Tag Archives: Harmony

My Word for 2015 is…CLARITY

Standard

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

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

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

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

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

CLARITY

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

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

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

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

I am excited to see what CLARITY brings in 2015!

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

Many blessings for a beautiful year!

Love & light,

Beth

Advertisements

Autumn Tips For Happy And Healthy Living

Standard

Happy Autumn

“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.  Autumn and spring tend to be the times of more intense change and it is a powerful time to harmonize with the energy of the season for happy living and healthy well-being. Traditionally, autumn is the harvest season.  It is the time for our bodies to harvest and gather energy for the colder months ahead. The yang/outer energy of summer gives into the growing yin/inner energy of the approaching winter.

The days are getting shorter and cooler and as we are transitioning we may find that we are more tired, emotions are surfacing such as loss and grief and we may even feel a sense of overwhelm.  Although it may not seem so on the surface, there is an intense shift happening as we are clearing the excess heat from summer and then, we quickly need to begin warming the body the against extremes we will experience in Winter.  The strong, drying winds of autumn and the falling temperatures help the leaves to fall to earth and also, begin to push our own energies in and down as well.

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 Intestine, it has to do with digestion.  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 joy and ease of well-being now and as we move into the stillness of Winter.

Here are some tips to help you harmonize with the season:

  1. Rest & Renewal – It is natural to feel a sense of tiredness or fatigue as the seasons are changing.  This shift affects us in many ways and living in a modern world with electricity and technology can make it easy to override our natural rhythms.  The feelings of the yin energy coming in can be a heavy feeling, like we are being pulled down and it can be one we want to resist in order to get things done.  Be sure to listen to your body, mind, emotion and spirit and follow the messages you receive in terms of getting adequate rest.  You may be feeling to go to bed earlier or sleep in later in the mornings.  You may feel like taking nap in the middle of the day.  Your body is telling you what it needs; all you need to do is listen.  Getting adequate rest now is a precursor to having strong immune function during coming the winter months.
  2. Letting Go Of Clutter: In & Out – Autumn is the season of letting go and releasing.  We see this in nature as the leaves turn and begin to fall back to earth.  We see this with the Lung & Large Intestines as well.  We can use the energy of the season to support us in letting go of things that are no longer serving us.  This may be the clutter in our office or home and it may be beliefs we are holding that no longer serve us.  You may find that things you’ve wanted to clear or de-clutter and felt stuck on move more easily as you attend to them this time of year.  Taking time to create clearer space, both inner and outer, supports you in preparing for the stillness of winter.  Think about what you are ready to let go of.  Where can you focus your energies to create more space in your life?  What are you ready to let go of today?
  3. Connecting With Nature – Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are a part of nature.  Taking time to be present and connect with the natural world can help us to connect more deeply with our own essence.  Spend some time in nature just being.  Perhaps a walk in the woods or even just around your neighborhood.  Take some time to notice the changes that are abounding this time of year – the leaves turning color and falling, the squirrels busily preparing for winter, and the roots vegetables peaking that can support us through Winter.
  4. Warming Your Body & Soul – As the weather begins to cool and the air becomes drier, we need to find ways to warm and soothe our body and our soul.  In Chinese Medicine, Autumn is a powerful time to strengthen our Lung & Large Intestine function.  Drinking hot beverages can help to keep your body hydrated and warm.  Teas such as Rooibos, Green Tea, Fenugreek, Chamomile and Licorice can be beneficial.  Also, warming herbs such as Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves or Cardamom can help warm our whole system.  Honey can be helpful as it supports yin function making it the perfect sweetener for this time of year; it can be used in tea or just in warm water to soothe a sore throat.  Try this simple ginger tea is incredibly warming and supports digestion as well:  Wash ginger root. Slice thumb sized pieces of ginger and place in 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes and drink while warm.  Add honey if you need a sweetener.  Also, taking hots baths can help to keep the body warm and release toxins that are ready to be let go.  Try infusing your bath with some herbs such as lavender, chamomile, calendula, comfrey, clary sage or create your own blend.  Make a hot water infusion with 10 ounces of dried herbs in cups of water, steep for 15 – 20 minutes, strain and add to your bath; or you may wish to put the herbs directly into in a cheesecloth bundle.
  5. Honoring Our Ancestors –  In many cultures around the world, Autumn is seen as a time when we turn our thoughts turn to those who have left us; we think about their legacy and what they have left behind.  Often this “remembrance” arises naturally as feelings of sadness, loss and grief come to the surface.  It said that the “veils” are thinner this time of year and that our ancestors often come home to visit their loved ones.  This is a powerful time to honor our ancestors through ceremony & ritual.  It can also be a good time to allow ourselves to release feelings of loss and grief that we have been carrying that is ready to be released.  Sometimes we need to come to greater completion with our ancestors or loved ones.  Take some time to think of your ancestors.  Is there someone who has passed that you need to work with to move to a place of greater peace in your life?  Perhaps there are feelings you need to share or work through that are unresolved.  Now it the perfect time to do this type of soul work.  Is there is a pattern or belief you have become aware of in your ancestral lineage?  What can you do to begin to transform that pattern?  Perhaps simply asking your ancestors for help is the place to begin!

I hope you will take some time in the coming weeks to harmonize with the energy of the season.  As always, feel free to stop by to share your experiences and reflections.

Happy Autumn!

Peace ~ A Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit Approach

Standard

photo-5

“If we’re frantic, life will be frantic… And so our goal in any situation becomes inner peace.”

~  Marianne Williamson

I have been working on a story for an upcoming Heal My Voice Collaborative Book project.   This will be my second time participating in a Heal My Voice Writing Circle and the focus is on Peace.  It’s been a couple of months that I have been gathering ideas and exploring what story might want to emerge for the book.  And, I have been diving into what peace means to me, how I experience it and where in my life I am not experiencing peace.

Awhile back, I came upon a course listing from a fellow Zero Balancer. Zero Balancing® is a type of body/energy work that I utilize in my holistic practice.  And, interestingly, it was one of the best modalities I have experienced that facilitates and supports a deep sense of inner peace.  The title of the course was “The Peaceful Body.   Just hearing this term stirred something in me.  I realized that so often we tend to think of peace in terms of a peaceful mind or peaceful spirit.  Suddenly, I felt strongly that in order to truly experience peace and embody it in the world, it really seems beneficial to consider it on all levels.

In my life and my work, I have tended to take a holistic approach – one that addresses body, mind, emotion and spirit and the integration of all of those parts into a balanced whole.  This feels like an important paradigm to bring to the cultivation of peace.  Gandhi’s famous words,”We must be the change we wish to see in the world” comes to mind here.  We often hear that we cannot bring peace to our world if we are unable to cultivate peace within our own selves.  But what does that mean?

It’s easy to say we need to cultivate peace in our lives but learning how to actualize that awareness and how to live and embody peace is another story.  My sense is that by taking a holistic approach to peace, we can create a framework for developing and deepening our ability to be Peace Beings, on all levels – body, mind, emotion and spirit.

A peaceful body

A peaceful mind

A peaceful emotional state                         =  A PEACEFUL BEING

A peaceful spirit

Many Peaceful Beings  = A Peaceful Planet

I have been told often that I have a very peaceful presence.  I find this interesting as I have tended to experience stress and anxiety and continue to work through old traumas.  Even when I might not feel calm, I seem to project that energy outward.  My sense is this comes from 30 plus years of meditation and cultivating stillness within.  Even when I may not feel peaceful inside, others tend to feel peaceful around me.  This may also have to do with the fact that having come through traumatic experiences, I know how to be calm in the face of crisis and chaos.

I share this because, for many years, I saw this as a strength and I have to admit that it still does come in handy, especially when facing a crisis or dealing with a chaotic situation.  However, what I have learned in my years as a body/energy worker, healer and most of all a being in search of peace is that there is a price to pay when we hold the façade of peace and yet, our center continues to hold turmoil and chaos.

It is often this gap that creates the greatest disharmony in our individual selves and in our world.  If we consider this from purely an energetic perspective, most of us have a sense of when we feel chaotic, unbalanced and disconnected and we probably, also have a sense of when we feel peaceful, balanced and connected.  I use the following sketches to illustrate this:

Image #1 depicts an energy body that is chaotic, unbalanced and disconnected.

Image #1 depicts an energy body that is chaotic, unbalanced and disconnected.

Image #2 depicts our energy body when we are peaceful, balanced and connected.

Image #2 depicts our energy body when we are peaceful, balanced and connected.

There are many ways to shift our energy from a chaotic state to a balance and peaceful state.  Also, just having the awareness of these variations and recognizing how we tend to move between the two states can be the beginning of a practice to become a more Peaceful Being.

Exploration: A Holistic Approach To Peace

Taking a holistic approach to Peace offers a framework for actively working to cultivate deeper peace in our lives and in our world.  In order to feel peaceful, balanced and connected, we need to attend to the our whole self- body, mind, emotion and spirit.  And, we need to also find ways to integrate all of these aspects of self.  Take some time to explore each level and how you might work to create greater peace and balance in your life.

Body – Do you feel healthy?  Are you following a diet that supports well-being?  Are there foods or chemicals you are taking in that may cause you to feel out of balance or be harmful to your body?  Do you get enough rest and relaxation?  Are you experiencing tension or discomfort in your physical body that needs your attention? Take some time this week to do a holistic self-care review and consider what changes may support your body in being more in a state of peacefulness and balance.

Mind – Do you experience a calm mind?  Are you able to create space for stillness?  Does mental chatter or busyness keep you from feeling peaceful and balanced?  Are you holding beliefs that are in opposition to being at peace, e.g. the world is unsafe, I am undeserving of peace or happiness, there is only one way to peace, etc.  Take some time this week to explore a practice that helps to quiet your mind, such as meditation, yoga, or even a walk in nature.  Also, do some journaling to explore beliefs you may be carrying that are keeping you from a deeper experience of peace.

Emotion ~ Are you holding in feelings that need to be expressed or released?  Are you in denial about feelings you are experiencing?  Are you unable to connect with what you are actually feeling?  Are you picking up on the emotions of others due to a depleted or chaotic energy field?  Take some time this week to explore what you are feeling.  Are there unresolved feelings you need to work to let go of?  Be open to really listening to your heart and what it needs in order to move into a place of peace.

Spirit – Do you feel a sense of connection to your self? to others? to the world? to Source?  Experiencing a sense of connection is one of the foundations for Peace.  When we are disconnected, we lack a sense of support and stability which is inherent in the energetic quality of peace.  Take some time this week to explore your sense of connection.  Do you need to do some inner work to connect with your own self?  Do you need to connect with community?  Do you have a spiritual practice which supports connection and fosters peace in your life?

In addition to considering each level on it’s own, it is also important to consider the interrelationship of various aspects of self as well as overall integration.  For instance, sometimes we are holding emotions in the physical body that need to be released or discharged.  Sometimes body/energy work can support this; sometimes emotional release work or even some type of physical exercise is needed.  Be open to exploring what practices and tools support you in achieving a sense of wholeness and well-being.  This is another foundation for becoming a Peaceful Being.

A simple practice for cultivating peace ~  When you have a moment where you recognize you are feeling chaotic, stressed, unbalanced, etc.  Take a few deep breaths.  Breathing in for a count of five and out of a count of five.  Then, let your breath move to it’s own natural rhythm.  Continuing to follow the breath with your intention and awareness – on the in breath invite in the energy of peacefulness and calm in to your body, mind, emotion and spirit.  As you breath out, let go of any tensions, worries, stresses, or obstacles to peace that you may be carrying in body, mind, emotion and spirit.  You may wish to do all the levels at once or work with one at at time.  (Note: This practice can also be used to explore what you are feeling or experiencing on each level)

I hope you have a beautiful week.  May it be filled with peacefulness, balance and connection.

As always, feel free to stop by to share your thoughts, feelings or reflections on Peace.

Day 26 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Cultivating Peace On Earth

Standard

Quanyin

My life blazed

with the desire

To serve as a thread

Joining Heaven and Earth

                                                                      ~ Haiku by Masahisa Goi

One of the things that may happen when we are cultivating loving-kindness and compassion is that we become more attuned with these energies and are drawn into connection and community with like-minded others.  Really, this is our intention, for as each being becomes more of an embodiment of these positive qualities, they are not just bringing change to themselves but to those around them and the greater whole.  Perhaps you have experienced this is in some way as you have been working with May Is For Metta or maybe May Is For Metta is part of connecting with others cultivating loving-kindness and compassion as you have already been doing.

One of the qualities we often work with in the Metta phrases is peace.  May I be peaceful.  May you be peaceful.  May all beings be peaceful.  In Metta, we may see this as an aspect of loving-kindness; when we feel held in love and compassion, most often we are at peace and when we are at peace we are able to be in touch with energy of loving-kindness.  These qualities go hand in hand.

Yesterday, I participated in a Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony with one of the communities I am a part of, Heal My Voice.  Heal My Voice is an organization that empowers women and girls to heal and transform through reclaiming their voices; this is done through writing stories, leadership development, and community building.  One of our current projects, which I am a participant and adjunct facilitator of, is a circle called, Voices Of Peace. The Voices of Peace writing project is focused on the journey from chaos to inner peace, harmony and transformation with the intention of bringing greater peace to ourselves, others and our world.

Although I was familiar with the concept of Peace Poles, I didn’t know the origin of them until yesterday.  The Peace Pole Project was started in Japan by Masahisa Goi, who was greatly affected by the destruction caused by World War II and the atomic bombs which fell on the city of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  His desire to assist in the creation of world peace was answered when in 1955, the Peace Message, “May Peace Prevail On Earth”, came to him in a moment of great inspiration and deep prayer.

After Mr. Goi authored the Universal Peace Message in 1955, a great number of people gathered in support of his vision and activities to spread the Peace Message were promoted throughout Japan.  Soon after, Peace Poles inscribed with the Peace Message began to appear in various locations across Japan initiating the start of The Peace Pole Project.  The year 1986 was designated as the International Year of Peace and since then Peace Poles are one of the most recognized international peace symbols with more than 200,000 Peace Poles standing in almost every country throughout the world.

It was beautiful to stand in community yesterday to call for peace on earth and plant a Peace Pole on a children’s playground, which will stand as a message for years to come.  This made me think of how as we cultivate an energy or quality such as loving-kindness or peace, we are actually becoming an embodiment of it.   So for today’s practice, I felt to focus on peace specifically as our exploration.  When we focus on peace and being peaceful, we are allowing ourselves to become a “living” peace pole, one that is moving about and radiating the energy of peace wherever we go.  I hope you’ll join us in this exploration today.

You may wish to work with the full practice, choosing someone for each category or you may just wish to practice Metta on the spot today.  Take some time to feel into what feels best for you.  As always, our foundation comes from cultivating Metta for ourselves, so be sure to spend some time cultivating peace for yourself so that you may then extend that energy out to others and the world.

Daily Practice: 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.  Also, for today, tune into a place or a time when you felt a deep sense of peace.  Really allow yourself to feel that peace.  Breathe it into every atom and cell of your being on the in breath and as you breathe it out feel it surrounding and enveloping you.  You may wish to continue to work with all of your phrases or just work with “May I be peaceful” for today’s exploration; it’s up to you.

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories or the ones you have chosen for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Remember to come back to your heart center for a few moments between each category and reconnect with the feeling of peace you generated for yourself before moving on.  For each category, offer “May you be peaceful“.  If you feel to work with other phrases, please do.

As always, if you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Use a peaceful time or place as your anchor for today.  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 peace 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 peace.

In honor of the Peace Pole Project, let us also add this round of phrases, “May Peace Prevail On Earth“.  Knowing that as we do so we are supporting and embodying a vision which,

  • Symbolizes the oneness of humanity and our common wish for a world at peace
  • Reminds us to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony
  • Stands as a silent visual for peace to prevail on earth

May Peace Prevail On Earth

Finally, take a moment to honor yourself for creating the space to cultivate peace in your own life and in the world.  Can you feel how this is one of the most loving things we can do for ourselves and for all beings?

Journal Notes: How did it feel to focus on peace today?  Did it feel difficult to work with one quality?   Did you notice areas of your life where it is challenging to feel peaceful?   How did it feel to offer peace to others?  to the world?  What will you do to continue to cultivate peace in your own life, in your relationships and in the world?

Wishing you a most loving and peaceful day.

May Peace Prevail On Earth!

Bach Flower Of The Month: Pine

Standard

Bach_Flower_Remedies-pine_large

 “One trace of condemnation against ourselves, or others, is a trace of condemnation against the Universal Creation of Love, and restricts us, limits our power to allow the Universal Love to flow through us to others.” – Dr. Edward Bach

One of the areas of focus on The Heart Of Awakening Blog this year is Transforming The Inner Critic.  Our inner critic or negative voices can keep us from accessing our true essence and allowing our authentic selves to emerge.  As we work with May Is For Metta 2013 and particularly in cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, it is not uncommon to unearth or come face to face with our critical voices.  There are many practices and techniques that can support the transformation of our inner critic including meditation, affirmations, self-reflection, creative explorations and additionally, the Bach Flower Remedy Pine can be helpful in this area.

It is interesting that essentially the Bach Flower Remedies work similarly to our practice in that they are helping to bring a positive quality or vibration into our energy field.  In Metta, we are doing this with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  In working with other affirmations, we may be choosing a particularly quality such as love, peace or joy.  The Pine remedy brings in the qualities of Self-Esteem, Self-Forgiveness, Self-Acceptance, and Self-Love.  By flooding our energy field with these positive vibrations we are thereby transmuting the negative or imbalanced aspect self connected to this remedy.

As someone who has tended to have very strong Pine tendencies, I can attest that this remedy is incredibly beneficial in transforming our inner critic.  It is a journey I continue to work on and that is part of the inspiration for our theme of Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader.  I have also seen Pine to be of great help to others in this area through my holistic healing practice.  Although this remedy can be beneficial for anyone, I have found that in working with individuals recovering from trauma, abuse and addictions it seems to be a core pattern and one that needs to be addressed to support healing and transformation.

Pine is indicated for people who feel full of guilt and self-reproach; they blame themselves for everything that goes wrong, including other people’s mistakes.  They feel undeserving and unworthy.  Often, their guilt complex and feelings of shame are not necessarily based on any actual wrongdoing but the power of these feelings literally destroys any possibility of joy in living.

“Pine” people appear humble and apologetic; they will apologize for being ill and may feel they deserve their illness of pain.  They are the folks who say, “I’m sorry”, all the time, even when they haven’t done anything wrong.  In some way they seem to be apologizing just for being.

This weekend I participated in an author panel for Inspired Voices: True Stories Of Visionary Women, a collaborative book that I am a contributor in.  When Andrea Hylen, founder of the Heal My Voice project, read the Introduction to the book aloud, I was struck at how her words seem to sum up the Pine pattern and how it can be transformed.  The piece is about her experience living in community with a roommate.  Here is what she read:

“One funny thing was how we both had a habit of saying “I’m Sorry”.  I even said it to a piece of furniture one day when I bumped into it. Our time together shone a spotlight on “the nice girl” syndrome.  Constantly saying “I’m Sorry,” is a way we diminish ourselves and hold onto perfectionism.  “I’m sorry I am breathing and talking up so much space in here.” “I am sorry I did something and you may not like me.” I am sorry I am human, imperfect, and have lessons to learn.”  By the end of our four months together we could laugh and joke about it and discover when to say it FOR REAL and when there was nothing to be sorry about.  All is well.” 

Working with Pine can help us become aware of this “I’m Sorry” pattern and begin to shift into the experience that “all is well” and  that however we are and whatever we do, we are still deserving of love and acceptance.  It becomes clear that the only one holding us to these unrealistically high standards and expectations is our own self.

One of the indicators for a remedy is that the pattern or issues are present or as we say in Bach talk, “at the surface” on a daily basis.  There may be times when one remedy is indicated more than another and this is a way to assess.  We also have 1 or 2 type remedies, which tend to be ones we work with throughout our lifetime.  Either way, as we become more conscious and aware of our patterns, we deepen in our process of healing and transformation.   Here are some questions that may help to indicate if Pine is beneficial:

  • Are you a harsh judge of yourself?
  • Do you tend to be extremely self-critical?
  • Are you never content with your efforts or the results of what you do?
  • Even when you are successful, do you feel you could have done better?
  • Do you carry strong feelings of guilt and shame even when you have done no wrong?
  • Do you tend to blame yourself even when others make mistakes?
  • Do you have high ideals or expectations for yourself?
  • Do you feel you deserved to be punished?
  • Do you tend to pick on yourself with negative or critical voices?
  • Does your incessant effort to improve yourself lead to fatigue or despondency?
  • Do you feel undeserving of love?

The Pine remedy brings in the vibrational quality of Pine, which allows people to accept and love themselves, to release negative judgment or self-criticism and be open to living life in a more joyful way, free of unrealistic standards and expectations.

Some of the potential for transformation that emerges with the use of the Pine remedy can include:

  • An ability to forgive oneself.
  • Being able to feel regret rather than guilt.
  • A deeper understanding of human nature and what it is to be human.
  • Greater patience.
  • Self-Acceptance.
  • Owning and accepting one’s faults without judgment or harsh criticism.
  • A release of feelings of shame.
  • Increased energy.
  • Becoming able to set reasonable expectations.
  • Deepening in Self-Love.

Affirming, “I love myself, just as I am” or “I forgive myself, for I have long since been forgiven” is the essence of Pine.

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

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

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

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

The Bach Flower Remedies: A Tool For Transformation

Visionary Voices: Dr. Edward Bach

Bach Flower Remedies For 2012 Transitions: Walnut

Bach Flower Of The Month: Agrimony

Also, these posts may be helpful:

Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader

7 Ways To Cultivate Love & Compassion For Yourself

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Standard

EarthHands

I so fondly remember attending my first Earth Day Celebration in 1978.  I was 12 and my middle school went to an Earth Day Celebration at a local community college.  It was the first time I felt an awareness of the environment and our impact on it.  It is amazing to see how much has changed and how much hasn’t changed since that time in terms of our relationship with Mother Earth.  One of the things that has helped me most is my foundation in shamanism, which really supports the interconnectedness of all beings through the web of life.  I believe this foundation and awareness is a necessary piece to transformation on a global level and it takes each person making this change for a broader transformation to occur.  We need to work on this both inwardly and outwardly, so I have included two sharings in the post.  One is a guided meditation I offered at a visit today on Positive About Change Blog Talk Radio and the other is a list of 10 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day.  Remember not just to celebrate today, but hopefully, everyday in some way!  Happy Earth Day!

4e4a9132-d6da-4d72-820c-a62da946e86f_positve_about_change_btr

Click Here To Listen To Earth Day Meditation

10 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

1) Join A Nature Conservancy’s Picnic For Earth or plan your own. The food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe…it all comes from nature. I just learned about this project and love the idea.  Join people around the world in a global picnic to celebrate our planet and the bounty it provides.  With population and food demand on the rise, The Nature Conservancy is working with others to find smarter and more efficient ways to use our lands and waters. Learn more at http://earthday.nature.org/.

2) Donate or Volunteer for an environmental organization that resonates with you.  There are so many organizations and issues related to the environment and supporting Mother Earth.  Find one that really speaks to you and support it through monetary or in-kind donations or by volunteering your time and energy.  Also, just sharing and raising awareness about an organization can be a great way to support it.

3)  Commit to making some type of change in your life and home that will support the environment and Mother Earth.  Consider things like using less water, reducing electrical usage, recycling more, composting, etc.  Even a few small changes can make a difference and by being more conscious we are creating change on many levels.

4) Plant trees, flowers or vegetables that are appropriate for your area.  Planting is a wonderful way to connect with and support Mother Earth.  It is key to plant species are indigenous to your area. You may like to join with a local tree-planting group or just do so with your family or friends.

5) Participate in or organize a household hazardous waste collection in your community.  Collect paint, used auto products like motor oil and batteries, solvents, etc. This will require city or county coordination and participation; they may have certain dates scheduled but you can help to organize or gather items that may be overlooked or improperly discarded.  Get in touch with your local government to see what you can do.

6) Spend time in nature on your own or with friends and family. Spending time in nature and just being with Mother Earth and all of her children – the trees, rocks, animals, etc. is a wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day.  You may like to go on your own or organize a hike with friends or family.

7) Hold an Earth Day Council Of All Beings.  By now you know I love the practice of council as a tool for transformation and celebration.  Coming together in council is a wonderful way to speak from our hearts and honor Mother Earth.  In a Council Of All Beings, participants choose something in nature that speaks to them and they make a mask to represent their creature, tree, rock, or other “being.”  Sharing is then done with everyone wearing their masks and representing their chosen “being.”   Sharing includescontributions your chosen being makes to life on Earth, and how it makes you feel for people to respond to you the way they do.  This is a wonderful way to give voice to all of Mother Earth’s children and to honor the web of life.

8) Attend an Earth Day Event or Festival.  There are many Earth Day events and festivals happening all during the month of April.  Attending is a great way to support local organizations, community and learn more about resources to support and connect with Mother Earth.

9) Help clean up and restore your environment and communities.  There is so much pollution and trash littering our communities and our world.  There are also many projects to help clean up “our mess”.  Find a project near where you live that works to clean up rivers, lakes, streams, beaches, trails, communities, and graffiti.  Also, there are many projects that help to restore our environment, such as reforesting.  Joining in this way is a great way to help renew and replenish Mother Earth.

10) Be creative.  Explore nature crafts at school or home. Get together with your family and friends and explore creating which is something Mother Earth does everyday.  Build a bird house or feeder to encourage local bird population, which plays an important role in our ecosystem. Or, just make some creative works of art from found objects that might get thrown away otherwise.

Please feel free to share your ideas and reflections.  Happy Earth Day Everyone!

P.S. Stay tuned for details for May Is For Metta 2013 coming later this week.

Discover The Healer Within – Connecting With Sacred Space

Standard

                           “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.”                                                                                                                            – Joseph Campbell

                                          images

In many of the traditions I have studied, illness or disease have been defined as being out of balance or harmony; some say with our soul, some say with our different aspects of self, such as body, mind, emotion and spirit.  Historically, this has been a foundation for healing and yet, in our current medical model, we tend to be hyper-focused on specific conditions or symptoms without looking at the whole person.  This is hopefully beginning to change as we are seeing more focus on the whole person, but it is is slow process.  What I have learned in my own journey and in working with others for over 17 years in the field of holistic healing is that a key to transformation and healing is to take responsibility for one’s own healing process.

For this purpose, the definition of “responsibility” is the ability to respond.  This is a choice we can make for ourselves.   Often, I hear folks say “I know what I need to do, I just can’t seem to make those changes” or “I know I need to do something, but I just don’t know what”.   And, we often need to get support or guidance, particularly when we are working to change long-held patterns, conditions or beliefs.  Yet, ultimately, only we can truly know our own selves.  Getting to know ourselves and our inner guidance system is a major step toward healing and transformation.

It is also important to learn to experience that change is possible.  I find this is best done experientially through what I refer to as a “state change”.  As we begin to have the experiences of feeling differently, hopefully better, we begin to learn how to create our own shifts and then, the possibilities for change become wide open.  It is often in this space, which is usually one where we begin to create greater presence, clarity and awareness, that we can begin to know ourselves more deeply and learn to access the healer within.

There is no set formula and there is no magic formula that works for all people.  It is important to learn what works for us as individuals, to learn what doesn’t work and to learn how to be in tune with ourselves in an ongoing way.  Life is a journey and although we may heal from one condition or transform a pattern or belief, we are multidimensional beings.  As long as we are journeying in this life, there will be more work to do and another layer to explore.  So, learning to access the healer within and take responsibility for our own process is a vehicle that supports our evolution as human beings.

Learning to connect with Sacred Space is something that is a part of every culture and religion of the world.  It is something we can do in community and it is something we can cultivate on our own, both inwardly and outwardly.  When we enter into Sacred Space, we change energetically.  We step more fully into the present moment, our hearts open and we become more fully engaged in our experience.  Whatever our background or beliefs, finding ways to cultivate and connect with Sacred Space opens the doorway for knowing ourselves more deeply and accessing our inner wisdom.  This can be a powerful component in discovering the healer within.

At its most basic, Sacred Space is a place that invites the contemplation of divine mystery and encourages an attitude of spiritual openness.  We can consider this somewhere where we open our hearts and find support from spirit, in whatever way we define or believe that to be.  A Sacred Space may be a physical location where we go to search for meaning or truth such as a temple, church or even a place in nature.  It is not necessarily a place where answers are grasped or understood but more so it is where questions may be asked.  It can be a place or state where divine inspiration mixes with practices such as ritual, song, dance or prayer that help us to feel a sense of connection with our spirituality.

The origin of the word “Sacred” stems from Latin, sacer, which means “to make holy”.  In a sense, sacred refers to something that is set apart from the ordinary perhaps with intention, feeling or conviction.   Stepping out of the ordinary, out of the busyness or affairs of daily life is a foundational aspect of connecting with the healer within.  There are many ways to step out of the ordinary.  Many think of going to outer places such as temple, cathedral, space in nature, but we also have the ability to connect with and cultivate that sacred space within our own selves.

As we learn to connect with Sacred Space, both inwardly & outwardly, we begin to come into greater alignment with our own essence and the energies around us.  This helps to create a container for intention, connection and healing.  Although I refer to inner and outer ways of creating Sacred Space, this is really all the same.  “Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world.”  The outer is important as it reveals to us where our work lies by what is emerging in our lives.   When we become our own healer – we move inner to outer and outer to inner interchangeably knowing that energetically they are the same.

The following are some ways to explore connecting with Sacred Space:

Calling The Directions – In many cultures, including Native American, Buddhist, Asian, Celtic and other indigenous groups, there is a strong connection with the directions, which carry energy and meaning.  Calling in the directions can be done as a ritual to start the day or open Sacred Space; also, one can work with the energy or quality of a certain direction.  This can be a way to connect with specific energies as well as the greater whole.  This type of practice supports moving out of the limited construct of our individual self into the collective energy of creation.  Prayer For A New Day is an example of this practice.  Associations and meanings will vary based on culture or tradition; this is an example of how one might explore and find what meaning or method of practice is most resonant for them.

Shamanic Journey Work – From the shamanic viewpoint, everything is alive, has spirit, and all things/creation are interconnected through what we call the web of life.  There is an understanding that we need to respect and honor all things and all beings as we are a part of a greater whole.  In a shamanic journey process, there is an opportunity to connect with the Sacred Space within and explore one’s own inner guidance system.  Learn more about Shamanic Healing: A Journey Of Reconnection

Ceremony & Ritual – This is a wonderful way to access and create Sacred Space.  This is something one can do according to their own personal belief system or culture.  It can be as simple as stating an intention and lighting a candle or an as elaborate at a medicine wheel gathering or ceremony.  The important thing, once again, is to find what resonates with you and begin to bring more of this into your daily life.  Learn more about Finding Connection Through Ceremony & Ritual.

Meditation – Meditation practice, in and of itself, is a way to enter the sacredness within.  Also, moving into a place of stillness creates a gateway to our divinity.  The practice of meditation and creating a space to practice can be wonderful way to cultivate Sacred Space.  Having a clear space, coming to the cushion or seat in an intentional way, perhaps lighting a candle or incense, etc. is a way to shift our energy more fully into the present moment.  Each time we practice, we are fostering our experience and ability to access in any moment.  If you’d like to explore a 31 Day Guided Practice, try May Is For Metta.

Mind/Body Practices – Finding a practice that supports body, mind, emotion and spirit such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and coming to it in an intentional way offers an opportunity to consciously move into Sacred Space.  Working with this type of practice helps to develop awareness of one’s own energy system as well as our interrelationship to the greater whole.

Sound Healing – In many cultures and shamanic practice, sounds such as drumming or rattling are used to facilitate a natural altered state of consciousness.  For many people, simply listening to music is a way to shift their energy and awareness.  Using sound or music is a powerful way to create a state change and can be utilized to connect with Sacred Space.  Using a certain sound or piece of music can be part of a ritual practice or ceremony as well.

Spending Time In Nature – The natural world is the original sacred space.  When we enter into the natural world or consciously connect with nature, our energy automatically shifts.  This can be as simple as going for a walk in the woods, hugging a tree, or laying on the earth.  We may wish to bring natural elements into our home such as rocks, plants or a waterfall.  We can connect with nature physically but also can do so energetically through meditation, visualization or shamanic journey work.  Mother Nature is one of the most powerful gateways to cultivating Sacred Space.  Also, as we love, honor and respect nature, we begin to access more of our own sacredness as part of a greater whole.

Stepping into Sacred Space facilitates a shift in our energy and our consciousness.  This affects us on all levels – body, mind, emotion & spirit.  We may not see changes right away as it may take time to manifest but this is creating a foundation for change.  As we enter into the stillness and begin to shift our energy from the busyness and chaos of the world and of our own mind, we can begin to hear our inner wisdom more strongly.

Again, everyone is different.  There is not one blueprint for healing and transformation.  What works for me may not work for you.  But, there are many tools, resources and practices to explore and see what is resonant for you.  Ask yourself these questions:

“Where do I feel a shift?”

“Where do I feel a sense of connection?”

“Where do I feel more at ease?”

“What practice or experience helps me to access my deeper essence or my inner wisdom?”

Always be asking and observing as life is a great exploration.  This is why journaling can be a great practice to support the process of transformation and healing.  Even if you are not into writing, it can be a great way to track your experiences and begin to build a toolbox or resource list for your own personal journey of discovering the healer within.

I hope you’ll take some time to reflect and explore connecting with sacred space as a way to discover the healer within.  Just 10 minutes a day of entering sacred space can be a powerful practice.  You may wish to try different practices each day for a while or choose one to work with for 10 – 30 Days to explore what’s possible.

As always, I’d love to hear your experiences, thoughts and reflections…

Are you ready to go deeper in your process of transformational and healing?  I’d love to support you in your journey to discover the healer within.  Learn more at www.bethterrence.com/Individuals.

 

Bach Flower Remedies For 2012 Transitions – Walnut

Standard

There are many different ideas about what 2012 is all about.  Whether we look at the Mayan Calendar, various Native American interpretations or our own experiences of living on earth at this time, it is clear that we are in a time of great change and transformation.  How this change manifests is uncertain, however there is the sense of tremendous movement both inwardly and outwardly.  It is clear that we are experiencing many changes personally, socially and globally.

In a spiritual sense, there is a strong pull or perhaps even push toward moving into the energy of the heart and into greater alignment with our world.  There are many ways that we are out of harmony with life, with our Mother Earth and with our fellow beings. As my teacher Shaman Ross Bishop often says, “You are going home one way or another; I’d rather that you “choose” to go as it will be a lot easier.”  At this point in our world, it’s hard to know what “easier” would look like as we seem so far out of alignment in so many ways – environmentally, socially, economically, etc.  Still, we have the ability to choose to change.

I sometimes find myself feeling like “it’s just too late or things have gone too far” for the changes that need to happen to actually occur.  I know others may feel this way, too.  For me, I have a sense this is a very old pattern, maybe one that goes beyond this lifetime, but at the very least has been present in my current life experiences.  This is clearly a belief or pattern I need to let go of as it can keep me limited and from making greater choices toward change.  Often, it can be easy to focus on what is going on outside in the world and not be willing to look within.  I may not be able to change anything that is happening in the world today, but I can change how I respond to what is happening and how I choose to live and be in the world.

Many people living in our modern world have experienced a powerful sense disconnection from Mother Earth.  Although it may vary from culture to culture and location to location for many of us it requires choice to actually cultivate and sustain a connection with the earth at this time.  It takes work and effort to keep the big picture of our world in our consciousness.  Going out and spending time in nature is a powerful way to connect.  But, as we go about our daily lives, especially for those who may live in more suburban or urban areas, this can be challenging.  Thankfully, Mother Earth has given us many gifts that can help us in cultivating our connection to nature in any moment.  Some of these include herbal & plant medicine, stones & crystals, ceremony & ritual, energy practices and one of my favorite tools, flower essences.

There are many varieties of flower essences that are available at this time and benefits vary.  It is really a personal choice as to which types of remedies to work with.  Both personally and professionally, I have found the Bach Flower Remedies to be one of the most powerful tools available for supporting emotional and spiritual healing.  I can honestly say that in many ways, I am the person I am today, in part because of my use and relationship with the Bach Flower Remedies and Dr. Bach’s teachings.   They have helped me to move through many transitions and to create the changes I have felt called to make in my life, some of which I never imagined were possible.

The Bach Flower Remedies are highly beneficial for supporting change and transition.  The repertoire of 38 remedies, developed by the British physician and visionary Dr. Edward Bach, assists in transmuting emotions and personality traits which prevent us from moving into greater harmony with our soul purpose.  Dr. Bach, who was man of science, was also highly intuitive.  He was able to connect with nature to correlate the energy or vibration of certain flowers with various emotions or personally traits.  Over the years, he developed 38 remedies, which he felt was a complete system of healing.  Since it’s creation, it has been used by people all over the world to support healing and change in a variety of ways.

The remedies work similarly to homeopathic medicine; they are working on a vibrational or energetic level rather than medicinally, like an herb or drug.  In essence, each remedy is flooding our energy field with a vibration that helps to transmute something we are experiencing – this may be an emotion such as fear or a pattern such as perfectionism.  As our field is flooded with more positive or harmonious vibrations, we begin to transform energetically.  The remedies are created by two methods, either sun soaking and boiling the flowers to distill the essence of the flower.  This water is then combined with brandy into what is known as a mother tincture.

The essences that we find in our health food store are made from the mother tincture.  They carry the vibrational qualities of nature and in taking the remedies, we are able to connect more fully with nature wherever and whenever we choose to.  This is one of the many benefits of the Bach Flower Remedies or any flower essence.  At this time, it is highly beneficial to have such a tool, which we can carry with us in our purse or pocket.  It can support holding a stronger connection with Mother Earth wherever we may be.

By their very nature all of the remedies support transition, energetic alignment and ease of well-being.  In treating, each person often has 5 – 7 remedies that may be beneficial at a given time based on the emotions and experiences that are at the surface for them.  A custom blend is a common way of working with remedies, however taking a single remedy may be beneficial as well.

In my personal experience and work with clients over the last year, I have found several remedies to be beneficial for the transitions we are currently experiencing.  If I were to choose a remedy to be the remedy of 2012, I would choose Walnut.  Overall, it is considered the remedy of change and transition.   All of the remedies will support creating change and easing our transitions, however Walnut has some specific effects in these areas.  Dr. Bach shared the following words about the Walnut remedy:

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

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

It is clear that Walnut provides a powerful support as we move through changes in life, from one stage to another, but is also has other properties that can really support staying centered and grounded as we move about in the world.  Just as the shell of the walnut is very hard and protects it’s softer center, the Walnut essence helps to strengthen and stabilize our energy field so that we are more able to hold our center and engage in the world with clarity, focus and intention.  In a sense, Walnut offers a shielding quality that helps us in holding center, maintaining our choices and flowing with changes that are occurring both inwardly and outwardly.  I am also struck by how much the center of the Walnut resembles the shape of the heart and have a sense of Walnut being a heart protector, not in a way that shuts down the heart but actually supports its opening more fully through the energetic alignment of soul purpose.

Walnut has many benefits, which I feel really support our ability to move through the transitions of 2012 and beyond.  Here are some of the ways in which it can help us to sustain our choices and intentions:

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

Whether we actually choose to work with the Walnut essence or other remedies, we can learn from the energetic quality of Walnut.  At this time it is important to find ways to move through transitions more fluidly, to hold our center, to let go of patterns no longer serving us and to find ways to deepen our connect with our soul purpose.

I hope you will take some time to explore how you are moving in the world at this time.  Do you need to take time to connect with nature?  Do you need to spend more time going within?  Or, to find tools which support transformation and ease of well-being?  Do you have a clear sense of your soul purpose at this time?  What choices you are making or would you like to be making to engage in the world in a more intentional way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections.


[i] Bach, Edward. The Twelve Healers, p. 17.

[ii] Chancellor, Phillip.  The Bach Flower Essences, p. 201.

*********************************************
Bach Flower Remedy Sessions are available in person in Annapolis, MD, by phone or by Skype.  Sessions include consultation and custom remedy blend.  For additional information or to schedule a session, visit www.bethterrence.com.

Day 19 of May is for Metta 2012: Expanding Our Loving-kindess Practice to All Beings

Standard

Day 19

 “How and why we love changes the qualities of our love.  Love with loving-kindness transforms the love into a nectar of wisdom.  Love with attachment transforms love into poison, into a state of afflicting emotions.  Therefore, we must recognize the characteristics of the love that is loving-kindness and how to generate it in ourselves.  Gampopa, one of the greatest masters of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, wrote:

‘The object of the meditation on loving-kindness is all beings.  The way is wishing them to have happiness.  The formula is thinking about the kindness of beings, since generation of loving-kindness depends on the remembrance of the kindness of beings’.” – Tulku Thondup

Having worked with the various individual categories, we are ready to move on to the category of All Beings.  The overall intention here is to offer our practice for the benefit of all beings without exception.  This expansion allows us an opportunity to move beyond separateness and creates a place for us to connect with all that is.  It is here that we plant the seeds for the foundation of a deeper spiritual awakening.  As we acknowledge the interconnectedness of all things through our practice, we begin to embody this awareness in all of our experiences.

Initially, it can be difficult to work with the vastness of All Beings. This category can include All Beings but can also be for specific groups of beings, such as all animals, all children, all of our sangha (spiritual community), etc.  Today, we will explore expanding our practice out from a single being to groups of beings and then to All Beings.  One of the difficulties that can emerge, in working with All Beings, in addition to the challenge of holding the image of a vast group, is that we can have mixed feeling about all beings.  As Gampopa shared in the quote above, we do so by focusing on finding that kindness in all beings which is contained in the very essence of our being, our Buddha nature.  As in all the categories, this one takes us below the surface to the deeper essence of our existence.

Daily Practice:  As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  Find a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be free from danger.
  • May I have mental happiness.
  • May I have physical happiness.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready, choose a small group at first, perhaps your family, a group of friends or a smaller community you are part of.  Envision holding this group of beings in loving-kindness and compassion.  You might like to imagine they are in a circle receiving loving-kindness.  Begin to offer phrases for your group.  You can choose whether you would like to include yourself in the group:

  • May we/they be free from danger.
  • May we/they have mental happiness.
  • May we/they have physical happiness.
  • May we/they have ease of well-being.

When you feel ready to move on to the next group, come back to your heart center for a few moments and repeat a round of phrases for yourself.  Next, begin to offer loving-kindness to our virtual sangha, the May is for Metta community.  Know there are around 200 people participating in various ways around the globe.  Just imagine that we are all sitting together in a circle or see us spread out around the world.  Begin to offer the phrases for our group:

  • May we be free from danger.
  • May we have mental happiness.
  • May we have physical happiness.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for our group.  Remember to be gentle with yourself as we expand our practice out to larger groups of beings.  Sometimes it is more challenging to hold our focus and awareness on a larger group.  When you feel ready to move on, center yourself in your heart once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within.  And begin to repeat the phrases for All Beings:

  • May all beings be free from danger.
  • May all beings have mental happiness.
  • May all beings have physical happiness.
  • May all beings have ease of well-being.

If at any point you need to, return the practice to yourself, or perhaps choose a smaller group, such as all animals or all children.  We will explore working with the category of All Beings in a variety of ways as we proceed with our practice, so be gentle as we begin.  When you feel complete with your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Allow that feeling to sink in to you, let every atom and cell of your being to absorb the energy of loving-kindness.

Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings.  Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit.  Know that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Journal Notes:  What did you notice about expanding your Metta practice to multiple beings, groups and All Beings? Was it harder or easier than other categories?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?  Have you explored using Metta as difficult feeling arise as throughout your day?

May we have a day filled with peace, harmony and beauty.

Day 16 of May is for Metta 2012: Loving-kindness Practice for a Difficult Person

Standard

Day 16

“Metta is also called a paritta — a spiritual formula capable of safeguarding one’s well-being, protecting one against all dangers and rescuing one from mishaps and misfortunes.  When the monks could not stay and meditate in that beautiful forest provided with all facilities because the deities were hostile to them, they had to leave the place.  And when they were armed with the protection of the Metta Sutta, which they recited and meditated upon throughout their journey, by the time they reached the place, the deities were full of friendly feelings and already waiting for them.  Hostility had been turned into hospitality.” –  Acharya Buddharakkhita

Today, we will move our practice of Metta to the category of a Difficult being, referred to in traditional Buddhist texts as the “Enemy”.  At the most basic level, the Difficult person is someone we find it difficult to like or feel kindly toward.  This is someone who we may have negative feelings toward or we find that they challenge us in some way.  There are varying degrees of difficulty and this is something we will explore as part of the practice.  This category offers us the opportunity to go to a deeper place within ourselves as we work to evoke and hold loving-kindness for someone who may have hurt us in some way, whom we have resistance towards and whose image stirs negativity in us.

When choosing a Difficult person, you can choose someone you have mildly difficult feelings about or a real “enemy” with whom you have experienced true problems.  It may be someone whom you find unpleasant, frightening, or annoying.  The Difficult person can include someone who is hostile toward you or someone toward whom you have hostility.  In the beginning, it is best to choose someone to work with who you find is only mildly difficult rather than someone who stirs up very strong emotions; this helps to expand your ability to generate loving-kindness.  Later, when you have practiced offering loving-kindness toward a mildly difficult person then you can expand your practice to increasingly difficult people.

Daily Practice: Do your foundational practices.  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.  By now you should have a clear sense of how to begin your practice.  If you need to, you can always return to Days 1 – 7 to deepen your foundation in loving-kindness practice for yourself.  Then, begin to send Metta to yourself by repeating the phrases.

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

When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness for yourself, bring an image of the Difficult person you will work with into your awareness.  Remind yourself that this person, although difficult, is also struggling to find his or her way in life and in the process, is causing you discomfort.  Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and free from suffering, may you also find inner peace and calm.”  Then, begin repeating the phrases while holding the image of the difficult person in your mind:

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

It is natural for feelings of resistance, aversion, anger, guilt, and discomfort to arise.  Sometimes the phrases seem weak in comparison to these strong emotions.  If you are struggling with your own emotions, try to name the emotion you are feeling, such as sadness or anger.  Take a few moments to practice compassion for yourself using the phrases and when you begin to feel more settled, then return your practice to the Difficult person.  Use the Switchback as often as you need to maintain an overall feeling of loving-kindness and compassion.  If it feels too much to practice for a difficult person, trying moving to another category that we have worked with and then move back to the difficult person when you feel to.

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 and offer loving-kindness to a Difficult person.  Spend a few moments dedicating the merit of your practice for your own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.  Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you.

Journal Notes: How was your experience practicing Metta for a Difficult person?  Was it harder than the other categories?  Did you have difficulty choosing or holding a Difficult person in your awareness?  Are you using the Switchback when you need to?  Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself in your practice?  And, in your daily life?  If so, how does that feel?  If not, what is getting in the way?

May you have a beautiful and peaceful day.

Exploring Metta Meditation

Standard

“If there is love, there is hope that one may have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace.  If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue.”
H.H. Dalai Lama

Metta meditation is a foundational practice in some Buddhist traditions.  The word Metta is referenced in several different Suttas or discourses; it is often associated with the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism.  Metta is considered one of the Four Immeasurables or Brahma Viharas which include: Loving-kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity.  It is said to help facilitate awakening, open-heartedness and the spirit of generosity as well as support the development of meditative concentration.

In English, Metta is translated as loving-kindness.  According to the Buddha’s teachings, this loving-kindness has two aspects, one negative and one positive.  The negative aspect is the absence of hatred and hostility.  For this negative aspect to be generated there must be the positive aspect of loving-kindness.  To not be hateful or harmful to others is a good thing but to actually do good and cultivate love and compassion is even more beneficial.

As the late Venerable Ashin Thittila shared on Buddhist Metta,

 “Out of the four Brahma Viharas – this Metta – which is one of them, is good enough to create anything noble, anything grand to make peace and happiness at home, in society and in the world.  Metta – pure loving-kindness – embraces all beings everywhere, either on earth or in the skies or Heaven.  It also embraces all beings high or low, without measure because the poor people, lowly people, evil people, ignorant people are most in need of it.  Because in them it has died out for lack of warmth or friendliness – this Metta becomes with them like a weak stream running in a desert.  This Metta includes loving unloving good and bad people.”

Metta is in fact a very deep form of love.  And, although words are used in the practice, it can be difficult to describe the essence or energy of Metta.  It is caring for others in a way that releases our attachment and self-interest.  It is a boundless warm-hearted feeling that goes beyond our differences.  It is often likened to a mother’s love for a child and in the Metta Sutta, the Buddha states:

Just as with her own life
A mother shields from hurt
Her own son, her only child,
Let all-embracing thoughts
For all beings be yours.

Cultivate an all-embracing mind of love
For all throughout the universe,
In all its height, depth and breadth —
Love that is untroubled
And beyond hatred or enmity.

As you stand, walk, sit or lie,
So long as you are awake,
Pursue this awareness with your might:
It is deemed the Divine State here.

Metta supports the development of one’s generosity and kindness to all beings without exception.  It also creates a foundation that is based on cultivating love and compassion for ourselves; in Buddhism, this is seen as the center from which we need to begin to send out loving-kindness and compassion to other beings and the world.  Unless we ourselves possess Metta within, we cannot share, radiate or send Metta to others.  So, Metta is really about generating the essence of loving-kindness and compassion in ourselves so that we may become an embodiment of those energies in the world.  And again, this includes being loving to ourselves and also not being harsh, angry or hateful with ourselves.  Through practice, these two aspects of Metta can become a powerful catalyst for transformation in our lives and in the world.

Metta practice includes working with different categories of beings which allows for both the cultivation of loving-kindness as well as the opportunity to see where our resistance and inner work lies.  The categories include: oneself, a beneficiary or mentor, a close friend or family member, a neutral person, a difficult person and all beings, which can include various groups such as all women, animals, addicts as well as all beings without exception.

This is a brief introduction to practicing Metta for oneself:
To begin, take a few moments to quiet your mind and focus your attention on the experience of loving-kindness.  Imagine yourself sitting inside a circle of loving beings, either people in your life, loved ones, animals, friends or those you feel embody love such as Mother Theresa, Buddha, Jesus, Quan Yin, etc.  This is your personal circle of loving-kindness, so make it work for you.  Don’t include anyone whose presence you question or who you may have mixed feeling about.  Later, you can include them in your practice.  Once you have your circle created, just imagine as you sit in the center that you are receiving love from all those surrounding you.  Allow the love in your heart, mind, body and spirit to expand.  When a feeling of full-heartedness arises, you will then begin by offering Metta to yourself using by reciting the following phrases silently or aloud:

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

Take some time to explore this first stage of Metta practice.  As we mentioned, creating a foundation for loving ourselves is at the heart of Metta.

For those who wish to explore this practice more fully, I will be offering daily posts and guided practices here on the Heart of Awakening as part of May is for Metta 2012: 31 Days of Loving-kindness Practice from May 1st to May 31st.

I am looking forward to sharing this journey and would love to hear from you about your experiences and reflections.

Honoring Mother Earth

Standard

“Teach your children what we have taught our children – that the Earth is our Mother.  Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth.  If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.  This we know. The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.  This we know.  All things are connected like the blood that unites one family.  All things are connected.  Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons and daughters of the Earth.  We did not weave the web of life;  We are merely a strand in it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”  – Chief Seattle

Earth Day is a time to remember that we are a part of Mother Earth and that all of life is interconnected.  Chief Seattle’s message speaks to that connection in the most beautiful and profound way.  There’s not much more to say, other than take some time today to honor the Earth, our mother and to consider the web of life that we are all a part of in a more conscious way.

Happy Earth Day!

Finding Connection Through Ceremony and Ritual

Standard

One of the greatest diseases of our times is the sense of disconnection that is felt with ourselves, others and the world.   By bringing ceremony and ritual into our daily lives, we can begin to reconnect to the sacredness and beauty of life.   It can be a way to rediscover ourselves, to align with our soul purpose and to deepen our sense of connection with all things.

Many of us have come from backgrounds where ceremony and ritual was some part of our religious upbringing.  For some, that is something that we continue in daily life.  For others, it is something we may have abandoned as we grew and changed our views. For others, it may not have been part of our experience at all.   The new paradigm is about bringing it all forward; so, whatever your path has been, now can be a time to explore and reexamine your practices to see if they are in alignment with who you are today and how you intend to be in the world.

Some of the ways that ceremony and ritual can help us include:

  • Paying tribute to important life events and honoring our transitions
  • Being in harmony with the seasons and rhythms of nature
  • Creating sacredness in our lives
  • Honoring our ancient traditions or creating new ones
  • Releasing attachments to energies, relationships and situations, which are no longer serve us
  • Calling in energies and intentions we wish to bring forward
  • Evoking an ecstatic state of being and connecting at a soul level
  • Helping to heal our fundamental spiritual wound – the illusion of separateness from creation
  • Supporting specific healing for ourselves, others and the world
  • Aligning our energy with the present moment
  • Helping us to be more fully conscious and awake
  • Gaining clarity and understanding our experiences
  • Accessing spiritual guidance and wisdom

Ceremony can be something we do individually, with others or in community.  However we choose to create it, ceremony is a way to step out of the busyness of our lives and the world of linear time into sacred space where deeper understanding, healing and wisdom resides.  Ceremony, in and of itself, is a paradigm shift.   It can help us to focus on our visions and intentions and begin to draw them into the world of matter, allowing them to become manifest.

Rituals are the specific rites or tools we use as part of ceremony.  They can be used to create sacredness in any moment.  Many shamans begin the day by honoring the directions and connecting with the elements of nature.  Many people begin their day with meditation or prayer of some kind.  Whatever it is, beginning the day with some type of ritual or spiritual practice is a powerful way to move consciously into your daily life.  Some ways to create ritual include:

  • Lighting a candle
  • Setting an intention
  • Burning sage or other healing herbs such as sweet grass, yerba santé or cedar
  • Setting up an altar and arranging spiritually meaningful articles or pictures on it
  • Drumming, rattling, chanting, singing or listening to music or sounds of nature
  • Reciting prayers silently or aloud or reading from a sacred text
  • Cultivating a meditation practice
  • Being in silence and honoring the sacredness that comes from that space

Whether you choose to practice ceremony and ritual with others or on your own, it is important to create practices that support you in the present moment.  Here are some questions to consider in creating a ceremony or ritual practice:

  • What is your intention?  What is the reason for the ceremony or ritual?
  • Will it be personal, with another person or group?
  • What elements or tools need to be gathered?  What preparation needs to happen?
  • What will the structure of the ceremony or ritual be? Who will perform it? Where will it be done?
  • Are there any prayers, readings, songs, poems, and dances, etc. that you wish to include?
  • How will you open and close the ceremony?

Ceremony and ritual can be a beneficial part of daily spiritual practice.  It can help to align our energies in the present moment and to bring increased harmony to our lives.  Take some time this week to consider what you would like to create in your life and how ceremony and ritual may support that process.  Whether it is creating a ceremony with a specific intention or incorporating a ritual into your daily life, notice how this invokes a deeper sense of connection with yourself, others and the world.  Let your heart be your guide as you create your own new paradigm.

Visionary Voices: Dr. Edward Bach

Standard

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, when we realise that Love and Unity are the great foundations of our Creation, that we in ourselves are children of the Divine Love, and that the eternal conquest of all wrong and suffering will be accomplished by means of gentleness and love…” – Dr. Edward Bach

One of my intentions in writing The Heart of Awakening is to share information on the teachings and philosophies which have inspired my life and influenced my work as well as to offer practical resources which support transformation and healing both individually and collectively. I have found both in my own personal journey and in working with others for over 16 years that it is vital to find tools and resources, which resonate with the individual. Each person is different, unique and there is no single formula for healing and change. Even in accepting that there are universal truths, how they are cultivated and embodied is a personal experience. I have been most drawn to teachings which hold that life on earth is a school, that we are here to learn, to grow and to evolve and that view the heart and love as essence of this journey.

One of my most influential teachers is the visionary Dr. Edward Bach, creator of the Bach Flower Remedies. Some of you may be familiar with the essences. Rescue Remedy™ is perhaps the most well-known of all Bach Flowers; it is a part of medicine cabinets and first aid kits worldwide. There are actually 38 different Bach Flower Remedies, which comprise what Dr. Bach considered to be a complete system of healing.

Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) was a British physician. Early on in his career, he studied bacteriology and pathology, and later Homeopathy. He was struck by the fact that Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, had recognized the importance of personality in disease in the 1700’s. Through observation and intuition, Dr. Bach was able to observe a variety of personality types and saw that different types had differing reactions to illness and to the healing process. Starting with just two flowers, Dr. Bach began by creating flower essences similar to oral vaccines, which he then prescribed according to his patient’s personalities rather than specific illnesses. What he soon discovered was that the flower essences stimulated self-healing in his patients by helping to clear negative emotions, attitudes, and personality traits that can inhibit the body’s natural ability to heal as well as the experience of happiness and inner peace.

At age 43, Dr. Bach closed his practice in London and went to Wales to connect more deeply with nature and to develop additional essences based on the emotions and personality traits he had observed in his patients. It was there that he learned that dewdrops, heated by the sun, carried the healing properties of the plants and this inspired him to develop the essences using pure water. His intuition became so sensitive that he could sense the healing effects of a flower by holding it or tasting a petal. He developed 38 flowers essences and the Rescue Remedy, a blend of five essences intended for use in crisis or high stress situations. He felt this repertoire which works on the principles of vibrational medicine, covered all of the negative states underlying illness.

Even those more familiar with the Bach Flowers are often unaware of some of the philosophies that are a part of Dr. Bach’s system. Some of the reasons that I resonate so strongly with Dr. Bach’s work, in addition to providing a highly beneficial tool for transformation and healing, is that the foundational truths he shares are in alignment with the ideas of the interconnectedness of all things, the evolutionary nature of life on earth, that Love is the essence of creation and that disharmony and disease are caused by being out of alignment with the our true nature. Here is an overview of his foundational truths adapted from his 1931 book, Heal Thyself:

The Foundational Truths of Dr. Bach

1. Man has an immortal soul, which is his real self. Our bodies, which are the earthly temples of this soul, are it’s minutest aspect. The Soul is a child of the Creator, as such as we will allow, it guides, protects and encourages us beneficently.

2. We are here for the purpose of gaining all the knowledge and experience which can be learned through earthly existence, for developing the virtues we lack and for wiping out all that is wrong with us, thus advancing toward the perfection of our nature. The Soul, knowing what environment and circumstances can best enable us to fulfill this purpose, guides us there.

3. We must realize the life we know on earth is but a moment in the course of our evolution, as one day of school is to a life. Our souls are immortal and the bodies we are conscious of are temporary instruments to do our work.

4. As long as our souls and personalities are in harmony, all is joy and peace. The root cause of disease and unhappiness is the conflict that arises when our personalities deviate from the path laid down by our soul, through our worldly desires or by the persuasion of others. We can rest assured that in whatever station of life we are placed, princely or lowly, it contains the lessons and experiences necessary at the moment of our evolution and gives us the best advantage for the development of ourselves.

5. The Understanding of the Unity of all things – that the Creator of all things is Love and that everything of which we are conscious is in all its infinite number of forms a manifestation of that Love, whether it be a planet or a pebble, a star or a dewdrop, man or an mollusk.

The beauty of all of this is that Dr. Bach, who was clearly a man of science, was willing to listen to the wisdom of nature and allow his intuition to be his guide. In doing so, he has left a legacy that continues to support our evolution even today through both his writings and the Bach Flower Remedies. He is truly an inspiration.

To learn more about Dr. Bach and the Bach Flower Remedies, visit The Bach Centre, home of Dr. Bach and the Bach Flower Remedy system in the U.K. For programs and practitioners in the U.S., visit Bach Flower Education.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or reflections on this post or any experiences with the Bach Flowers or Dr. Bach’s teachings.

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.