Tag Archives: Inner Critic

7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge! Cultivating Self-Compassion ~ Day 3

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7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge

Cultivating Self-Compassion

Day 3

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Today, I am excited to share about one of my favorite tools for transformation and healing.  It is also one that can be misused or utilized in a way that sets us up for feelings of failure if we don’t consider the full scope of the practice. Writing offers a way to really utilize this technique. It’s AFFIRMATIONS!

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

Affirmations offer a technique to begin to transform energy and shift our feelings, patterns and beliefs.  I feel they work essentially on two levels and it’s important to include both aspects when working with affirmations to get the most benefit.  And, writing can really help us in exploring this fully…

1. Affirmations help to bring in an energy or feeling that we wish to cultivate, e.g. love, peace, joy, etc.

2. What arises when we work with affirmations shows us the feelings, patterns and beliefs, which are keeping us stuck and in pain.

This two-fold process can be a powerful way to uncover the voices of inner critic and work to transform them. There are many ways to work with affirmations including mirror work, repeating out loud, making a recording, creating a piece of artwork and of course, writing!

Daily Prompt

For today’s exercise, since our focus is on Cultivating Self-Compassion, I am going to suggest you use an affirmation similar to one of these:

  • I love myself.
  • I love and approve of myself.
  • I love myself completely as I am.
  • I am beautiful and lovable however I am feeling.
  • I am deserving of love. 

If one pops out you might like to jump in and use it.  Or, you can begin by free-writing a list of potential affirmations that relate to cultivating love and compassion for yourself.  Creating your own affirmations helps you to feel connected to it and amplifies the energy around it, so if you don’t do this today, add it to your Writing To Heal toolbox for the future!

Once you have chosen an affirmation for today’s exploration, get out a blank sheet of paper.  One the front side you will begin to write the affirmation repetitively.  This is cultivating the positive energy.  Whenever you notice a “response”, you will simply turn the paper over and write down whatever that is.  For example, you may have a voice that says, “this is selfish, to take the time for myself”, you may feel tightness in your shoulders or a headache coming on, or you may feel a wave of sadness or even tears come over you.  Jot down on the back of the page, any and all responses that you have.  Then, return to the front and continue writing your affirmation until you have another response or complete one whole side of a page.  You may even like to do this on more than one sheet. 

A few things to consider.  It’s good to take your time with this; it’s not about speed writing but actually noticing what’s arising and so sometimes slowing it down helps. Be gently and loving with yourself – lots can come up and sometimes you are just grooving on the affirmation itself. It’s all a process.

Yesterday, we explored lists or catalogs and this response list can be a great one to keep and add to your journal. You may wish to take time to write more about each one at some point – what does it feel like?, where does it come from, how might you begin to address it or respond to it in a loving, nurturing way?

One of my favorite Zen teachers, Cheri Huber, who teacher and writes a lot about working with our critical voices, suggests responding in this way when you notice a critical voice, “Is that so, how do you know that?” .  Responding in itself and questioning it, rather than just letting it have it’s way, begins to diffuse the power of this voice.  Another list you may wish to write is a list of responses to your own critical voices.  It may be a blanket list or you may wish to create a response for each voice that you identify that stops it in it’s tracks!  Be curious and explore!

Also, you may like to put your affirmations on Post-Its and put them in various places so you will see them throughout the day such as on your mirror or on the dashboard of your car.

Until tomorrow.

Love & light,

Beth Shekinah


If you are enjoying this exploration of Writing To Heal, I invite you to join me and my Writing To Heal partner, Andrea Hylen for…

Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change

A Heal My Voice 30-Day Writing Program (With Teleseminar Support)

September 21 – October 22, 2015

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” ~ Rumi

Joining a Heal My Voice program is a bit like embarking on a vision quest.  It is a journey into the core of our being.  In traditional cultures, this is done through time alone in nature; in Heal My Voice our vehicle is writing.  The intention of the Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change 30-Day Program is to create a space for exploring writing as a vehicle for transforming and healing.  During this time, you will have an opportunity to:

  • receive daily support for your writing for 30 days
  • explore your own life and uncover a story that wants to emerge
  • connect with a community of authentic women and men on a journey of self-exploration
  • get to know yourself more deeply to reclaim personal power
  • discover your inner gifts
  • alchemize your pain into remembrance, honoring and joy; and
  • explore or reconnect with the Heal My Voice program to see if our upcoming 9-month book program is a right for you!

Screen shot 2012-04-06 at 7.40.51 PMThis 30-Day program with teleseminar support offers an opportunity to get to know yourself on a deeper level through the Heal My Voice process of Listening, Discovering and Exploring.  As you take this time to reflect on grief, loss and change in your life, Heal My Voice facilitators Andrea Hylen and Beth Terrence will support you in uncovering and identifying experiences and stories that wish to be expressed through self-reflection, writing and community sharing.  This program creates a container for you to go within, gain insight into your life experiences and access the gifts that emerge as we shine a light on our tender places.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi

This 30-Day Program includes:

  • Three Weekly Teleclasses with exploration and discussion on grief, loss and change and transformation
  • HMV’s Sacred Sanctuary Writing Space (Audio recordings of inspiration and silence for writing)
  • 30-Days of prompts to inspire and jumpstart your writing
  • A Secret Facebook Group for sharing and discussion
  • BONUS CALL Audio: Tips on How to Write a Book (or E-book)
  • BONUS Fall Equinox Ceremony on the Phone. Live Call and Recorded. September 21: 12pm Pacific/3pm Eastern/9pm Europe

Three Teleseminars. All Teleseminars are recorded.

Wednesdays, 12pm Pacific/3pm Eastern/9pm Europe (September 30, October 7, October 14)

Location: Accessible by Phone or Online Listening; Audio replay will be available

Cost: $97.00 for full 30-Day Program

Payment automatically Registers Your Email Address.

Facebook Group Opens on September 21.

See you then!

REGISTER NOW!

We will begin the program on Sept 21 by opening the doors to the secret Facebook group and by offering a Fall Equinox ceremony on the Instant Teleseminar Line. Come LIVE or listen to the recording.

Then, there will be 3 LIVE teleseminars with information sharing, meditations and community sharing. The calls will be recorded and available to everyone who is registered for the 30 days of writing.

Teleclass One: Listening: Wed, Sept 30 noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/ 21.00 Central European Time

Teleclass Two: Discovering: Wed, Oct 7 noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/ 21.00 Central European Time

Teleclass Three: Exploring: Wed, Oct 14 noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/ 21.00 Central European Time

Top 13 Posts Of 2013 On The Heart Of Awakening Blog

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

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

Living from the Heart

Embodying Awareness, Authenticity and Purpose

Integrating a Holistic Approach to Being

Embracing the Interconnectedness of All Things

Honoring and Respecting the Sacredness of Life

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

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

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

Dancing With My Inner Critic

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Transformation

One of the themes I have been working on this year in my personal work, workshops and in my writing is Transforming You Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader.  Actually, this is a piece I have been working on personally for a long time.  My mentor, Shaman Ross Bishop, author of Healing The Shadow and a shaman of almost 40 years, actually certified me as being one of his hardest cases in this area.

I have progressed tremendously and as a result, I am able to help others in shifting this pattern.  I continue to work on it on my own.  And, it continues to show up – sometimes stronger and more often, with less fierceness than it used to.  It still shows up but it’s no longer paralyzing or totally self-sabotaging in the way that it was when I was younger.  I have found the key is to cultivate love and compassion for myself; this is at the heart of my life, my work and my writings.

Why am I focusing on this today?  Well, we’re on Day 6 of the Blog Challenge today and I am just writing my fifth post.  I was packing and traveling yesterday and beginning my vacation.  I thought once I got settled in that I would write it, but didn’t.  In the evening, I spent time with friends, staying up later than usual and having fun.  Missing a deadline for fun – this is somewhere my inner critic would have gone ballistic in the past.

Also, historically, I would have beaten myself up so badly that it would have been difficult to get back in the saddle again.  In giving instructions for the 31 Day Blog Challenge, facilitator Lesa Townsend offered that if you miss a day it’s best not to worry about it, just write two the next day or make up for it somewhere along the way.  That sounded reasonable and yet, I could feel the expectations percolating within myself to not have that happen.  And, now to encounter this so early on.  What an opportunity to explore and grow!

I share this because I know I am not alone in it.  I can see even more clearly how this pattern keeps me stuck and in a cycle of perpetual pain and suffering.  And, I now know that I can transform it.  It’s still going to come up but by working on it in a proactive way and in the moment it is arising, I am able to create a paradigm shift in my life.  Just like any part of life, it’s a dance.  So, in approaching this aspect of healing in a willing, present and creative way, the door is open for healing and transformation, both personal and collective.  That’s what The Heart Of Awakening is all about!

In my workshop on Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Year Inner Cheerleader, which I have offered several times this year, I share five steps to working on creating change in this area.  Additionally, I offer a variety of tools and experiential practices to support this transformation.  There is no magic formula – each person is different and needs to explore and find the tools that support them and their individual journey.  However, one of the tools that I find most beneficial in the process of creating change is journaling.

Journaling is a powerful way to develop self-awareness, track our experiences and cultivate change in our lives.  There are many ways to journal and it’s important to find a way that works for you.  For some it’s hand writing, for others on the computer, jotting notes on your phone or even recording a voice note.  In the process of transformation, the important thing is to develop a method that helps to you to track where you are, what tools you are exploring and what changes you maybe noticing.  Also, lists are a wonderful way to develop clarity and have beneficial resources at hand when you need them.

In working on transforming the inner critic it can be helpful to explore the following:

  • How your critical voices show up, e.g. guilt tripper, taskmaster, shamer, etc. Be creative – describe them, what they look like, feel like, you can even draw them to have a visual – this is part of bringing what is unconscious into our conscious awareness where it can begin to transform.
  • When you’re critical voices show up, e.g. work, relationships, family, etc.
  • Triggers you may become aware of e.g. paying the bills, public speaking, etc.
  • What tools/interventions are you exploring?  Do they help?
  • How do you feel after using a specific tool?
  • What are you noticing overall as you work on this pattern?
  • Are you willing to stay present with your exploration even when it is uncomfortable, knowing this is part of the process of change?  If you get thrown by your inner critic, are you able to come back to your practices when you notice?
  • Are you able to become a good friend to yourself?  What are the challenges with this?  What would you say to a good friend who is feeling as you are?  Would you keep a friend who speaks to you the way your inner voices speak to you? (Just consider that!)
  • Identify people in your life who are outer cheerleaders/good friends/mentors and ask for their support in this process.
  • Work with affirmations in your journal practice and in your life.  You may wish to create your own affirmations in response to your specific critical voices. This helps to bring in a positive energy but can also help to surface our negative or critical voices, which tend to come up in response to positive words being offered to ourselves.  This dual aspect makes affirmations a very powerful tool in transforming the inner critic.
  • Do Mirror Work and journal about what comes up.
  • At least once a month, do something to celebrate yourself.  Create a list of things in your journal that you would like to do and that will support your inner cheerleader in emerging.

There are several posts on The Heart Of Awakening that may be helpful to explore:

Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader

7 Ways To Cultivate Love & Compassion For Yourself

Bach Flower Remedy Of The Month: Pine

Bach Flower Remedy Of The Month: Rockwater

From Comparison To Compassion: From Perfectionism To Gentleness

Actualizing The Power Of Intention

May Is For Metta (I have found the Buddhist practice of Metta to be one of the best tools for this work.  Not only is it an amazing spiritual practice, offering an opportunity to create loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, it can also stimulate those critical voices as we begin to practice.  This is where our work lies and so Metta can really help to peel away the layers while at the same time we are creating a new foundation.)

I also really recommend Ross Bishop’s book, Healing The Shadow.  The new 2nd edition was published last year and offers even more insight and tools to support transformation and healing.  I have found this book to be an incredible guidebook for life on earth and it’s one I come back to again and again.

Stay tuned for most posts on this subject.  And, I may have another post today or I may save the missing post for when there is a burning topic that wants to show up.  My affirmation for today is, “I am gentle and loving with myself.”

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

Have a beautiful day!

Read the rest of this entry

Bach Flower Of The Month: Pine

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 “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.

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

If you are interested in a Bach Flower Remedy Consultation & Treatment, I offer these sessions in Annapolis, MD, by phone or by Skype.  I have found the Bach Flower Remedies to be one of the most beneficial transformational and healing tools that I utilize both personally and in my holistic healing practice.   I have worked with the Bach Flowers for over 15 years and I am a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner through the Bach Centre 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

Day 6 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Transforming The Inner Critic With Loving-kindness Meditation

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Love has befriended Hafiz so completely

It has turned to ash and freed me

Of every concept and image

My mind has ever known. – Hafiz

Quanyin

One of the main intentions of The Heart Of Awakening Blog is to create a space of exploration for the embodiment of awareness, authenticity and purpose.   Meditation is one of the most powerful vehicles for accessing our true nature and beginning to know and accept ourselves on a deeper level.  This includes cultivating an experience of our true essence while at the same time we begin to consciously recognize and uncover misperceptions about who we truly are.  As the Dalia Lama has said so pointedly,

“The process by which we transform our more instinctual attitude to life, that state of mind which seeks only to satisfy desire and avoid discomforts, is what we mean when we use the word meditation. It is the technique by which we diminish the force of old thought habits and develop new ones.”  – H.H. Dalai Lama

Often, one of the challenges that arises in meditation practice is the awareness that begins to surface of our inner voices and the busyness of our mind.  This is often referred to as “monkey mind”.  Although, the mind may just seem to wander aimlessly, as we begin to notice it, we gain awareness in how it wanders and it what is actually arising.  This can offer a potent opportunity to begin to examine and transform our critical voices – the ones that keep us stuck, wounded and powerless.

Transforming The Inner Critic Into The Inner Cheerleader is one of the threads I have been working with a lot this year in my personal work, classes & workshops and here on The Heart Of Awakening blog.  I have found that Metta meditation is a natural method for uncovering our critical voices and beginning to transform them.  As we cultivate the energy of loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, it is natural to come face to face with those places within that we are not holding those energies or qualities.  This is often the territory of the inner critic or negative self-perception.

I wanted to share this now as one of the ways of working with May Is For Metta can be as catalyst to transform your inner critic.  Most likely, this will happen naturally as you practice, however, you may like to work with this in a more activec way.  Some suggestions for this aspect of practice are:

1)   Journal about the critical voices or messages that you notice coming up as you practice or that prevent you from actually doing your practice.  You may like to list them, name them or even draw pictures of what they might look like to you. This can really help to shine the light on these voices, which can tend to live in the dark recesses of the mind.

2)   When you are feeling critical voices arising, whether during your practice or as you go about your day, begin to offer Metta to yourself.  Do your foundational practice and offer the phrases to yourself and notice what happens, how you feel and how the voices shift or change.  Beginning to bring in loving-kindness in place of negative or critical voices is a powerful gift to offer yourself.

3)   Another interesting way to work with negative or critical voices is to shift your natural response to them.  Rather than trying to push them away, begin to work with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion and embrace or envelope these voices.  You may even like to hold them in the center of your circle of loving beings.  This may seem like an odd thing to do, however, these voices have served some purpose in your life, perhaps some form of protection or security.  At this point, they may no longer be serving you but why not transform them with love rather than anger or hatred.

Today will be our last day of focusing solely on ourselves as our practice.  Tomorrow we will begin to bring in another category for practice – The Benefactor.  So for today, continue to explore as you have been doing, cultivating your foundation for loving-kindness and compassion by offering it to yourself.  If you feel to at this point or later on, consider bringing in Metta when you become aware of critical or negative voices as you go about your day.

Daily Practice – Do the foundational practices.  Begin by getting comfortable and settling into your breath.  Spend a few moments centering on your heart.  Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings. They may be ones you actually know or those who you imagine embody love.  Allow your self to feel enveloped in this love.  Also, at this point, I recommend finding the way that works best for you – some folks really resonate with the circle of loving beings, others do better by connecting directly with the heart or with one specific memory of being held in unconditional love.

Part of the foundational practice is finding how you can best generate the feeling of loving-kindness and compassion at the beginning of your practice.  Each person is different and part of being loving with yourself is taking the time to find which practice and way of practice best supports your journey.  After our month of practice, you may find that Metta is not the daily practice for you and you can move on to exploring other practices.  For now, Metta is the vehicle for getting to know yourself better and moving into a more loving way of being with yourself, others and ultimately the whole world.

Once you have generated a deep sense of loving-kindness.  Begin to send Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have chosen to work with.

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

If you notice your mind has wandered, return to the next phrase or begin again.  Also, you can always reconnect with your heart center or your circle of loving beings if difficult feelings arise.  Practice for as long as you have committed to or as much as you can for today.

Journal Notes – Are you noticing difficult feelings arising as you practice?  Are you feeling more of your vulnerability or tender heartedness?  Are you able to be patient with yourself and your practice?  Are you practicing?  Are you journaling?  When difficulty feelings, critical voices or limiting beliefs arise, it can be a powerful tool to write them down and a good way to explore where your inner work lies.  Have you explored bringing in Metta practice as you become aware of your critical voices?

Wishing all of you a peaceful and happy day.

Day 4 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Embracing Ourselves In Loving-kindness

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Quanyin

“Compassion is not a magical device that can instantly dispel all suffering. The path of compassion is altruistic but not idealistic.  Walking this path we are not asked to lay down our life, find a solution for all of the struggles in this world, or immediately rescue all beings. We are asked to explore how we may transform our own hearts and minds in the moment.

Can we understand the transparency of division and separation? Can we liberate our hearts from ill will, fear, and cruelty? Can we find the steadfastness, patience, generosity, and commitment not to abandon anyone or anything in this world? Can we learn how to listen deeply and discover the heart that trembles in the face of suffering?

The path of compassion is cultivated one step and one moment at a time. Each of those steps lessens the mountain of sorrow in the world.”  – Pema Chodron

Believe it or not, we are going to spend a couple of more days focusing on cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves before we move on.  This practice is an opportunity to spend time being present with yourself and deepening in offering love and kindness to yourself in a new way.   How often do you take time to be fully present with yourself?   How often do you spend time offering love to yourself?   You may not always be able to take time off to just be by yourself, but in cultivating a practice of meditation and of loving-kindness, you are creating an “inner” retreat.  This is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself as you attend to the busyness of life.  And, it doesn’t have to happen on the meditation cushion, it can also be by inviting some of the aspects of Metta into your day-to-day activities.

For some of us, it is not easy to spend time loving and showering kindness on ourselves; it may actually be difficult or challenging.  This is a really good reason to stick with it.  It is often easier to focus our energies on others, neglecting ourselves.  We may have a strong inner critic, we may be used to focusing our attention on others, or we may believe it is selfish to love ourselves first.  Part of our practice is to notice what thoughts, feelings and beliefs come up as we practice.  We notice and then we return to our practice by generating the feeling of loving-kindness and repeating the phrases.

Many thoughts arise during meditation practice and it is natural to come face to face with our conditioned mind.  There are many voices that keep us held in limiting patterns.  These are the voices that can actually keep us from sitting down to practice or from taking the time to be still.  Often, these begin with not being good enough, worthy enough or deserving of love.  In this practice and really in all meditation practice, we are beginning to turn the tables on these limiting beliefs.  Metta allows us to see where we are stuck and where it is that we are withholding love from ourselves.  I encourage you, even if you are struggling with disruptive thoughts or coming face to face with limiting beliefs, to stay present with the practice and with yourself.

Daily Practice – Begin with the foundational practices.  If you have not decided how you wish to begin, take some time today to do so, reviewing Days 1 – 3 if necessary.  You may wish to review the introductory audios from those days as well.  Once you have settled your body and mind, begin cultivating the feeling of loving-kindness.  Then, take a few moments to notice your experience.  Your sense of loving-kindness may be deepening as you are beginning to work with it more regularly.  Just notice.  When you feel immersed in the energy of loving-kindness, begin repeating the phrases.  Continue with the same phrases as yesterday or try some others for today.  This is still a time for exploration.  Be gentle, be open, and most of all be loving with yourself.  Practice for as long as you have committed to or as much as you can for today:

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

Also, as you go about the day, you may become more aware of some of the voices that keep you stuck.  When you notice this during the day, take a few moments to focus on the breath, the feeling of loving-kindness and even try to a round of the phrases for yourself.  This begins to shift your conditioned mind as you are bringing these patterns to light and responding to them with loving-kindness and compassion.

Journal Notes – Are you able to connect with the energy of loving-kindness a few times as you go about your day?  How is your practice going?  Are you able to commit some time everyday?  If yes, how does it feel?  If not, what’s getting in the way?  Do you need to adjust the time or place to make it workable?  What beliefs are you aware of that keep you from your practice and from loving yourself more fully?

I’d love to hear how your explorations are going.  May you have a very beautiful and loving day.

Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader

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Transformation
We are all familiar with voice of our inner critic – the one who puts us down, is not happy with anything we do and stops us from living the life we want to lead.  What if we could transform that voice into our greatest fan?  Often, our inner critic carries energetic imprints from our childhood experiences; basically, our critic is trying to live out our past in the present moment.  As we learn to work with our critical voices and bring ourselves more fully into the present, we open the doorway for a new voice to emerge – our inner cheerleader.  Here are 5 Steps to help transform you inner critic into your inner cheerleader:

  1. Learn to be present in the moment.  Your critic is a voice that comes from the past or is projecting onto the future.  When you are able to be fully present in the moment, your inner critic is powerless.   As you experience more of the present moment, you learn how to recognize when you inner critic is engaging and you learn how to create shifts in energy and awareness that diffuse your inner critic.  Develop a contemplative practice that supports being more fully present in the moment such as meditation, prayer, yoga,  tai chi/qi gong, spending time in nature or ceremony & ritual.  Ongoing practice can help us on many levels,  assisting in developing our ability to drop into the present moment in any situation or place, even when our critical voices are arising.
  1. Begin to consciously recognize critical voices and patterns.  There are many ways the inner critic can be expressed.  Most of us have a few strong voices and patterns (E.g. perfectionist, taskmaster or guilt tripper) but there may be a social club of inner critics that can show up.  Getting to know your personal inner critical messages supports moving into greater conscious awareness with these habitual patterns.  As you become more conscious of the inner critic, you can begin to identify what is a trigger for your critical voices to become active (E.g. work, relationships, finances, etc.) and you can begin to respond proactively.  This step is really about discovery – we are learning to access what is in our unconscious and we are bringing it into the light where it can be transformed.  Practices such as journaling or writing can really help to access our inner voices and begin to transform them.  You many notice things that come up during contemplative practices or in a daily life; keeping a journal or log of these messages can show you where your inner work lies.
  1. Explore tools for transformation.  Everyone is different and there are many practices and tools that support transformation and healing.  Exploring different practices helps you to get to know yourself better and to find tools, which support you in the changes you wish to make.  As you explore, you can begin to build a transformational toolbox to remind you of all the resources available to you and how you can utilize them as the foundation for a new way of being.  It is important to find tools that are resonant for you and support you where you are at the present time and can lead you to where you want to go.  Consider a variety of resources that can support healing body, mind, emotion and spirit.  Some practices I have found to be very beneficial in working with the inner critic both personally and with clients include Affirmations, Mirror Work, Metta/Loving-kindness Meditation, Yoga, Shamanic Healing, Self-Reflection and Bach Flower Remedies.
  1. Accept responsibility for your own transformational process and commit to creating change in your life.  No one can change you but you!  Taking responsibility for one’s own healing process creates a powerful foundation for transformation.  This is a commitment you make to yourself.  Sometimes it is helpful to do so with a ceremony or ritual, by writing a statement of commitment or by setting your intention to do so on a daily basis as you are working to create change.   You can decide what your process will be but showing up is a way to show the inner critic that you believe in yourself, love yourself and are ready to change.  Write a statement or declaration of your commitment to change.  Use post-its to write affirmations to remind you of your commitment.  This may be a lifelong process but choose a period of time to work on transforming your inner critic into your inner cheerleader.  30 Days is a great way to explore creating any type of change.  Then, you can re-evaluate and consider if the tools you are exploring are working or you need to explore more.
  1. Invite your inner cheerleader to emerge by loving yourself!  Loving yourself is the key to healing and transformation on many levels.  Most of us have been taught that loving ourselves is selfish, or we must love others first.  Consciously choosing to love ourselves can really go against our grain, but it is a way to begin to accept and embrace all of who we are.  Our inner critic is a part of us and if we love that part, we can begin to transform it to.  Loving all parts of ourselves allows our inner cheerleader to begin to emerge.  There are many practices, which can support loving ourselves more fully.  Be willing to explore; there may be a lot of resistance that emerges.  Often, we are more easily able to love and be a “cheerleader” for others than for ourselves.  Being aware of this can be a great way to begin to change our inner voices.  Consider a good friend, family member or mentor.  How would you support them if they were feeling unworthy, not good enough, etc.?  What would you say to them to be supportive?  Begin to create this positive support for yourself; imagine what others who love you would say to you.   Begin to look at your accomplishments and make a list of your positive qualities and successes in your journal.  Notice what arises as you do.  This can be a great way to uncover our resistance or critical voices.  Again, if you shared this with a good friend, how would they respond?  Mostly, likely, they wouldn’t put you down, but would celebrate you.  If not, it might be time to reconsider the friendship!  Most people would not keep a friend in their lives who is so negative, harsh and critical; yet this if often how you treat your own self.  Consider being a good friend to yourself, one who is positive, caring and supportive; this can be a big step towards loving yourself.  There are many ways to activate your inner cheerleader but cultivating love and compassion for yourself is a key component in this transformation.

I hope you will take some time this week to explore transforming your inner critic into your inner cheerleader.  You may like to visit my post on 7 Ways To Cultivate Love & Compassion For Your Self or use the 31 Day Guided May Is For Metta Practice as a foundation for your exploration.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, reflections and insights.

I hope you enjoyed my post on Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader. If you would like to explore how Integrative Transformational Healing Programs can support you in achieving greater balance, joy and ease of well-being, visit www.bethterrence.com/contact to schedule a complimentary 20-minute consultation.

Day 25 of May is for Metta: Take Your Metta To Work Week, Transforming Ourselves Through Loving-kindness

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Day 25

Take Your Metta To Work Week

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice to the World of Work

“At a certain point we must, without self-hatred, stand at a crossroads, hear the little voice that says “You can go in a new direction,” heed that voice and make a choice to end suffering.

Fortunately, we are at the crossroads in each moment, and the gentle urging is always within us.

The choice is clear.  You can muddle along through life following the voices of conditioning and self-hate as they lead you to more feeling bad, or you can step free from them and be your own person.  You can live from center.”   – Cheri Huber

Metta meditation is a loving-kindness practice that supports our return to center and that center is our own heart.  Each time we come back to our hearts and to the essence of loving-kindness and compassion, we are transforming ourselves.  We are choosing to be in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.  We are choosing to live from a heart-centered place, accepting and embracing all of who we are with a genuine “friendliness”.  Moving into this place of greater self-acceptance through gentleness and love is one of the greatest gifts we can ourselves.

Many Tibetan Buddhist teachers, including the Dalai Lama, observe a dynamic in our culture that is not present in Eastern cultures.  Many Americans and others Westerners tend to have a natural lack of loving-kindness and friendliness towards themselves that seems to be inherent in people in other cultures.  In addition to this natural lack of loving-kindness is a tendency toward self-criticism, harshness and even self-hate.  This is a major reason why beginning a practice can be so difficult.  As we begin to sit in meditation, we come face to face with our own inner voices and a critic who tells us we simply can’t do this and additionally, are not worthy of receiving loving-kindness or compassion.  This can be incredibly difficult and challenging, enough so that it often keeps us from getting to our practice.  However, when we are able and willing to be present with these inner voices and difficult feelings, we can begin to transform the patterns and beliefs which keep us stuck in pain and suffering.

Work is a place where our inner critics can tend to rule our realities.  We can have huge demands put on us by our organization, our supervisors and the nature of our work itself.  However, for many people, it is our own inner voices or inner critics that hold us to the highest and frequently, unreasonable standards.  This is a place where we can perpetuate a cycle of self-hatred and continue to create suffering for ourselves.  It is also one of the main reasons why bringing Metta meditation to work can be so transformative.  At the very moment when we would habitually move into a place of harshness or self-criticism, we shift.   Instead, we move into a place of loving-kindness and compassion toward ourselves.  This is one of most powerful changes we can create in our lives; it is truly a paradigm shift.

Today, as we complete Take Your Metta To Work Week, we will return the main focus of our practice to ourselves.  If this is the only piece you continue to work with after this week, know it is incredibly beneficial.  Creating a strong foundation of loving-kindness towards ourselves is the heart of Metta practice.  It is the basis of what we offer to others and the world.  If we can shift our conditioned responses toward ourselves by responding with loving-kindness and compassion, then we are able to become more effective in responding to others with openness and understanding.  This helps to transform all of our relationships, including those at work and in our world.

Daily Practice:  Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Allow your self to connect deeply with your own heart center.  Be sure to take sometime today to really deepen in knowing your own heart space.  Sometimes, in addition to the circle, it can be helpful to imagine a time your felt held in unconditional love, such as by a grandparent, pet or child.  Spend some time today bathing yourself in the energy and quality of loving-kindness and compassion.  You can do this as a sitting practice or continue to explore it as you go about your day.  Whenever you feel to, offer the Metta phrases for yourself:

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

Remember to come back to your heart and do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.  If there is a moment when you recognize you are being harsh with yourself or your inner critic is very active, this is a perfect time to move into your Metta practice.

For your final day, choose what other categories you would like to practice for.  One of the aspects of Metta is that you can create your own practice each day.  Once you begin with your foundational practices and offer Metta for yourself, you can choose to work with any or all of the other categories.  These include Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral, Difficult and All Beings.  All Beings can include all beings, or various groups of beings, such as all women, all children or all animals.  For our practice, we have been working with our organization as this category.  You may wish to complete your exploration of bringing Metta to work by offering Metta for your organization, knowing you are a part of it.  Explore what feels like a good way for you to practice today.

At some point toward the end of the day or evening, consider all of the beings you have practiced for during Take Your Metta To Work Week.  Ask that this practice benefit them as well as all beings.  Ask that your organization and all organizations benefit from this practice and become more heart-centered.  Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you.  It can be incorporated into your own practice of meditation, prayer or reflection.

Journal Notes:  How did it feel to bring your Metta practice to work for a whole week?  Was it helpful to have a meditation practice that you could incorporate into your workday?  Do you feel this is something you would like to continue? Are you more aware of your inner voices or inner critic?  Are you able to respond to these voices with loving-kindness?  Take some time to reflect on your experiences of this week.  Did you notice feeling any different at work as you practiced?  Were there any changes in your attitude or interactions at work?

Take a few moments to honor yourself for your willingness and efforts to be more conscious and heart-centered at work and in the world.

May your day be happy and peaceful.