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 🙏

 

Finding Grace When Triggered

I came across this earlier post … and boy did it take me back. May we all find grace by connecting to the most vulnerable part of ourselves … our heart.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Argument

“How dare you!!” 

Come into the present moment and notice

the pounding head, the clenched jaw and hands in fists

the thoughts that spark like fiery daggers

“Don’t control me! I don’t want this! I don’t need you!”

Feel the tears and absolute frustration

the vulnerability at being in this place of hurt and loss.

Loss of control. Loss of connection. Loss of understanding.

Become that wee girl too young for words

crying girl

She knows this place. This sheer frustration. Hurting and not knowing why.

Let this rage turn into one of your biggest breaths ever

Open your mouth and gasp like a fish

take in the air that nourishes and calms

Let it out with a cry from your very soul.

Let the tears roll. Feel their heat running down your cheeks.

Breathe

Feel the energy dropping through you like a stone

allow it to release and pass through the mesh that’s your body

Feel the unburdening and letting go

notice the softening  in your body, your thoughts and your being

Say hello to this vulnerable part of you

Feel the relief and the love

You are still here.

And now you are ready to talk about what just happened.

Namaste.

Choose Yin

save the world

“Our planet will be saved by women not men. Men think they can solve their problems through violence. Jesus, Gandhi and other great souls knew that men have no fear of violence – they’ve been killing since Cain and Abel. So they conquered men by acting like women. They brought yin to the planet, not more yang, and that’s how our planet will be saved.

You can do this too. Choose Yin. Start small. Decide to harm no living thing, including yourself, in thought, word or deed for one hour. Then extend it for two hours. Then perhaps for an entire morning.”

by Sister Mary Ann Kelley.
Taken from Soul To Soul by John Mundahl

This is such a strong statement by Sister Mary Ann.

It isn’t easy to choose yin over yang in a world that dismisses gentleness, and often sees softness as weakness. There is violence everywhere – in a world at war, the news, sports, entertainment and the media. In the words we hear and use, and even in our self talk.

yin tang of nature

Yang is everywhere. Yet as the Yin Yang symbol shows, both are a part of the natural balance of life. We cannot have one over the other. But we can choose which to embrace more in our lives.

I like to think that choosing Yin brings the world back into balance.

Tonight I start a Yin Yoga Teacher Training weekend at Hummingbird Yoga and Massage in Bryn Mawr.

May we all embrace this nourishing peaceful side of ourselves in the learning ahead.

Namaste

Follow the Conflict

conflict

“We feel conflict. 

The conflict we feel is not a problem.

It is a messenger.

We do not need help; we need only understand that there is no choice in life but to follow the conflict where it takes us.

If we are prepared to go there, we may discover the actuality of self and the nature of our sorrow.”

~ Steven Harrison

This is a message I wish I had heard many years ago. Although, to be frank, I probably would not have been ready to hear it.

All emotions are messengers and reflect a deeper state of our being. As long as we avoid looking at the uncomfortable ones we limit our growth and ability to connect fully to our higher Self and life.

Our ego mind will tell us we shouldn’t be feeling these feelings and judge us for not being better than this.

Yet it isn’t a problem. There is no better or worse.

Let go of judging how you think you should be.

Allow your mind to be open to it. And then your heart.

Be kind and compassionate towards yourself, until you are ready to follow where the feeling takes you.

Beyond conflict is love.

Namaste

Acceptance of the Unacceptable

“Acceptance of the unacceptable is the greatest source of grace in this world.”

Eckhart Tolle

Isn’t it funny how certain quotes and wisdom show up just when we need them the most? I recall, some time ago when I had a hard time accepting how things were. I had unexpected news that meant my vision for the future was no longer possible. What I thought was “for sure” became “no way”.

There was shock and uncertainty;  concerns about others; a sense of loss and sadness; a letting go of a future dream; and lots of turbulent emotions.  So much was out of my control and I really struggled because I couldn’t accept it. There was no grace here folks!

woman-holding-white-balloon-3064615

So, what is grace … and how do we find it when life throws us unexpected challenges or dashes our dreams? When we find ourselves in life’s lows?

I appreciate these words of wisdom from Adyshanti’s “Falling into Grace”.

“Grace is something that comes to us when we somehow find ourselves completely available, when we become open hearted and open minded, and are willing to entertain the possibility that we may not know what we think we know.

In this gap of not knowing, in the suspension of any conclusion, a whole other element of life and reality can rush in. This is what I call grace. It’s that moment of “ah-ha” – a moment of recognition when we realize something that previously we never could quite imagine.

… Somehow the  difficult situations in our lives have a way of opening our hearts and minds the most. Its the challenging moments that often offer the greatest opportunities for growth and the transformation of consciousness.”

Finding grace and opening up to accept what is, comes when we fully embrace everything that is alive in us in that moment. 

Some people choose to divert their mind into positive thinking to counteract the negative feelings. I’m not a believer of this, as all feelings and emotions are a part of who we are as human beings. I spent a big part of my life looking for the positive and denying the negative … while the deepest part of me was aching. Embracing all part of ourselves is the key to our personal growth and evolution as spiritual beings.

Here are guidelines I discovered from a variety of spiritual teachers and psychotherapists:

✳ Name what is happening. Be as factual as you can.

✳ What stories are you telling myself about this unacceptable moment?

✳ What are you feeling in your body. What emotions are coming up? Embrace your whole body experience.

✳ Make space for whatever comes up.

✳ Notice how the mind jumps in with judgments and negative thoughts. Make space for these too.

✳ Embrace everything that is alive in you. Let yourself feel.

✳ Notice if there is a part of you that wants the pain to go away – to fix it rather than accepting it.

✳ Embrace it all and let it in. This is a part of you.

✳ Let yourself become a vulnerable feeling being.

✳ Be open and fully alive to the experience.

✳ Breathe into it and allow the life energy to flow through you.

✳ And in this place of spaciousness and letting go, notice how grace appears.

Compassionate acceptance of the unknown opens our hearts and lets grace in.

When You Lose Heart

“The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you’re feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. 
Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves.
This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering — yours, mine, and that of all beings”.

~ Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap

letting go in yin yoga

Reading these wise words I think of poses in yoga, especially Yin, where we lean in to the physical and emotional discomfort and embrace the sensations and thoughts that come up.

Surprisingly it is the poses of surrender and letting go, rather than strength building that can be the most challenging for us.

Our practice on the mat is a great metaphor for life. We learn to be present with whatever comes up and use our breath to lean into it. Accepting where we are in that moment.

Breathe into whatever is occurring …. knowing it will pass.

Let there be no blame, just presence on our mat and in life.

Namaste