Tag Archives: Big Picture

As I Began To Love Myself: Reflections On A Self-Love Poem By Charlie Chaplin

Standard

Charlie Chaplin
It’s so interesting how when one journey completes a new one emerges.  On the last day of May Is For Metta 2013, I was preparing to lead a workshop on Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader the following day at a women’s recovery retreat.  One of the points I share in that workshop focuses on loving ourselves as a key to healing and transformation, which is at heart of my personal journey and my work.  It is a major focus here on The Heart Of Awakening Blog as well.  I often like to close my workshops and gatherings with a poem and although I had one in mind, for some reason, I felt to google “self-love poems”.  I was surprised to find a poem by Charlie Chaplin on this subject, but as I read it, I was just amazed and inspired.

I ended up sharing the poem with my writing group a few days later and we were all really touched by it in a deep way.   What emerged was the idea to use this poem as a practice.  So for as long as it takes, we will be working with one stanza a week as a prompt for writing and for life.   We are just coming to the end of the first week and I have found this prompt to be a great catalyst for self-exploration as well as writing.  The focus of the first stanza is on Authenticity and is as follows:

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.  Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.”

Although the concept that Chaplin shared is not new to me, by holding that awareness in the forefront of my consciousness, I found was more able to recognize when I was in a place of alignment and when perhaps, I was going against my truth.  I wasn’t focused on changing anything specifically at this time, rather, my focus was just about noticing when I felt anguish or emotions arising and what that was about.  It was almost like the breath in meditation.  Each time I felt something, I checked in with myself.  I believe one of the great “dis-eases” in our modern world, and perhaps, one that causes many of our illness and imbalances both individually and societally, is our disconnection from our feelings.

It is a very common experience to learn or be taught to suppress and override our feelings and it takes practice to begin to allow them to just be.  I found this exploration really helped with that practice and in a way that I was not attached to changing or working with the emotions but just noticing.  That’s all it really takes to allow one’s feelings.  I shared a bit about this exploration in a guest blog post on the Heal My Voice Blog.   Here is a link to that post, “A Journey Into Awakening”.

I’ll be sharing more as this exploration continues.  Feel free to join in as you feel to and as always, your thoughts, feelings and reflections are always welcome here or on HOA’s Facebook Page, too.

Here is the full poem for you to read:

As I Began To Love Myself By Charlie Chaplin

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.  Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me.  Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.  Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment.  So I could be calm.  Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.  Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.  Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself.  At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.  Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time.  Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future.  Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening.  Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick.  But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.  Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!

Advertisements

Harmonizing With The Season

Standard

“O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

100_2861

As I was writing my e-newsletter today, I found myself sharing about the change of seasons and the importance of being in tune with the rhythms of nature.  I have found that this time of year can be particularly challenging energetically as we make the shift from late Winter to early Spring.  I thought I’d share that piece here and if you would like to explore my e-newsletter which usually includes an introductory post, a transformational or holistic health tip, and the latest news on upcoming events and special offers on individual sessions, you can take a peek by clicking here.  Also, I wanted to share one of my favorite books on seasonal health and wellness – Staying Healthy With The Season by Elson Haas.  Dr. Haas is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine and his site offers wonderful resources on health and wellness.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this time of year and staying in tune with the energy of nature and the seasons.
***************************************

One of the wonderful things about life is the beauty that unfolds with the change of seasons.  Everyone seems to have their favorite season or time of year.  As we watch the natural world, it is easy to see the changes that occur throughout the year.  As humans, we are affected by these changes, but often, we are less aware of the energetic shifts that occur in our own being.  

Learning to connect with seasonal shifts happening in nature is a part of traditional healing practices.  This can be seen in many indigenous cultures, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.  Also, if we were to consider the origin of many of our holidays, most likely they would be linked to some seasonal celebration.   Living in a modern world with the ability to control our environment, our temperatures and limit our exposure to the elements can easily create a sense of disconnection from the seasonal flow of energy.

From this place of disconnection with nature and our own natural rhythms we may tend to experience discomfort and disease.  Learning to connect with and harmonize with the energy of the seasons can support us in feeling a greater sense of ease and well-being.  Making simple shifts in our seasonal routines through diet and self-care can make a big difference in our overall health.

I have found this time of year from late winter into early spring to be one that can be most challenging.  It is time of year when many people experience depression or a sense of lethargy.  Perhaps this is due to the darkness of winter but this is also a time of shifting energy.  We are moving from a more yin/inner energy to a more yang/outer energy and that shift is increasing at this time.  Although spring is not yet ready to show itself, there is a lot going on under the surface, both in nature and in our consciousness.

This can be a time people experience a sense of dis-ease which many manifest physically through sinus issues or colds or as a feeling of discontentment with life as it is.  Often, lots of emotions which may have been more dormant during the winter months as our body, mind and spirit was drawn inward are beginning to percolate under the surface.  It is not uncommon to feel a sense of unsettledness, edginess or impatience.

Just acknowledging that we are in a place of shifting energy is important as well as finding ways to create greater harmony for ourselves through this current transition.  Also, recognizing that there’s no hurry – Spring will come in its own time and we can choose a rhythm that supports us in finding greater balance and ease, too.

Here are some ways to align with the seasonal shift as we move through late Winter and into early Spring:

1. Be gentle with yourself as you make changes and explore aligning with the natural energy around you.  Be willing to go slow.  As Spring approaches, we start to feel ready to jump forward but right now, our energy is not ready to move too fast.  Be willing to honor what your body tells you in terms of rest and renewal.  There will be plenty of time to play in Spring & Summer.

2. Stimulate your energy by moving your body first thing in the morning.  Our bodies are still in a Winter mode and we want to wake up as Spring is almost here!  Start with a few minutes of stretching, tai chi or yoga – sun salutations are great.  Also, try a brisk walk or simply dance around you bedroom to get your energy moving.  This literally awakens the body’s energy channels.

3. Try getting to bed earlier so you can wake up refreshed and ready for your day.  Create an evening ritual to help you wind down such as a taking a hot bath, drinking a relaxing tea or doing an evening meditation to shift your energy toward sleep.  Remember that this is still late Winter and we do need more rest.

4. Start spending more time outdoors.  Even though the temperatures may still be cold, we are already experiencing noticeably longer days.  The sun is rising earlier and setting later.  The sun is also higher in the sky and beginning to warm up the atmosphere.  Take a moment to close your eyes and feel the sunshine on your face.  Take a midday walk directly in the sunshine between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Walk toward the south, directly into the sunshine for the greatest benefits.

5. Begin to add more greens to your diet.  This is important all year round, but especially as the seasons shift into early spring.  Nature provides us with spring shoots and leafy green vegetables.  The bitter taste of the greens is nature’s way of helping us to lighten up and cleanse our system after the cold winter and the denser foods we’ve been eating.  A great way to do this is to start your day with a green smoothie.  Use parsley, swiss chard, dandelion greens, spinach or kale, blended with some fruit and almond milk.  Add some soaked chia or flax seeds for healthy fat.  Enjoying a smoothie at room temperature is best as ice-cold temperatures can be depleting to your digestion.  As Spring sets in, it may be time to focus on a liver cleanse or detox, but for now just beginning to bring that green energy into your diet can give your energy a boost.

6. Take some time to journal.  Reflect on feelings that arising and how you experience shifts in energy.  Consider the coming of Spring and explore where you feel called to place your increased energy as the season arrives.  Spring is a time of growth and rebirth; it is a wonderful time to start new things.  Now is the perfect time to consider what new things you want to do come Spring.

I hope you’ll take some time this week to harmonize with nature’s energy and to explore creating greater balance and ease in your life.


 

Celebrating 10,000 Views On The Heart Of Awakening Blog

Standard

thank you languages

It may seem like a small milestone to some but it’s an exciting one for me.  Last night, we passed 10,000 views.  I am so thrilled to see The Heart Of Awakening Blog Community growing and learning together.  It was my birthday on Wednesday, 1/23, and one of the things I have begun to share here already is that I intend this year to be a year of CELEBRATION!  So it feels fitting to celebrate here on The Heart Of Awakening and most of all, to celebrate everyone who has journeyed with us over the past 10 months.  I am so grateful for the community that has emerged and the connections that have been made.  I am amazed to see people visiting each day from all over the world.  Visitors from such places as Denmark, Chile, Japan, Australia, Italy, Mozambique, Pakistan, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka are a few that have visited in the last week.

Curiously, are some of the key words that come up in searches most regularly.  The most popular include:

Soham mantra ~ soham breathing ~ soham meditation ~ bach flower remedies ~ transformation~ salmon power animal ~ breath connection ~ metta meditation, ~ power of intention ~ animal spirit medicine ~ prayer for a new day ~ the heart of awakening

I have been so fascinated by the popularity of the Soham mantra meditation that I plan to do a follow-up post soon.  I, personally, find it to be one of the most simple and profound practices available to us.  It is wonderful for any beginning meditator as well as an experienced practitioner.  Stay tuned for a new post on this topic soon.

The following are the 10 most popular posts on The Heart Of Awakening Blog:

Soham Mantra Meditation: Breathing, Connecting, Being

Day 2 of May is for Metta 2012: Loving-kindness Practice For Oneself

Lessons From A Salmon: A New View On Struggle

7 Ways To Cultivate Love And Compassion For Yourself

Bach Flower Remedies: A Tool For Transformation

Grounding In A Rapidly Changing World

Finding Connection Through Ceremony & Ritual

Exploring Metta Meditation

Visionary Voices: Dr. Edward Bach

Shamanic Healing: A Journey Of Reconnection

Although folks tend to land on a specific post, May Is For Metta is actually a 31 Day Guided Practice of Loving-kindness Meditation which occurred here in May of 2012 and other sites previously.  I am so happy this is here as a resource for people to explore this wonderful practice and to support cultivating a daily meditation practice.  I am planning to do additional daily guided meditation programs here in 2013.  There is a page dedicated to May Is For Metta which summaries the practice and has links to all of the daily posts for anyone who wishes to explore this as their own guided process.

Most of all, I celebrate and thank everyone who has journeyed here and explored the path of the heart as a gateway for awakening and creating a new paradigm for our world – one based on Love, Compassion, Acceptance, Collaboration and Unity.

If you have a favorite post or if there is anything you’d like to see more of this year and would like to drop a note, I’d love to hear from you.  I am so looking forward to exploring in new and beautiful ways in 2013.

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin… All my relations. I honor you in this circle of life with me today.

Love & light,

Beth

Reflections Of A Wounded Healer: From Victim To Visionary – Heal My Voice Radio Show

Standard

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
– Kahlil Gibran 

Bear Drum

Yesterday, I joined host, Andrea Hylen, on Heal My Voice Radio.  Continuing on the theme of my recent post Reflections Of A Wounded Healer: Finding Light In The Darkness, I share some of my own experiences of walking the path of the Wounded Healer and how having a willingness to journey in our most painful places can become the catalyst for a new life.  For me, this was a life that I never imagined was possible due to my childhood experiences growing up with a mentally ill parent.  It is said that as the Wounded Healer heals, there is an opportunity to become a healer, teacher and guide.  In a wonderful dialogue with Andrea, I share how this journey unfolded for me to step forth as a shaman, becoming a guide for others to embrace their dark places to find the healer within.

I have found that sharing my story and being open and authentic is one of the most powerful catalysts for healing and transformation.  Often, we want to leave our stories behind or just “get over it” and although we don’t want to continue to live out our stories, there is much wisdom, healing and “medicine” that can be found there.  Our life experiences are here to teach us and guide us in our soul’s evolution.  As we are willing to journey into those experiences, no matter how painful they may be, we have the opportunity to heal those places and to find the blessings held therein.  In a sense, this is a type of soul retrieval as we are reclaiming a part of ourselves that we have lost or disconnected from in some way.  Often our desire to move forward and leave that part of us or the pain behind, actually becomes an obstacle to our growth, healing and to living a joyful life.  When we consciously attend to the past, with all its sorrows and joys, we move into a place of greater alignment, which allows us to be more awake, alive and available to the present moment.

Listen to Reflections Of A Wounded Healer: From Victim To Visionary on Heal My Voice Radio

Musical Interlude – Give Me Love By George Harrison

Standard

When life feels heavy, when I feel kind of stuck or when I feel to move some energy or emotion, I know it’s time for a musical interlude.   One of my friends asked me today to share one of my favorite George Harrison songs and this one came to mind – Give Me Love.   I forgot how perfect it is for a musical interlude as it’s message is so uplifting.  It really is a prayer and meditation set to music.  Here are the lyrics, which are inspiration on their own and below is a beautiful animated bhakti~art slideshow which is set to “Give Me Love”.   I hope you’ll take some time today for a musical interlude! And, don’t be afraid to dance and sing along.  There’s so much healing that comes from that.  Sending much love and light your way today and always!

Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
Heart and soul

Om m m m m m m m m m m m m m
M m m my lord . . .

Please take hold of my hand, that
I might understand you

Won’t you please
Oh won’t you

Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
Heart and soul

Om m m m m m m m m m m m m m
M m m my lord . . .

Please take hold of my hand, that
I might understand you

Two Birds In A Tree: Knowing Our Essence

Standard

One of my favorite spiritual stories is Two Birds In A Tree which I first read in a book by Swami Vivekenanda.  Vivekenanda was the first Hindu saint to bring India’s ancient spiritual wisdom and Yoga practices to the West at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago.  He had a major influence on many of India’s modern spiritual leaders including Gandhi, Nehru, Aurobindo and Tagore.  He shares a message of Oneness and universality in a way that is profound and accessible.  Here is the story of “Two Birds In A Tree“:

“Upon the same tree there are two birds, one on the top, the other below.  The one on the top is calm, silent, and majestic, immersed in his own glory; the one on the lower branches, eating sweet and bitter fruits by turns, hopping from branch to branch, is becoming happy and miserable by turns.  After a time, the lower birds eats an exceptionally bitter fruit, and feeling miserable, he looks up and sees the other bird, that wondrous one of golden plumage who eats neither sweet nor bitter fruit, who is neither happy nor miserable, but calm and centered in the Spirit.  The lower bird longs for this condition, but soon forgets it, and again begins to eat the fruit, which makes him once again feel miserable, and he again looks up, and he tries to get nearer to the upper bird.  Once more he forgets, and after a time he looks up again, and so on he goes again and again, until he comes very near to the beautiful bird and sees the reflection of light from its plumage playing around his own body.  He feels a change, and as he comes nearer, he seems to melt away, and everything about him melts away until as last he understands this wonderful change.  The lower bird was, as it were, only the shadow, the reflection of the higher; he himself was in essence the upper bird all the time.  This eating of the fruits, sweet and bitter, this lower little bird, weeping and happy by turns, was merely a vain dream: all along the real bird was there above, calm, and silent, glorious and majestic, beyond grief, beyond sorrow.  The upper bird is God, the Lord of this universe; and the lower bird is the human soul, eating the sweet and bitter fruits of this world.

Now and then comes a heavy blow to the soul.  For a time, he stops eating and goes toward the unknown God, and a flood of light comes.  Yet again the senses drag him down, and begins to as before eat the sweet and bitter fruits of the world.  Again, a hard blow comes.  Again, his heart becomes open to the divine light; thus gradually he approaches God, and as he gets nearer and nearer, he finds his old self melting away.  When he has come near enough, he realizes that he is no other than God, and he exclaims, “He who is the One Life of this universe, as present in the atom as in the suns and moons – He is the basis of my own life, the Soul of my soul and I Am That.

This is what Jnana Yoga (The Yoga of Knowledge/Wisdom) teaches.  It teaches us that we are divine.  It shows to all humanity the real unity of being, that each one of us is a manifestation on earth of the Lord God Himself.   All of us, from the lowest worm to the highest being – all are manifestations of the same God.”

The story really embodies the concept of the shadow, which is a core component in transformation.  (We will explore the concept of shadow more fully in future posts.) It also describes the journey of life, of reaching for the light and falling back down, rising up again and again.  Many traditions speak of this concept of coming back to our infinite nature, which is that light bird at the top of the tree.  It is something that is always there, always a part of us, but often when we get mired down by the experiences of life, we lose sight of our inner essence.  The Sufis speak of polishing the mirror or stone until it is clear, shining and reflecting our truest essence – our self.  The Buddhists speak of the mind being like a sky and clearing of the clouds or obscurations so that we can return to our true Buddha nature, which can be seen as clear sky.

It is an ongoing process.  One of the main lessons I have learned along the way is that the journey of life itself is the path.  Being willing to accept what is and to continue to grow and to reach for the top of the tree, is a lifelong journey.  In many traditions, life on earth is seen as a school or a place of learning; we come here to awaken and to know our true essence even in the midst of maya or illusion.   We forget who we are and where we came from, but as we journey, we begin to remember.  And, then we forget again.  And, then we remember, just as that lower birds does in the story.

Will we ever reach the top of the tree?  We know some incredible beings such as Buddha or Jesus have found a way to hold and embody that light.   In focusing on living the big picture in daily life, it is helpful to remember that the journey is the path.  We cannot know where it will lead or when we might awaken, but we can keep working on becoming more aware, authentic and an embodiment of that light, which is our true nature.  And when I say working, sometimes, for myself this ends up meaning efforting.  However, it is important as we do both our inner work and our outer work to allow.  Life unfolds in it’s own beautiful ways and all the opportunities we need are right before us.

By allowing and staying present in the moment we are able to access the gifts that are already before us.  If something is arising in our life, we know we have work to do with that experience, feeling, person, etc., or it would not be there, it would not be showing up.  Remembering this and embracing the experiences of this very moment with love, compassion, and acceptance are how we move up that tree, one branch at a time.  And, even when we fall back down, we can pause and seek the light within, which is our true essence.

I hope you will take some time to reflect on this story and the journey of life as it is unfolding for you today.

Namaste.

Celebrating The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Standard

I feel so blessed to have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Ganesh, whose beautiful blog is titled Known is a Drop, Unknown is an Ocean.  It is through connecting with Ganesh and other amazing bloggers that my own blog has grown and I have felt inspired to see what’s possible.

I started The Heart of Awakening Blog in early March of this year after many years of talking and thinking about starting a blog.  So far it has been a wonderful adventure.  I feel as if I have just touched on bits of pieces of what I feel called to write about and am excited to see how this journey emerges.  When I started I shared an intention of living the big picture in daily life.  As I put forth that intention and began posting, I found that I have connected with many like-minded others from all over the world.  Our backgrounds and cultures may be different and yet, the energy of the heart and a desire for awakening is so apparent by the openness, willingness and passion that comes through the blogging community.  It is a joy to be a part of that.

Participating in Council or talking circle is an important part of my life and my work.  Through the experience of blogging, I feel as if my circle has widened immensely in just a short time.  There is no talking piece that is passed but sharing and listening from the heart is evident.  In circle, we say “Aho” when we resonate with something someone has said.  It is short of Aho Mitakuye Oyasin, a Lakota term, meaning, “All My Relations.”  We are honoring each person for participating in the circle of life with us.  In blogging, we “like” a post and this is affirming our connection and support of what was shared.  When we “like” a post or comment, we are creating connection and making our big world a little smaller.

On Friday, I celebrated my 50th post, publishing my first audio post and the honor of receiving the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  I am grateful to all who have supported me and shared in this exploration.  I am thankful to connect with the heart-centered community that is emerging globally.  It is through these connections that I am inspired to write, to share and to deepen in my own exploration of the heart.  Namaste.

Rules for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and write a post about it.
2. Share 7 things about your Self.
3. Pass the award on to 10 or 12 bloggers you enjoy, link to their blogs, and let them know you nominated them.

7 Things about myself:

1. I love to read – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, blogs, even Tweets.
2. I feel most at home in Nature. I spend as much time there as I can, but it’s never enough.
3. I play the Native American Flute.
4. I am a practicing shaman.
5. My favorite poets are Rumi, Hafiz, Wordsworth, Mary Oliver and William Stafford.
6. A book that has shaped my life is Healing the Shadow, by Shaman Ross Bishop.
7. I love to write, draw and paint.

Here are the blogs that I recommend for Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

The Art of Earth 

Moments With Millie

Manipal’s Photo Blog

GYAtoday

Knowthesphere

the journey

Martine Chin – nutritionista

Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking

Through the Healing Lens

Peeled Onion

I hope you’ll take some time to explore and enjoy these very inspiring blogs!

I’d like to share one of my favorite poems by William Stafford:

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Actualizing The Power of Intention

Standard

“For the last four hundred years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call “physical reality. Our experimental research of the past decade shows that, for today’s world and under the right conditions, this assumption is no longer correct. We humans are much more than we think we are…” – Dr. William A. Tiller

We have come to a place where science and spirituality meet in many ways. For those who have had a focus on energy, whether through Acupuncture or Eastern Medicine, Energy Healing such as Reiki or Pranic Healing, Yoga or other spiritual practices, it has long been accepted that matter follows energy. It is exciting that science is now on board with this concept. A major focus on the Heart of Awakening blog is to support a shift into a new paradigm. This begins with an inner shift in our thoughts, energy and focus – it begins with Intention.

At this point, there is greater acceptance and understanding of the role of intention in creating change. The work of Dr. Tiller is called Psychoenergetic Science. It involves an expansion of traditional science to include human consciousness and human intention as being capable of significantly affecting the properties of materials (non-living and living) and what we call our “physical reality.” Basically, our intentions affect our experience and our actual world. And, we have the ability to change our lives and our world.

Using intention in a positive way is a powerful tool for transformation. Intention is used in many aspects of our lives. We may have general intentions or wishes, which we are holding but they may not be in the forefront of our consciousness. Our conscious mind is actually only a small fraction of our mind, the vast part of it being unconscious. However, when we bring something into our conscious awareness and give it meaning, we are creating a relationship with our unconscious and support transformation on a deeper level.

As we bring our intentions into the forefront of our experience and work more actively with them, we begin to create changes in our consciousness, our energetic field and in the world. In a sense, we become a beacon carrying that energy both inwardly and outwardly into all of our experiences. We all have our own personal intentions that we can work with and we also have the opportunity to carry intentions that support ourselves, others and the world. Embodying qualities such as peace, happiness, respect and serenity can become a part our active intentions thus assisting in our own personal transformation and shifting our world into a new paradigm.

Finding a way to actively work with intention helps us to move more consciously in the world and to create alignment within ourselves. As with all practices, it is important to explore and find what resonates for you personally. This is part of moving into greater alignment with oneself. Some ways to work with Intention include:

1. Affirmations – Affirmations are a powerful tool for transformation. To affirm means to “make firm” that quality or message you are working with. Affirmations offer a way to change our inner dialogue, in a sense to short-circuit the unconscious messages or tapes that are always playing in our minds and to create new ones. This practice can transform our attitudes and our expectations. It can also show us the negative or unconscious messages that we are carrying within us. Affirmations can be done silently, spoken aloud, written down or even chanted. They can be posted in places you will see them, tucked in hidden places where you will find them unexpectedly or recorded so you can listen to them repeatedly.

2. Ceremony & Ritual – Participating in ceremony and ritual helps us to feel connected to ourselves, to others and to the world. It is a time when we enter into sacred space. Whether it is a ceremony that marks a major life event such as a marriage or death or the simple ritual of lighting a candle, there are two elements at play – intention and action. We can create our own ways of working with ceremony and ritual to take our intentions into a place of action. This helps us to embody our intentions more fully on all levels – body, mind, emotion and spirit. One of my favorite ways is through Fire Ceremony. I use this personally as well as with clients and groups both to set an intention to let go of experiences, feelings and energies, which are no longer serving; and, to invite in the energies or qualities (the intentions) that can support transformation and moving into a new way of being. The energy of fire is one of transformation. Taking action in this way helps to support a powerful shift as well as bringing us more fully into the present moment. Perhaps this is the greatest intention of all – to be fully present in this very moment.

3. Creating – Creating something to represent our intention helps to concretize it and brings it more fully into our own consciousness and into the world. This can also be a way to let one’s own creativity emerge, which in and of itself is a way to access our inner self. Creating can be through artwork such as a drawing, painting, or mandala making. It can be through the written word such as a poem, slogan or just writing your intention in your journal or somewhere that it is visible to you. Another option is to make a Vision Board in which you use pictures and words to help to invite in your intention and the vision you wish to create into your life. Being creative is an opportunity to explore your own essence and to create a connection between your conscious and unconscious self. Through you own self-expression, you are making your intentions visible.

4. Contemplative Practices – Contemplative practices such as meditation or prayer help us to move into the present moment, to quiet some of the busyness in our minds and to connect more deeply with our intentions. Moving from a place of stillness, clarity and focus supports being in alignment with our intentions and carrying them with us as we move in the world. When we take the time to pause, center and reconnect with our own self and spirit, our energy becomes clearer and we are able to align with our intentions in a more focused way. This creates a clearer, stronger energy field that helps us to truly embody our intentions.

5. Authenticity – Allowing ourselves to be authentic and to speak from the heart, openly and honestly, is part of actualizing the power of intention. When we share our intentions with others, we are sharing our deeper being. We are also moving into greater alignment as we merge our inner and outer self. Many of us are hesitant or afraid to share all of who we are and particularly those greater intentions for change in ourselves, others and the world. Imagine if every being were to speak from the heart and share their intentions openly. Really, these intentions are our good wishes for ourselves and all beings. It is often easier to speak about our negativity and judgments, which causes a contraction of energy, rather than expansion. Sharing our authentic selves and our positive intentions openly is a powerful way to transform ourselves and the world.

As we work with intention, we are bridging our conscious and unconscious self. In a sense, working with intention is helping to bring a new infrastructure to our being which allows us to be in greater alignment with those energies we are carrying into our consciousness and into the world. As we begin to move more consciously, new possibilities emerge. Cultivating intention is an action step in shifting to a new paradigm.

I hope you’ll join the Heart of Awakening in exploring and actualizing the power of intention to support transformation in your self, others and the world.

I’ve included a video of Dr. Tiller for inspiration…..

*****************************************

Love Yourself, Live Your Life 4-Week Teleclass: Moving Beyond Self-Criticism, Shame & Doubt starts 7/9. This is an opportunity to live more from the heart, to become more gentle and loving with yourself, to develop a deeper sense of connection and to work through patterns and feelings that are no longer serving you. Explore more….

Prayer For A New Day

Standard

Grandfather Sun
We wake to see your shining face
Honoring the spirit of the new day

Spirit of the East
We welcome you
The path of the rising sun
The way of Eagle
Bringing new beginnings, soaring vision and hope

Spirit of the South
We welcome you
The path of the noonday sun
The way of Coyote
Illuminating our hearts, minds and spirits
With clarity and purpose

Spirit of the West
We welcome you
The path of the setting sun
The way of Bear
Bringing strength, courage and trust
Taking us deeper into spirit with each breath we take

Spirit of the North
We welcome you
The place of sacredness within
The way of Owl
Helping us to find the light within the dark
Uncovering those places in ourselves which need transformation

O Great Spirit.  Creator of All Things
We welcome you
Gifting us all of the support of spirit in each moment
The path of Angels, Archangels, Ancestors, Mentors, Guides and Spirits
Help us to walk in the way of spirit today
Remembering our connection to the energies of creation

Mother Earth. Sustainer, Nurturer and Provider
We welcome you
Honoring all of your children
The Two-Leggeds, Four-Leggeds, Winged Ones, Elementals
Plant Beings, Stone People, Insects and Spider Beings
Hungry Ghosts and all who walk in the earthly realm
Great Mother Earth carry us into the day
So we may walk together in harmony and peace

Sacred Center
Connecting earth and heaven, heaven and earth
The place where all directions merge and where all beings meet
The way of Oneness, Love and Light
Help us to walk together in Oneness, Love and Light on this day and always.

Enjoy The Road Of Life

Standard

“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Thanks to May is for Metta 2012, I have been inspired and committed to posting everyday on the Heart of Awakening.  It feels like a strange thought to let a day go by without posting, although I have to admit I have been fantasizing about going a day without writing.  But here I am.  Writing is a way for me to explore my own experience as well as a way to share with others.  A lot emerged for me during the month-long practice.  I am excited to be moving forward with creating a May is for Metta Audio Program.  This is something I have envisioned for a long time.  It feels like now is a time for moving forward with ideas and visions I have been cultivating for some time.

The image that comes to mind is a crossroads.  It is as if many of the roads I have traveled on have come together and now I have arrived at a new place, but there is a fork in this new road, too.  One path seems to be full of greenery and blooming things.  The other is dark and uncertain.  Even though it appears that there are two paths to take, I can tell that inside myself both paths exist.  They seem to be intertwined.  I notice as I choose one path that an aspect of the other emerges.  I know that things aren’t always the way they seem.  Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side and often I find the most light when I enter into the darkness.  I guess this is why the shaman’s path is so appealing to me or I could say being a Sufi, too.  As I find the willingness to go into what is uncomfortable and to explore the deepest depths of my heart and soul, I understand why I am where I am and how I have become who I am.  I know myself and I know my purpose, too.

For whatever reason, my journey has been one of being led into some difficult and uncomfortable places.  I had no choice about this for a large part of my life and although I resisted where I was then, now I can see that it created a strong foundation for me to be able to stand in my truth and stay present with what is arising even when it is challenging.  This is an incredible gift I have been given and it comes through what I previously would have labeled suffering, but now just call “Life”.

This year’s May is for Metta practice has offered me the opportunity to go deeper within myself and to uncover more of the places where I am still holding myself out of the game of “Life”.  I know where my inner work lies and I know where my edges are.  I also know how to approach all of this with loving-kindness and compassion.  And, it is in that space that suffering transforms into the experience of living as a human being.

On the last day of May is for Metta, this big turtle showed up on my front door.  Turtle is a totem that has been present in my life for along time.  My mother collected turtles and I feel strongly it is an ancestral totem as well.  Turtle speaks of going within, moving slowly and being still.  To me, it is the symbol of the heart as those are all requirements for entering into the heart space.  It felt so fitting for this very old Turtle to scratch at my door as this part of the journey is ending and the next beginning.  When things like this happen, I feel so blessed by the beauty and mystery of life.

I was chatting with a new friend from India who writes a blog, Varungenius.  He asked me when I began meditating.  I shared that it was when I was 14 years old.  My cousin had just returned from some time in India and all he talked about was meditation.  He didn’t tell me what is was or how to practice, but something stirred in me.  From that point forward, I read, I studied and I practiced.  It wasn’t until many years later that I actually had my first teacher, and since have been blessed with teachers from a variety of traditions who have helped me in many ways to grow as a practitioner and as a human being.

Meditation is way to know ourselves on a deeper level and to begin to understand the big picture.  It takes us into the self and beyond the self.  In the words of one of my teachers, Angeles Arrien, “Meditation is an opportunity to discover, uncover and recover aspects of ourselves .”  In many traditions, this is akin to shamanic journey work or other contemplative practices.  Regardless of how one practices, the important thing is to practice, to find a way to go within and to learn the landscape of our consciousness.  The goal is not to get away from who we are or where we are but to embrace all of ourselves with acceptance and loving-kindness.

Just today, I heard myself say that there must be some reason why things are the way they are right now.  When I hear myself speak these words, I know it is true and yet, I can still feel the part of myself that would like things to be different.  This is part of human nature; wanting a different experience than the one we have.  However, there is so much richness in just being, allowing and embracing what is arising in the moment, whether it is comfortable or uncomfortable.  I am reminded of a quote by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,

“Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

I am laughing as I see how I am still searching for the goal so much of the time instead of just enjoying the ride!  Life can seem like a roller coaster in so many ways – up, down, curving, and flying into the unknown.  Remembering that the road is the goal is the key to freedom and understanding.  It’s easy to say but not always so easy to embody; that is where the journey lies.  In Sufism, there is a practice called Remembrance.  In other traditions, there are other names, but the concept is the same.  Life is a journey of awakening, the road is the goal and the teacher is the path itself with all its twists and turns.  When we embrace the beauty and wisdom that is present all around us and within us, anything is possible.

Today, I invite you to let go of the goal and enjoy the road of life!

May is for Metta 2012: 31 Days of Loving-kindness Practice

Standard

“there is one essential ingredient in spiritual life without which all other forms of practice fall short.  That ingredient is the cultivation of our ability to love – not just to love God, or the Divine, or our True Nature but also our fellow human beings.  Cultivating that love is, in many ways, the most potent spiritual practice available to us.”- John Welshsons, excerpt from One Soul, One Love, One Heart

The essence of the Heart of Awakening is to support moving into a new paradigm which is based on:

Living from the Heart

Embodying Awareness, Authenticity and Purpose

Integrating a Holistic Approach to Being

Embracing the Interconnectedness of All Things

Honoring and Respecting the Sacredness of Life

In May of 2010, I led a Metta meditation practice group on Facebook which offered 31 Days of exploration and guided practice in cultivating Loving-kindness and Compassion.  It’s been two years since that first May is for Metta group;  at the current time, it feels even more important to deepen our foundation in loving-kindness and compassion.  For those who wish to participate, this May will offer a time to come together energetically, wherever in the world we may be, to begin to cultivate greater loving-kindness and compassion for others, the world and ourselves.

Metta, or Loving-kindness meditation, is a Buddhist practice that involves the repetition of phrases, similar to mantra, that help to generate the energy of loving-kindness and in a sense offer blessings to ourselves, to others and to the world.  Although we work with the phrases as the anchor of the practice, the essence of it is the generation of the energy of loving-kindness and compassion. There are variations on the phrases which focus on cultivating happiness, safety, and ease of well-being.  Here is one of the simplest versions:

May I be safe.  May I be happy.  May I be healthy.  May I live with ease.

Once you’ve offered the blessings to yourself, you offer them to others and finally to all beings, saying, “May you…” and “May all beings…” with each phrase.  As part of our practice, we will explore all of the categories of Metta meditation.

The Buddha offered 11 benefits of Metta meditation, which included peaceful sleep, a serene mind and protection from outside influences.  The greatest benefit of Metta meditation seems to be that it tends to increase our happiness.  Through the exploration of Metta meditation and other heart centered practices, we will plant seeds of loving-kindness as well take time to develop or deepen our daily meditation practices.

The first lesson in Loving-kindness is that we must cultivate this for ourselves to create a foundation, which can then be shared with others.  This can be an obstacle for many of us who were taught to love others first and ourselves last.  This is an opportunity to shift our paradigm.  I hope you will take this time to create your own foundation of Loving-kindness and Compassion so that you may become a conduit for the energy of Love to flow more deeply in our world.

Ways to participate:

1. Join in the daily reading and practice, which will post on here on the Heart of Awakening each morning from May 1st to May 31st.  I have created a page that has an overview of May is for Metta to learn more.

2. Join the Facebook event that will have updates on May is for Metta 2012 daily practices, explorations and events.  I will post a link from this blog post daily. https://www.facebook.com/events/220157348094892/

3. Explore Metta meditation and cultivating Loving-kindness and Compassion on your own, with your family, at work and in the world. Resources will be posted here and on Facebook to support your exploration.

4. Attend a May is for Metta event live in the MD/DC area or by teleconference. Details TBA.

5. Invite others to participate in May is for Metta 2012.

Whether you choose to join us here or not, I hope you will take some time to cultivate Loving-kindness and Compassion as your heart guides you to.

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

Love and light,
Beth

Embracing Heart Wisdom as Our Guide

Standard

 “Being vulnerable doesn’t have to be threatening.  Just have the courage to be sincere, open and honest.  This opens the door to deeper communication all around. It creates self-empowerment and the kind of connections with others we all want in life.  Speaking from the heart frees us from the secrets that burden us.  These secrets are what make us sick or fearful.  Speaking truth helps you get clarity on your real heart directives.” – Sara Paddison, The Hidden Power of the Heart

 

It took me until my early thirties to really accept that in order to live a life of authenticity and truth I needed to make a paradigm shift.  This shift was based on moving the guiding force in my life from the mind to the heart.   I’ve been blessed to have many teachers along the way who have shared their heart wisdom and who have helped me to find the courage and strength to access my own vulnerability.

I grew up in a world where “everything was okay”, all the time.  Even when things were really not okay, when they were chaotic and at times, insane, the messages I received were that we didn’t talk about that, we just said, “I’m fine, everything is okay.”  Needless to say, it was very confusing and it didn’t take long for me to have the awareness that what people share with the world and what is really going on in the their lives, let alone inside themselves, is vastly different.

The “I’m fine, everything is okay” was my paradigm for a long time.  Even as I began to do some deeper work, to explore my inner landscape, and to access my emotions, there was still a part of me who held onto to that pattern.  In fact, at times, it still emerges today.

I believe this pattern is inherent for many of us and is one of the great obstacles to shifting into the new paradigm.  I see this on both the personal and collective levels.  As individuals, when we say, “I am fine, everything is okay,” and it is not what we are feeling, we are denying a part of ourselves and we are denying our own truth.   We are also putting a wall around our heart that is then forced to hold in and suppress what our true experience is at that time.

On a larger scale, we all see and experience things in the world that are not okay.  And, we do focus on those things and address them in a variety of ways.  I wonder what things could look like if we all really spoke up about our true feelings about what goes on in our world.   Most often, it is anger that is the driving force to speak up and/or take action.  But if we were to go into the depths of our heart, what would we share about our world and what do we feel needs to be spoken?

One of the experiences that supports this opening is the process of Council, which is based on traditional talking circles used by many indigenous peoples.  When we come together in circle, our intention is to share our hearts and our truth, tuning into what is arising in the present moment.   A talking piece is used to indicate that whoever is holding the piece is the only speaker at that time and the others circle members are listening until it is their turn to have the piece.  The council process can support communication, self-awareness, collective wisdom, relationship, community building, and peacemaking.

Although Council is usually done in a group, the principles of Council are a powerful tool in creating a shift into the new paradigm and breaking the old pattern of  “I’m fine, everything is okay”.  The guidelines of Council, which help to create safety and allow truth to emerge, are:

1)   Listen from the heart.  Take a few moments to drop down from the head into the heart space.  Whether you are in circle listening to others, or tuning into your own heart wisdom, listen with openness, knowing there is no need to give advice or feedback.  We often feel that we must have answers for other people and really what we need is to be heard and to have our heart sharing witnessed.  So much healing comes from the place of listening and sharing.  As we listen from a heart-centered place, we are being more fully present and allowing our own vulnerability to emerge.  Also, where we really need to begin this shift is in listening to our own hearts and being willing to hear our own true feelings without trying to suppress, resolve or fix them.

2)   Speak from the heart.  Take a few moments to be still, to drop from your head into your heart and allow what is true for you in that moment to be arise.  This may be something you need to practice with yourself as well as others.  Before we are able to become vulnerable with others, it is necessary to be willing to be vulnerable and truly honest with ourselves.  Speaking does not have to mean words; it can include sound, song, and even silence.  In Council, the intention is to speak what will serve you, the circle and the highest good.  This is a great way to think about what we need to communicate.

3)   Be lean.  Focus on what is important and what is really at the heart of the matter.  We often have many thoughts circling round and round in our minds but when we drop into the heart space, it takes few words to express what we feel and what is important.

4)   Be spontaneous.  When you allow yourself to drop into the heart space, you may be surprised by what arises.  We often think we are going to talk about one thing and then when we allow ourselves to move below the surface, something very different emerges.  Allowing ourselves to be spontaneous and letting go of agenda allows for playfulness, real-ness and our true voice to emerge.

One thing I would add to this list is patience.  Shifting into a heart-centered way of being is a process.  The heart moves much slower than the mind.  As the energies of our world are moving faster and faster, the need to slow down and drop into this heart space is even greater.  I encourage you to take some time to explore your heart, to access your vulnerability and to allow your deeper truth to emerge.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, feelings and reflections.

Grounding in a Rapidly Changing World

Standard

Being human in 2012 requires handling huge amounts of energy moving through our world, our environment and our body systems.  Recent years have seen a tremendous increase in technology including cell phones, towers and power grids; this  an area of much research as to the overall impact on personal health and that of our planet.  We are experiencing chaos and instability in our political, economic and social structures.  Increased solar flares are causing geomagnetic storms that can affect our satellites, power structures and our own energy fields.  We are just learning about the implications of some of these factors, however one thing is certain – the generation and movement of energy in many forms is affecting our lives on a personal and global level.

Considering the impact of all of these factors or even any one, can feel overwhelming, especially if we think about it too much.  And yet, whether we focus on it or not, increased energetic activity is a part of the big picture today.  Accepting that great energetic movement and change is a part of our lives is an important aspect of holding the big picture.  In our daily lives, we can easily get caught up in what we need to get done and forget that we are riding on a planet that is orbiting the sun, which is only one of many, many galactic bodies.  It’s easy to forget that we are a part of a vast universe and that the energy we feel is not only global but also universal.

One of the best ways to work with increased energies and achieve greater balance in our own energy systems is to practice grounding.  Grounding is the foundation of a healthy system which everyone can benefit from it.   Grounding refers to the connection of the human energy field to that of the Earth.  This connection allows us to draw from the abundant source of Earth’s energy while at the same time ensuring that we do not accumulate excess energy – this can be thought of like the earth wire for electricity – we make a connection and excess energy is safely dissipated into the ground.  Being well grounded helps us to deal with life in a more stable and balanced manner which is increasingly necessary in response to living in a rapidly changing world.

Below are a few ways in which being grounded can make a difference in the experience of everyday life:

  • Increases balance and stability in our physical, mental, emotional and energetic state.
  • Creates a deeper sense of connection with others, our world and ourselves.
  • Helps bring awareness that we are here for a purpose.
  • Brings strength and confidence.
  • Helps in creating a bridge between spirit and matter.
  • Provides an outlet making the release of energy and emotion easier and more fluid.
  • Allows the attainment of higher spiritual levels through embodiment.
  • Strengthens our center – Grounded people are less affected by energies around them, even if they do feel them.

We can learn to become aware of our grounded state.  Sometimes this is a feeling of solidity or stability.  Often the connection takes the form of a slight buzzing, warmth or tingling under the soles of our feet or in other parts of our bodies.  It is useful to train oneself in this awareness.  With regular practice, grounding can be done simply by making an energetic connection through awareness, visualization or turning your attention to the soles of your feet and connecting to the earth.  It is the work of seconds and can make a huge difference to your life.

In addition to the effects of EMFs (Electro Magnetic Fields), there are many other reasons we can be ungrounded.  Often, people go through the majority of their lives being ungrounded.  We all know people who seem to be off in a dream world, or `dizzy’; chances are their grounding is weak.  Additionally, people who have a tendency to be nervy, fly off the handle or get things out of proportion may also benefit from grounding.  Lack of grounding is a feature of many conditions that leave people feeling disconnected, weak and listless.

Below is a list of some of the more common signs of being ungrounded. Usually, each individual will encounter the same one or two signs when they are ungrounded.  It can be helpful to learn the messages your own body and energy system gives to you.

  • Dizziness
  • Daydreaming
  • A feeling of being ‘Spaced Out’
  • Feeling sick
  • Heart palpitations
  • Eyes flickering
  • Weight gain
  • Clumsiness or prone to accidents
  • Static shocks
  • Falling asleep when meditating
  • Noise and light-sensitive
  • Forgetful
  • Having brilliant ideas that never happen
  • Arguing and unable to get your point across
  • Feeling unsettled
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feelings of confusion, turmoil or disconnection

Here are some things you can do to help bring yourself back down to earth and generate an experience of grounding:

  • Connecting with Nature
  • Meditation & Visualization
  • Eating – healthy & balanced
  • Drinking water
  • Walking, especially in natural surroundings
  • Exercise, yoga, tai chi, etc.
  • Gardening, touching the earth with your hands
  • Being with animals e.g. walking the dog, petting a cat, etc.
  • Moving with intention, clarity and purpose
  • Carrying/working with crystals or stones such as Hematite, Black Tourmaline, Obsidian or Ruby
  • Using Essential Oils such as Vetiver, Sandalwood or Patchouli
  • Taking Flower Essences such as Rescue Remedy
  • Getting adequate rest
  • Practicing HALTT – Am I hungry, angry, lonely, tired or thirsty?   HALTT is an acronym from 12 Step Recovery that signals that something is out of balance and a simple check helps to bring attention where it needs to be given.  This is a great tool to use with grounding and for overall balance as well.

One of the simplest ways to learn to ground is through visualization or meditation.  Once this type of practice is developed, it can be used anytime or anywhere.   Here is an example of a practice that may be helpful to explore:

Letting Go:  First, begin to let go of all the tension you can by taking some deep breaths, relaxing your shoulders, and focusing on where you are and what you are doing.  Bring your attention to this moment, to the current time and space your are in.  Breath in and on the out breath, let any tension or excess energy that you feel drain down through your body into the earth.  Slow down and some deep calming breaths.

Anchoring:  Imagine dropping a line of energy from the base of your spine and/or soles of your feet, down into the earth.  Just like the roots of a tree, this line of energy anchors you to the earth.  If you prefer, imagine that your body actually has roots connecting you to the earth.  Whichever imagery you use, allow yourself to make that connection with the earth, dropping your anchor and allowing your energy to become more stable and balanced.  Allow yourself to feel a sense of rootedness like that of a tree.  Go as deep as you need to go to make a strong connection, even to the core of the earth itself if need be.

Releasing Negativity:  Anchor yourself and allow all of your excess energy and tension to drain down into the earth through your line of energy or roots.  The stronger your anchor, the better your ability to experience stability and release energy.  As you get comfortable anchoring and releasing energy, your will begin to experience a clearer and stronger energy field which will support your ability to move with the increased energy of our times.

As always, I encourage everyone to find those practices which really resonate with them personally.  In addition to using visualizations, I find connecting with nature through walking in the woods, going barefoot and lying on the earth to be a few of the most grounding things I can do for myself.  I also tend to carry stones in my pockets which have grounding energy and also remind me of my connection to the earth.  Take some time this week to explore grounding for yourself and find some ways you can create more balance and stability in your energy field and in your life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, reflections and experiences.

Spring Into Emergence

Standard

One of the ways to stay in touch with the big picture is to honor natures transitions as well as our own.  What better time to explore this than as we move through the transition from winter into spring. Known as nature’s birthing season, spring is considered a time of creation in our world.  Energies, which were drawn inward in winter for rest and renewal, are now ready to come forth and blossom.  The first day of spring, usually March 21st, was on March 20th this year due to the leap year.  On this day, the Vernal Equinox marks the time when day equals night.  It is the beginning of the period when daylight, the sun, and yang (outward) energy will be the dominant force in our lives.  At this time, I always become aware of the substantial difference in my energy as the days become longer; I begin to feel more drawn to the outer world, as I am sure many of you do.

Although for some of us, this winter was so mild that at times it actually felt like spring, honoring this shift can still be an essential way to deepen our sense of connection to our natural world and to ourselves.  This time of transition gives us an opportunity to take a look at our lives and to begin to consciously create a plan of emergence. Spring is all about emergence. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of emergence is:

  1. the process of becoming visible after being concealed;
  2. the escape of an insect or other invertebrate from an egg, cocoon, or pupal case; and
  3. the process of coming into existence or prominence.

Although several origins are attributed, one of the oldest is from the Latin emergere, meaning, “bring to light”.  One of the first signs of this for me is when I see new shoots bursting through the earth.  The first I saw this year were the crocuses, which came early, but now new life is emerging in every direction.  Just as the new shoots burst forth through the earth, we, too, are emerging from our “shell” of winter.  This is a wonderful time to explore what we can leave behind that is no longer serving us and begin cultivate the energies and inspirations that can help us become more authentic and whole.

Spring is a time for planting; it is the greening season.  In addition to planting outside, it is a time to really consider what new growth is emerging in various aspects of our lives, our work and our relationships.  It is a time to let our dreams blossom.  Being in tune with the rhythms of nature and of the season, can support us in allowing our own newness to unfold.  Beginning to spend more time outdoors, in the natural world, feeling the earth’s energies is a way to align ourselves with the change that is occurring both inwardly and outwardly.

In Chinese Medicine, spring is associated with the Wood element, which governs the gallbladder and liver organs.  The energy of Wood carries a connection to structure and this can be a good time to create new structures for our transformation.  Mentally, Wood corresponds to ideas; it supports our mental clarity, focus and our ability to plan and make decisions. Wood is associated with the East and so rules the morning.  Having a balanced Wood element gives us a capacity to be energized as we begin each day.  Another association of spring is the Wind, which helps to clear the old and bring in the new.  Creating a blueprint for how we would like our life to be is a way to bring this new vision to life.  It is also a powerful time for beginning a morning practice of meditation or reflection.

The liver and gallbladder, the organs associated with Wood, carry out essential functions, particularly digestion and processing of the many substances we take into our bodies.  A healthy diet and exercise can support these organs and the proper functioning of our whole energy system.  Spring is wonderful time to review our eating habits, to take time to eat slowly and mindfully, allowing our food to digest and provide vital nutrients.  A good seasonal diet includes many greens, fruits and whole grains. It is also a very good time for detoxification with fasting or juicing as a helpful part of the cleansing process.  Just as with our mind or emotions, this is a way to leave the past behind, to cleanse the physical and to create new structures for our well-being with diet and exercise.

By following the laws of nature, we can learn to live in more balanced, healthy and conscious ways.  It is when we move outside the laws of nature or resist change that we meet with difficulties. By becoming in tune with the energies of spring, on all levels, we can begin to move into greater harmony within ourselves and the world.  This is a key component to holding the big picture in daily life.  Spring is a perfect time to connect with our own creative intelligence and to allow our true nature to guide us forward to rebirth.

I began this spring by going on a medicine walk.  I was planning to go on a medicine walk to honor a transition I am going through and it seemed like the beginning of spring was the perfect time.  A medicine walk is a practice used by indigenous peoples to connect with Spirit and to gather medicine that comes from the wisdom of the natural world.  How often in our modern world do we spend a whole day in nature, just wandering through the woods, sitting by the river, meditating with the trees and rocks, listening to the birds and seeking wisdom and guidance from nature?  I find this practice to be a powerful tool for marking transitions; for letting go of the old and inviting in the new.  And, what better practice for honoring the time of transition into spring.  Whether for a whole day, a few hours or even a short time, I encourage you to take some time to go out in nature, to tune into yourself and to consider what you are ready and willing to let go of and what energies and qualities you might like to cultivate in your life.  Allow the wisdom of the natural world to be your guide, harmonize with the energies of spring and emerge into your own new beginning.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, reflections and experiences as you transition into Spring.

Is Your BP (Big Picture) too high or too low?

Standard

As I have been exploring and connecting with the big picture and how to live it more consciously in daily life, one thing I have become aware of in my own journey and in working with others is the need for balance.  This is a huge topic, which I feel to explore in many ways, but for now I am speaking about balance in relation to the big picture.

Obviously, the big picture is BIG!  It’s actually huge, vast, and in a sense beyond measurement.  I know that at times in my life when I have been really plugged into the big picture it can be difficult to deal with the details of daily life.  And at other times, I am so bogged down with the details that I can easily forget to hold the big picture.  I feel like this exploration is critical to holding and embodying the big picture and living and participating in the world on a day-to-day basis.  So this week’s koan or question is:

“Is your BP (Big Picture) too high or too low?  Are you able to find balance between embodying your big picture and handling the details of daily life?  How can you begin to create this balance in your own life and in the world?”

We know from a medical perspective that when our blood pressure is too high or too low something is out of balance.  It is a very clear and measurable indicator and there are many courses of action to stabilize it.  Stable seems like a good word to bring into this conversation.  When we are balanced we feel a sense of stability on an inner and outer level.  Everything around us may be in constant flux, even our own being and our own molecules are constantly moving, but when we find balance, we feel stable and grounded.  So in a sense, what we are talking about here is finding some type of homeostasis that allows us to develop balance between our inner and outer worlds, between our big picture and our daily life.

Balance is necessary on all levels  –  physical, mental, emotional and spiritual as well as overall if we are to feel stability, but it is a dance, an ever-changing process.  Balance creates a sense of stability.  Cultivating balance is not about finding a stationary place that is comfortable, it is about staying present with what is arising, being in touch with our immediate experience and how it relates to our big picture and finding tools that help to support coming to a place of alignment.

What I have experienced as someone who has often tended seek out the more spiritual side of life is that at times, there is a worry about being too much in the big picture and not being able to deal with the affairs of daily life.  I have had a desire to avoid the materialism of the world, especially with many of the extremes that exist in the world today.

On the other hand, I can also get lost in my to do list and being busy and feel like what I am doing is not connected to the big picture, to a greater purpose and that leaves me feeling disconnected and often, discontent.   I know that at the center of this is the importance of having a sense of meaning and purpose that carries through to all aspects of life.  Living consciously and purposefully in 2012 does not mean living in a cave in the Himalayas or in a monastery, it means bringing that deeper truth out into the world and into every day experience.

Both high and low BP’s have benefits and challenges and yet, when we can find balance, we receive all of the benefits.  The greatest benefit is that we gain the ability to actualize our vision and truly live the big picture in daily life.  Some of the benefits and challenges I see include:

High BP

Benefits: Sense of Vision and Purpose, Excitement, Passion, Feeling Connected, Trust

Challenges: Difficulty dealing with the material world, Overwhelmed by details, Unable to manifest vision or turn ideas into actions

Low BP

Benefits: Able to maneuver in material world, More easily handle the details, Stay focused on specifics and what needs to be done to manifest big picture, Perseverance

Challenges: Feeling disconnected, Lack of purpose,  Holding onto to too much, Grasping, Discontent, Feeling stuck, Unable to relax

When my BP is too high, one of the main ways I work with it is to get more grounded.  This can be done in a variety of ways and what I have learned as a facilitator over 16 years is that each person must find the tools or practices that work best for them.  Some methods include grounding meditation, energy practices, connecting with nature, using stones or crystals, using essential oils, and the list of possibilities is endless.  For me, I know spending time in nature is key to getting and staying grounded.  I, also, use a meditation/visualization which connects me to the earth that I can use in any situation or environment.   Some of my favorite grounding stones are ruby and hematite, which are often found in my pocket.  Finding a place of groundedness allows the big picture to come through, to filter into the physical world and to become embodied.  One of the things I work with with clients, both individuals and groups, is exploring grounding practices and tools that can be used in daily life.  I encourage everyone to create their own list of grounding practices and tools and will explore this topic more in future posts.

When my BP is too low, I tend to get too caught up in the details.  Another aspect of this is when I recognize I am feeling stuck or have a sense of efforting with “the list”; that it is a clear indicator that I need to take a break from what I am doing.  I know I need to step back.   Some of the ways I work with this is the pause, meditation, doing something creative, engaging with others, unplugging, etc.   “The pause” is what I call it when I step away from what I am working on and take some time to shift my energy from my point of focus.  This practice in and of itself helps me to reconnect with the big picture.   Clearly, this concept can go a bit against the grain of our push/push culture, especially in relation to work, but I feel it is key to staying connected to the big picture.

As I was finishing up this post, my partner, Mario, came home with a photo of a young red-tailed hawk sitting in a tree.  Suddenly, I thought of how the hawk is a great metaphor for this topic.  Hawks can sit for hours waiting and when they do move, they move consciously.  They also soar up high in the sky, seeing the big picture and yet, when it is time to move in, they are able to focus on the details, but with purpose and intention.

In Shamanic Healing, we often work with animal totems or spirits, as a way to receive guidance and wisdom.   Considered in this way, hawk can be seen as a visionary, able to soar up high and connect with the spiritual realm, the big picture.  Hawks also have keen eyesight and the ability to soar downward; they have the ability to be very precise and help to implement the big picture below.   Hawk medicine is said to unite heaven and earth, to connect with the universal energies and yet bring them down to earth in a practical way.  One of the messages of hawk energy is that we can carry the big picture into our daily lives and that if we do so, our life will be more fulfilling and purposeful.

How can we carry the message of hawk into our daily lives and find balance between heaven and earth, between the big picture and daily life?   How can our experiences and interactions in the world become more meaningful and purpose driven?  And what might happen in our world if we are able to move from this place of connection and balance?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections on this post, on your own experiences of your BP being too high or too low, on finding balance or anything that arises from exploring this topic.

Living the Big Picture in Daily Life

Standard

Being human in 2012 feels like the foundation has shifted in many ways, sometimes it feels like there is no foundation at all.  Some theories are the poles have shifted, the ley lines have changed, it’s the end of the Mayan calendar, old systems are falling, new ones are emerging and the list goes on.  Clearly, there are many things impacting life on earth at this time.   What I have experienced on a personal level is that things that felt in alignment and that I had been working towards for some time, suddenly feel out of alignment.  At other times, I know I would be more able to tune in and gain clarity, but given the current energetic intensities, I have found it more difficult than in the past.  I know I am not alone in this experience

Recently, I have been working with Life Coach Susan Bishop of the Unlocked Box, to reexamine my work and what direction I feel to move with it.   A major focus of our explorations is the big picture – finding the umbrella of vision that all I do will fall under.  For me, this is not so easy to do.  Even having been born an Aquarian, the details of life can easily overshadow the big picture for me.  This current exploration reminds me of how challenging it can be to live the big picture – to be a spiritual being having a human experience.  The day to day, the pull of the “real” world can be so strong and yet, what is so real about it?   Knowing there are deeper truths and believing this physical world is a mirror for something so much bigger, vaster and more powerful is still not always enough to hold that universal truth when faced with demands of daily life.  And yet, when I do, on those days when I can remember more fully the truth of who I am, life is so much lighter, so much happier and offers me a path to deeper awakening.

During the time I have been working on starting this blog, I picked up a book by Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, The Power of an Open Question.  In it she speaks of the Zen tradition of having a personal koan.  A koan is a paradoxical story, dialogue or question that is used as a starting point for meditative inquiry.  This got me thinking about writing a koan for this blog and for my exploration:

How do we hold the big picture in daily life?  How do we live as spiritual beings in a human body? How do we find our authenticity in the world and stay awake to the truth of who we are?  How do we live and breathe universal truth?   How do we embody the big picture in all of our experiences in the world?

In my own journey, some of the tools I use to help in staying in the big picture and holding universal truth in daily life include:

Meditation and Prayer

Spending time in Nature

Grounding and Energy Practices

Shamanic Journeywork

Connecting with Like-Minded Others

Creative Expression

Practicing the Pause

Starting my day with some type of meditation, prayer and intention has been a part of my life for a long time.  At this time, it feels even more vital to staying awake and conscious throughout each day.  And even then, as each challenge arises, I must remember.  That guy in his SUV cuts me off in DC beltway traffic or there’s a long line at the store when I am already late to a meeting; these are all times I can forget the truth of who I am and the big picture.  Carrying a meditative or spiritual practice with me throughout the day is one way to continue my sitting meditation in daily life.  I am also hoping this blog will be a part of carrying the big picture into daily life and I hope you will join me on this journey.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ways that you practice living the big picture in daily life.