UnHome for the Holidays: Breathing through the Holiday Blues

When I was younger, several family friends found the holidays depressing. This perplexed me, I wondered how people weren’t joyous during the holidays. Now I understand. This year marks the 4th Winter Holiday Season since separation, and eventual divorce. Having two young children who are now “forced” to split their holidays between parents, this time of year brings to the forefront the loss of the “Norman Rockwell” image of family that I have held since a young age (sometimes with a white-knuckled grip) in my mind.  So while I can still find joy in the holidays, there is an ever present longing that I am keenly aware may never be filled…and part of me blames myself.

Breathing in, I feel the grievances of childhood ideals. Just for this moment, I choose to not question them, for to do so would be to question my right to feel the losses; losses which are palpable for me at the moment. 

Breathing out, I feel my grasp on the ideals slowly slip away.

Breathing in, I allow this cycle to repeat: allowing the feelings and the ideals to be, then allowing my grip on them to release.

So now I feel better about Christmas, at least. Now to move onto New Year’s Eve, another year in which to celebrate being single, while grieving the vacancy at my side. 🙂

May we each find a greater sense of peace about where we find ourselves in life during this more sensitive time of year. May we further allow our grievances to surface, so that we may acknowledge and honor them, then allow our grips on them to soften, freeing us to enjoy greater degrees of freedom from our suffering. Peace begins within.

Namaste

Know that you are not alone in this. If your emotions are overwhelming and/or preventing you from activities that you normally enjoy, please reach out to someone who can help: 

  • National Suicide Hotline (US) 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat available 24/7
  • Mental Health Referral Hotline (US) 1-877-726-4727 available 8 AM – 8 PM EST Monday-Friday

Overcoming Indecision: A Tool for Path Finding

When unsure which path to take, one of the tools I have found very helpful to gain clarity is quite simple and effective. In fact, this is such a simple tool that it can be easily forgotten or even overlooked. So often we believe that complex situations require complex solutions, which keeps us stuck when we overlook something as simple as this body compass. Really, a compass is a quite simple device when we think about it, yet it can help us to circumnavigate the globe. 

In a relatively quiet space, feel into the soles of your feet. Allow yourself to become more fully present in your body. Feel yourself as you breathe in and breathe out. Place one or two hands on your heart as you simply imagine the various options you have been considering. Allow yourself to fully feel what your body is telling you. Trust what you feel as your body is telling you which path to choose.

Let’s say you’re trying to choose between turning left or right. See yourself in the car turning left. What do I feel when I turn left? Then see yourself in the car turning right. What do I feel when I turn right? Allow the signals from your heart and your body to show you which path is correct for you at this time by which one feels better.

Simply put: Follow your bliss by feeling your True North… and trust yourself to show you what is best for you at this time.

May we each appreciate the truth within our hearts and bodies; trusting that we know how to meet our own needs. 

Namaste

Allowing the Breakdown: A Sign of a New Beginning

Just as old buildings must be razed before new ones can be built, old plans and ways of living must be broken down so that we can begin anew. This process can feel like death and in a way it very much is: it is the death of the old ways of living. As such, it can be, and often is, somewhat painful and scary. This process is prolonged or intensified when we grasp and attempt to hold onto things that no longer serve us; and prevents us from realizing and living something even better and greater. 

If we instead recognize the painful feelings as a sign of the dawn breaking through the darkness, we empower ourselves to face the loss while focusing on the breakthrough that follows the breakdown. 

“When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
~Alexander Graham Bell

Destruction and creation are two sides of the same coin. The death of what no longer serves us becomes the fodder for our new way of living. Just as the fallen trees become nourishment to support the growth of the new forest. To live is to grow and expand, just as to die is to stagnate. As such, when we focus so strongly on what has been “lost” we fail to see what is being born. For those who have eyes to see, allow them to see: there is something on the horizon that is far better awaiting you, awaiting me. 

May we each find a greater sense of peace, understanding and allowing during the breakdown, knowing it is heralding and supporting the breakthrough.

Namaste

Giving Your Sadness Peacock Feathers

So there I was, no lie, feeling a wave of sadness crest. Tears began to well up in my eyes, and before sadness completely washed over me, I asked the sadness what it needed.

The image of peacock feathers immediately popped into mind. So I gladly gave my sadness peacock feathers, with little hesitation. It wasn’t until later that I began asking, “WTH does the sadness need with these feathers?!”

What I’m finding is that it’s not really my place to ask. Maybe the sadness was a misplaced sense of pride. And it doesn’t really matter, really. For when I gave of the gift that it requested the wave turned to a ripple upon my inner sea. Now I’m sitting here stronger in my happiness. So why ask why, really?

The take home message? When an emotion threatens to take over and roll you under, pause for a moment and acknowledge it, then promptly ask it what it needs. Then, so long as the request does NOT involve harming oneself or others, hand over the goods.

Now I laugh when I think about sadness prancing around with peacock feathers. Who can remain sad with an image of sadness like that?!

May we each give ourselves and our emotions the very things we and they need, trusting ourselves to take care of us and them. For it is in meeting our own internal needs that we create a happier world to live…

Namaste

 

Having What You Choose in Life

Life is a series of choices. Some are big. Some are small. Some may even seem like they don’t matter at all. Yet, each choice we make leads to a path with new choices, much like with driving. Once we choose a right at one intersection, we’ve changed our course and will have different options than had we stayed straight, turned left or made a U-Turn…or even if we stopped completely in the roadway.

Honestly, I believe we will each get there, it just depends on us HOW we’ll get there….

So there is some strategy involved to “level up” to be able to make the big choices we would like. We must ask ourselves, “What would it feel like to have the thing that I desire?” In focusing on the emotions instead of the outcome, we tune our GPS to find that path to our desire. Our emotions are our road map, if we choose to listen.

This is an important part, too! Once we feel the emotions involved, it is imperative that we then look to our current lives and surroundings. We must then begin to see, create  and give gratitude for those feelings in our lives right now; creating even more opportunities for them to be there. This will help us to magnify the energy to attract the things we wish to have.

Here’s an IRL example. In observing and experiencing life, I now have a more clear idea of what it is that I choose in a life partner. I have driven down many streets with many detours. Each road had a lesson. Sometimes I had to travel the same road because I didn’t learn it the first dozen or so times. My biggest hang ups? I did not believe I deserved to be with this person, I could not see myself with him – nor could I believe fully that he existed in real life, nor that he was fully available to me outside of my imagination.

Now that I believe he exists in real life and I also know that I deserve to be with him, I am seeing, appreciating, giving gratitude and thus magnifying the energies of connection and love. Other supportive energies include having fun and feeling happy, abundant, joyful, grateful, young, supported, appreciated, beautiful, worthy, and faithful.

With each moment that I focus on the presence of these feelings in my life, the less I focus on the lack of having a life partner. The presence involves being present. And the more present I am with the presence of these feelings in my life right now, the more accomplished I feel in having what I desire – and he isn’t even sitting next to me – yet.

When I focus on the nagging questions like, “When will we be together? How will it happen? How much longer is this going to freaking take?,” I am creating more lack and putting down barricades along my path. These questions are like opening the oven door to see if the cake has finished baking, or digging up the soil everyday after planting seeds – it ruins the cake and destroys the tender roots and shoots of what we’re choosing to create!

In essence, we are on a continual road trip in our lives. It is our choice which path we’d like to take and along the way, based on which paths we choose, we are given different options. We often choose the hard way and believe it cannot be that easy, much like my old belief that I was not worthy of love. Because of these outdated beliefs in lack we close down options in our minds that would have lead directly to the very things we would like to achieve.

Based on my understanding of the Laws of The Universe, to have what we choose in life we must:

  1. Identify what it is we choose & believe we can have it (we deserve it, it exists, etc)
  2. Identify how we would feel to have it
  3. Appreciate or create opportunities for #2 in our everyday lives
  4. Step back & allow the outcome to happen (without opening the oven or disturbing the soil). 

Now, here’s the grand irony. The more work that we do along these steps, the more at peace we feel and the less attached we become to the outcomes. For instance, the more I feel the emotions related to my desire (#2), the more peace I feel being single. Reminds me of Glinda the Good Witch, “You had the power all along…”

May we each know what we choose, believe that we can have it and have the courage to open ourselves to it, knowing that it is ours to have.  

Namaste

 

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Why Mindfulness Doesn’t Always Lead Directly to Calmness

After a rough weekend, I needed a bit more self-care to be ready for the Monday. Following several bouts of meditation and feeling aligned with The All, I sat and read an inspirational post that quickly “got to me.” Yes, this inspirational post ticked me off greatly! Out of the blue, a wave of envy washed over me: “It must be nice for her to be able to do all of that. She must have a lot of free-time! Otherwise, how could she possibly…?”

In allowing the envious emotion to rise and crest, I began to see where I have felt envious if someone else were to have anything better than me. Hmpfh! Guess I’m not so humble after all… In reflecting on this further, one of my spiritual coaches recently explained to me that we begin to hear our subconscious minds more clearly when our conscious mind feels safe; I’d add to that, “and clear.”

While I understood her at the time, I can now see this more clearly in my mind’s eye. The subconscious mind is constantly sending out ripples of thoughts and beliefs that are much like the ripples seen after throwing a pebble into a calm pond. However, the ripples are easily camouflaged when we our conscious minds are feeling anxious (or anything other than calm); much like the ripples from a pebble thrown into the ocean during a storm would be virtually unseen; yet still present.

As such, I am bringing awareness to this part of myself that I’ve been pushing down and ignoring.  The energy and feelings of envy serve only to build more resistance and push away from me the very things I’d like to create in this life. These feelings no longer serve me, and today I choose differently.

In our mindfulness, may we each see another element that blocks our inner peace, so that we can choose differently. In our mindfulness, may we know that we are exactly where we need to be, being and doing exactly what we need to be doing with what we have. May we see the ease with which others move through life as an inspiration for our own experience to be of greater ease, peace and joy. 

No mud, no lotus.

Namaste

Seizing the Moment

How often do we miss fully immersing ourselves in the beauty of the present moment because our minds or our bodies are elsewhere?

Today, I am literally composing this post while my toes are dipping into the calm waters near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Yet, my mind is dwelling on the past or looking to the future. While I am more present now in my mind and body than I have ever been, I see where I’m holding tension in areas such as my neck and solar plexus.

Allowing this tension the space to breathe, I see where I fear being fully present. Somewhere I’ve told myself that being alive and being right here, right now, is unsafe. I block my gut with my muscles as if to armor up against the “other shoe dropping.” I concern myself with silly things such as trying to be sure I have the right saying.

This awareness brings a new softening. As it is in allowing the fears to have light shed upon them that they begin to abate. Once we see that what we’ve been thinking subconsciously is not the truth then we set ourselves free. We are free to enjoy life the way it is meant to be: more and more fully.

So I’ll sit here for a few moments more as the waves lick at my feet, taking away what is no longer meant to be…and bringing to me exactly what I need in this moment: a new sense of peace.

May we each find more of the gifts meant for us by being more fully present. May we shed the old beliefs which no longer serve us so that we may more fully receive exactly what we’re meant to receive: joy, peace and abundance beyond our wildest dreams.

Namaste

The Heart’s Desire for Connection

We run away from it. We chase it. We deny it. We make fun of it and we deny or destroy it. Yet underneath all of the layers, what we really long for is connection with ourselves, with others, and with Our Higher Power.

Connection scares us. It leaves us vulnerable to our basic fears: abandonment, rejection, being misunderstood and on and on.

Yet we are social beings. Spiritually, we are connected to everyone and everything; whether we want to admit it or not.

It is in facing each of our fears, head on, that we are able to see these are just beliefs formed when we were young and that we’ve carried forward; beliefs that cannot hold weight when the light of our awareness shines down upon them.

Despite our fears, the longing to connect, to share, to be part of something greater than ourselves persists. To reconnect to your truth, give to your fear what it really seeks: comforting, acknowledgment, gratitude, love, acceptance, or whatever else comes up. It is in allowing the fear, seeing what it needs and giving it just that, allows us to see it was just a blip on our radar – and not the truth of who we are.

May we each give ourselves what we need, so that we can build stronger connections with others, allowing our hearts to be free. For with each disconnection we reconnect, we all become brighter and better for it.

Namaste

Shifting Out of Survival Mode: Week 1

While the kettle heats the water for my morning coffee, I light candles and holy wood and I focus on the soles of my feet and where they kiss the floor. The sound of the electric kettle “firing up” is comforting for me; it is familiar and a mainstay in my morning routine. Today, instead of bustling around to get the coffee press set, I pass the smoke from the burning ember of the holy wood in swirling paths around my body, giving extra nurturing and attention to areas of tension, discomfort or distress. This is just one part of the shift I’m making to get myself out of what feels like a life-long pattern of existing in survival mode.

Even with the daily meditation practice, journaling and blogging, life coaching and counseling over the years, I have still been stuck in fight-or-flight mode. Good quality sleep is elusive more nights than not. My muscles may relax for a day or two after a good massage, then they spring back into pre-massage mode – even with stretching, magnesium supplements and frequent Epsom Salt soaks. Behind my calm exterior there has lived a girl who feels constantly on guard, waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.

The key that unlocked my understanding? Answering 4 pages of questions about my body’s responses to different circumstances; a questionnaire assigned to me by my naturopath (a wholistic physician). After tallying up the scores for each system, she graphed a grid that showed more than 80% of my systems were in need of “high priority” attention. “This looks like PTSD; everything is hyper-sensitive,” she said calmly. Somehow, this was not a shock and instead was a bit of relief.

We developed a plan of more intensive self-care for the next 2 weeks. At first, I was resistant to the intensity – resistance has been my way as it’s hard to accept change when you already feel overwhelmed by most days.

An important change is taking a more detached or “observation” approach to my emotions. Instead of “diving into them,” which is something I have blogged about ad nauseum, it is important that I stay above my emotions and observe them which is also differentiated from staying above my emotions and ignoring them.

When I notice an emotion that is uncomfortable, I am to observe it to understand what the emotion itself may be. Then I am to give that part of myself that is hurting what it needs. If part of me is feeling lonely, then I am to give that part of myself the attention, love and nurturing it needs. Really, I would encourage you to try it, it is SO much faster and effective than what I have explained in the past.

It turns out that by diving into the emotion, I find comfort in the pain – and then I am reinforcing the pattern. It has been easier for me to feel pain than joy; for to feel joy, I have believed, means it can just as easily be taken away. Turns out I’ve been stuck in survival and victim mode! Yes, it’s way past time to shift this… 

While she did not diagnose me with PTSD, it’s clear that I’ve been stuck in survival mode. There was some freedom in hearing this. Looking back now I see that happiness, joy and feeling-at-ease have been fleeting and generally have been delivered by external circumstances.

Here are some of the survival mode patterns that I’ve noticed:

  • Frequent insomnia or restless sleep unless “everything is perfect”
  • Most externally driven changes are a challenge to accept. My first response: resistance
  • Difficulty connecting with others intimately
  • A near constant struggle to be present – even when things are going well
  • Feeling that I’m treading water and just one big wave from drowning
  • Being more “at ease” when things are uncomfortable than when things are going well. Again, just waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • Dampening of any strong emotional response due to the fear of becoming overwhelmed
  • Consistent and significant muscle tension
  • Spending a lot of energy on appearing and radiating a sense of calm!

Usually I would have waited until the end of the 2 weeks to give a retrospective account of what has happened. This, however, seemed too important to wait so long. It is also fitting that today is the Equinox, a good time to choose to shift and make changes.

May we each discover what it is that the hurting parts of us need – and then apply that salve internally, instead of seeking external fixes to our internal issues. May we each shift from a mode of surviving to one of thriving. 

Namaste

Happy Equinox!

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