Val’s Word for 2020

two birds in a tree

I wasn’t planning on choosing a word for this year, but one has been showing up in my thoughts and dreams. As always, it is what is behind and beyond the word itself that makes it impactful – how we bring the word into our lives.

Let me explain a little more.

In December I was at Kripalu for a training and retreat. It was a wonderful educational and enlightening experience taught by Yoganand Michael Carroll. We stepped lightly into the history of yoga and then took a deep dive into yoga philosophy and renunciate nivritti practices.

Throughout this intensive and powerful experience I felt a reassuring and familiar presence. I have noticed this awareness growing over the past few years, and have come to call it the Witness or Presence.

I shared the Vedic parable of the two birds in an earlier post, which describes how there are essentially two parts of ourselves. There is the doer, the part that is active in the world and has a sense of my family, my work, my children and so on. This is also called the I-maker or ego. The other part is a conscious witness within us, at a deeper level.

I believe that we can touch this deeper part of ourselves when we are still and turn our attention inwards. When we Find our Middle Ground.

Now I see that being still is a way to get to know it, but we can experience this deeper level of being in the world and can bring it into our every day.

When you have integrated the witness into your being, there is no need to wait to go to yoga or to sit and meditate. It is always present, and is always there to give you wisdom and guidance. This is the knowing, higher part of yourself who sees through the stories and the everyday actions and distractions of the doer.

This higher discriminating intellect, in the Samkhya tradition (before the time of Buddha), is called Buddhi.*

Whenever we notice the doer getting caught up in reacting to the world and being distracted by senses, desires and fears, we can call on Buddhi.

Buddhi doesn’t judge and make us wrong, it simply guides us into a higher state of being and brings clarity and balance. It brings us closer to the state of consciousness or divine.

So, how does this affect us?

As humans we are all doers. And as doers we have to protect our things and our selves, we need to feel safe and we have minds that make up stories to make sense of what happens to us and to make things right. We have our senses and feelings that constantly pull at us.

donuts and bagel display

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Pexels.com

So….. As I think about what to choose for dessert, or begin to open a new bag of cookies, or sit back on the sofa with a glass of wine and turn on the tv, I will ask: What would Buddhi do? 

As I find myself avoiding taking the next step towards something important and making up stories about why I can’t do that right now, I will ask: What is Buddhi’s insight here?

When I notice that I feel anxious and fearful about the unknown future or am drawn into regrets of the past, I will ask: What would Buddhi tell me?

When I notice myself judging others and being critical, I will say: I need you now Buddhi!



* Buddhi Definition from Yogapedia:

Buddhi is a Sanskrit term derived from the root, budh, which means “to know” or “to be awake.” Therefore, buddhi refers to intellect, wisdom and the power of the mind to understand, analyze, discriminate and decide.

 

 

 

Haiku – change

chipmunk hibernating

~

Time hurtling forward

Pressure to bring about change.

Only in our minds.

~

Follow Nature’s way

Take time for restoration.

Find your Middle Ground

~

 

Winter is the season for nurturing, reflection and preparation before the upsurge of energy in Spring.

Change is inevitable, yet we don’t need to subscribe to or purchase anything to bring it about … or make commitments that don’t feel right just now.

Let nature be your guide for this New Year.

Give yourself a break.

Find your Middle Ground and trust that inspiration will come when its time.

This is a Time for Kind Sight

As we come to the end of the year, it’s natural to reflect on the year that has gone by, as well as to look forward to the new year ahead. This is a time for “kind sight” once again.looking backBelow are two journalling exercises to explore, now that the rush of the Holidays is over. I like to think of this as a Middle Ground pause. A time for being present, reflecting and allowing your inner wisdom to inspire you 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” means being kind to yourself, instead of being critical or judging. With “kind sight” we are able to see mistakes as lessons, and life’s challenges as times of resiliency and personal growth. 

Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers:

Looking back on 2019…

  • 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 important areas in their lives. (For example – career, family, health, hobbies, learning, contribution, spirituality, travel, environment, self-care, personal growth)

Once you’ve reflected on 2019, write a Future Gratitude Letter:

letter to myselfThis 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 2019 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 passion and inner wisdom.
This can be a revealing and inspiring process, letting the creative juices and intention begin it’s journey.

A Question for the Future

This time of year can bring many questions and refections. Here is question to ponder. Enjoy this Middle Ground pause.

oooOooo

At this time of year it’s natural to reflect back and then look forward to what the New Year might bring.  Some of us set game plans and goals to accomplish… Others have intentions around our own evolution and inner journey…  And some of us like to stay in the present moment.

You know how I enjoy shifting perspectives and seeing things in a new way. Seeing things differently can bring clarity and break us free from conditioning and “stuckedness”.

I came across this question and knew I had to share with you. Go beyond your analytical, practical mind, and open up your intuition.  Let your inner guide answer this one.

Imagine your future self gives you a box and says the object symbolises your destiny.question mark boxWhat do you see when you open the box?

pause

Your box is as big as your imagination. It can be as large as a landscape or a small symbol that represents something more. Be open to whatever shows up.

This is what lies ahead for me.

tender heart

I pictured a rose quartz heart in a simple little box. It represents an open heart; self acceptance; bringing peace and compassion for self and others.

What’s in your destiny box?

 

 

Call of Loneliness

woman in black cloak with fishing pole standing in beach

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

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.

Dealing with Ego on a Spiritual Path

When we are on a spiritual path, the idea of ego becomes something to overcome and get past. It feels contrary to how we want to be in the world.
Its the part of ourselves that we would rather hide or deny rather than show. So we battle with it or suppress it…. or disguise it.

ego in disguise

Here are some examples from my own experience of an ego in disguise:
~ We see ourselves as knowledgeable and evolved…. so we don’t want to be seen as not knowing or caught up in our self image.
~ We see ourselves as spiritual beings who give a lot to others…. so we don’t want to appear selfish and put ourselves first.
~ We see ourselves as good people in a world of danger and mistrust… because the world is a place where things are out of our control and other people can harm or take advantage of us.

Does this sound familiar to you? Can you see the ego at play here – in our thoughts about how we don’t want to be.
That’s our ego in disguise.
We are creating a “better” ego to overcome the inferior one from the past.

The irony is that in order for us to evolve past our ego we need to get intimate with it and acknowledge it. If we want to truly evolve into a new level of consciousness then this is the place that must be embraced.

silhouette of man standing near body of water

Photo by brenoanp on Pexels.com

When we look at the aspects of our ego, or our shadow side, and we feel resistance and discomfort … its a good thing.
Of course, this very human part of us doesn’t want to be looked at. Yet, when we accept is as a part of our experience, we begin to see it more clearly. We  feel it’s impact and see the power it has had over us for most of our lives … even now.

Being awake and conscious  and witnessing how our ego comes and goes is something that the most enlightened people are able to do.  It brings a smile and possibly a shrug. There is curiosity, compassion and detachment.

We cannot deny it just as the left needs the right, one side of a coin has to have the other, and  they cannot be separated from the other.

When we accept it and see it for what it is, it loses its power. We must embrace it in order for it to be no longer important as a driver in our lives.

If we continue to beat it up it will find ways to become more powerful in our thinking and stories about ourselves.

Be kind to your ego, so you can let it go and transform into your whole Being.

 

Choose a Different Future

Free photo 6380766 © Eugene F – Dreamstime.com

Don’t Let It Die An Orphan
by John Mundahl *

Follow others
Until you’re tired of their exhaust,
Then strike out on your own.
Become friends with your playful self again,
That part of you
The world snatched away
When you weren’t looking.
Choose a different future,
Not the one that looms
As some grim sentence,
But the one that nags to you
In quiet moments.
Don’t let it die an orphan.

girl on her journey

It’s never too late to choose a different future… and its so much easier when we lighten up and become friends with ourselves. Listen to what your inner guide is telling you. Be curious. Have fun with it.

 

*Soul to Soul (p. 134). Monkfish Book Publishing. Kindle Edition.