Resisting and Waking Up

adult-alone-dark-girl-191139

“It may look as if the situation is creating the suffering, but ultimately this is not so – your resistance is.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Wow – these are powerful words to read in a time of pandemic, when so many of us are desperately trying to come to terms with living in a fearful changing place filled with the unknown.

We are all human beings with ego-minds that are ready to resist whatever we see as a threat. Our minds can deny and duck… push back and dismiss… defend or withdraw… lash out and blame… whine and complain… in order to avoid feeling the pain of being out of control and feeling the fear.

If you are thinking “It will pass and its not a big deal” then please re-read the last paragraph.

Seriously. This is the new reality. One of external threats and being out of control.

We are waking up to a new reality where we no longer believe that we are controllers of our small world. We are realizing that we are part of the bigger world, and it’s darn scary.

This transition time is hard. If we are to survive and thrive, we must change the way we see things along with our behaviors.

We must get with the new program!

Noticing our resistance to what is happening is a very good place to start.

It’s time to waken up and become a witness to our unsettling thoughts, our conditioned responses and the incredible attachment to our routine and habits. What we have taken for granted may no longer be part of this new reality. What we think we have had control of, is simply a mirage.

This is a time to pause and reflect. To find our middle ground. Bring awareness inwards and notice everything that is coming up insight of you.

It’s not a comfortable place to be, and if you are not ready you may find yourself defaulting to distractions and ways to medicate yourself and dull the feelings. If you notice this, good for you! You are developing your ability to stand back and be the witness.

Here are some questions to ask, and to take time to journal on:

  • “What is it that I am not accepting?”
  • “What am I resisting?”
  • “What can I do that is in my control?”
  • “What do I have to let go of?”
  • “What can I do differently here?”
  • “How can I take care of myself and others?”
  • “How can I contribute to the change for good?”

Be kind to this awakening part of you.

When we are able to accept what is, without judgment and blame, then we can open our hearts and minds to a new way of connecting to the bigger world.

Already I am seeing the generosity and compassion of others. The ability to give freely to those who need it the most. Unconditional loving of humanity and our true nature.

We can all do this when we go beyond fear and find our middle ground.

More Than Ever – Find Your Middle Ground

nature forest waves trees

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These are such challenging and fast moving times aren’t they. I have been reluctant to post about COVID-19. There have been too many conversations about the threat of the unknown and constant updates in the media.
Last Thursday I stopped teaching classes in public and I lost the structure of my days. I told myself it’s like a “staycation”. What a great time to reconnect with Don and enjoy our lovely home and garden together.
I found myself getting addicted to the need to know what’s happening. I thought this would make me feel more in control, but the opposite happened. I began to feel adrift.
I felt more and more disconnected and anxious, the more I engaged.
Like a stick in a raging river, with no rudder or direction, I felt out of control and scared.
Then I realized, its okay to feel like this. This is the reality right now. When I accepted this, there was an inner shift. I realized that I needed to find my own middle ground. Not just to talk about it for others, but to make it so. Now more than ever.
Today I am now focused on making it so for myself, so I can support others.
There is a lot of inspiration out there. I will share what I come across, as well as delve into my archives to share posts that feel right for these times.
I have also started recording a yoga class from home on Vimeo. I hope you yogis here enjoy this first attempt. It ends abruptly as I ran out of disc space.
Take care of yourself and loved ones.
Take time to pause and reflect on whatever is coming up for you.
Now, more than ever, take time to find your middle ground.
Namaste

Life is Like … an uprooted tree

Uprooted treeD.H.Lawrence described humanity as being like an uprooted tree with its roots in the air.

“We are perishing for lack of fulfillment of our greater needs.

We are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal.

We must plant ourselves again in the universe.”

tree for life

I think many people feel like uprooted trees in today’s world.

When we make the decision to plant ourselves once more we become nourished, rooted and interconnected.

Each of us can do this for ourselves and support others in finding inner nourishment, renewal and connection to our life source and Spirit.

I call it Findng Your Middle Ground.

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

Life Isn’t Personal

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

The universe continues to unfold in each moment

Let it

You don’t have to control or hold on to anything

Just take time to pause and listen to your inner wisdom

Trust it’s soft voice

Mistakes and challenges have helped you grow into who you are today

Embrace whatever happens, knowing that you will continue to learn and grow

Nothing has gone wrong

Life continues in its highs and lows

Don’t take it personally

We are all in this together

Let Go and Find Yourself

” In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. 

It will be a permanent Self, rooted in awareness and creativity. 

Once you have captured this you have captured the world.”                

~ Deepak Chopra

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Life is a journey of letting go in order to discover what really matters. Yet we find ourselves clinging to the past and the very things that bring suffering and hold us back.

Letting go is a part of the natural rhythm of life.

Letting go:

Of every exhalation

Of the day as we fall asleep

Of our children as they grow up and leave home

Of things that no longer serve us

Of a past that weighs us down

Of relationships that no longer nurture us

Of roles that we have outgrown

Of over thinking

Of our habits and conditioning

Of “me” “I” and “mine” as we experience our connection to something more than our little self.

  •  Take a few moments to pause and reflect on all the things that you have let go of in the past…
  • The things that you are working on right now…
  • And what you might still be holding on to…

Trust in your ability to let go and embrace it fully with an open mind and heart.

In taking these courageous steps every day we come to know our true permanent Self and move towards real freedom.

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!

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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.

Every Step is Holy

naked trees cover by snow

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels.com

Every Step is Holy

By Danna Faulds

The journey from the known
to unknown, from the
unreal to the real, is rarely
revealed in advance.
The potholes, detours,
false starts, and quick retreats
are each honorable,
and even needed in the bigger
scheme, in the forest that can’t
be seen between the trees.

It took years for me to realize
that the very twists and turns
and shadows I labeled “problems”
were really sacred ground
grace disguised as obstacles,
the whole pass a pilgrimage,
mysteries baring themselves
before me all along the way.

 

Grace disguised as obstacles as we step together through our lives of potholes and detours… walking each other home.

Being there for our selves and others on this journey is the ultimate in grace.

Namaste

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

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.