Finding My Centre

Woman Sitting On The Rock And Meditating In Yoga Pose. Back View

“The centre of the energetic body is recognized in various healing sciences and traditions. In the Chinese Qigong it is known as Dantian, the Japanese name is Hara, and in the Sufi tradition, the Kath.

The location of the Dantian is in the lower belly, just below the navel, sitting a few centimetres below the skin’s surface as an orb of organized energy. In modern society, so many of us are constantly flooded with expectations and emotions. We have lost the ancient wisdom of living from our true centre: where peace and calm exist, rooted in our inner wisdom and knowingness. When we operate from this place, we are grounded, patient and free of anxiety.

Next time you meditate or find yourself in a highly emotional or anxious state, close your eyes and focus on your Dantian. Breathe into it. Hold it in your mind. Feel to coming home to your true nature. You are here. You are enough.”

~ Zach Bush, M.D.

I have recently started to notice a deeply ingrained pattern. When I am faced with a challenging situation, I lose my grounding and I look outwards for the answers. What resource can I consult? What expert or trusted friend can give me advice? How can I confirm that my actions are the right ones? There is a lack of trust and deep feelings of fear that arise within me.

The other day, as I struggled with some difficult issues, I sought advice from a friend. Rather than offering me a solution to my problem, however, she counselled me to stop looking outwards and to start turning inwards. She wisely reminded no one can direct me on path except myself. Her guidance was to re-connect with my inner knowing. To seek the guidance of the quiet, steady core of myself that represents the integrated whole: the Dantian. She assured me that if you are still and you listen, it will show you the way.

Our society encourages action. We are told, from an early age, to be productive and efficient. The idea of sitting in stillness to seek answers from within is counter intuitive to this social conditioning. My instinct is always to “do something” but it is this frenetic doing that feeds into a feeling of groundlessness. Often, the most important thing to “do” is to stop and reflect: to create space for the solution to present itself. As I have been testing out this approach, I have been surprised at the answers that naturally arise from within. It is empowering to discover that I often know what to do in my body before I do in my mind.

Here is an exercise that I have been testing out recently to connect with my Dantian:

First, find a quiet space. Sit and close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Feel your hips on the chair. Settle them in. Imagine strong roots running down from your spine and hips into the ground: creating a solid, flowing connection with the earth.

Allow for any negative or fearful emotions to run from your body down into the rich, dark soil. Release all tension and anxiety. Feel it being received and absorbed. Breathe and sit quietly.

Now imagine the nourishing energy of the earth running back up these roots and into your body. Feel the loving, positive energy fill your whole being. Feel it centre and radiate in the space beneath your navel. Hold it there lightly. Breathe and sit quietly.

When it feels right, ask your inner wisdom the answer to your question. Listen and be still. Be patient and wait for the answer to present itself to you.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for my monthly newsletter in the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Fear of the Unknown

Royal Self

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver – In Blackwater Woods

I am currently in the middle of another period of great personal upheaval in my life. Family members are aging and unwell; relationships and situations that once felt strong, solid and unshakable are shifting and moving. Life is looking me squarely in the eye and saying: “Nothing remains the same.”

My natural inclination is to resist change. My tendency is to choose the familiar over the unfamiliar. I like to create systems, map things out and control my environment through order. This false sense of security works for me until the ground shakes and throws me off balance: revealing that everything is fluid and ever shifting. I am slowly realizing that my resistance is at the core of my discomfort: making a very difficult situation even harder to navigate.

The human brain is not comfortable with the unknown. It likes to create stories and imagine what will happen next, rather than sit in the vast and open discomfort of unknowing. The stories we create do not protect us from what is to come; they only result in generating unnecessary worry and anxiety. 99.9% of the time, what we imagine will happen is not anything close to what ends up taking place.

Almost 2600 years ago, the Buddha uncovered the root of human suffering; and he outlined his discovery in the four noble truths. Here is a brief summary of them, as summarized from this article by Ronald Alexander, and his book Wise Mind, Open Mind:

1st Noble Truth: In life, there is suffering, because of the impermanent nature of things.

Humans have developed great capacity for denying a simple truth: nothing stays the same. Even if we do everything “right” and exercise every precaution, we will still face unexpected loss. It is important to learn to let go, and try to create space for what is actually unfolding, however uncomfortable.

2nd Noble Truth: Suffering is due to attachments and expectations, to grasping and clinging.

Clinging to the past, or avoiding the process of grief or acceptance, creates suffering. Grasping for a future set of circumstances identical to the past holds you back from discovering what better roads lie ahead, outside of your sight. The desire to backtrack or reconstruct will likely result in your walking around in circles, lost in the dark woods, instead of peering around corners to find new paths. When we can completely let go and stop struggling against the reality of the current moment, it allows us to embrace the groundlessness of our situation, and relax into its dynamic quality.

3rd Noble Truth: It is possible to end suffering by giving up attachments (clinging) and expectations (grasping).

There is no such thing as a permanent sense of happiness. We must broaden our definition of what we need in order to be happy; this includes letting go of habits of clinging and grasping to the past and expectations for the future, as well as the need to control external circumstances.

4th Noble Truth: The way to end suffering due to clinging and grasping is through balance and living in the present.

It is important to balance a thirst for something better with an acceptance of what is taking place, right here, right now. Balance allows you to live in the present moment and trust that your acceptance will clear the way of confusion and distractions: showing you how to move forward into happiness again. The paradox of change is until you can accept what is, you cannot move into what might be.

______________________________________________

There is much to be said about the power of gratitude. It helps to focus the mind on the tiny, beautiful things unfolding in front of you, rather than to allow it to jump into the unknown. Lately, when my thoughts start to rush ahead, I make a conscious effort to bring myself back to the present moment, and to really notice what is around me: the sound of birds calling outside of my window; the beauty of my sleeping child’s face; the enjoyment of walking my dog. I remind myself what I am grateful for in my life and what is working well. It does not take the fear away but it does help to anchor me in a groundless situation.

The one guarantee in this life is change. I cannot influence or control this reality; but I can determine my reaction to it. If I can begin to allow for the discomfort of not knowing what the future holds, it creates space for me to be present in the current moment. This opens up the possibility of discovering solutions and a path forward. Putting one foot in front of the other, I trust that this difficult period will eventually end, as everything eventually does; and I will emerge out the other side, back into the light.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for my monthly newsletter in the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Joy & Vulnerability

Freedom woman with open arms silhouette in sunrise against sun f

As I have written about in previous posts, I love the work of Dr. Brené Brown. I recently watched her new special “The Call to Courage” on Netflix and it is a great reflection of the her decades of research on shame and vulnerability and the path to living a whole-hearted life. I highly recommend that you check it out.

In watching the show, I was reintroduced to a concept that I have been thinking about all week. I would like to share with you, as it really resonated with me:

When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.

When experiencing overwhelming feelings of love, we are at our most vulnerable; and it can trigger a dress rehearsal for tragedy. Brené outlines the example of a parent standing over his/her sleeping child. In that moment, the parent is filled with deep joy, followed by feelings of terror that something will happen to take the child away from him/her.

Worrying about things that have not happened does not protect us from pain. These thoughts only prevent us from truly experiencing the beauty of the moment before us. The next time you are worrying about “what ifs”, Brené suggests that you follow it with an acknowledgement that: “I am feeling vulnerable.” This creates space from the worry and brings you back into the present moment: revealing it to be a thought, not reality.

She encourages cultivating a regular practice of gratitude, as the most grateful people are the most joyful. When fear is triggered by joy, she suggests making a conscious effort to remember the things you are grateful for: then speak your gratitude or capture it in a journal.

Lastly, she outlines how to appreciate the ordinary moments. In a culture of scarcity, we are taught to seek the extraordinary; this leads us to miss out on the beauty of the ordinary moments unfolding before us on a regular basis. Take note of the small things that you appreciate about your family, work and friends: the fresh smell of your child’s hair after a bath; laughter at the family dinner table; the enjoyment of a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It is these things that help us to connect with joy on a regular basis, appreciate the present moment, and lean into the discomfort of not knowing the future.

The good news is that joy, collected over time, fuels resilience—ensuring we will have reservoirs of emotional strength when hard things do happen; and the remedy for fear is gratitude.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for my monthly newsletter in the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Magical Thinking

Radiant Orange Lotus With Rays Of Light, Water Lily, Enlightenme

When I was a child, I loved running around barefoot in nature; it made me feel deeply connected to the earth. I believed in fairies and unicorns. I dreamed of true love, myths and fairy tales.  I was confident in myself and connected to the strong beat of my own heart. I loved to sing and write and draw; and I did these activities voraciously and without inhibition.

As I moved through the school system, I was often teased for being too sensitive, naive and trusting. I was laughed at for believing in magic and mystery. And eventually, I came to devalue my gifts of creativity, communication and insight. Being a highly adaptive person, I soon learned to camouflage myself and assimilate with the group of the day. I lost touch with my core sense of being; and for most of my adolescence and early adulthood, I was very skilled at being just like the people around me.

Now that I have tipped over the edge of forty, and survived my marriage falling apart, I have spent the last year taking stock of the remains: and I discovered that under the ashes is me. The authentic, real me. She is a little cramped and sore from hiding all of these years; but there is love and hope shining brightly in her heart, and she still believes in magic. As Glennon Doyle Melton so eloquently describes it: “You have been offered the gift of crisis…the Greek root of the word crisis is ‘to sift’, as in, to shake out the excesses and leave only what’s important. That’s what crises do. They shake things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most. The rest falls away.”

During this difficult time of transformation and change, I have tried to approach my journey with curiosity and an open heart. As a result, I have discovered a range of healing tools that defy reason and logic; and they have reconnected me with the magical thinking of childhood. These little practices serve as a touchstone. They connect me to universal energy and flow. They give me hope and comfort; and through them, I have learned that everything does not always have to “make sense”. It can just feel right and give joy. And so, I trust my intuition, and I keep on exploring. I let myself play and laugh and believe.

Here are some of my favourites to date:

Crystals: For thousands of years, ancient civilizations have utilized the power of crystals to release mental, physical and spiritual blockages: facilitating the free flow of energy throughout the body. Mined from deep within the earth, these stones are believed to contain unique properties and support energetic healing and well-being. I like to wear them (necklaces, earrings, bracelets) and I also like to place them throughout my home and office. Some of my favourites are: moonstone; aventurine; carnelian; sunstone; citrine and labradorite.

Aromatherapy: This practice uses natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance well-being. There are literally hundreds of scents and combinations, which provide many different therapeutic benefits. Some of my personal favourites are rose, geranium and lavender. They can be enjoyed in a number of ways. I like to use them in a diffuser in my home and in the bath at night.

Oracle Cards: Oracle cards provide insight and guidance for any situation. There are many different kinds of cards, with varying themes and intentions. I often like to use angel cards if I have a specific question or I am looking for a nudge in the right direction. I also enjoy having a set of cards on hand that simply provide positive daily affirmations and inspiration.

Spirit Animals: Many cultures believe that spirit animals are sent to give specific messages. I always take note when animals unexpectedly show up in my life. For example, when I first had my daughter, I suddenly started to see hummingbirds all of the time; they still continue to visit me in quite often. I have had owls and hawks fly in front of my car (in the middle of the city); and the other day a crane unexpectedly landed right beside me at the pond. I love this beautiful set of animal spirit cards by The Wild Unknown; it touches upon about the spiritual meaning behind them many of them.

Angel numbers and feathersAngel numbers are a series of repeating numbers — like 333 or 1212 — that appear in your everyday life, on a clock, on a billboard, or even in a magazine. But unlike regular numbers, many believe that these numbers are specific signs provided to us by our guardian angels. Coming across a feather in your path, or finding a feather in an unexpected place is also thought to be a message from the angels.

Sage BurningBurning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a person, group of people or space. The Latin for sage, ‘Salvia,’ stems from the word ‘to heal.’ The other qualities of sage when burned, such as giving wisdom, clarity and increasing spiritual awareness, are also indicated in the name. The ritual burning of herbs and herbal resins is common to many cultures in the world. From the ancient Celtic druids who used sage as a sacred herb alongside Oak Moss for burning as well as medicinal purposes, to the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon whose Palo Santo (sacred wood) sage burning ceremonies are still practiced to this day.

How about you? Are you open to magical thinking? If so, I would love to hear about your favourite practices.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for my monthly newsletter in the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Desire Mapping

desiremap.jpg

This past weekend, I took part in a one-day Desire Mapping workshop, facilitated by my talented friend Jennie Alexis. We created a meditation alter and set positive intentions. We journaled. We wrote letters. We noted gratitude. We laughed – a lot. We ate good food and walked the beach. We created a despacho to honour Mother Earth Day.  It was a fun and transformative experience, enjoyed with some truly wonderful women.

The Desire Map process is intended to help you identify what you already have in your life, what you are grateful for, and where you are dissatisfied. You gain clarity on the root of your desire and create a map of how you desire to feel in five key areas of your life. You then work into identifying your core desired feelings (CDF).

The approach is simple but profound.  It flips the traditional goal setting paradigm on its head. Rather than creating another “to do” list based on what you want to achieve this year (next year, five years, ten years), this work focuses on identifying how do you want to FEEL in your overall life: each and every day. Every decision comes back to fulfilling your core desire feelings: asking yourself the question, “Will this action / decision make me feel….powerful, loving…etc?”

I really enjoyed my experience and I can highly recommend the workshop. It was exhilarating to work through this process with other like minded people. I left the experience full of clarity, as well as brimming with hope and possibility.  And, in case you are curious, my core desired feeling are: abundant; inspired; equanimous; divinely feminine; and nourished.

If you do not live near a facilitator, or prefer to do the work on your own, I encourage you to check out the book.

Desire on!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for my monthly newsletter in the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

#JoyBlogging

Woman Makes Heart With Hands In Sunset. Healthy People  Lifestyl

“Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are too busy in wasting their vital creative energy to project themselves as this or that, dedicating their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing their potential as a human being.”  

~ Bruce Lee

The state of the world is pretty overwhelming these days. There is a lot of negativity and fear circulating: both in the news and general talk around the water cooler. There is also so much pain and damage being inflicted daily, on a global scale, by fellow human beings: not only on each other but to animals and the environment. It is heartbreaking and I often feel such a deep sense of helplessness.

I am also barely keeping my head above water in my personal life these days. I work full-time. I am a single mother. I have a student living in my home. I volunteer in my community. I care for my relationships with friends and family members. And…I am trying to make new space for writing and creativity…It is a lot to hold together. My body is currently telling me, through sheer exhaustion, that I cannot sustain this pace – no matter how hard I push myself. As Kate Kerr says: “I can count on my body to know where I am.” And my body is saying: “Slow down baby. Breathe. Simplify.”

In our society, a lot of value is placed on getting things done. There is praise for productivity; and great importance is given to action and the ability to multi-task. As I start to pay closer attention to my own habit of busyness, I am also noticing the discomfort the arises when I am still.  It is a useful and enlightening practice. Speeding up and slowing down – noting the way each feels in the body.

I was talking with a friend about this recently. She put forward a perspective that made me think. She believes in the deep importance (and pervasive undervaluing) of self-care; and she contends that self-regulation and core awareness are radical acts in themselves. With many of us living disembodied and fragmented lives, it disconnects us from knowing our true selves. This ultimately leads to living our lives half asleep, which is of no use to anyone.

The things that most of us aspire for and work so hard to achieve are a reflection the collective values of our society, rather than the authentic calling of our own hearts. The truth is that we are all here, not to fit in and to be like everyone else, but to discover our own unique gifts to share with the world. When you slow down and become still, it is hard to ignore this calling: one that most of us have known clearly since we were very young.

For me, part of reconnecting with my core self is to start paying attention to what gives me joy. What are the things that light my inner fire? What makes me feel alive and connected? I recently started a visual journal on my social media channels to capture these things, under the hashtag #JoyBlogging. I am enjoying this exercise immensely so far. It is a positive daily practice and it is wonderful to see a beautiful tapestry unfolding: one that reflects my true and most authentic self.

As I become clearer on the things that I value and love, I can see what I need to make more space for in my life: the things that make my heart sing. My hope is that by regularly sending out these love notes into the universe, I am not only serving my own internal journey, but I am also doing my own small part to be a force of love and positive energy in the world at large. I would love for you to join me. #JoyBlogging

If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for my monthly newsletter in the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

There is no way out but through

Woman In Nature In Sunset. People In Nature.beautiful Woman In M

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~Leonard Cohen

Over the past ten months, I have become intimate with heartbreak and familiar with loss. My twenty-one year relationship abruptly ended. My beloved dog Maggie died; and two of my close family members are very unwell. It has been both an exceptionally difficult and a transformative time.

Heartbreak is a visceral experience. Your heart literally feels like it is breaking inside of your chest. It clenches. It aches. Pain manifests itself as tightness in your throat and tension in your shoulders. It pulls down heavily on your ankles and arms. It whispers seductively in your ear: “Lie down. Rest here. Don’t move. Stay still.” It is in these moments that I cling onto the mantra: there is no way out but through.

Through the experience of loss, I have been given the gift of seeing the people and world around me, with new lens. I have experienced the incredible kindness, love and compassion of those around me: my friends, family, work colleagues and community. I have realized that I am not alone. People want to help. They walk the path alongside of me. They will hold me up, when I cannot walk by myself. My biggest challenge is to accept this help and to receive this love: something that is difficult to do when you are used to giving it all away.

I have learned that when a heart breaks, it not only cracks open, it expands. Grief reveals the depth of sadness and it reveals the breadth of love. It will show you the sphere of life, if you let it: birth. death. love. loss. light. dark. All of it interconnected sides of one perfect whole.

Someone once told me: “You cannot selectively numb yourself. When you numb pain you numb joy.” This is so true. I have learned that it is essential to allow space for sadness, grief and anger to come through. It is not only key to healing; it will give you a deeper appreciation of joy and love. I now understand that, despite my deepest fear, allowing these emotions to just be will not swallow me. Feeling these emotions deeply will not cause lasting harm. They will come and then they will go. It is all temporal and transitory. Less resistance equals less suffering.

In and amongst all of the changes in my life, I have gained clarity on what I deeply care about: the things that creates inner peace; the actions that offers me joy. I have defined where my boundaries start and where they end; and the more that I clearly understand these things, the brighter my inner fire burns. The easier it is to stay rooted yet pliable while the ground around me shakes.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for my monthly newsletter in the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Something to Inspire

This is one of my favourite quotes (and people) of all time; and it is particularly relevant at this moment in history when there is so much fear and hatred in the political landscape: a very real challenge to democracy and the values we hold close. I use it as a touch point and a reminder to keep my eyes on the glimmer of light, even in the darkest of times.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall, always.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

ghandi