Cherish

“The practice of cherishing can be taken very deeply if done wordlessly, allowing yourself to feel the love and appreciation that already exists in your heart”.

The Dalai Lama
Dear one, Cherie, Cheri
Let us cherish ourselves
And others today
And every day.
Hold your self near and dear
Care deeply for those you love.

Be loving to everyone you meet
Let kindness shine from your heart
And show in your eyes
See it be reflected
in the eyes of others

It is always there.
Love is in our hearts and in the air.
No purchase required.
Breathe it in with lightness and joy
Breathe it out and send it far.
Let it touch all who need it most.

A never ending cycle of love
To replenish and nurture ourselves
And the world.


Namaste 🙏

Dealing with Stress and my Inner Teenager

waves of life

This is a re-blog of a post that was powerful for me to work through. As we continue through these difficult times, more and more stress and distress will impact us all. May we all find our middle ground in the waves of life.


On Tuesday I had a stressful day. A dip in the highs and lows of life day. It wasn’t surprising. I had some concerning news that took the wind out of my sails, and I developed a pressure cooker of a sinus headache. I was in a trough. I know how my mind and body are connected. My body tells me quite clearly when I have to pay attention to what is happening around me and what I am feeling.

The message is clear –  take care of my well being. Pause. Connect to my Self.

In hindsight it is easy to catch, but at the time it may take a bit longer to realize that we are under stress. In this particular occasion it became very clear as I went through emails and started to read updates from fellow bloggers. As I painfully squinted at the screen. I was no longer present, but my inner judge was! “What do they want? … Why bother me with this?… How stupid! How superficial!… They are so self centered!… Don’t they get it?… This is trivial! Who has time for frivolity? Pl-ease get to the point.”

Teenage brat

My thinking revealed that Val was not present or in balance. My defensive inner teenager had been unleashed.

Everyone was dumb. They didn’t get it. They didn’t see how much pain I was in. They took advantage of me. They tried to control me. All the unmet needs from the past were right there demanding attention.

Our inner teenager  is challenging and requires some kindness and understanding. Its in pain – emotionally and often physically. It has so many unmet needs and is trying to figure out how to get them met as they move from childhood into independence.  It is our ego at the height of all of its immature defensive glory.

One part of me was determined to be miserable and show the world (?) that I had every right to be. Thankfully the part of me who has learned to be a compassionate observer knew that it was time to unplug. NOW!

You are stressed. Take care of yourself  and find your middle ground. Be gentle and kind. Let things be as they are. Let this mood/energy pass and find its way to nurturing balance once more.

Stones surrounded by rushing water

It was easier after I had taken half a Sinutab and put on my favorite restorative yoga music. I embraced everything that was coming up. I noticed resistance. I breathed and didn’t push. I found my middle ground and was able to stay there. Healing tears fell softly. I meditated and lost track of time. My husband came and went and let me be. He knows better than me sometimes.

I began to feel better and went to watch tv to distract myself … and found I had no appetite for it at all. ZERO. I wanted to stay in solitude. I journaled instead.

The old habits of distractions, shopping, cleaning, entertainment, drinking and eating had lost their pull in that moment. By being fully present and knowing how to ride the wave and find my middle ground allowed me to center myself.

So I honored the request to be alone and put my teenager to bed early. I woke up as a headache free and stress free adult once more. Ready to approach the day with a sense of curiosity.

Thank you to the makers of Sinutab, yoga and meditation, journaling, my husband and friends who support and nourish me, and to those of you who read this today!

May we all find our middle ground in the waves of life.

Namaste 

I’m Not Needy – I Just Have Needs

This is a re-blog of a post that is a handy reference on human needs – and how important they are to ensure that we get them met. As we continue through these difficult times, more and more stress and distress will impact us all. May we all get our needs met and Find our Middle Ground.


Every human being has needs. It is part of the human condition. We were born with them and will go through most of our lives trying to get them met. When our needs are met we can fully access our humanity. Bringing compassion and kindness to ourselves and others.

Over the years as a life coach, I took several courses in Non Violent Communication. In NVC, needs are acknowledged and embraced. There is a vulnerable beauty behind our needs. The essence of who we are as human beings.

There are three groups of core needs that once we identify, we can honor: WELL BEING – SELF EXPRESSION – CONNECTION. Needs get a bad wrap…. but they shouldn’t. The more we recognize them, the more we can evolve and grow as human beings.

We often aren’t aware of our own needs, and it can be a powerful self-discovery to identify the ones that are most important to each of us. The needs below are grouped into the three categories. Pause for a moment and identify what needs resonate with you personally:

man deep relaxed breathing

WELL BEING
Health and Sustenance
Thriving
Vitality
Safety and Security
Stability
Rest
Peace
Acceptance
Gratitude
Balance
Celebration of life

joyful girl

SELF EXPRESSION
Autonomy/Freedom
Authenticity
Inspiration
Passion
Meaning
Contribution
Learning
Growth
Skill/Mastery
Self actualization

Loving Connection

CONNECTION
Love/caring
Compassion
Empathy/Understanding
Communication
Respect
Acceptance
Recognition
Community
Belonging
Relationship
Trust

Here is a self inquiry exercise to explore your needs more. Take a moment and ask yourself:

What am I grateful for?

Then

What needs are being met when I feel grateful?

Now think of a time when you were upset, possibly at work or with a family member…

Then

What needs were not being met?

In all likelihood it would be about recognition, respect and a sense of belonging.

Needs drive us and are essential for our well being. When our needs are being met it opens the door to be in connection with ourselves and with others.

We come to see there is no need to judge ourselves or others any more.

We are more able to center ourselves in our Middle Ground and handle the the highs and lows of life.

Namaste

Use “Kind Sight” for the Past Year and Year Ahead

no new years resolutions

This is a re-blog and a helpful guide for reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to 2021.

As we come to the end of 2020, its natural to reflect on the year that has gone by, as well as to look forward to the new year. I dropped New Year Resolutions many years ago – Getting into action in the dead of winter is extra hard work.

This is a time for reflection and semi-hibernation before the juices start flowing again in early spring.

Instead of New Year Resolutions I  practice “kind sight” instead.

Here is a journaling exercise that you can do at a quiet moment now that the rush of the Holidays is over. I like to think of this as a Middle Ground moment. A time for being present, reflecting and allowing our inner wisdom to inspire us for whatever comes next.
Take a few moments to let yourself get settled and comfortable. 

Start by reflecting with “kind sight”on the past year. “Kind sight” simply means being kind to yourself, instead of being critical and hard on yourself. With “kind sight” we are able to see mistakes as lessons, and life’s challenges as times of resiliency, courage and personal growth. This surely has been a year for all of that.

Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers:

What happened during 2020….

What was a highlight?

What was a lowlight?

What was a surprise?

What do I feel proud of?

What do I feel grateful for?

What did I learn (or am still learning) from either the highlights or lowlights?

Some people do a month by month reflection, while others evaluate each area of their life (career, family, health, hobbies, learning, contribution, spirituality, travel, environment, self-care, personal growth)

Once you’ve reflected on 2020, write a Future Gratitude Letter:

Dear future me

This is a letter to yourself written a year in advance, describing all the things that you are grateful for during the year. Start with the date December 31 2021 and address it to yourself.

Include who you’ve become and what you now have or are moving towards.  Be careful not to include anything that feels like a “have to” goal or something that you “should” achieve.

This is a letter of “kind sight” for the year ahead. The key is in the energy.  If your energy feels uplifted when you think about the things you’re grateful for in a year’s time, then you are tapping into your own inner wisdom.

It’s a wonderful process, very revealing and enlightening, especially over the next year. Let the creative tension and intention begin its journey.

Love, Relationships and Triggers


This is a re-blog of a post that I have found helpful to come back to. As we continue through difficult times, more and more stress and distress will impact us all: from our health and wellbeing, to our relationships and ability to focus and work. Over the next few weeks, I will share practical posts to help us navigate through these times and the highs and lows of life. May we all find our middle ground and live from the center of our being.


In the highs and lows of life there will always be more challenging days. This can happen when a colleague lets us down at work; when our partner disappoints us or when our mother criticizes what we are wearing….

Today, I dipped into John Welwood’s book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships.  He has such interesting and compassionate insights from a fusion of Buddhism and psychotherapy.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

John Welwood talks about the wounding of our heart that takes place when we are very young. This is when we realize that our parent cannot love us unconditionally and cannot meet all our needs.
The time comes when we cry and noone comes, or when we want comfort and there’s noone there.
We suddenly become insecure and very fearful about not being fully loved. We feel wounded and vulnerable.

This leads to what he calls a mood of unlove, when we don’t feel fully loved and believe that there is something wrong with us.
When we don’t feel worthy, appreciated, accepted, respected, acknowledged, valued or good enough, the mood of unlove shows up. He calls this the wounding of our heart.

“The mood of unlove often shows up in the form of sudden emotional flare ups in reaction to any hint of being slighted or badly treated. It’s as if a reservoir of distrust and resentment were ready and waiting to be released, which the tiniest incident can trigger. Even caring and compassionate people often carry within them a fair share of unlove and righteous grievance, which can suddenly erupt under certain circumstances.”

To bring it into everyday life. When your boss asks you to re-write that presentation you have spent hours working on, or your spouse criticizes you for not doing it right … you may get triggered!

What John Welwood is saying, is that at these moments the wound of our own heart opens up along with the mood of unlove. We react and try to protect ourselves from this feeling of being unloved and that there is something wrong with us, so we lash out and blame or retreat and find ways to numb and soothe ourselves.

When we become defensive and lash out or withdraw or try to escape,  we may feel better, but the original hurt will be there until we acknowledge and embrace it. We will continue to be triggered until we fully accept and understand ourselves and let love blossom inside.

Could it be that simple … that all we long for is to feel fully loved?

Yes is the answer lies within each of us.

By taking the time to see this in the heart of these moments, we can learn to give ourselves empathy and love and begin to heal old wounds.

Namaste

The Seasons of Our Heart

 

As I sit with the sadness and the grief of losing both of our girl Welsh Terriers – Dilys and now Meg,  I allow myself to feel the pain and loss. This has been a summer season of worry, stress and heartbreak. Now there is space for peace.

The words of Kahlil Gibran come to mind.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Just as the stone of the fruit must break, so that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And if you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.

If you accept the seasons of your heart, as you have always accepted the four seasons, you would watch with serenity the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

Therefore, trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen.”

 

 

Meet Yourself in Your Heart

 

petals and heart shaped cut out

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

The obstacle you are facing is a special gift

It is there to bring clarity and new understanding

Instead of finding ways around it or fixing it

And creating stories to make you feel right and in control

Take time to face the challenge

To ask your intuition and heart

“What wants to be known?”

Let the answer reveal itself

There is freedom beyond this pain

When you meet yourself in your heart

Namaste

What is Beyond Struggle?

curious isolated young woman looking away through metal bars of fence with hope at entrance of modern building

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

~

Step out of the past

Let go of struggle stories

Find truth in the now

~

 

I feel a real connection to others who are struggling right now … and who have struggled in the past. Have you noticed what that feels like? A shared struggle feels oh so familiar… and somehow comforting.

Many of us come to see that the struggles of the past are re-enacted in our present lives. 

We all have challenges and conflicts within ourselves, especially the thinking mind with its tethered beliefs and judgments, along with our conditioning from childhood.

It all diminishes our ability to be open, to tune into intuition and heart felt sense of being. It keeps us trapped in our ego-mind and small self. 

When we identify with our struggle, its so easy to let it overwhelm us, and we literally become the struggle.

The struggle become how we identify ourselves. “I am stupid… I am a failure… I am not worthy… I am unlovable… I am an addict… I am a bad person” … etc

Many of us get attached to our personal struggle and some will find the courage to share it and reach out to others who understand.

Our struggle story can be very personal, yet it acts as a bridge of connection and community. All human beings experience struggle, and when we find similar souls, we feel validated and supported.

Yet the struggle is still a story. Created by our fearful, controlling ego. When we embrace the story, it makes us feel right, stronger and more able to deal with the external pressures. We actually lose touch with who we truly are, rather than connect deeper into our true sense of being.

This is such an important part of the journey, but it isn’t the end. It can backfire if it ends here. When we get attached to our story, we stay stuck. 

Struggle keeps us attached to our ego and small self. It takes us into the past and makes us anxious about the unknown future. It prevents us from being present to the goodness that is already within us, and to open up to the higher Self and power beyond our separate small lives.

For those on a spiritual path, as long as we identify with our struggle we cannot awaken.

The struggle story will never set us free. 

We will be free when we choose to open up, accepting this part of our history and ourselves, face it, feel compassion for it and then let it go. This is challenging and important work.

We must truly want to move past our struggle if we want to awaken to the freedom beyond. What is beyond struggle? When we come to recognize, befriend and let go of ego.

Beyond ego is beyond struggle.

On your path to awakening, what part of your struggle story are you willing and ready to let go of?

 

 

 

 

Find Your Middle Ground and Yin Workshop

I am so excited to offer this special workshop offering via Zoom! Join me and a group of like minded people yearning for nourishment and peace in these stressful times.

Saturday August 22nd 11.00am-1.00pm EST courtesy of Good Karma Yoga and Barre 

Saturday August 29th 12.30pm-2.30pm EST courtesy of Hummingbird Yoga and Massage 

alone autumn beautiful bloom

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s so important for us to take time out and step away from the Yang oriented external world and look inwards for supportive Yin energy. Late Summer is the time of year for bringing nourishment and stability to body, mind and spirit. In traditional Chinese Medicine, the season of Late Summer and the Earth element correlate with nourishing the body, our emotions and our relationships. Mother Earth helps to ground us, she recycles our stuff, she cares unconditionally, and she provides us with the nutrients we need.

Join Val for a special two hour online workshop that brings together compassionate mindfulness, self inquiry and gentle yin yoga.

  • Pause, reflect and journal. Honor where you are and listen inwards for your own intuitive guidance.
  • Explore gentle Yin Yoga postures that open up the Stomach and Spleen energy channels, to bring comfort and wholeness for Late Summer.
  • Release tension, let go and nourish all aspects of your being.

Venue: via Zoom

Cost: $30 Reserve your space ahead of time

Saturday August 22nd 11.00am-1.00pm EST via the website https://goodkarmayoga.us  or MINDBODY at Good Karma Yoga and Barre in Media, PA

Saturday August 29th 12.30pm – 2.30pm EST via the website https://hummingbirdheals.com or the MINDBODY app at Hummingbird Yoga and Massage, Bryn Mawr, PA

Once you have reserved your place, you will receive by email, confirmation and the Zoom link.

Thank you.

 

Opening to Self Compassion

wait in gratitude

“Self-compassion is a way of relating to the ever-changing landscape of who we are with kindness and acceptance—especially when we fail or feel inadequate … Self-compassion requires acknowledging that we share the human condition of imperfection.”   ~ Kristen Neff

How many of us learned about this when we were young? … How many of us are teaching our children about this? …

In today’s culture, especially in America, there is so much emphasis on self confidence, competing to win and striving for what you want in life. Yet, so much of it is out of our control.

We all know that mistakes happen and we don’t all win the prize at the end of the day.

How do you cope with these natural downturns and disappointments that are a part of all life? And how can we prepare ourselves for the inevitable lows of life?

Two wonderful women come to mind who have guided me along the way.

Sara Neff and Tara Brach have so much wisdom and guidance on how we can come to a place of self love and acceptance as adults.

“In order to flower, self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with our own vulnerability. Compassion fully blossoms when we actively offer care to ourselves. To help people address feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, I often introduce mindfulness and compassion through a meditation I call the RAIN of Self-Compassion. The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness. It has four steps:

Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with kindness;
Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying with the experience.

You can take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps in a more abbreviated way whenever challenging feelings arise.”

~ Tara Brach

I have spent many years helping others find self acceptance and connection to their inner being. However, one of the greatest tools I use, is not in our thinking mind at all.

The simplest way to allow compassion to flow and for the heart to open, is to sit quietly and place one or both hands above your heart center.

Take a moment and try it now.

This gesture activates a soothing response that we mammals have. It replicates the feeling of comfort, safety and nourishment at our mother’s breast. As babies we felt it. As children we received comfort from a motherly hug. Yet, we don’t need someone else to bring about the same physical and emotional response.

You can give yourself this gift at any time.

You can also place a hand on your belly and let the breath settle into the center of your being. When we breathe using the diaphragm, we activate the relaxation response in the para sympathetic nervous system. Anxiety abates as the brain releases comforting hormones.

Connect to your breath and allow the nurturing energy to flow.

Namaste

Find our Ground of Being

May this Danna Fauld’s poem fill you with strength and inspiration. “We come from stronger stuff than feelings” 💛

inner landscape Bonneville Salt Flats

Remember This

Vast and changeless
the ground of being
is not rocked by
ripples on the pond.

The firmament from
which we spring, the
divinity at the heart
of things doesn’t wax
or wane with mind states,
or wither in the wind.

We come from stronger
stuff than feelings.
Essence does not fail
or fade, diminish or
trade reality for illusion.

We are wordless, wide,
and wise beyond time.
Within us is a flame
of truth that never dies.
Let that be the focal
point of life. Let that
be the light that guides
us from the shadows.

~ Danna Faulds

Haiku – beyond fear

Inner door to love

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

~

Open doors within

There’s love here beyond the fear

Find your Middle Ground

~

I’d like to add these words by Thich Nhat Hanh:

“In a time of anger or despair, even if we feel overwhelmed, our love is still there. Our capacity to communicate, to forgive, to be compassionate is still there. You have to believe this. We are more than our anger, we are more than our suffering. We must recognize that we do have within us the capacity to love, to understand, to be compassionate, always.”

I read a BBC News article about how Canadians are coming together in FaceBook groups for “caremongering” instead of scaremongering. People are reaching out to help and support those in need and also to connect with old friends, distant relatives and neighbors.

There is a movement of kindness evolving and growing. I lifts my heart. I am so grateful that others can set aside their fear and do something for the good of us all.

While you are home, you can take time to reflect and come inwards, start a project, go for a walk, dance or dress up … and you can also start to think how you can support your local community and the greater good.

You have already started if you are in self isolation. Thank you 🙏