The Voice Inside Your Head

This poem from Steve Taylor is so clear about what happens when we begin to face the voice inside our heads.

voice inside your head Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

“One day you’ll grow fed up with the voice inside your head
with its constant murmurings of discontent
its fear mongering thoughts of the future
and its questioning of every choice you make.

One day you’ll turn to it and calmly say, “I refuse to listen”
then stand back and look away
turning your attention to your surroundings
or to a quietness and spaciousness you can sense inside you, just behind the voice.

The voice is so self absorbed
that at first it won’t even notice its being ignored
and will carry on chattering away to itself.
You’ll still hear its complaints and criticisms
but they won’t convince you any more –
your’ll doubt them, laugh at them, reject them.

And gradually, without the fuel of your attention,
the voice will become more hesitant
will stumble and slow down, leaving space;
until eventually that self assertive drawl that demanded to be heard
and seemed to submerge the rest of reality
will be no louder than a whisper, like a gentle breeze
that seems to be part of silence.”

Yes – this is how it can happen when we recognize that the voice inside our head isn’t who we really are. It doesn’t speak the truth. The thoughts and anxiety that appear are coming from a place of fear and powerlessness from when we were young. It has kept us safe… but then it can also take over and become the harshest critic and judger of ourselves, others, and the world.

What would it be like to start to ignore this voice and reject it?

Many of us think there is something wrong with us to have this voice. That it shouldn’t be there. That it shows a dark side of ourselves that we don’t want to admit to.

Yet, there is nothing wrong here. It is part of who we are as humans. And it is something for us to step back from, recognize and face so we can change it and transform ourselves.

Peace is on the other side of this long journey.

Namaste

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?

 

 

 

 

Real Yoga

silhouette of man sitting on grass field at daytime

Photo by Spencer Selover on Pexels.com

For most people, yoga is a type of physical exercise that takes place in a studio or gym. It’s advertised as being good for the body and helps you become more flexible and fit.

I hope readers of this blog now realize that there is so much more to yoga. Modern yoga has dropped much of the older yogic practices, such as working with the breath (Pranayama), locks (Bandhas) and cleansing practices (Kriyas) which were key to yoga as a path to awakening.

Rather than lamenting how things are not like the old days … I will share some timely wisdom from Judith Lasater:

“To practice yoga in its deepest sense is to commit to developing awareness by observing our lives: our thoughts, our words, and our actions. There are many yoga techniques that can support us along the way, such as yoga poses, breathing practices, and meditation. But these are not ends in themselves, but means to the Self.

The real beginning of spiritual practice is evident when we accept responsibility for ourselves, that is, that we acknowledge that ultimately there are no answers outside of ourselves, and no gurus, no teachers, and no philosophies that can solve the problems of our lives. They can only suggest guide, and inspire.

It is our dedication to living with open hearts and our commitment to the day to day details of our lives that will transform us. When we are open to the present moment we shine forth. At these times we are not on a spiritual path: we are the spiritual path.”

~ Judith Lasater, from “Living Your Yoga” Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life

I feel honored to be a guide on this journey to awaken our true Self.

Namaste

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.

 

For Home Bound Working Mothers … What if?

woman working girl sitting

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

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.

 

 

 

 

Allow this Moment to Unfold

Can you simply relax and allow this moment to unfold? 

Can you let go of evaluation and judgment, and simply accept that this is what is happening?

wooden pier against mountains and sunset sky

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels.com

 

Remember it is only our resistance to the present moment that causes us to feel any pain.

Acceptance creates the inner freedom and inner peace that we are all yearning for.

So take a deep breath… and then another.

Relax.

Be easy on yourself and others.

Trust your life and experience that has brought you to this moment.

Instead of wishing things to be different, focus on expressing the love that is within you.

Find gratitude every day.

Get out of your head and open your heart.

Namaste

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