Tag Archives: Wisdom

Change Your Life Message #1

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Back Camera

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Viktor Frankl

Original Artwork by Beth Terrence

Discover The Healer Within – Connecting With Sacred Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where do I feel a shift?”

“Where do I feel a sense of connection?”

“Where do I feel more at ease?”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lessons from Salmon: A New View On Struggle

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Some days
I flow with the river
Surging
Like a rainbow trout
Others days I thrash and flail
Like a salmon
Desperately trying to get back upstream
Not even knowing what I struggle for

I wrote this poem many years ago at a time when I had a very strong sense of struggle in my life.  The other night I had a dream that I was walking beside a large river.  As I looked into the river, I saw a salmon, then another and then suddenly the river was filled with salmon of all different sizes swimming upstream.  What I noticed was that the salmon were not struggling to get upstream, they were moving with ease, riding the currents below the surface.  It was beautiful to watch the way they were carried with grace and ease as they connected to the currents and just allowed themselves to be carried upstream.

When I awoke, I remembered my poem; it had been a bit of an anthem for me in my 20’s.  I often performed it when I did poetry readings; it seemed to represent the sense of struggle I felt about life.  Now, I notice that even then was able to acknowledge the times when I felt the flow of life although back then I was much more focused on struggle.  Over the years, my sense of flow has definitely increased and now I can see it relates as much to the salmon as to the rainbow trout.

I realize that I mistook the energy of the salmon as struggling when in reality the salmon only appears to be struggling as it moves upstream.  The salmon are not really fighting the currents but jumping to go deeper so that they can ride the reverse currents below the surface that carry them gracefully upstream.   What a beautiful metaphor for life.  At the surface, there is much that appears to be a struggle – there are a plethora of issues we deal with daily such as work, family, finances, health etc.  When we allow ourselves to delve deeper and to go below the surface, the energy and wisdom we need to flow through life is uncovered.  It was there all along but as we jump and dive deeper, we connect with those energies.

For some reason as I am writing this post the title of one of  Zen teacher Cheri Huber’s books comes to mind.  It’s called “When Your Are Taking a Fall – Dive”.   The salmon jumps upstream and is carried by the currents below the surface.  When we allow ourselves to go deeper,  to go within,  all of the support and energy that is an innate part of ourselves becomes accessible.  When we are willing to move with our resistance, there is spaciousness for great changes to occur.  We can learn from the Salmon who jumps out of water, it’s native element, essentially trusting that is will make the connection it needs to be carried upstream.  As we allow ourselves to move out of our comfort zones and be vulnerable, we are able to connect with those energies that can carry us and bring us into greater harmony with life.

I’d like to really honor the wisdom of the Salmon as a Power Animal or Totem.  It is often said that a Power Animal comes to you through a dream, journey or vision quest.  Power Animals can also be animals that we encounter in physical reality and have a strong connection with.   In a sense, they are  a reflection of our innermost essence; they represent our own talents and abilities and the qualities we need to thrive in the world.  When we connect with a Power Animal, we are gifted with a greater awareness as the Totem offers its power, medicine, protection and wisdom unique to its being; this can  help us to learn and grow. The term Totem is derived from the an Ojibwa word ototeman, meaning “one’s brother-sister kin.”  Through cultivating this sacred connection and spiritual support, we are able to become more in touch with our own self and the web of life.

There can be wisdom to learn from all animals whether or not they are our personal Power Animal.  In more traditional cultures, a relationship with animals is innate and reflects a sense of connection to the greater whole.  In many ways, we have lost this connection in modern societies.  Through exploring the energies and qualities of animals and the wisdom they bring, we are honoring our true nature and allowing more of our own essence to emerge.

The Salmon is a major totem for the Eskimo and other cultures along the North Pacific Rim.   For thousands of years, the rhythm of daily life has been ordered in accord with the Salmon population.  The Salmon are thought to inform the humans of their connection with the natural world and attune them to the natural rhythms of life.   Additionally, the Salmon is considered an animal totem in Celtic myth.  According to their mythology, there was a sacred well situated under the sea where the sacred Salmon acquired their wisdom and shared it with the Celtic people.

Some of the medicine or wisdom that Salmon brings includes the awareness that we have the strength within to:

  • Overcome obstacles that present themselves
  • Move steadily on our spiritual journey
  • Find meaning and purpose in our life
  • Swim upstream through emotional waters to gain insight
  • Roll with resistance and fear of change
  • Explore our bonds with the past and gain understanding from of our history
  • Connect with natural rhythms of life
  • Allow ourselves to be childlike, playful, spontaneous and inquisitive
  • Develop awareness of the currents and energies beneath the surface
  • Learn to go deeper to find those energies that support our movement
  • Persevere
  • Find fulfillment within ourselves and harmony with our world
  • Find satisfaction and self-expression through creativity
  • Connect with our source
  • Find strength from within
  • Know we are always home, wherever we may be

There are many books on Power Animals and resources online that can help to gain insight in animal totems.  One of my favorite books is Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.  It can also be beneficial to study, meditate or journey to a Power Animal or animals we feel drawn to and see what specific messages and wisdom they have to offer us.

I’d like to conclude with a new poem honoring Salmon and the deeper understanding I have of it today:

Jumping upstream
Diving deep
Finding currents
Being carried
We grow
We flow
We know
We are always home

Two Birds In A Tree: Knowing Our Essence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste.

Enjoy The Road Of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living from the Heart

Embodying Awareness, Authenticity and Purpose

Integrating a Holistic Approach to Being

Embracing the Interconnectedness of All Things

Honoring and Respecting the Sacredness of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ways to participate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and light,
Beth

Finding Connection Through Ceremony and Ritual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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