Getting Clear about Transformation

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Most of us spend our time and energy trying to transform our experience of life. When things are difficult, we blame circumstances, someone else, or ourselves. We take on new things and make new goals. We may change jobs, move house, or get divorced, to move away from our circumstances.

We move away from the discomfort.

And we somehow find ourselves feeling the same way in the next job, the next house, the next marriage …

In this society we are constantly being pressured to focus on the external and to acquire things in order to be “successful” and to feel good about ourselves. The message is “you deserve better” or “this will make you happy”.

Instead of moving from job to job, wanting things to be different and wishing for events to change, pause and notice how you are resisting what you are experiencing right now. Are you telling yourself “I deserve better”? rather than trying to understand your experience.

It is the relationship with what is happening that is causing the pain rather than the situation itself. The relationship between you and the situation is one of resistance and frustration with what is.

But you are only changing the external situation, and the chances are you will start to feel the same again, unless you take time to look at what is going within you that is getting in the way of transformation.

What if our purpose in life is to understand our external experience and how we relate to it? or Seeing all of our experience as lessons in life?

When we start to look into our experience with curiosity and an accepting mind, we can bring about real change.

Its an inside out job.

Here are some powerful questions to ask yourself to bring about inner transformation:

  • How do I want to feel ….? at work/in my marriage/in my relations with my children etc. Imagine your future self and what it feels like.
  • How am I contributing to this situation? What attitude adjustment do I need to make?
  • What actions would support this? What do I need to do differently?
  • What support do I need to bring it about? What resources do I already have?

 

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.”

 

 

For Home Bound Working Mothers … What if?

woman working girl sitting

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This is a (provocative) post for women, mothers, sisters and wives. 

What if this is the time to let our sons, husbands, partners, colleagues, brothers, and adult children … find their own way?

In this stay-at-home working mother era, how many more times do you want to hear: “Where is the …?” “What have you done with my …?” “What’s for dinner?” …”What do we need at the store?”…

It seems to be such a habit for most of us to jump in to solve, find, soothe and show the way to support our males and children. We tell ourselves: “they need us”… “what would they do without us”… “we are good at this”… And we keep serving them and making sure their needs are met.

Isn’t it time for a shift in attitude and perspective? If you are tired, frazzled and feel out of balance, then the answer is absolutely YES.

You may be happy (to a point) to have your adult children home, but its up to you to set the guidelines and educate them about their role in this new family state. Reverting to the old ways doesn’t work any more, especially if you are the mother.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

“Am I contributing to old fashioned patriarchal habits from an earlier generation?”

Or consider “Why is it okay for the kids to disturb me rather than daddy when he is in his office?”

“What am I teaching my children about taking responsibility… equality… independence…  speaking up?”

This is an opportunity to create a new era of true equality and get Mankind and Childrenkind to step up to support one  another and the family.

To the women out there staying at home, does this ring true? Is there more pressure than ever for you to take on the role to support and ensure your menfolk and children feel comforted and loved? Are you depleting yourself by spending more time soothing and ensuring their needs are being met? And are you receiving the comfort and love that you want? Are you truly taking care of yourself? Are you getting your own needs met?

My heart goes out to you.

What if you let them find their own way and you gave yourself the time, space and nurturing that you desperately need.

Step back from taking care of everyone else. Instead of letting resentment build, speak up from your heart,  and come to a new agreement on shared responsibilities at home.

Do this for yourself. For them. For the new future ahead.

This is not about making our country like the past, its about building a new future, and it begins with each one of us at home.

 

 

 

 

Embrace this Liminal Space, Sing and Let Your Yoga Dance!

liminal space

Today I attended a powerful meeting via Zoom from Michael Meade and the SAND community. SAND represents the cross pollination of ideas from science and spirituality. Michael Meade is a renowned author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology. He took us into todays’s crisis and explored the myths and stories from ancient sources that can help us navigate this time of transition and transformation.

Where we are today is Liminal Space.

The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a time of waiting and not knowing.

Liminal space is where real transformation takes place. When we learn to look into the space beyond, we find new insight and can follow our calling in the next chapter of life.

Author and theologian Richard Rohr describes this space as:

“where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy. The threshold is God’s waiting room. Here we are taught openness and patience as we come to expect an appointment with the divine Doctor.”

A threshold of waiting. Between the step before that was the past and the step forward into the unknown future. It is often seen as a sacred time where we retreat and contemplate the world as we have known it, and our place in it.

It feels just right for these times.

As I was exploring I came across more inspiration:

Sing to the shadows, sing and do not fear

But sing them into love little by little.

Begin the song exactly where you are.

And so I start again here in the middle.

– Malcolm Guite, The Singing Bowl

Yes, sing and transform fear into love. Start in your Middle Ground.

Coincidentally (or not), yesterday I attended a Kripalu Let your Yoga Dance class via Zoom with Jurian Hughes. We paused, then moved, danced, breathed, sang and found our own joyous rhythm in community. It was so uplifting.

Each one of us can find the joy and open our hearts to love. Find your voice, your song, your passion, your joy and a new rhythm for these times.
I truly believe that when we do this we will be better prepared to meet the collapse of the old and embrace the new.

Namaste

 

Haiku – conscious deceleration

man standing beside train

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~

Stressing to be fit?

Consciously decelerate

Find your Middle Ground

~

“Conscious deceleration” is a term I came across in a report from The Future Laboratory  which identifies macro trends and new directions in the Health and Wellness industry.

The bottom line is: We are being bombarded with new ways to achieve fitness goals and to be less anxious. A recent study by researchers at Yale and Oxford found that too much exercise is worse for mental well being than no exercise at all. People, especially Millennials,  are getting burned out trying to avoid burn out. Everyone is getting more stressed out about how to de-stress!

The pendulum has swung too far and we are out of balance.

We must consciously slow down and create some calm in our every day. We need to take time to pause as a counter balance to the busyness and constant demand for our attention.

Having a regular practice of mindful breathing, yoga and meditation are ways to consciously decelerate and can become a haven in the world we live in.

Research is now being done about how music and vibrations can recreate the same calm state of mind as regular gentle yoga and meditation. You may want to experience crystal singing bowls at 432Hz or listen to binaural acoustics that induce a Theta mind state. Its already here and more in coming.

What was once rooted in the sacred past of yoga and meditation is now being developed using new technology to reduce stress and bring more peace into our lives.

May you Find Your Middle Ground in this new decade and beyond.

Namaste

 

 

Val’s Yoga Story

This is a re-post about what brought me to yoga. If you haven’t heard this story, you may be surprised!

People come to yoga for many reasons. In my experience, some people are wanting to be more flexible and strong in their bodies, while others are looking to calm their minds and find an inner connection with themselves.  Yoga practice brings together mind body and spirit … and allows each individual to grow, heal and strengthen in their own way.

My story about how I came to yoga is a bit different, and I wanted to share it with you…

When I began my training to become a coach in 2002, we did a lot of self exploration about our strengths, values and needs, and what makes each of us unique.  I also had a mentor coach to support me in my skill building and growth. It was a time for getting real and personal transformation!

One day we did a class on Integrity. We looked at what it meant to us and how we could bring that to our coaching.

As I sat back in the chair with my headphones on, I reached for a cigarette and lit up.

quit smokingI felt such a wave of guilt and disappointment in myself for being a smoker.

How could I coach others to be their best while I was feeling so uncomfortable about being a smoker. I realized I was out of integrity.

I was also scared about giving up my habit. Cigarettes had been a friend and a support for me for so many years. Could I really go it alone? What if I failed miserably (again) and couldn’t give them up? Wasn’t it better to be healthy in other parts of my life to balance out the toxicity of smoking? I was trying to do a deal with myself and it wasn’t working…. That icky feeling in my gut was still there.

I was out of integrity and I had to do something if I wanted to face myself and my potential clients. So I told my mentor coach and set a date – March 27th 2002. We put together a coaching plan with the steps that I would take. Each step was something that I felt I could do. … and I did.

Part of my smoke free plan was to start doing yoga. My mentor said it would calm my mind so that I didn’t get as agitated during the change of habit and the physical withdrawal. I hadn’t ever considered yoga, but  I went along to a yoga studio near me……. and I found that it wasn’t as weird or woo woo as I had anticipated. The people were very friendly and made me feel welcome.

I discovered two things that day that would change my life … and my life span!

The first thing I discovered was that my body enjoyed being stretched. The poses felt a bit awkward, but there was a definite opening and flexing that felt good.

The second thing I discovered was how I loved to breathe! Smoking cigarettes had been a way, not only to get a nicotine fix, but also to take deep breaths. Smoking relaxed me. Each big inhale and exhale released the tension. I felt immediately calm as I took a big draw in and then exhaled out.

It was pretty amazing to me that in yoga I could have the same calming effects without poisoning myself.

Yoga became a part of my life and cigarettes became a part of my past.

Now I teach yoga to people at all stages of life and share my love of breathing, stretching, focusing, accepting and letting go.

There is no judgment in yoga, just acceptance of where you are and being your best to live life fully – and breathe fully.

If you have experienced something other than this, then please look for an other teacher.

Namaste

 

 

Call of Loneliness

woman in black cloak with fishing pole standing in beach

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These words made me pause and touched me deeply.

“Inside our loneliness is a longing to be released from the pain of separation and the confusion it entails. We’ve all been taught that there is something wrong or even dangerous about being lonely. But such an assumption is based on a misunderstanding of what loneliness is and how it relates to our life here.

Loneliness is a kind of wisdom, a recognition of something, an urge toward genuine transformation.

There is nothing to fear about loneliness. There’s no reason to run from it or to tighten down when it comes. If we allow ourselves the chance to attend to the loneliness, to be with it at a feeling level — physically — then the harsh overtones dissolve. What we called loneliness turns out to be something else entirely.

Each of us is longing for something. This longing runs deep. Sometimes it manifests as loneliness, sometimes as grief, anger, or something else. Whatever way it comes, we can be with it respectfully, openly, allowing it to exist. This so changes our relationship to it that we never need fear it or run from it again.

There are times when the body is calling for attentive care. There are times when the signal is there, but our response is self-hatred or dislike, and the body’s call gets ignored.
Loneliness is such a call. We need to turn to ourselves as a mother to a child and wait, without judgment.” *

Longing for something is not wrong.

Listen for its call.

We must tend to it with kindness and allow it show us the way.

Namaste

 

 

*The Prayer Of The Body

An Interview With Stephen R. Schwartz
by SY SAFRANSKY, editor and publisher of The Sun.

Inspiration – Joy

Inspiration is always worth repeating and sharing. I hope you enjoy this one.


“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are”. ~ Marianne Williamson

autumn sunshineWe humans have a built in default of negative thinking. Its part of our survival mechanism that the ego has reenforced ever since we were little. As we grew up we became alert to scarcity and threats.

So for many of us, it feels natural to go around looking for what is wrong and criticizing things, other people …  and of course, ourselves. We may not even be aware of it.

Negativity feels acceptable and normal. Being safe becomes our preferred state. Even when it makes us miserable. After all “better the devil you know … ”

When we are in this state, the idea of positive thinking is likely to be rejected as ridiculous and fake. Remember, this inner critic is our ego wanting to protect that ways things are.  If we were to be more positive and less fearful, it would lose its power over our thinking and behavior.

Yet, neuroscience shows us that we can change our thinking by reenforcing new neural circuits in the brain. With practice, our brains are able to grow and change.
We are not hard wired in our thinking but we can be hard headed.

Here are some ideas to inspire you into shifting your thinking and creating new neural pathways:

  • Instead of looking for what’s wrong. Look for what’s right. For example, write a post it note and keep it with you all day as a reminder. Or catch one of your children or an employee doing something right.
  • Take time to look at something ordinary as something to be grateful for. For example, sitting at the table with your family tonight. Or watching the sun shine through the leaves.
  • Before going to sleep reflect on 3 things that you are grateful for.
  • Keep an achievement journal. Write down everything that you accomplish, including the small stuff. We usually filter out our strengths and accomplishments and focus on our losses and weakness. Balance out your thinking by writing down the good times. You will be surprised.

Recognizing these moments will start to transform your neural pathways into ones that recognize how good things really are.

This is where joy lives.

Life is like … Paper

close up photo of book pages

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Life is Like Paper

It is made by human beings

It is blank to begin with

Over time people leave their marks on it

It captures our stories and beliefs, as well as our creativity and expression

It can be strong, yet pliable

It has many uses and can be moulded

It can transform

It can be recycled

It can disintegrate slowly over time or go up in flames in a moment

When its gone, the stories and memories stay with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life is an Adventure Not a Package Tour

“Life is an adventure, not a package tour.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Life is an adventure

Photo by Jas Poole

This is a great reminder for me today – especially as I will be leaving for Europe on vacation next week.

We are not going on a package tour, but I do want to be prepared and feel in control 😉

When we spend so much of our time planning and anticipating whatever obstacle might come up, its easy to miss the excitement of the unknown and the adventure of it all.

It’s like life…

Take a moment and consider “Am I approaching life with a Package Tour mindset or as an Adventure?”

Looking back on previous vacations, I recall that it was the unexpected that thrilled. Like the moment we followed an impulse instead of the GPS and found ourselves on a dirt track heading towards the clouds. Suddenly a golden eagle flew up in front of the car with a 3 foot snake in its mouth. We didn’t have time to photograph it, but the moment is imprinted in our brains forever. Now that could never be planned for!

Looking back on life, aren’t the moments that take our breath away, the ones we didn’t plan for…

The moments we feel really good about are the ones where we have met unexpected challenges and discovered inner strength and resourcefulness.

Or the moments where we let our guard down and let the love in, to be fully embraced and accepted for who we are.

Or moments of discovery and awe of something that was once unknown.

Life really is an adventure when we allow ourselves to let go of control and notice things as they unfold.

When I think about my vacation, I now ask myself “Can I let go more and allow the present to unfold?” Absolutely, now that I have my bug spray, sunscreen, contact lens solution, change of underwear, reading glasses, GPS and maps packed…

Listen to Your Body – its Listening to You

The words we choose in our thinking, our speech and our writing, impact on how we feel and our overall well being.

abstract board game bundle business

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Have you ever noticed how a word can bring up a certain feeling inside of you? A sensation, a thought or an emotion?

Choosing a word that connects with your heart and soul can be not only uplifting, but also brings physical well being.

If you have a few moments, let’s explore.

Take your time as you connect to each of the words below. Go slowly. You can say them out loud:

Love
Tender
Soothing
Joy
Cuddle
Grateful
Smile
Gentle
Pause here and close your eyes. What is alive in you in this moment? Is there a warmth, softening, a feeling of tenderness or love perhaps? How is your breathing? Are you smiling? (me too) Notice how these words manifest themselves in your mind body and spirit.

pauseNow take a deep breath and take the same time connecting to each of these words:
Irritated
Ugly
Mean
Wrong
Frustrated
Cruel
Unfair
Bad
Pause here and close your eyes. What is alive in you in this moment? Is there tension or constriction or heaviness perhaps? How is your breathing? Notice how these words manifest themselves in your mind body and spirit.

pauseIn general when it is a word associated with lack, dis-ease, suffering or violence, our body responds by becoming tense, our breath shallows and there is resistance.

In western medicine when there is resistance in our body it leads to inflammation, and increases our level of stress. These are both proven factors for ill health.

I believe in western medicine, and I also believe in that when there is constriction and tension our life energy contracts as well, and a part of inner state becomes blocked. This impacts our emotional and physical wellness.

In yoga, when the life energy (prana) is blocked it can be released with postures, breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation. In Chinese medicine these blockages in Qi can be released through acupuncture.

pause and listen to your body

No matter what we believe in our minds, our body has its own kind of intelligence.

Listen to your body’s wisdom.

Be mindful of your thoughts and your words. Your body is always listening.

Yoga Coming Home

“Yoga is not a work-out, it is a work-in. It guides me into the present, opens my heart and brings me home.” 

While I was away in Scotland with friends, family and wedding celebrations, it felt like home.

The rocks and earth, air and breeze, salt and sea, trees and flowers, lochs and rivers…. all fill me with deep joy and contentment. I didn’t do my regular yoga practice, but spent time being present to what was unfolding around me and within me.

Enjoy these moments with me.

The old bridge and falls at Invermoriston

Downward facing rock

Balancing cairns at Portavadie

Balancing reverse warrior 

Smell the roses 

Hug a tree

Scottish Tree Pose

Be the tree