to perhaps expand into a bigger truth than our rational mind allows and to open to possibilities that we have not yet imagined.

Many shaman or indigenous healers begin with a process of questions when someone comes for healing.  In my practice, I often use a combination of questions. Some come from the Bach Flower Essence System of Healing and others are more traditional questions that I’ve learned from my shamanic teachers.

I first learned the following four questions from one of my favorite teachers – anthropologist and author, Angeles Arrien.  (Check out this wonderful TedxTalk featuring Angeles Arrien from August 2013… The questions she shared, which she found were universal questions used in indigenous cultures around the world as part of a journey of healing include the following:

  1. When did you stop singing?
  2. When did you stop dancing?
  3. When did you stop being enchanted by story?
  4. When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?

Our responses to these questions can be indicators of when we lost our voices, disconnected from our ourselves and/or may have experienced soul loss in some way.

Exploring them can also be a way to come back to ourselves!  

Asking questions also helps to bring us more fully into the present moment and opens a doorway for expanding our conscious awareness of who we are and how we are experiencing life.

Be curious! Ask, explore and listen for your inner wisdom to emerge!


Discover The Healer Within

 

If you feel you’d like some personal support in exploring Inquiry as a Tool for Transformation or in your Journey of Healing, I am available for one-on-one Integrative Shamanic Healing sessions by Phone/Skype or at my office in Annapolis, MD.  

Schedule a complimentary phone or Skype consultation today to explore what’s possible. Schedule Now…

Now is the perfect time to honor our ancestors and ourselves!

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There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, 
which through the summer is not heard or seen, 
as if it could not be, as if it had not been! 
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Each season moves us through a period of transformation.  It is always beneficial to harmonize with the energy of nature and the season. And, as autumn and spring tend to be the times of more intense change, it can be especially beneficial to take time to connect. Traditionally, autumn is celebrated as the harvest season.  It is the time to allow our bodies to harvest and gather energy for the colder months ahead. As the yang/outer energy of summer gives into the growing yin/inner energy of the approaching winter, there is strong contraction of energy occurring.

In Chinese Medicine, the organs most active in this season are those of the Metal element – Lung and Large Intestine, both of which have strong functions of absorption and elimination.  With the Lungs this has to do with respiration and with the Large Intestines it has to do with digestion.  It is a natural time for gathering and letting go. Also, it is a time for us to nurture ourselves.

The emotions associated with this season are grief and loss and it is not uncommon to experience a lot of sadness bubbling up this time of year. By moving into harmony with what is natural arising in our being and nurturing these parts of ourselves, we can support ourselves in creating greater balance, joy and ease of well-being.  We can also create a strong foundation for moving into the stillness of winter – one that can support body, mind, emotional and spirit.

In many cultures around the world, Autumn is seen as a time when our thoughts turn to those who have left us; we think about our ancestors and their legacy – what has been left behind.  It said that the “veils” are thinner this time of year and that our ancestors often come home to visit their loved ones or “kin”.  This may come through memories, dreams or other surprise visits, too.   Often this “remembrance” arises naturally as our feelings of sadness, loss and grief come to the surface.

Autumn offers us a powerful time to honor our ancestors through ceremony & ritual. This can be for the gifts we have received and also for what we might like to let go of. It is a good time to allow ourselves to release feelings of loss and grief, limiting beliefs and/or patterns that are no longer serving us.  Sometimes we have a need to come to greater completion with our ancestors or loved ones or even to honor our own life experiences. Perhaps there are ancestral patterns such as addiction, abuse, shame or isolation that it’s time for us to let go of for ourselves and future generations.

Ceremony and ritual can be a potent vehicle for finding connection, honoring transitions and letting go.  It is something that is part of many cultures and that is a bit lost in our modern culture today unless we choose to create space for it in our lives, our families and our communities.  Learn more about Finding Connection Through Ceremony & Ritual…

Suggestions for this season:

  • Take some time to think of your ancestors. Are there any memories surfacing or visitors in your dreams?
  • Is there someone who has passed that you need to work with to move to a place of greater peace in your life?  
  • Are there are feelings of loss or grief that you need to share or honor that are unresolved?  
  • Is there is a pattern or limiting belief that you have become aware of in your ancestral lineage that it might be time to work toward transforming?  
  • What might you do to honor your ancestors and yourself this autumn?
Now it the perfect time to do this type of soul work. Take some time to reflect. Simply connecting and asking your ancestors for help is a place to begin. And, consider taking some time to create your own ceremony or ritual to honor your both ancestors and yourself!

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Come Explore!

If you would like to explore this type of sacred soul work in community, I invite you to join me on Saturday, October 29th in Annapolis, Maryland for Letting Go, Embodying Life: Honoring Our Ancestors & Ourselves ~ A Shamanic Journey Workshop for Autumn. It’s going to be a day full of rich exploration and connection.  Learn more or register at https://lettinggoembodyinglifeworkshopoct2016.eventbrite.com.

If you are not local to the MD/DC/VA area and would like to explore Letting Go, Embodying Life: Honoring Our Ancestors & Ourselves this season, I am available to support you in exploring your own sacred soul work and creating your own ceremony and ritual through One-on-One Shamanic Healing Sessions via Phone or Skype. Visit http://www.bethterrence.com to learn more or schedule a complimentary consultation today.

Day 31 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Celebrating Our Journey of Lovingkindness and Compassion

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“Reaching a state of compassion is the ultimate gift we give ourselves as human beings.  It is knowing and feeling that all power is within us and that none is vested outside of us – neither in material things nor in the circumstance of our lives.  Compassion comes from loving ourselves so completely that we see and feel others only through that love.  In a state of compassion, Oneness is our reality.” 

~ Arnold Patent

Wow!  We did it.  How does it feel to have devoted 31 Days of your life to cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, others and the world? And, even if you didn’t participate every day, know that each moment you practiced has been a heart-opening experience.  Devotion to our practice has allowed us to expand in many ways. What does this mean?  According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word “Devotee” connotes:

  • a person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about someone or something: a devotee of Lewis Carroll
  • a strong believer in a particular religion or god: devotees of Krishna

We sometimes hear the term used when someone follows a particular guru, teacher or religion, but what if we choose to follow loving-kindness and compassion as our guide? I have often heard the Dalai Lama quoted as saying, “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”   This is not to say that we cannot have our structured religions or beliefs, but at the heart of our human experience is the essence of who we are and not the structure.

As Arnold Patent touches on above, it’s not about the material, the circumstances or even the way we live our lives – it’s about knowing and feeling what lies within and connecting with the Oneness that is our true nature.  And, it is through practice that we can develop the “muscles” to experience Oneness.

I was excited to come across an article during our practice time which shares about research at the University Of Wisconsin on loving-kindness practice and how it transforms us.  This research has been going on for some time and what has been found is that as we practice loving-kindness, we are actually retraining our brain.  I love it when science comes on board and show us what spirituality has known for so long. More recent research has focused on assessing loving-kindness practice by evaluating a shift to more altruistic tendencies as an indicator.  Researcher Helen Weng says this:

“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults?  Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?  Our evidence points to yes… It’s kind of like weight training.  Using this systematic approach, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

One of the aspects that was noted was that loving-kindness practice actually helps people to regulate their emotions in a new way.  In the research, this was reflected by certain changes in the brain and in the ability to respond in a more compassionate way. Part of this has to do with what we have learned from our practice alone – that as we deepen in our ability to experience loving-kindness and compassion, we become more able to hold the space for other’s suffering as well as for the uncomfortable feelings that arise within ourselves.  This is often where might have had the tendency to turn away or close our hearts.  Thanks to Metta, we have the ability to open and to transform in each and every moment.  How beautiful!

If you’d like to learn more about research loving-kindness and other explorations in meditation, visit UW’s Center For Investigating Healthy Minds.

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  As you begin your practice today, take a few moments to reflect on any changes you may have experienced since you began May is for Metta.  How has your ability to connect with and generate the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion evolved?  Spend some time in your circle of loving beings or imagining a time you were held in unconditional love.  Really allow yourself to feel those energies enveloping you.  When you feel ready, repeat the phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

As we conclude our practice, choose someone from each of the individual categories whom you have already practiced for during May is for Metta and offer Metta again for this being:  Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, and Difficult Person.  Acknowledge that in practicing for this being, you have benefitted by becoming more open-hearted and loving.  As you begin each category, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with remembering to come back to your own heart center for a few moments between each category:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.   When you are ready move on to the category of All Beings. To conclude our practice, let’s take a few moments to practice for our virtual sangha; our community of May is for Metta practitioners is spread out all over the world.  For the last 31 days, we have been coming together with our hearts and the intention of creating more loving-kindness and compassion in ourselves, others and the world.  Offer the phrases for our community, including yourself:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

When you feel complete, move on to the broader category of All Beings.  As we extend out our practice today, let us remember that it is this state of compassion that opens us to the experience of Oneness.  Let us dedicate our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception:

  • May All Beings be happy.
  • May All Beings be peaceful.
  • May All Beings be free of suffering.
  • May All Beings have ease of well-being.

To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Feel these qualities filling you and surrounding you.  Know that you have created a strong foundation of loving-kindness and compassion within yourself and you can now carry that wherever you go.  You are a beacon of loving-kindness and compassion.  

Today is a day to celebrate your journey with May Is For Metta.  Take some time to reflect on your practice and to explore how you would like to continue.  Find something fun or joyful to celebrate you!

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 have made it through 31 Days Of Loving-kindness Exploration?
  • What have you noticed about yourself and your practice since you began?
  • How will you work with Metta going forward?
  • What other practices would you like to explore?
  • Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?

Some Suggestions For Continued Practice:

  • Repeat the practice or select specific posts to work with.  Remember your practice is your own, so find a way that works for you.  I will be indexing the all of the daily practice posts shortly on the May is for Metta page so they will be easily accessible by day and topic; this will be available early next week. 
  • Also, if you haven’t yet, you are welcome to join the MIFM group on Facebook to continue to explore and share.  I will continue to post prompts and resources periodically throughout the year until our next gathering.
  • Find a meditation group in your area or start your own Metta meditation practice group.
  • There are some great books on Metta Meditation and Loving-kindness Practice to help you continue your exploration.  Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. Shambhala Publications, 2002.
  2. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer, PhD. Guildord Press, 2009.
  3. Awakening Loving-kindness by Pema Chodron.  Shambhala Publications, 2009.
  4. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn. Hyperion Press, 1994.
  5. The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love and Compassion by Sharon Salzberg. Sounds True, 2010.
  6. The Healing Power of Loving-kindness by Tulku Thondup. Shambhala, 2009.
  7. One Soul, One Love, One Heart: The Sacred Path to Healing All Relationships by John E. Welshons. New World Library, 2009.

Wishing you many blessings for the coming year.  As always, feel free to stop by to share your experiences and reflections.

May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be free from suffering. May you have ease of well-being. 

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)

Beth

Day 18 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Everyday Is A New Beginning

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“Rahula, practice loving-kindness to overcome anger.  Loving-kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return. 

Practice compassion to overcome cruelty.  Compassion has the capacity to remove the suffering of others without expecting anything in return.

Practice sympathetic joy to overcome hatred.  Sympathetic joy arises when one rejoices over the happiness of others and wishes others well-being and success. 

Practice non-attachment to overcome prejudice.  Non-attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally. 

This is because that is.  Myself and others are not separate.  Do not reject one thing only to chase after another.  I call these the four immeasurables.  Practice them and you will become a refreshing source of vitality and happiness for others.”

– Buddha speaking to his son, Rahula

Everyday is a new beginning.  If for some reason you have lost momentum with your practice or even if you have dropped off, just remember that you can begin again.  You can continue right where you left off or move on; you can even start over again if that feels right to you.  This exploration is about cultivating loving-kindness and compassion.  It is also about developing a daily meditation practice in a way that supports you where you are today.

During meditation, we use an anchor such as the breath or the phrases to bring us back to the present moment; we do this whenever we realize our mind has wandered.  In the same way, when we realize we have gotten off track or missed a day or two or three of our practice, we simply return to it.  We do this with gentleness and with love.  We just notice we have gotten distracted and we return to the practice.  Although our natural habitual tendency might be to move into self-judgment or harshness, we can choose to embrace our practice of loving-kindness by just noticing where we are and then gently and lovingly returning to our center.

Meditation offers us the opportunity to return to our center and to begin anew in every moment.  Metta teaches us to be loving and compassionate with ourselves in our practice and in our daily life.  Extend this gift of loving-kindness to yourself in the moment and explore what’s possible.

Today, we will work with the full practice, choosing one person for each of the categories.  If for any reason this feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  Begin your practice by setting an intention in a way that feels right for you. Recognize that you are practicing, not just for yourself and that the cultivation of loving-kindness is beneficial for all beings and for the world.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in your circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Imagine a time when you felt held in that way.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or just choose a few to work with for today that you feel drawn to from Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Being and All Beings.  Remember to come back to your heart center for a few moments between each category.  Offer the phrases for each being you have chosen to work with today:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off.  To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating. Really allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion.

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 are you feeling about your practice?
  • Can you approach your practice with gentleness and compassion rather than harshness or judgment?
  • How does it feel to be cultivating a daily practice or exploring expanding in loving-kindness?
  • Are you able to connect with your heart center more easily?
  • If so, how does that feel?  If not, what is getting in your way?
  • Are you being gentle and loving with yourself in regards to your practice? in your life?
  • May you have a peaceful and happy day.

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!).

Day 10 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Offering Lovingkindness To A Neutral Being

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“My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”

~ H.H. Dalai Lama

Today, we will move our practice of Metta to the category of a Neutral being.  This category is the beginning of expanding our practice from our circle of connection to the broader field of all beings.  Here, with the Neutral person, we begin to practice for those we don’t have a personal relationship with, knowing that they, too, deserve happiness as all beings do.

In this stage, we cultivate loving-kindness for a Neutral being; this is someone we have no strong feelings towards.  This person is not a friend, nor are we in conflict with them.  We simply feel neutral towards them.  Most likely, the majority of people we encounter in life fall into this category.  As we walk along the streets or go shopping, we encounter so many people that there is a tendency to put our emotions in neutral and in a sense ignore those who are around us.  It is not always possible to have a real emotional relationship or connection with everyone we meet, particularly when we live in high population areas.  In this part of the practice, we learn to focus our attention on those beings that we tend to have no specific feelings for and may not even notice.

Living a large portion of my life in New York City, I learned to tune out a lot of what was going on around me.  In many ways, it was a necessary life skill to function on a daily basis and not feel overwhelmed by so much energy and activity.  It was also a great place to cultivate a practice of Metta as it afforded me the opportunity to connect inwardly and offer loving-kindness when I could not connect outwardly.  Practicing Metta offers a powerful way to create connection with what is going around us in a more energetic way, within the container of our own experience.

Working with the category of a Neutral person opens a doorway to relating more to the world and the people who are around us on a daily basis.  It helps to bring us into greater awareness in those spaces where we may tend to check out or become less conscious. This is one of the great gifts of this part of the practice.  On one level we are practicing offering loving-kindness for the neutral person; on another, we are accessing a place where we often move into “neutrality” and instead are becoming more conscious and awake.

Daily Practice: 

Do your foundational practices. Once again, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for our own self as the foundation for offering it to others.  Get comfortable and settle into your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart.  Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings.  They may be ones you actually know or those who you imagine are loving.  Allow yourself to feel enveloped in this love.  Begin to send Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have been working with:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion, invite the image of a Neutral being into your mind.  Pick someone you just happened to notice as you went about your day today or yesterday, perhaps the cashier at the supermarket, someone you passed on the street, or the person sitting across from you on the subway or bus. The neutral person is not someone you like or dislike; you have no specific feelings for this person.  Once you have called this person to mind, begin by saying inwardly, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Then, begin repeating the phrases for this Neutral person:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Notice what arises as you practice.  If your mind wanders or thoughts arise, just bring your awareness back to the Neutral person and continue repeating the phrases. As always, if difficult emotions dominate your attention, re-center yourself in loving-kindness and repeat the phrases for yourself until you feel clearer and calmer. Then, return your practice to the Neutral person.

Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  When you feel complete, return to your heart center.  Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice.  Notice how it felt to connect with a Neutral person.  For some, this category is more difficult.  This category is one that can easily be applied to our daily life.  I hope you will explore working with it in your sitting practice and as you go about your day.

Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice asking that it benefit your self, others and all beings without exception.

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 did it feel to practice Metta for a Neutral person?
  • Was it different from practicing for your self, a benefactor or a Beloved?
  • How is your practice going?
  • Are you able to continue making some time everyday to sit or practice in some way?
  • If not, what is stopping you?
  • What is your commitment to yourself right now in terms of making time to bring more loving-kindness into your life?
  • Take some time to reflect on your experience so far.  Jot down anything you have noticed and any insight you have gained.

Wishing you a day filled with peace, happiness and ease of well-being.

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)

Beth


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Day 8 ~ May Is For Metta 2106: Mother’s Day Metta With Audio

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“All nature that we behold is the mother aspect of God, because in nature we find beauty, gentleness, and kindness. The flowers, birds, and the beauties of nature all speak of the Mother aspect of God-the creative motherly instinct of God. When we look at all the good things in nature, we feel a tenderness rise within us; we can see and feel God in nature.

The Divine Mother is so beautiful! But remember, in Her higher manifestation even that beauty is formless. She is in everything. Her divine, compassionate love is expressed in the raindrops. Her beauty is reflected in the colors of the rainbow. She offers fresh hope to mankind with the rose-tinted clouds at dawn.

Above all, be ever conscious of Her presence in your heart.” 

– Paramahansa Yogananda

It has turned out to be a beautiful aspect to our practice that Mother’s Day falls in the midst of May Is For Metta each year.  We may tend to think of Mother’s Day as a personal holiday between us and our own Mother, however by expanding our focus we can use this day to shift our consciousness to the greater whole, to transform our relationships big and small, and to deepen in our experience of Mother energy not only in our own lives but in the world as well.  In honor of Mother’s Day today, we will celebrate the energy of the Divine Mother and Mother Earth as part of our practice.

I encourage to explore the practice and to connect with your heart center to ask which mothers you feel to practice for today.  Perhaps it is your birth mother or the mother who raised you.  Perhaps it’s a grandmother, a friend or teacher, or even a your child.  And, don’t forget to include Mother Nature; she needs our love, too.  Let you heart be your guide and open to experience the heart of Metta as Buddha defined it.

We have been working to connect with and cultivate the energies of loving-kindness and compassion.   As most of us have noticed, it is a process to open ourselves to these qualities and to become receptive to the experience of loving ourselves.   Just as a mother so easily listens to her children, the feminine energy within us has the power to deepen our ability to listen, to be still and to go within.

On the simplest level, we can say that the heart is connected to the feminine energy within us and the mind to the masculine.   Our goal is to achieve wholeness, a marriage or union of these energies.  And yet, historically, especially in our culture, we have been more focused on systems of mind and logic rather than heart and intuition.   Through our practice today, we will honor the feminine energy within us, in others and in the world.

In 2014 I offered a series of audios and would like to share the Mother’s Day Metta recording here for anyone who would like to work with it as part of their practice today.

Listen To Mother’s Day Metta Audio…

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  Take some extra time today to focus on deepening your receptivity to loving-kindness and compassion.  Honor the feminine energy with you and open to the wisdom of receptivity and the creation of sacred space within your heart.  This energy helps to open us to receive divine love into the core of our beings.  Offer yourself the time and space to really open your heart today, allowing stillness and love to blossom within you.  Use your whatever method you feel to generate the energy of loving-kindness.  When you feel deeply rooted in loving-kindness and the energy of heart, say a few rounds of phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel complete in practicing for yourself, move onto the Benefactor.  Let us honor Mother Earth as our Benefactor/Mentor for today.  She nurtures and sustains us in each and every moment.  Call an image of Mother Earth into your mind or it that feels too vast, choose a place in nature you feel connected to as a focus.  Begin to offer loving-kindness to Mother Earth by enveloping her in the heart qualities you have been cultivating.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Offer the phrases for Mother Earth:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Spend as long as you feel to practicing Metta for Mother Earth.  When you feel ready to move on, let her image go and return to your heart center.  Again, spend a few moments allowing yourself to open your heart to receive love and deepen your experience of the sacred space within your being.

For the category of Beloveds, choose one or two mothers whom you would like to send loving-kindness and compassion to today.  It can be your own mother or grandmother, someone who is like a mother to you or a just a mother you wish to honor on this day.  You may practice for as many mothers as you feel to.  Call an image to mind of your Beloved.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.”  Begin to offer her loving-kindness and repeat the phrases for your beloved:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

When you feel complete, continue on to another mother if you feel to or return to your heart center.  Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today.  Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice.  Notice how it felt to connect with the energy of the Divine Mother and the feminine energies within your self, others and in the world.  And, finally dedicate the merit of your practice in the following way or as you are called to:

  • May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
  • May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
  • May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
  • May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.

A Note:  For many people Mother’s Day is a joyful day, a time of celebration.  For some who have lost their mothers, may have never known their birth mothers, or even have a big “mother wound” due to the nature of their relationship, Mother’s Day can be a day that brings us difficult and painful feelings.  This is a perfect opportunity to notice what’s arising within us and offer practice offering lovingkindness and compassion to ourselves.  

Daily Journal Reflections:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.  

  • Did you spend some extra time in your heart today?
  • How did it feel to practice for Mother Earth?
  • Did you explore working with more than one Beloved?
  • How did that feel?
  • Are you getting more comfortable spending time in your heart center? being still?

Today is a wonderful today to take your practice out into the world.  Spend some time offering Metta to those you see as you go about your day, perhaps the loved one or friends who you visit with today.

Wishing you a happy Divine Mother’s Day.

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!).

Beth

Day 2 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Our Circle of Loving Beings

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“The nature of the sun can be called “Maitri” or “Metta”.  Maitri or Metta also means friendliness or loving-kindness.  Perhaps the reason why loving-kindness is called so is that it generates very warm feeling towards all beings.  

Like warmth that comes from the sun, one who has loving-kindness has a warm heart towards others.  Just as the sun shines indiscriminately on any object in the world, “Metta” or “Maitri” pervades all beings without any discrimination.  Just as the sun dispels darkness, loving-kindness destroys the darkness of hatred.”

– Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

The foundation of Metta begins with cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  It is here, with our own self that we can begin to experience the deep love and compassion that we will later extend out to others and the world.  Yesterday, we started to connect with essence or feeling of loving-kindness and compassion by reflecting on a person or time we felt held in unconditional love.  Today, we will continue to generate the quality of loving-kindness toward ourselves a by creating our own circle of loving beings.  For some this way is easier, for others the first way is preferred.  It’s good to keep in mind that May Is For Metta is a time for exploration – you may try one way, then another and finally find one that you settle into for your practice.

Developing a deep sense of connection with our own inner self allows us to feel connected to everything and to experience a sense of wholeness.  Offering loving-kindness and compassion to ourselves is the catalyst for offering it others and the world.  So, it is important to take time to generate this feeling.  Once we know the feeling and we can generate the energy of loving-kindness, then we can truly work with it as a vehicle for our practice.

As I mentioned yesterday, we will gradually be building our practice, day by day.  You may feel like we are going too slow but this is an intentional part of the practice.  The mind tends to be very busy and goes fast, but the energy of the heart is much slower and gentler.  Taking time to shift our energy and our awareness into the space of the heart requires slowing down.

Also, we are just beginning to connect with the feeling of loving-kindness in this new way.  So, in a sense we are beginning to build a new relationship with ourselves.  Anyone who has been in a relationship knows that it takes time to connect and grow in intimacy.  Part of our journey during May Is For Metta is to cultivate a deeper knowing of ourselves that can only arise when we begin to approach ourselves from the space of the heart, with openness, gentleness and loving-kindness.  It is important to include “going slow” as part of our practice!

Daily Practice:

Find a comfortable position either sitting on a chair or on the floor.  Allow your spine to be straight but not tense; shoulders or stomach relaxed with your hands on your knees or your lap.  Eyes can be closed or open with a soft gaze on the floor in front of you.  You may like to explore practicing with eyes open or closed; there is merit to both ways for various practices and it is good to find a way that is resonant for you at this time.

Begin with a few deep breaths.  It is important to allow the body and the mind to relax.  Take a moment to scan the body for any areas of tension or discomfort.  Allow the next few breaths to wash over those areas melting away any tensions.  Also, scan the mind for any thoughts, worries or business of the day, and send all that out with the next few breaths, just letting it all drift away like a cloud passing by in the sky ~ you simply notice it and then it just drifts away.

Bring your breath and awareness to the heart center in the center of your chest.  Notice how it feels to be present in the heart.  This is the center of love, compassion, gentleness and mercy for your self and for others.  As we begin, we connect with our own heart.  Sometimes we notice a sense of openness or spaciousness as we enter the heart space.  Sometimes we notice our resistance or a sense of constriction.  Just notice what arises as you connect with your heart center without judgment or the need to change anything in this moment.  Simply love and accept where you are and honor that you are taking time to make this connection with your self.

Now, imagine yourself sitting in the center of a circle of loving beings.  They may be people in your life – loved ones – family members, close friends, animals or universal beings whom you feel embody love such as Mother Theresa, Buddha, Jesus, Quan Yin, etc.  In my practice, I include my Grandma Clara, my childhood dog Babas Au Rhum, my cat Percy, my mentor Bill, my Sufi teacher Ayesha, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Hilda Charlton, Buddha and others whose image stirs the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion in me.  Sometimes it can be easier to work with people who are living but this is for you to explore.  Be sure that the feeling that arises from these beings is one of unconditional love.

Also, if there is someone whom you have mixed or uncomfortable feelings about, perhaps a family member or friend, you can work with this later on in our practice, but you may not want to include them in your circle just for now.  This is “your circle of unconditional love and compassion” and only those beings that generate those feelings should be included.  Are you willing to create this for yourself?  This is a powerful tool to work with in your practice and to bring into your daily life.  So take some time to consider who will be in your circle for now; this is something you can change as your practice develops.

Once you have your circle created, just imagine sitting in the center of it.  You are receiving love from all of those loving beings surrounding you.  Allow the love in your heart, mind, body and spirit to expand as you receive the unconditional love of all the beings in your circle.  Deeply breathe this into your heart center, letting it flow into every atom and cell of your being.  As you breathe out, allow love and compassion to fill your circle so that you are infused with it both inwardly and outwardly.  Feel all the love that is in you and all of the loving, supportive energy around you.  Spend as long as you wish to sitting in your circle receiving loving-kindness.  When you feel ready, let the imagery of your circle go for now, knowing you can always call on it when you feel to.

Daily Journal Reflections:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.

  • What did you notice?
  • Did you practice today?
  • If so, how did it feel?  If not, what happened?
  • How does it feel to be cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for your self?
  • Did you notice any ways you resist loving yourself?

Tomorrow, we will begin to incorporate the Metta phrases into our practice.  Today, really allow yourself to embody the feeling and energy of loving-kindness as you do your practice and perhaps, as you go about your day.  At least once, try to call your circle of loving beings into your active life, perhaps at work, or while running an errand, etc.  Allow yourself to carry loving-kindness and compassion with you wherever you go.

Everyone is invited to share thoughts, experiences and reflections as their practice unfolds.

May you have a beautiful and loving day!

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)

Beth

P.S. If you’d like to connect with others doing the May Is For Metta Practice, Request to join our Facebook group

And, I am using the following hashtags on posts on Twitter if you’d like to connect there: #lovingworld #may4metta2016

 

Day 1 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Our Journey of Lovingkindness Begins

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Welcome to May is for Metta 2016!  Today is the first day of our annual 31-Day Exploration Of Loving-kindness Meditation here on The Heart Of Awakening Blog.   Each day will offer an exploration, guided meditation practice and journaling reflection in Metta, Loving-kindness meditation.

The intention of May Is For Metta is to support:

  • Cultivating greater loving-kindness and compassion in ourselves, others and the world
  • Developing or deepening in a daily meditation practice
  • Reflecting and expanding our self-awareness through contemplative practice, sharing in community, and journaling exercises

If you are new to May Is For Metta and would like to learn a bit more about it, you can explore the following:

May Is For Metta Page

Introduction To May Is For Metta 2016! Daily Posts Start Tomorrow!

Exploring Metta Meditation

May Is For Metta ~ A Journey Of Loving-kindness On Heal My Voice Radio  (2014)

Over the course of the next 31 days, we will be exploring cultivating greater loving-kindness and compassion in our lives, our relationships and our world.  Our vehicle will be the Buddhist practice of Metta (Loving-kindness) Meditation.  We will begin gradually with the focus on cultivating loving-kindness for ourselves.  In the Buddhist tradition, it is understood that in order to have the ability to offer loving-kindness and compassion to others, we must have a foundation of loving-kindness towards ourselves.

For many Westerners, this is something that can go against our grain.  We may have been taught to love others first or even that loving ourselves is selfish.  This is something we will be exploring during our journey together.  For now, I encourage you to just be open and notice what arises as you enter into the container of May Is For Metta.  There will be lots of support to work with our resistance and to shift our patterns towards greater loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.

There will also be lots of support around creating a daily meditation practice.  Take some time to decide where you will do your practice and when.  It can be helpful to have a set place to practice that is clear and quiet.  You may wish to designate a meditation area in your home or office for this exploration.  However, do not let this be an obstacle.  As Mindfulness Meditation Teacher & Author Jon Kabat-Zinn says in his popular book title, “Wherever you go, there you are.”  So, wherever you can find the time and space to practice can the perfect place to start. Also, this is something you can explore during the practice period.

Meditating first thing in the morning can be a great way to start the day if you can create room to do so.  If not, just find a time that works for you.  For instance, if lunchtime is the only time you have, perhaps going outside is a good way to practice this time of year.  Be open and creative in finding a time and space that feels good to you whether it is in your home or elsewhere.  Last year, one of our participants shared that after struggling for a while to find a place to practice at home where there were many obstacles, she started doing her May Is For Metta practice in her car right as she arrived at work.

Consistency can be helpful in terms of where you practice, when you practice and for how long; this is something we will explore in the coming month, but feel free to be creative in your process – this is your journey!  Consider May Is For Metta as an opportunity to explore different aspects of meditation practice and to develop a structure that supports you where you are and where you would like to be on your path of transformation.

Daily Practice:

As we begin, find a comfortable position for your body. This can be on a chair or on the floor.  If you are on a chair, it is good to sit with your spine straight and feet flat on the floor.  Sometimes, it helps to put a pillow behind your back for support or to sit at the leading edge of the chair rather than leaning back.  If you are on the floor, sit cross-legged or in lotus posture.  Make sure to have a cushion or blanket to sit on and adjust your leg position so that you feel comfortable.

Once you come into your sitting position, check that your spine is straight, but not tense; shoulders and stomach relaxed.  Your hands can rest on your knees or your lap.  Allow your chin to tuck slightly toward your chest.   Let the eyes close, or if you prefer, leave your eyes open, gazing softly at the floor in front of you.

Begin with a few deep breaths, breathing in for a count of five and out for a count of five. It is helpful to allow the body and the mind to relax.  Take a moment to scan the body for any areas of tension or discomfort.  Allow the next few breaths to wash over those areas melting away any tensions.  Also, scan the mind for any thoughts, worries or busyness of the day.

Bring your breath and awareness to the heart center in the center of your chest.  Notice how it feels to be present in the heart.  This is the center of love, compassion, gentleness and mercy for yourself and for others.  As we begin, we connect with the energy of our own heart.  When the Buddha spoke of Metta he used the example of a mother’s love for a child; he taught that we need to love all beings as a mother loves her child.  The essence of Metta practice is generating the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion to create that foundation for ourselves and then share it with others and the world. We will explore a few ways to cultivate this feeling.

To begin, take a few moments to recall a time when you felt loved totally held in unconditional love and compassion.  Sometimes calling on the memory of a moment with a grandparent, good friend or even a loving pet is a way to generate this feeling. There may be a certain place such as a childhood home or place in nature, which brings on this feeling for you.  Imagine yourself in that moment and let that feeling, that quality of loving-kindness and compassion fill your whole being, every atom and cell.

This is the quality of Metta, or Loving-kindness; this is where our practice begins.  Allow yourself to simply spend some time just being with this feeling.  If your mind wanders or distractions arise, just remember to come back to the quality, the feeling or the image of the moment you have called on to generate it.  Breathe that feeling right into the center of your chest, into your heart center.  Allow yourself to spend some time being present in the heart, with the quality of loving-kindness.

This is your practice for today.  We are beginning by keeping it simple and exploring the essence of Metta, the feeling of loving-kindness.  If the chance arises and you remember, try to connect with this feeling of loving-kindness as you go about your day.  Bring your breath and awareness to your heart center whenever you feel to.  Simply notice how it feels to connect in this new way.

Today is the day to invite loving-kindness and compassion into your life in a more conscious way.  Although not required, it can be helpful to create a journal for this practice period and to spend a few minutes in the evening to reflect on your daily practice and exploration.

Daily Journal Reflections…

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today. 

  • What did you notice? 
  • Did you find time to practice today?  
  • If yes, how did it feel?  If no, what stopped you? 
  • Did you decide on a place to practice?
  • What will help you to practice tomorrow? 
  • How did it feel to connect with your heart center and the feeling of loving-kindness?
  • Are there any obstacles to your practice that you are aware of?

Feel free to ask questions or share your experiences and reflections in the comments below or on The Heart Of Awakening Facebook page.  There is also a private Facebook group if you’d like to connect with others doing the practice ~ Request to join.

An important message from your host & facilitator, Beth Terrence:  

This practice is about loving-kindness and compassion.  For many of us, our tendency is to be harsh and critical with ourselves.  When we begin a new practice, we set high standards and when we don’t meet them, we tend to beat ourselves up emotionally.  This is an excellent opportunity to change that pattern, to approach change and growth from a place of gentleness and self-love rather than harshness and self-hate.

As Zen teacher, Cheri Huber, says, “If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…”.   So, however your practice unfolds, remember to be gentle and loving with yourself.   This time is a gift you are giving to yourself to support your personal journey of transformation and healing. Let’s allow it to be a space to transform our harshness into gentleness and our self-hate into self-love.  This is truly the heart of our practice.

I am so happy you are joining us for this journey of loving-kindness and compassion.  I look forward to our time together!

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)

Beth

Introduction To May Is For Metta 2016! Daily Posts Start Tomorrow!

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I truly believe that the greatest disease of our time is one of disconnection.  We can see this in our disconnect from the natural world, from community and on the deepest level from our own selves.  This imbalance is one that tends to accompany the many benefits of living in a modern world.  And, it is one that seems to contribute to suffering, sorrow and even disease itself.  The good news is that there are resources and tools that have been around for millennia that can support us in reconnecting and returning our lives to a state of wholeness.

As a long-time meditator, trained shaman and holistic practitioner, I have come to view life on earth as a journey of awakening.  In many ways it is like a school — we come here to learn and to grow.  What presents itself to us through our life experiences is our curriculum or our program.  One of my teachers always reminds me of this when I am struggling with the affairs of daily life.  Whether great or small, our challenges, and particularly how we respond to them, are the key to unlocking the greater truth of who we are.

In my own journey, I have found no greater tool than meditation and mindfulness for facilitating a sense of awareness and connection.  And, these are practices that are not new but that have been a part of spiritual traditions for thousands of years.  They have been proven by those who have treaded the path of seeker; and today, science is joining in to uncover that there are benefits on all levels — body, mind, emotion and spirit.  Perhaps, it is this marriage between spirituality and science that is stirring an invitation for these ancient practices in our modern culture.

Everyone has a longing to transform themselves in some way and to find happiness in their lives.  Meditation and contemplative practices can help us to get to know ourselves on a deeper level, to move into acceptance of who we are and to develop the sense of connection that for many of us is often lacking in our lives.  There are many types of meditation practices available ~ enough to meet the needs of every person in this world.  I always encourage people to explore and find practices that truly resonate with them, with where they are in life today and in moving toward the person they would like to become.  As we meditate, we begin to discover that true change comes from within.

One of the most beneficial practices I have found, both in my personal practice and in sharing meditation in workshops and trainings over the last 20 years, is the practice of Metta (or Loving-kindness meditation).  This practice derives from Buddhism and in many of its traditions is considered a foundational practice.  Metta can be translated quite simply as Loving-kindness.  It is connected to the energies of the heart — love, compassion and gentleness.

I was first introduced to Metta in my early twenties when I lived and worked in New York City.  I had been meditating since I was 14 years old, mostly on my own, learning through books and occasional lectures (there was no internet yet)!  After I graduated from college, I moved to NYC and was blessed to find many centers, classes and workshops where I could go to learn about meditation.  I spent quite a bit of time at a couple of Buddhist centers and that is when I was introduced to Metta practice.

According to the Buddha’s teachings on the practice of Metta, we begin with cultivating Loving-kindness for ourselves, then for others beings and finally, for our whole world.  This is done through visualization, reflection and repetition of simple phrases like these:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

I have to be honest, as someone who has a voracious inner critic, I found the suggestion of offering loving-kindness to myself to be a bit challenging at first.  Thankfully, I had committed to exploring Metta, so I followed the instruction of offering loving-kindness to myself as the foundation for the practice.  I can now see this resistance to loving and nurturing ourselves is a challenge that many people in our world face; back then I thought it was just me and my upbringing.

It took many years of practice for me to embrace and understand the deep importance of offering loving-kindness and compassion to oneself as a foundation, not just for Metta meditation practice, but for life itself.  Today, I view working with the resistance to this as one of the most powerful teachings of my life.  However, in those early years of exploration, it was in offering Metta to others where I found myself connecting to this practice in a profound way.

So, there I was in my early 20’s in New York City.  I hadn’t found my direction in life and was working at a job I didn’t love but I was figuring it out.  I would take the subway from my tiny apartment in Astoria, Queens to my office in Manhattan.  It didn’t take long to see that there was whole lot of the suffering going on around me.  On a daily basis, I was faced, as were all New Yorkers, with seeing people who were homeless, sick, and often unhappy.  The subway wasn’t somewhere you came across a lot of smiles, especially during the morning commute!

I think it was this feeling of suffering — others and my own, too, that led me to bring my meditation practice to my morning train ride.   At first, it was really because that was when I could find the time.  Soon, I found it helped me to practice stillness and find my center amidst the chaos of the world around me.  Then, things seemed to really change when I learned Metta.  Instead of focusing on myself alone, I was able to extend my practice out to those around me.  I noticed immediately that this helped my sense of connection as well as feeling like there was something I could offer others without having to do anything outwardly.

Like many other New Yorkers, I always wanted to help to the homeless people who I passed daily on the street — sometimes I had money to give, sometimes I didn’t or didn’t know if giving money was the best kind of support.  Often, I wondered “what else can I do to help?”  I ended up doing a lot of volunteer work with homeless shelters and programs.  As I began to practice Metta, I realized that the energy of Loving-kindness was something I could always offer.  Did it actually help that other person?  I hope so but it’s hard to know how for sure.  I do know that it helped how I felt about the world around me, it deepened my sense of connection and transformed my attitudes about life.  I truly believe these inner changes have an impact on our relationships and the world around us.

Since that time, Metta has been a foundational practice in my life.  At times, it’s been at the forefront of my daily meditation practice and at other times, I practice it on the spot, wherever I am and with whomever I encounter.  It is also one of the main practices I share with others as I have come to see that loving ourselves is a key to transformation and healing on many levels and one that is much needed in our lives and our world.  For many of us, It is one of the hardest things to do.  Metta offers a vehicle for loving ourselves like few others I have encountered — it is both simple and profound.

It was with this awareness that the vision for May Is For Metta emerged in 2010.  After leading meditation groups in a variety of settings in NYC and the MD/DC area, I found I was getting quite a number of requests for support from folks I had worked with previously and those I was connecting with online for some type of virtual program.  At the time, I was working part-time in a residential addiction treatment program as a shaman and holistic health practitioner.  One of my weekly groups at the center was on meditation and mindfulness.

In this group, I would introduce the clients to a variety of practices with the intention that they might find one they resonated with enough to practice in an ongoing way once they left treatment.  Inevitably, I found that the practice most “loved” and embraced by my clients, who were in very early recovery, was Metta or Loving-Kindness meditation. It’s not really surprising… Not only had Metta become a foundational practice in my own life, but it was also one of the tools that really helped me in my own process of long-term recovery from trauma.

The concept of loving oneself was new and somewhat scary for many of the clients, but I could also see it was something they felt excited about exploring as most had tried so many other ways to recover and were still struggling.  What I noticed was that in addition to the benefit of the feeling of loving-kindness, which is generated at the beginning of the practice, the Metta phrases actually provided a strong anchor for their practice, perhaps a bit stronger than the breath itself.  Additionally, having the ability to offer loving-kindness to others gave them an opportunity to work on their relationships that had been damaged through their addiction in a powerful way.  They may not have been able to heal or change the relationship directly, but what I noticed is their response to it changed and often softened in ways that seemed to open the door for communication in a new way.

So, in the spring of 2010, when I decided to start some type of virtual mediation program, Metta was at the forefront of my mind and heart.  One day while I was practicing, and repeating the phrases, I had an idea bubble up to do a 31 Day program.  Since May was coming, I decided to call it May Is For Metta.  The first year, the program began through a Facebook group.  I just began by inviting folks I knew who were interested in meditation.  The word spread organically and we had 118 people participate that May from various parts of the world.

In the following years, I moved the monthly practice to my blog, The Heart Of Awakening: Searching for A New Paradigm and decided to offer the program as a series of daily posts.  In 2014, it even evolved to include daily audios to accompany the posts. I am excited to share it as we move into the 6th year of May Is For Metta: 31 Days Of Loving-kindness Practice, which happens live every May 1st to 31st.  It can also happen anytime and anywhere that you feel called to practice. 

Perhaps you have joined us because you:

  • are curious about the Buddhist practice of Metta
  • have thought about meditating for sometime
  • already meditate but would like to deepen or explore a new practice
  • struggle with feelings of self-criticism or harshness
  • feel stuck in your life
  • have a sense of disconnection (this may be with your self, in your relationships or with the world itself)
  • would like to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion in your life, your relationships and the world
  • have participated in May is For Metta before and want to continue your explorations

Just know, you don’t have to be an experienced meditator or a Buddhist to practice Metta. Loving-kindness is universal!  You are welcome to work with the program in a way that feels good to you.  This program is designed to support you at whatever level of experience or interest you have.  As they say in many twelve step programs, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”  And, in the spirit of loving-kindness and compassion, it is essential to follow the guidance of your own heart — this is a concept we will explore more on our journey together.

A Note:  I am not a monk or nun, guru or authority, just a person who is happy to share this exploration with you!  It is offered by just one human being on the path of life who has explored Metta and Loving-kindness as a foundational practice and tool for life on earth.  It has helped me to open my heart and find joy in life.  I hope it will help you, too!


How To Participate in May Is For Metta 2016…

Come Explore!

Join Me Tomorrow for the “Raise Stress-Proof Kids” Telesummit!

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I am so thrilled to be one of the featured experts on Sree Meleth’s Raise Stress-Proof Kids Telesummit happening this month.  Sree and I had a wonderful chat last week and she will be sharing this teleseminar via email tomorrow along with a free gift from me – a special report on “Easing the Ups & Downs of Childhood with the Bach Flower Remedies”.   There are also lots of other great presentations on topics such as EFT, Mindfulness, Nutrition and more for you to explore.  The resources focus primarily on supporting children; however, it became clear that during many of the interviews that having adults who take care of themselves and work to have less stress are a key to raising stress-proof kids – so there are lots of tools for everyone on this Telesummit!

Many of you know by now that Bach Flower Remedies are one of my favorite topics to share on.  These gentle remedies are one of the safest, natural and effective holistic tools that I have worked with both personally and professionally over the last 20 years. Although the majority of my clients are adults, I have had the honor and privilege of supporting many children, teens, babies (even those “in utero” beings via their pregnant moms) throughout my many years of practicing holistic healing.  I am excited to share more about this through tomorrow’s teleseminar with Sree Meleth.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Sree Meleth, has put together this amazing interview series that is focused on raising stress-proof kids.  As a parent and grandparent, Sree has learned that the biggest gift we can give our children is confidence in their own inner resources. She has gathered a group of experts who have spent decades helping children and parents deal with the issues of stress and anxiety in natural wholesome ways. She is passionate about working to raise a generation of stress-proofed kids.

  • Do you worry about the level of stress and anxiety that current events expose our children to?
  • Are you concerned that they are not equipped to deal with the normal stresses and strains that are a part of regular life, let alone the excessive almost unavoidable stimulation that digital media provides?
  • Do you worry about the fact that they are constantly “on” and have no time to turn “off”?
  • Do you wish you had access to non-pharma tools and techniques to help your child learn to switch off and calm down?

“Raise Stress-Proof Kids” will share lots of resources and tools that are safe, natural and non-pharma!

  • Do you have a child who is an introvert and prone to stress and anxiety?
  • Would you like to learn how storytelling can help you help the young ones in your life acknowledge and move through big emotions?
  • Would you love to learn quick, easy, practical techniques to help you and your child de-escalate a stressful situation?
  • Would you like to learn more about neuro-linguistic programming, and how it can be a part of you helping your child to be stress free?

This telesummit will be available for a limited time and is already happening.  Be sure to check it out!  There are lots of great resources to explore!

Sign Up Now for “Raise Stress-Proof Kids” Telesummit

And, if you enjoy my interview or have questions about Bach Flower Remedies for Children feel free to post note in the comments below!


 

Beth is available for Bach Flower Remedy consultations in Annapolis, MD or by Phone/Skype.  To learn more about the Bach Flower Remedies and how they can support you and your children in achieving greater balance, joy and ease of well-being, visit Beth’s Bach Flower Remedy Page or contact her today for a complimentary 20 minute consultation

 

Spring Cleaning Inside & Out Virtual Writing Retreat Part II Starts on 4/18!

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Spring has appeared to begin with fits and starts this year here in Maryland.  We just had a bit of snow this past weekend! Now, it’s beautiful and sunny in the 50’s and we’re headed to 70 deg. on Sunday.  I’m not sure if that’s why the Virtual Writing Retreat also had some fits and starts; initially, it was my intention to go straight through but it turns out, we’ve have had a Part I and now it’s time to explore Part II.

I actually found that taking the time to tune in and reflect on Part I’s explorations, looking at body, mind, emotion and spirit, helped me to create a foundation for some of things I have a deep desire to plant seeds for in my life and begin to cultivate this Spring.  And, it took a few weeks of exploration in that way for me to feel the call for a full on “Spring Cleaning”.  I’m in the process of doing that now and it feels good to focus on my physical space as well as personal space.  There is such a powerful interrelationship with our inner and outer spaces.  We’ll take some time to explore this in Part II of this series, which will run from April 18th to 21st.  Stay tuned!

Here is a summary of the posts from Part I if you are just joining in or if you’d like to re-explore them:

Day 1 ~ Spring Cleaning Inside & Out – Body

Day 2 ~ Spring Cleaning Inside & Out – Mind

Day 3 ~ Spring Cleaning Inside & Out – Emotions

Day 4 ~ Spring Cleaning Inside & Out – Spiritual

If you have any reflections from Part I, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Looking forward to exploring more starting on Monday, April 18th!


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Spring Cleaning Inside & Out Virtual Writing Retreat Day 4 ~ Spiritual

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We’ve been looking at Spring Cleaning through a holistic framework – one that addresses body, mind, emotion and spirit.  Today, we’ll focus on the spiritual aspects of ourselves to see what we might like to shift or change as we harmonize with the energy of Spring.  Spring is a particularly good time to harmonize with the natural world.  With the warmer weather and longer days, it often seems like we are more easily drawn outdoors and with so many things beginning to bud and bloom, it is natural that our attention is on the natural world that we are a part of.

Let’s take a look at what an imbalance in the Wood element might look like on the spiritual level:

  • Lack of enthusiasm for life
  • Feeling disconnected from Nature
  • Lack of sense of spiritual connection
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Missing a sense of soul purpose

I feel like this really represents something I consider to be one of the greatest diseases of our time – DISCONNECTION.  From the shamanic viewpoint and other spiritual traditions, it is understood that everything is interconnected through what we call the “web of life”.  As humans, we often tend to see or feel ourselves as separate.  This often starts with the natural world, but continue with our sense of connection to spirit, to community and ultimately to our own selves.

Spring can be a wonderful time to tune in and reconnect.   I hope you’ll take some time to explore how you can create greater connection in all areas of your life.  Here are some questions to write and reflect on for today:

  • Do you feel connected to your own inner voice?
  • Do you spend quiet time just “being”?
  • Are you able to feel a sense of oneness?
  • Do you feel a connection to Spiritual Source? God? Spiritual Community? Nature?
  • Do you know what Spirituality means for you?  
  • Is there something that your need to resolve or let go of that affects your ability to connect on a spiritual level?
  • Do you have a sense of your soul purpose?  Make a list of things you love most and explore what that might be.

Make a list of 3 – 5 things you can do to support yourself spiritually.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Find a spiritual practice that suits you (be curious and explore!)  
  • Attend a spiritual service or community.  
  • Connect with nature.  
  • Create time and space to meditate.  
  • Find a creative activity that allows you to express yourself more freely.  
  • Awaken your inner self – explore what ignites your own inner spark.

Happy explorations!

See you tomorrow!

Spring Cleaning Inside & Out 7-Day Virtual Writing Retreat Day 3 ~ Emotions

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Day 3

So far in our Spring Cleaning Virtual Writing Retreat, we’ve explored body and mind. Today we’re going to take some time to explore our emotional body and how we can support it at this time of year and beyond.

We’ve been exploring the Wood Element, which according to Chinese Medicine is most active in Spring.  Let’s look at the some of the indicators of a Wood imbalance on the emotional level:

  • Anger
  • Shouting
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • “Stuffing” feelings
  • Control issues
  • Feelings of overwhelm
  • Sense of separateness

Take some time today to write and reflect on the following questions:

  • Are you in touch with your emotions?
  • Are you able to express your feelings appropriately?
  • Do you allow your self to experience a full range of feelings – anger and sorrow, love and happiness, etc?
  • Are you able to develop close and intimate relationships? 
  • Are there feelings your holding onto that it might be time to let go or work on releasing?

List 3 – 5 things that you can do to support emotional well-being.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Keep a daily journal list of your feelings
  • Share you feelings with a good friend or family member whom you feel safe with
  • Seek out a therapist, counselor, shaman or other guide if you need support in getting in touch with your feelings
  • Join a support group – there are many kinds available and sometimes it helps to connect with others dealing with similar challenges as you are
  • Move your body – dance, exercise, etc. are great ways to allow your emotions space to move through (talking in not the only way!)
  • Make a list in your journal of ways you can connect with and express your emotions and keep adding to it.

Have a  beautiful day!

See you tomorrow!

Spring Cleaning Inside & Out 7-Day Virtual Writing Retreat Day 2 ~ Mind

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Day 2

Today, we’ll take a look at our minds.  In the Day 1 post, we explored a bit about the Wood Element, which is most active in Spring.  Here are some indicators of a Wood element on the level of mind:

  • Poor Judgement
  • Disorganization
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Control issues
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Lack of clarity
  • Unable to focus

One thing I’ve noticed it that even if someone doesn’t have a Wood imbalance in general, it is somewhat common for people to experience these types of symptoms as we transition from Winter into Spring.  And, giving some time and attention to our minds, is a good way to bring about balance in this area.

Here are some questions to help you explore for today:

  • Can you think and express yourself clearly?
  • Are you intellectually satisfied?
  • Does your belief system support you?  
  • What are the beliefs you are holding on to which are limited or no longer serve you?
  • Do you believe in yourself?
  • Are you able to focus?
  • Can you relax your mind easily? 

Today, pay attention to your thoughts.  Look for recurring patterns to see which ones support your well-being and which ones may limit your satisfaction and fulfillment in life.  Be open to creating new ideas and beliefs that will support your growth.  Writing and journaling are great ways to explore our beliefs and begin to explore and release thoughts, which may no longer serve us.  You may wish to create a list of limiting beliefs and adding to it as you notice them, so that you can begin to work on letting them go.  Awareness is a first step toward transformation.

Make a list of 3 – 5 things you can do to support your mental well-being.  And, keep adding to this list as you learn more about yourself.

Also, be sure to celebrate your mind. Give yourself recognition for your own intelligence, talents and abilities!

See you tomorrow!