Tag Archives: Love

7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge! Cultivating Self-Compassion ~ Day 4

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7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge!

Cultivating Self-Compassion

Day 4

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“Learn to trust your
Feelings and, most of all,
allow yourself to
grow;  perpetual expansion
is the way of the
Heart and the Soul.” 

– Maria Lucia

How to do we learn to trust our feelings and allow ourselves to grow?  There are many practices and techniques that can support us in connecting to our feelings and learning to trust them. First, we must be willing to uncover them and writing offers us the space to allow our feelings, to bring them from deep inside of us out into the light. If we are willing to slow down and listen, there is so much we can learn about ourselves. This is a big part of cultivating self-compassion and expanding Heart & Soul.

A major focus here on The Heart Of Awakening is accessing and allowing our heart wisdom to be our guide.  A powerful way to do this is to practice Being Still.  This helps us to drop out of the busyness of our minds and into the quiet space of the heart.  Today, I am going to share a short stillness practice for you to explore as part of the daily prompt.  This is a practice you may wish continue to use to cultivate self-compassion in an ongoing way. After the practice, take some time to free-write about what you noticed during the experience of Being Still.  

Daily Prompt

Being Still.  Connecting with the heart, with the deeper aspects of oneself requires slowing down and going within.  Just as the turtle pulls into it’s shell when it needs to feels safe, we need to go within to begin to create a different relationship with our self.  Taking time each day to slow down and to be still allows us to connect more fully with the heart and to access the parts of ourselves that need love and healing. 

Find a comfortable position either sitting or lying down.  Place one or both of your hands on your heart and focus your breathing in the center of your chest, your heart center.  Allow yourself to feel your heart and be open to being present with what is arising.  No where to go, nothing to do, just being there in the heart. Spend 5 – 10 minutes, more if you like, just being still in this way.   Eventually, you may wish to use this practice 10 to 30 minutes each day, particularly when working actively on connecting with the energy of the heart and on cultivating self-compassion. 

Free-Writing. Writing is a way to connect with the deeper aspects of ourselves and particularly to track what comes up in still time or as we are working to cultivate self-love.  It is a way to begin to work with the beliefs and feelings that keep us from loving ourselves more fully.  Take some time to write about anything you noticed arising during your Being Still time.  Perhaps certainly feelings such as sadness or frustration arose. Perhaps a particular memory surfaced or you felt resistance to allowing time for yourself in this way.  Simply write whatever you may have noticed.  Maybe you noticed certain sensations in your body or a busy mind. What were you feeling? What were you thinking? Were you able to enter into stillness? How did it feel to allow space to connect with your heart? Just write and then write some more!

Whether you continue with this Being Still practice or explore other meditative, contemplative or even restorative practices such as yoga or tai chi, taking time to free-write afterwards about your experience is a wonderful way to practice writing or journaling for healing.  In reflecting in this way, you often gain deep insights into who you are and what your deeper desires or needs are.  Also, you are showing your inner ones that you matter and that you deserve the time and space to heal! 

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

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Two Guest Posts & Some Big News…

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Believe or not, I am doing a lot of writing lately even though I haven’t been very present on The Heart Of Awakening Blog.  Just know, Spring is coming and I am birthing a lot of new posts for HOA! So stay tuned!

The Big News… is that I am working actively to create the first May Is For Metta book that will carry the program we do here each May on HOA off the web and onto the page!  This is a project I have been working on for sometime and 2015 is the year it is coming together.  So stay tuned!

Also, I have been doing quite a bit of guest blogging.  I have two posts from this week I’d like to share.

One is from the Gently Moving Forward created by Kathleen Nelson Troyer, an amazing coach and mentor; she is also a dear friend!  Kat invited a number of guests to come share this month on the topic of  “Be The Love”, so there are lots of great posts to explore.  My post is called, “What Better Time Than Now!” and is on guess what?  One of our most favored topics here on HOA – Loving Ourselves! Are you willing to embrace all of “you” with love and compassion? 

I was also asked to join a group of 17 shaman in answering the following question on Sarah Petruno’s Shamanism blog:

“What tip would you give for leading a more sacred, enlightened life?” 

Here’s my response and be sure to read the full post as there are lots of great tips to explore!

BethTerrence-1

This Spring look forward to some new posts on Transformation & Healing, Seasonal Well-being, Bach Flower Remedies, Meditation & Mindfulness, Shamanism and more!

Love & light,

Beth

Love Yourself, Live Your Life Summer Breakthrough Program

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

Labyrinth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

How much longer do you want to continue struggling?

Do you want the heart to be a guiding force in your life? 
 
The journey begins with you!
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Day 11 ~ May Is For Metta 2014: Loving-kindness For Mother’s Day

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

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

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

May Is For Metta 2014

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

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

We have been working to connect with and cultivate the energies of loving-kindness and compassion.   As most of us have experienced, it is a process to open ourselves to these qualities, to become receptive to love for ourselves.   Just as a mother so easily listens to her children, the feminine energy within us has the power to deepen our ability to listen, to be still and to go within.   On the simplest level, we can say that the heart is connected to the feminine energy within us and the mind to the masculine.   Our goal is to achieve wholeness, a marriage or union of these energies.  And yet, historically, especially in our culture, we have been more focused on systems of mind and logic rather than heart and intuition.   Through our practice today, we will honor the feminine energy within us, in others and in the world.

Daily Practice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Journal Reflections:

Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.   Did you spend some extra time in your heart today?   How did it feel to practice for Mother Earth?  Did you explore working with more than one Beloved?  How did that feel?  Are you getting more comfortable spending time in your heart center? being still?

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

Wishing you a happy Divine Mother’s Day.

30 Gratitude Quotes To Inspire You!

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Attitude Of Gratitude

Thanksgiving may be over but cultivating an attitude of gratitude is something we can do everyday.  I have decided to invite Gratitude in as a theme on The Heart Of Awakening for the month of December.  One of the things I have learned recently in my explorations on the Path of Peace is that in order to truly achieve peace, we need to bring it beyond the feeling or mental state into an action state.  I feel the same way about Gratitude and will be sharing various explorations to support developing an active practice of gratitude.

Sometimes this simply begins with being inspired by others words and ideas, so here are 30 Gratitude Quotes for you to explore.  Also, please feel free to share your favorite Gratitude quotes in the comments below.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”
 – William James

He is a wise an who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

               “True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”  – Oprah Winfrey

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” – Meister Eckhart  

“Forget yesterday – it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow – you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift – today.”   -Steve Maraboli  

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero  

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you.”
– William Arthur Ward

“Be happy with who you are and what you do, and you can do anything you want.”
– Steve Maraboli

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”
– Anthony Robbins

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” – Yogi Bhajan

“Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude.” – Simone Weil

If we want to keep the blessings of life coming to us, we must learn to be grateful for whatever is given.”
– Harold Klemp

“Gratitude and love are always multiplied when you give freely. It is an infinite source of contentment and prosperous energy.” – Jim Fargiano

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

“The more grateful we are, the more we practice this in our everyday lives, the more connected we become to the universe around us.” – Stephen Richards

“Be grateful for whatever it is that opens you up.” – Allan G. Hunter

“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. Be thankful that you have a glass and grateful that there’s something in it.” – Unknown

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
 – Oprah Winfrey

“To express gratitude is to put into words a beautiful sense of wholeness. Recognizing the people, the experiences, and the extraordinary gifts of life which feed our souls.” – Anna

“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
– Kahlil Gibran

“Gratitude is a form of worship in its own right, as it implies the acceptance of a power greater than yourself.” – Stephen Richards

Poem Of The Week: The Guest House by Rumi

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Dervish

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. 

– Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

7 Ways to Cultivate Love and Compassion for Yourself

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Learn to trust your
Feelings and, most of all,
allow yourself to
grow;

Perpetual expansion
is the way of the
Heart and the Soul
.

– Maria Lucia

One of the earliest posts on The Heart Of Awakening was “7 Ways To Cultivate Love And Compassion For Yourself”; this continues to be one of the most popular and what I feel is one of the most important posts found here. In my personal journey of healing and transformation, learning to love myself was the key that opened the door for new possibilities to emerge.  Although I had tried to work on this on my own in various ways, I had not had tremendous success as the patterning and critical voices I carried overpowered any voices of self-love I might have tried to develop.  Even having focused for years on the heart as a focal point of my spiritual practice, I still felt like I wasn’t worthy enough of my own love and compassion.

In 2003, I had the blessing to connect with a teacher of the heart, Maria Lucia Picaza and spent a year devoting myself to the heart as guide through her program, School Of Spiritual Heart Studies, aka “Heart School”.  This year was a turning point in my life. Interestingly, I was in the beginning of a period of tremendous change – relocation, the loss of my mother, separation, financial stress and a lot more was to come over the next few years.  I call this a blessing because had I not begun to devote myself to the heart and to loving myself at that time I don’t really know how I would have made it through that difficult time.  I continued to have intense major losses for a period of about 3 years and much of that stirred up old traumas and patterns I had not resolved.

Being gifted with the tools that Maria Lucia shared in addition to my spiritual practices and a number of other heart-centered guides in my life, I was able to consciously work to let go of old patterns, feelings and beliefs that were no longer serving me and to move into a new way of being – one of love, compassion and acceptance of myself and others.  If you explore, you may be able to find a copy of Maria Lucia’s book, The Heart’s Unraveling: The Birth of a New Evolutionary Directive, which offers a foundation in shifting our consciousness from a mind based directive to a heart based path.

The post “7 Ways To Cultivate Love And Compassion For Yourself” developed out of an essay I wrote that summed up what I learned about the heart during that year of devotion to the heart.  As I mentioned, even though I attended to this in various ways, previously, this was the first year I totally devoted myself to the heart and it has become my path ever since.  These steps have become a foundation in my personal life, in the work I offer to others individually and in workshops, and in my writings.

I hope you enjoy the post and as always, feel free to share your thoughts, feelings and reflections.

The Heart of Awakening

Perhaps one of the hardest and most healing things we can do for both for ourselves and for the world is to cultivate love and compassion for ourselves.  In the Buddhist practice of Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, it is taught that in order to have love and compassion for others and the world, we must begin with offering those energies to ourselves. In the practice, we begin by generating the feelings and qualities of love and compassion and then repeating phrases like these: 

May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free of suffering. May I have ease of well-being.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is understood that without a strong foundation of compassion for ourselves, we will not have the ability to truly embody those qualities in the world and extend them to other beings.  For many of us, who have grown up in western culture, it goes against…

View original post 1,555 more words

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!

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Loving Ourselves As A Key To Change & Healing

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HeartBeing

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~ Rumi

One of the foundations of The Heart Of Awakening Blog is the concept of Loving Ourselves As A Key To Change & Healing.  As change has come so strongly into the container this month, I am feeling to share a link to one of HOA’s most popular posts, 7 Ways To Cultivate Love & Compassion For Yourself.  This post offers a great exploration of this concept and some simple steps to begin to deepen is self-love and acceptance.  This is an important aspect of any change process and particularly if we are working to move out of limiting patterns and beliefs which we may be carrying that no longer support us.  Often, this can be related to the inner critic or approaching change with an attitude of harshness or rigid self-discipline.  As we begin to shift into a place of gentleness and compassionate self-discipline, new possibilities emerge for us on our journey of change and healing.  I hope you will take some time to explore this post.

Also, during the month of July, I will be offering a Free Teleclass on Monday, June 22nd at 12 PM EST that will explore Loving Ourselves~ A Key To Change & Healing as well as a live workshop in Annapolis, MD on Saturday, 7/27 on Living From The Heart: From Cholesterol To Consciousness With Herbalist/Health Educator Leigh Glenn of Art of Earth.  If you’d like to learn more about these events or to register online see the links below or feel free to drop me a note.

Loving Ourselves~ A Key To Change & Healing Free Teleclass on 7/22

Living From The Heart: From Cholesterol To Consciousness Workshop in Annapolis, MD on 7/27

I’d love to hear your experiences and reflections on loving ourselves as a key to change and healing or anything that is arising in your change process at this time.

Love & light,

Beth

Day 28 ~ May Is For Metta: Being A Beacon Of Loving-kindness

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Quanyin

“Love and peace are qualities we cultivate through the choices we make.  It is up to each of us to make this choice of our own accord and equally our opportunity to share this energy from within.  No one can do it for us.  So if you wish to see how much love and peace is growing on the planet… be that love and peace and you will begin to notice it all around you.  In fact, you will become a part of the very process itself and others will come to know you for this energy in action.

Peace is not a static state as many may think.  In reality it is a very dynamic energy that moves in where strife and chaos attempt to control and tempers these situations so that all can be balanced naturally.  Love is the same way.  When we choose to love unconditionally, we bring the highest potential into every situation and heal generations of conflict… simply by letting go and loving all involved, including ourselves.” – Harold W. Becker

We are moving into the last few days of our practice together for now.  Take some time today to notice any awareness that may have arisen for you during your exploration of May is for Metta.  Also, spend some time considering how you would like to structure your practice going forward.  Will you continue to practice Metta or maybe you’d like to explore another type of practice?  Will you continue a daily meditation practice?  How has it felt to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion for your self, others and the world?

Today, explore carrying the energy of Metta, loving-kindness with you wherever you go.  As the above quote explores, the qualities we are working with in our Metta practice our not static, they are dynamic.  As you practice Metta, you are bringing the vibration of loving-kindness and compassion with you – into every moment, every interaction and every relationship.  This is a conscious choice that you are making to shift your vibration in a way that benefits your own being as well as others and the world.  Today, really feel yourself radiating the energy of loving-kindness and compassion out to the people and places around you.  Imagine you are a beacon for loving-kindness, a bright light that illuminates life with loving-kindness; and, as you move about this energy is radiated in all directions.  You may use the phrases if you feel to – for a specific person, place or group, or even for the whole world.  Or, you may just wish to extend the energy or quality of loving-kindness and compassion out to others and the world.  This is a quality you now know well.  You know how to cultivate it within yourself through your practice; this is the foundation for extending Metta to others.  Today is an opportunity to carry that with you more fully into your life, relationships and the world.

Continue with your sitting practice for all of the categories or the ones you choose.  If there was a certain category you struggled with, you may wish to spend some time with that category and explore what thoughts and feelings arise as you practice.

Daily Practice: Do your foundational practices.  Find a quiet place and a comfortable position.  Set an intention for your practice.  Imagine yourself in a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness; remember a time when you felt held in unconditional love.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

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

When you feel ready to move on, come back to your own heart center and the feeling of loving-kindness within.  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.  As you begin, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with:

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

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

Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.  Think of all the beings you have practiced for today and over the last month.  Ask that the merit of your practice be for the benefit of all beings knowing that in sharing this merit you, too, are receiving immense benefit.

Journal Notes: What have you noticed during your exploration of Metta?  Are you planning to continue with Metta?  What other practices would you like to explore?  Have you taken time to honor yourself for your efforts?  If so, how did that feel?  If not, what is stopping you?  Have you explored journaling as a way to uncover thoughts, patterns and beliefs, which you may be holding that are no longer serving you?  Now may be a good time to explore this.

I honor each of you for your willingness to deepen into loving-kindness and compassion.

May you have a peaceful and happy day.

Day 27 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Create Your Own Loving-kindness Practice

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Quanyin

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

Each time I explore the writings of Albert Einstein, I am just so amazed.  He was not only a master in the realm of science but of spirituality as well.  His words offer deep insights into universal consciousness, the interconnectedness of all things and the importance of being centered in the heart.  Each time we practice Metta, we are widening our circle of compassion and embracing all beings with loving-kindness.  Each time we do this for ourselves and for others, we are increasing our ability to move beyond our “delusion” of separation; we are opening the doorway to experiencing oneness.  What a beautiful journey to be on together!

At this point in our Metta practice, we have explored practicing with all of the categories in a variety of ways.  As I have shared, it is really up to you how you would like to practice.  There may be days you just practice for yourself; there may be some when you feel to do the full practice and some when you choose specific categories to work with.  This is one of the gifts of Metta practice.  Your practice can be adapted on a daily basis or you may wish to practice in a certain way for a period of time.  For the rest of our time together, we may explore a few more ways to practice, but at this point, you have all you need to create your own daily practice.

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.  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.

In addition to your sitting practice, 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.  When you feel complete with generating the feeling of loving-kindness and offering it to yourself, begin to consider which categories you would like to practice for today:

  • Benefactor
  • Beloved
  • Neutral Being
  • Difficult Person
  • All Beings

As you begin to extend Metta to whichever beings you choose, say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”  Begin to offer the phrases:

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

Whenever you feel complete with a category, come back to your heart center for a few moments before going on to the next one.  You may wish to explore practicing for a longer period of time with some or all of the categories.  As always, let your heart be your guide.

When you have completed your practice, take some time to dedicate the merit for the benefit of all beings without exception.  I would also like to continue to extend the offering of peace we brought in yesterday as part of the practice, by saying, “May Peace Prevail On Earth.”  You can join in this if you feel to by adding it to the dedication of merit or just be repeating a few times at the end of your practice.  Spend a few moments reflecting on your practice and expressing gratitude for your experience in a way that feels appropriate to you.

Journal Notes:  How did it feel to create your own practice?  Are you noticing you are more comfortable practicing for some categories and than others?  Did you have any difficult feelings arise during your practice?  Are you remembering to practice for yourself when difficult thoughts or feelings arise throughout the day?  Have you shared your experiences of Metta with anyone in your life?

May you day be filled with sunshine and happiness.

Day 24 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Guided Loving-kindness Practice

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Quanyin

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Rumi

I feel like Rumi’s poem really speaks to all that we have been exploring in our practice of Metta.  Everything that arises, in ourselves, in our relationships with others and in the world, is a gift.  It is in our willingness to be present and opening our hearts to what is arising that we are able to become more conscious and awake.  As we embrace all that we experience with loving-kindness and compassion, we naturally begin to transform ourselves and our world.  Thank you for sharing in this journey of exploration and transformation.

We are moving into our last week of May Is For Metta 2013.  I hope you are enjoying our exploration of loving-kindness and are finding the posts beneficial.  Please stop by to share any thoughts, feelings or reflections.  Also, if you have any questions you would like us to explore during our last week of practice, drop a note here or  on the HOA Facebook page.

For today, I felt to share a replay of Sunday’s May Is For Metta Community Teleclass.  This recording offers an introduction to May Is For Metta as well as a full guided meditation practice.  Feel free to work with it in whatever way you feel to.  It’s about 53 minutes long.  Perhaps you have time to listen to the whole thing at once or you prefer to just listen to the beginning.  Also, you may wish to pause in certain parts to practice longer for a certain category.  Or, you may wish to just practice in your own way today; it’s all up to you.  Tune into your heart as guide and see what feels right.

If you prefer not to work with the audio today, just choose a previous post to work with, perhaps one that you loved or maybe one that you had some difficulty with.  Remember, it’s all about exploring what’s arising and being gentle and loving with yourself as you practice.

Journal Notes: Are you finding you are able to be more present and in the moment?  Have you noticed any changes in your relationships since you began your practice? with yourself? with others? with the world?  How would you like to work with the practice over this next week?  Do you have any thoughts or reflections you wish to share?  Are there any questions you have been pondering that you would like to bring to the community for exploration?  Are you continuing to be gentle and loving with yourself as you practice? in daily life?

Have a most beautiful day.

Day 22 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Planting Seeds Of Loving-kindness

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Quanyin

 “Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness,and

dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness”.  – Buddha

It is a natural aspect of life that we are troubled by difficult emotional states and often, we find it difficult to find ways to deal with them.  However, even when the mind is troubled, it is within the capacity of each of us to arouse positive feelings.  The Buddha taught the practice of Metta meditation to develop the mental habit of loving-kindness and compassion for one’s self and others.

Loving-kindness is a practice which can bring about positive attitudinal changes.  It assists in developing a quality of loving acceptance.  This is a way of healing the mind and freeing it from pain and confusion.  Metta practice offers the immediate benefit of changing our habitual negative patterns present in the mind as well bringing about a positive outlook on life.

Sometimes the response to Metta is immediate; we begin to feel more loving-kindness and happiness right away.  Other times, we do the practice, and do it some more, and do not feel very different.  Still, even without feeling, it is important to know that we are creating a positive change in the mind and in life.  It is like planting a seed.  It takes time for the seed to develop and to begin to burst forth.  Think of Metta practice as planting seeds for the cultivation of loving-kindness and compassion in your life and in the world.

One of the ways we can work with Metta is in response to things that happen in the world such as the tornadoes in Oklahoma this week or other tragedies that are happening in every moment.  Or, maybe there is someone we know who is suffering from a disease such as cancer or perhaps the loss of a loved one.  Regardless of the size or scope of the situation, what is happening is that we are becoming aware of suffering.  It is possible we may be able to do something outwardly to help.  It is also possible we are having a strong or difficult reaction to this suffering.

Offering Metta in response to tragedy or the awareness of another’s suffering is one of the great gifts of the practice.  We may or may not be able to do something outwardly, but inwardly we can generate loving-kindness and compassion for those in need.   So let’s take some time today in our practice to offer Metta to the people of Oklahoma and to others around the world who are suffering.  Perhaps something you saw in the news today pulled at your heart-strings; this is a perfect opportunity to practice Metta.

Today, let’s work with the full practice and all of the categories.  If for any reason this feels too much or is an obstacle to your practice, then just choose a few categories to work with.  Just take a few moments to breathe into your heart center and feel what is right for you today.

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  in a time when you felt held in that way.  Then, begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

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

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.  Use the phrases that feel best to you.

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

If you become distracted at any point or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning your practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Then, return your practice to where you left off.  When you are ready to complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with loving-kindness and compassion. Let this energy support you as you journey through the day.

Anytime you become aware of someone, somewhere in the world, or some group of people who are suffering, take a few moments to practice on the spot.  This is a gift to others and the world and to yourself as you are choosing to open your heart in a moment when it may feel like closing.  In offering loving-kindness and compassion, you are opening to receive it more deeply as well.  And, remember, each time that you practice Metta you are planting seeds of loving-kindness and compassion that can grow and flow where they are needed in the world.

Journal Notes: How are you feeling about your Metta practice?  Are you noticing a difference in how you feel or what you are experiencing?  If yes, what is that like?  If no, are you okay knowing you are planting seeds?  Do you think you may continue to practice Metta or daily meditation after the 31 days?  If so, what will that look like?  If not, what is stopping you?   Did you explore practicing on the spot?

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

Day 20 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Take Your Metta To Work Day

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Take Your Metta To Work Day

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

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Our intention for today will be to bring our Metta practice more fully into our daily lives.  Today, is Take Your Metta To Work Day.   Although the main focus will be to bring Metta into our work life, it can really be explored anywhere  – at work, at school, or in the community.  Feel free to adapt the practice so it works for you.

The relationship between our personal lives and our work lives has often been one of disconnection or separation.  When we go to work, we put on our work persona.  When we come home, we take it off.  Although things are shifting, the process is still slow.  Even when organizations and individuals desire to be more open and heart centered, the transition is difficult as there is really no pattern to follow.

Metta practice offers a way for an individual to stay connected with their heart center and bring more of their authenticity to all of their experiences, including work.  The goal is to allow one’s whole, integrated self to emerge and shine through.  Metta offers organizations an opportunity to cultivate a culture of open-heartedness, mindfulness and acceptance.  Meditation practice also supports greater clarity, clearer focus, improved wellness, reduced stress, increased productivity and enhanced creativity in the workplace.

Basically, bringing Metta meditation practice to work is a win-win situation.  So, whether you are an individual wanting to bring your personal practice more fully into your daily life or you are an organization wanting create change, bringing Metta practice to work offers a powerful tool for transformation.

For anyone who is joining in at this time, it may be helpful to read the earlier posts on Exploring Metta and Days 1 – 3 to gain an understanding of the foundational practices.  As we Take Our Metta To Work, I encourage you to continue a sitting practice if you have been cultivating one.  However, you can also do the practice at work or on your way to work.  This is an opportunity to bring Metta more fully into daily life and carry our practice to work.  Feel free to “just play” and explore what is best for you today.

It is good to begin the day with Metta practice for yourself but you can also do it as you arrive at work as a way to engage your whole self and move into your work from a heart centered place.  This can be both exciting and scary, so as always remember to be gentle and loving with your self.  The greatest gift of bringing Metta to work is continuing to carry your personal practice of Loving-kindness with you wherever you go and allowing your true self to come through in a space where you may have a tendency to constrict your own essence.

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.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

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

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  As you go about your day, do this a few times.  Any time that you experience stress or difficult emotions during your day, explore using your foundational practices – imagine your circle of loving beings surrounding you,  connect with your heart center or repeat some phrases for yourself for a few moments.  You will be amazed to see how a moment or two of Metta can change your day.

Sometimes people like to do this periodically throughout the day, in a proactive way.  One of my clients sets an alarm on his cell phone every hour that reminds him to take a moment to cultivate Metta for himself.  This helps him to stay connected to the heart as well as remain centered and grounded.  He finds that this supports his ability to be more focused, balanced and productive throughout the day.

One of the overall intentions of May is for Metta is to support transformation in our world and organizations are an important part of it.  So, I invite you to include a few moments of today’s practice for your organization.  You can choose the whole organization or if it feels to large, you can work with your department or team.

Remember you can adapt this practice to work, school or community depending on how you spend your day.  The idea is to bring our loving-kindness and compassion to a larger community that we are a part of and that we share a common experience with.  This helps to foster a more compassionate connection within our organizations and communities.  It can also support the alignment of organizational energy and mission.

Check that you are centered in the energy of loving-kindness.  If you need to practice a bit more for yourself, do so.  Then, when you are ready, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization, remembering that an organization is made up of individuals and is also its own energetic entity.  You are offering Metta to everyone and everything that makes up your organization, school, or community.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.”  Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:

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

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  Sometimes, working with a larger group is difficult or you may have mixed feelings about some of the people you work with or the organization itself.  Just notice.  This is something to explore.  A part of our practice is noticing where we experience openness and spaciousness and where we experience resistance or constriction.  This is a way of getting to know ourselves more deeply and recognizing how we respond to our experiences in the world.

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 your organization.  If working with your whole organization is too much, or difficult to hold your attention on, then you can switch to a smaller group within the organization.

When you feel ready to move on, enter into your heart center once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within your self.  Envision yourself in your circle of loving beings.  Do this in whatever way feels good to you. Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.

Other opportunities for practice today including offering Metta for someone  you work with who you find difficult or challenging or for a coworker who you consider a friend.  Perhaps there is even someone you notice at work who fits into the category of Neutral Being, but for some reason you feel to offer loving-kindness to them today.  If you can, try to offer Metta for all of the categories as you go about your day.  This does not need to be in any order but just as you remember or notice an opportunity for practice.

At the end of your day, dedicate the merit of today’s daily practice for all beings.   Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit and also, for all organizations to be more heart centered.  Remember 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:  How did it feel to explore bringing Metta to work?  How did it feel to do Metta for your organization?  Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your practice?  If so, spend some time writing about them.  Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta to yourself throughout the day?  If yes, how did it feel to do so?  If not, why?  Were you too busy?  Were you able to explore the various categories while at work?  How does it feel to consider being more loving and compassionate to yourself and others at work?

May you have a peaceful and joyful day.

 

Day 19 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Bringing Our Loving-kindness Practice Together

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Quanyin

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta by  working with all of the categories to experience the full practice of Metta.   If for some reason this feels too much, just choose a few to work with for today.  A question arose about the phrases which I have been exploring and pondering during this  year’s practice.   The question had to do with the difference between the Metta phrases and affirmations and wondering why not to use statements like, “I am happy, I am peaceful, I am free of suffering, etc.” rather than “May I be…”.   I am sure there are some complex answers to this and yet, the simple one that has arisen is that rather than affirming, when we use the Metta phrases we are inviting those qualities to begin to arise.  We may not be that in this moment, but we are inviting the qualities of loving-kindness and compassion to arise within us and then offering that they arise for others in the same way.  There feels like there is some fertile ground for exploration and discussion of this topic, so feel free to drop a note here or on the Facebook page with your reflections on the phrases.

Also, I came across this explanation of what Metta “is not” on the Wildmind Buddhist Meditation website which feels like it may be helpful:

  • Metta isn’t the same thing as feeling good, although when we feel metta we do feel more complete, and usually feel more joyful and happy.  But it’s possible to feel good and for that not to be metta. We can feel good, but be rather selfish and inconsiderate, for example.  Metta has a quality of caring about others.
  • Metta isn’t self-sacrifice.  A metta-full individual is not someone who always puts others before themselves.  Metta has a quality of appreciation, and we need to learn to appreciate ourselves as well as others.
  • Metta isn’t something unknown.  We all experience Metta.  Every time you feel pleasure in seeing someone do well, or are patient with someone who’s a bit difficult, or are considerate and ask someone what they think, you’re experiencing Metta.
  • Metta isn’t denying your experience.  To practice Metta doesn’t mean “being nice” in a false way.  It means that even if you don’t like someone, you can still have their welfare at heart.
  • Metta isn’t all or nothing.  Metta exists in degrees, and can be expressed in such simple ways as simple as politeness and courtesy.

As we work with the phrases, it is good to find ones that work for us and also, to explore the ones we struggle with.  It’s all about being open to our experience and what is arising in each moment within ourselves.  Really, the phrases are merely translating the energetic quality of loving-kindness and compassion into language and so if you find yourself struggling with a phrase, it may be helpful to return to a time when you felt that energy or imagine yourself again in your circle of loving beings.

Daily Practice: Once again, find a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or just enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself.

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

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  Or, if you prefer, choose a few categories to work with today.  You may even want to offer Metta for more than one person in a particular category.  Be open to exploring what feels good to you, but also consider exploring the full practice today or tomorrow just to see how it feels to work with all of the categories.  There is a wonderful opportunity to explore how we respond to others and the world as we work with the various categories and sometimes it is helpful to flow through the full practice to see where we experience openness and spaciousness and where our resistance resides.

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

Journal Notes:  Are you noticing openness or resistance to certain phrases?  Have you found phrases that feel good to you?  How does it feel to do a more expanded practice?  Are you able to make the time and space to practice?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?

May you all have a peaceful day.

Also, if you would like to join us for our May Is For Metta Community Teleclass Gathering tonight at 8 PM EST or receive access to the replay, click here to register.  This is a free event.  Hope you’ll join us.

Day 16 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Explorations in Loving-kindness Practice

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Quanyin

“I am larger and better than I thought, I did not think I had so much goodness.” – Walt Whitman

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta by working with all of the categories we have worked with so far or by choosing a few we feel to work with today.  It’s your practice, so it’s up to you.  As we proceed over the rest of our month-long practice of Metta we will explore working in various ways including the full practice.  Some days you may feel to do the full practice; others you may feel to do just a few of the categories.  There may be some days when you feel to return your practice solely to yourself to deepen your experience of loving-kindness and compassion.  We will continue to explore together and I encourage you to explore on your own as well.

The practice of Metta is about opening one’s heart and inviting loving-kindness and compassion to become a guiding force in life.  We cannot control what happens in the world, in our day-to-day experiences or in our relationships.  The only thing that we can do is create change in ourselves and in our attitude toward life.  Instead of responding from a place of reaction, we can arrive with tenderness and an open heart.  When we have uncomfortable feelings arise, we can embrace them with loving-kindness and compassion or we can just be with them.  Either way, we can do so in a way that is gentle and loving to ourselves.

Many of us have been taught to put up walls, sometimes fortresses, around ourselves as a mechanism for survival and protection.  Creating this type of container may have afforded us some basic protection when we had no other tools but it also limited our ability to experience love on a deeper level.  In practicing Metta, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  As we do this, we begin to melt away some of those walls.  Then, we extend the energy of loving-kindness out to others and the world.  We recognize that all beings wish to be happy as we wish to be happy. We begin to not only sense, but also experience that we are all the same, that we are one.

As you practice today, I encourage you to allow yourself to feel that sense of connection and oneness.  Also, as you go about your day, if you encounter a person or situation which triggers you to put up walls or to feel you are separate or different, explore practicing Metta in that moment – first, for yourself and then, for the others involved.  Remind yourself that just as you wish to be happy, all other beings wish to be happy.

Daily Practice: Do your foundational practices.  Once again, find a comfortable position.  Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or just enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness. Begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

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

When you feel ready, move on to practicing for all of the categories we have worked with or the ones you have chosen for today using the phrases that feel best to you.  Here is a list of the categories we have worked with:

  • Self
  • Benefactor/Mentor
  • Beloved – Family Member or Good Friend
  • Neutral Being
  • Difficult Person

As you begin each category, acknowledge that just as you wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being whom you are practicing for as do all beings.  Then, generate the feelings of loving-kindness for the person or being in that category.  Offer the phrases you have been working with:

  • May you have mental happiness.
  • May you have physical happiness.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

If you become distracted at any point or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning your practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  Then, return your practice to the category where you left off.  When you feel complete with a category, come back to your own heart center for a moment and reconnect with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  When you are ready, call on the image of the being or person you will offer Metta for in the next category of your practice.  Each time you complete a category, come back to your heart center for a few moments and then move onto the next category.

As I indicated, you can work with all of the categories above or just choose a few for today.  We will add the category of All Beings tomorrow.  Also, if you don’t feel to do all the categories as part of your sitting practice, you can work with them during the day as you are out and about in the world.  And remember, if you don’t have the time or space for a sitting practice right now, you can always do your whole Metta practice out in the world – Anytime, Anywhere!

When you are ready to complete your practice, return to your circle of loving beings or see yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion that you have been cultivating.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you.  Let every atom and cell of your being absorb loving-kindness and compassion.  Take a few moments to dedicate the merit of your practice for the benefit of your self, others and all beings.

Journal Notes:  Are you noticing more openness or resistance to certain categories?  Have you found phrases that feel good to you?  How does it feel to do a more expanded practice?  Are you able to make the time and space to practice? Are you exploring Metta in your daily life?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself?

May you all have happy and fun-filled day.

Day 15 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Offering Loving-kindness For A Difficult Person

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Quanyin

“Hatred can never cease by hatred.

Hatred can only cease by love.

This is an eternal law.”

– Buddha

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta for the category of a Difficult person.  Consider someone who you have a deeper degree of difficulty with but not the most severe of challenges.  Perhaps, there is an ongoing situation, which you cannot change outwardly.  Maybe, yesterday or even today, you had an interaction that is causing you frustration, annoyance, or anger.  Perhaps your mind is not able to let go of something or someone.   Metta offers an opportunity to work with what is arising in the moment and in our daily experience.  We can utilize our practice to assist in transforming our attitude from the negative to the positive in any given moment.

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 your circle of loving beings.  Allow yourself to absorb the energy of loving-kindness and compassion into your heart and into every atom and cell of your being.  Begin to send Metta to yourself by using the phrases you have been working with:

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

When you feel immersed in loving-kindness, bring an image of the Difficult person you will work with into your awareness.  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, repeat 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.

If you struggle sending loving-kindness to your Difficult person, you may wish to imagine them as vulnerable.  Perhaps as a helpless infant or someone who is on their death-bed.  Allow yourself to feel their fragility rather than their harshness, which is a trigger for you.  Allow yourself to feel this being’s humanness.  Remember that they, too, are suffering in some way.

Accept the feelings that arise for you and let them move through.  You may feel anger, frustration, sadness or grief; just let it flow.  If at any point, the feelings become overwhelming, switch back to practicing for your self.  You may wish to ask yourself, “Who is the one suffering from this anger or sadness?”  You are the one who is holding onto this feeling, the other person has most likely moved on.  Begin to let these emotions go to ease your own heart.  When you feel ready, return your practice to the difficult person until you feel complete.

Finish your practice by returning to your heart center or circle of loving beings.  Offer a few rounds of phrases for your self for your willingness to be present and work with difficult feelings and resistance.  When you are complete with your practice, take a few moments to dedicate the merit for the benefit of all who are suffering, yourself and your Difficult person included.  Use the words that feel right to you.

Journal Notes:  What are you noticing about practicing Metta for a Difficult person?  Was it any different today?  Are you able to let go of difficult feelings that you are holding onto?  If so, how does that feel?  If not, why are you still holding on? How is practicing Metta affecting your daily life?

I thank all of you for participating with me in this journey of Metta.  Our virtual Sangha or community is worldwide; the loving-kindness and compassion we are generating is universal!

May you have a day filled with inner peace and calm.