Pain as Your Teacher

woman reflecting

“Pain is your best friend. It is infinitely more honest with you than pleasure. Despite what you might think, the painful experiences you have had benefit you far more than the pleasurable ones, even though most of us spend our lives trying to duck and hide from them.

But when you can center yourself and be open to look pain dead in the eye, then you have transcended the limits of your ego and this humanity. It is then that you enter into the possibility of becoming a great being.”

~ Swami Chetanananda

When I first read these words I wanted to reject them. How could pain be my best friend?

Yet, looking back on the painful, challenging and disappointing experiences in my life, I understand.

Through dark times we find courage and resourcefulness that we may not have thought we had within us.

We break open and feel into what matters.

We learn about ourselves and grow as human beings.

We are able to see the pain in others and feel more connected to them.

We enter the possibility of becoming great beings.

… and knowing this helps.

Namaste

 

 

 

Haiku – pre dawn softening

Photo by David Kanigan at Live and Learn http://www.davidkanigan.com

~

Pre dawn mist and calm

Softens my heart for the day

Find your Middle Ground

~

There can be a special sense of buoyancy and gentle aliveness as we wake up in the morning.

Let it be an invitation to awaken to the unfolding of the day.

Opening our hearts into the unknown.

Without judgment or activation of the prefrontal cortex or calendar.

Give yourself permission to drift into the day and appreciate this centeredness.

With gentle focus and loving acceptance let the day unfold.

It’s a wonderful time to connect to your Middle Ground.

Allow there to be space for whatever wants to be known and seen from deep within.

Namaste

 

“It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This”

close up of an animal eating grass

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He turned to me

and said “It doesn’t

get much better

than this.”

 

Yes indeed.

 

Say yes to life and

embrace each moment.

Be ready for the instant of

precious unfolding.

 

Watch out for the magic.

Be alert to nature’s

harmonies. Pay attention

to those small details that

catch your eye, or touch

you like butterfly wings.

Here and gone in a breath.

 

Breathe it all in. Every inhale

an opening to a new present.

Every exhale a letting go

of the past.

 

You say “It can’t be 

as easy as that”. 

… Yet, it is.

 

Open your senses and

your heart to the

wonder of it all.

In the journey into

the present you

come to realize…

there is Love here.

~ Val Boyko

 

Finding Richness in our Lives

flight landscape nature sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more the good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.

~ Etty Hillesum

This time is one of letting go. Letting go of the expectations we had about how life would unfold.

There is something so much bigger taking place right now. We are entering a new way of living and being, and there is no going back, for every individual, our community, society and the human race.

I feel unease and fear for others who are struggling right now. My heart goes out to the fearful, the angry, the belligerent, and the denyers among us. It will be hard on them. They are resisting a new reality and will suffer.

This time is a time to bring our focus onto life’s unexpected gifts and to be grateful. I’ve noticed that I am more and more grateful for the relationships I have, even when I can’t be with people in the same way.

Gratefulness brings us ease and opens our hearts for connection, kindness and love.

It can’t solve the problems we are experiencing, but it can release our fears and allow us to become centered and calm. It can bring us to our Middle Ground, where new possibilities and inspiration arise from a knowing deep within.

Namaste

 

 

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

Stepping Back into the World – Gently

Stepping back into life

Photo by Jas Poole

Dear Readers and Friends, I hope you are well and finding balance in these challenging times. The past few months have been interesting, to say the least … and they seem to be continuing! I am at a loss for words with what I see and hear around me.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was concerned for others, yet I was filled with hope that we would all come together and support each other in creating a new way of life together; one that cared for each other and the planet. Yet the divisions and strife grow every day. People take sides and believe the unbelievable ….

My mind is losing hope, yet my heart still trusts in what is unfolding. I recall Osho’s words “Remember the emphasis on the heart. The mind lives in doubt and the heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered.”

On a personal level, I am also trusting in my own unfolding. As I wrote in my previous post,
Update-Retreat I have been nurturing myself in my cocoon, teaching yoga on Zoom and taking some online courses. At the beginning of July I began Roger Housden’s course for writers, non writers and poets called “Dropping the Struggle”. I am part of a group of ten who come together and write, prompted by Roger’s wisdom.

It has sparked my inner wisdom and voice again. I am stepping back into the world, gently.

I realize that we all struggle. Each of us struggles in our own way. Many of us keep it to ourselves and try to lock out the pain. Others weep more openly. Many more can’t admit or face this tender wound. There is a lot of confusion and pain in us humans. Especially now.

More than ever, this is a time for understanding, compassion and listening to others … and to our own inner voice.

We will get through this together not apart.I look forward to sharing some old, new and timeless insights with you.

Namaste

 

Inspiration from the Buddhi Bird

Why is it that some of us are suffering right now, while others are doing well, despite immense challenge and adversity?
How we relate to what is happening in our lives comes from our mindset and beliefs, and our experiences in the past.

Let me bring you back to story of the two birds, as a way to see more clearly into your experience.
two birds in a tree
In Mooji’s words:
“Some time ago I saw a picture depicting a parable from the Bhagavad Gita. It showed two birds in a tree, and one of them was building a nest. This one is flying off collecting things, arranging the twigs – its active, doing many things.
Above this bird, on another branch, is a second bird. It looks identical to the first bird, and it’s not building anything. It is just observing. It’s not building a self-image out of its perceiving, and its not deeply interested in any aspect of what it sees. Its perceiving is happening quite spontaneously without effort or judgment. There’s a silence there, that feeling of Being without thought. Just looking.

This is a beautiful portrait of who we are.
These two birds are connected. The first bird represents our dynamic being, the self that is engaged in the world, in future and past, in growing. It is the aspect that is living life with the sense of my family, my children, my work and so on.

The second bird represents that conscious witnessing within us. It is the ability to observe life taking place and activities unfolding, but it is not actually doing anything…

Initially the first bird who is building the nest, may not be aware of the second bird. As soon as it is able to be quiet, it becomes aware of the second bird, which is actually itself at a deeper inner level.

When the first bird’s mind is synchronized with the second bird, the activities become much more gracious. There is a sense of unity, a oneness… The second bird represents the change of perspective from the mode of the person to the state of presence.”

Self isolation and sheltering in place, offers us an opportunity for retreat and to get to know these two different aspects of ourselves.
The first bird engages in the world around it and is also called the I-maker or ego mind. It is the part of ourselves that creates stories about life and how we are experiencing it. It is easily influenced by our feelings, especially fears and desires. For example, when we feel threatened it can create a story about being a victim or create an other version where we become the hero. It can make us feel unworthy or let us believe that we are most worthy, while others are not.
It is the judge, jury and creator of how we believe we SHOULD be living our life.

In times of challenge, this part of ourselves takes center stage. The old ways of being, the habits and the comfort of everyday life as we know it have been taken away.  The I-maker is fearful of being out of control and threatened by the unknown and possible harm.

Have you noticed this part of your being on overdrive these days?…. I certainly have.

The second bird, or other part of ourselves is a conscious witness within us, at a deeper level. Sometimes the I-Maker is called the small self, while the other is referred to as higher Self. The higher Self has a bigger and broader perspective of life. It can see through the stories the small self makes up and sees beyond them. It is without judgment and is always present when we allow our attention to go there. It is called Buddhi and is close to Divine Presence or Source.

I believe that we can touch this deeper part of ourselves when we take time to pause and turn our attention inwards. When we Find our Middle Ground.

Now more that ever, take time to find some quiet space and reflect on this significant time of change. Take time to pause and create a space of Retreat and Reflection. Notice what stories you are telling yourself to try to make sense of what comes up. Notice resistance to the changing reality. Notice how you distract yourself from the discomfort and fear. Let go of judgment and be kind to this part of yourself.

Mindfulness and meditation will open up a bigger part of yourself, and create an anchor in the present moment. If you haven’t practiced meditation or yoga, then this is a wonderful opportunity to come to it. There is much being offered online and with apps such as HeadSpace.

A walk in nature and ten minutes of legs-up-the-wall are my practices these days, when I am not teaching yoga. I find them grounding and approachable. Take the time to explore what works for you.

Namaste

Wu Hsin – What Is

table scraps

“Too much time is squandered on

What was and

What might be

Leaving only table scraps for

What Is”

Wu Hsin  from the Lost Writing of Wu Hsin translated by Roy Melvyn

Table scraps have their uses… yet can’t sustain us.

Pause and take time to Find your Middle Ground.

Embrace each moment fully and nourish your very being.

Namaste

 

Become the Singing Bowl

adult adventure after the rain countryside

Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

Singing Bowl

Begin the song exactly where you are,
Remain within the world of which you’re made.
Call nothing common in the earth or air,

Accept it all and let it be for good.
Start with the very breath you breathe in now,
This moment’s pulse, this rhythm in your blood

And listen to it, ringing soft and low.
Stay with the music, words will come in time.
Slow down your breathing. Keep it deep and slow.

Become an open singing-bowl, whose chime
Is richness rising out of emptiness,
And timelessness resounding into time.

And when the heart is full of quietness
Begin the song exactly where you are.

Malcolm Guite

Breathing to Let Go

This quote stood out for me today: “Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.”

 

When you find yourself tense, overwhelmed or feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Take a moment to sit comfortably and simply notice your breath.

Every inhale brings in new life, nourishment and energy.

Every exhale is a release and letting go.

Our breath reflects the ebb and flow of life itself.

Do you notice that there is a slight pause at the end on the inhale as you hold onto the air? This holding on creates more tension in our body and it feels so good to release some of it with this simple exercise:

Take a nice big inhale and then sigh on the exhale. Really focus on the noise you can make when you breath out! Make it loud and long. The biggest and best sigh in the world.

Next, If this feels good, bring your shoulders up to your ears on your inhale and then release them away from your ears on the exhale.

You may want to bring in some shoulder rolls now. Inhale raising your shoulder up and then exhale releasing forwards. (3 times) Then inhale raising them up and exhale releasing them backwards (3 times).

As the energy moves, can you feel the shift? A lightening. As you practice this can you feel the burden releasing?

Namaste

 

Inspiration – Light beyond Dark

green leafed trees

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

“The dark does not destroy the light;

it defines it.

Its our fear of the dark that casts our

joy into the shadows.”

~ Brene Brown

Take a moment to reflect on how this appears in your life right now.

Instead of wishing the dark away, how can we embrace it and uncover our joy?

In this time of crisis, accepting the difficulties, the fear and the rollercoaster of emotions that show up is so important. Only in facing our fear can we allow the light to shine forth.

I have found the light when I shift my focus from anxiety to gratitude.

I am grateful to have the hot water to shower in the morning and wash my hands throughout the day. I am grateful that I can get food at the store. I am grateful for Spring and the changing landscape of colors and textures every day. I am grateful for the feel of sun on my face. I am grateful to have furry and non furry beings who love me. I am grateful for technology that lets me connect with people near and far. I am grateful to be alive and well.

Take a moment and reflect on what you are grateful for….

Notice the inner shift.

From anxiety to gratitude.
From fear to love.

There is a nourishing power here. Find your middle ground.

Namaste

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 🙏