Why do People Blog?

silhouette of people standing neat tree under the moon

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There are so many diverse people and approaches to blogging in the WordPress community.

It makes me reflect on what my motivation for blogging has been, and to be curious about how others have experienced blogging. (Please add a comment below if you would like to share here)

I started blogging as a way to express myself and to share my message to more than one coaching client at a time. Back in 2014 and 2015, the posts I wrote were to provide new insights to specific clients and others wanting to see things more clearly or to bring about change in their lives.

It was also a way for me to become known and a platform for sharing what mindfulness, yoga and Finding Your Middle Ground was about.

Here, my passion grew and blossomed as I found community with like minded people around the world. It became an opportunity to educate and inspire others to find contentment and peace in stressful times, and to explore our spiritual journey and awakening.

I never thought of myself as a writer, poet or photographer, but I have discovered these aspects of myself along the way.

Blogging is an evolution … if you stay with it.

If you come to blogging with the intention of promoting yourself, or manipulating others, getting the most “likes; and “follows” then you are giving yourself short shrift. There really is so much more here.

Blogging is about connection, being inspired and nourishing each other, building community and finding like-minded souls.

Some times the connections fade or disappear. Other times a new voice and talent emerges and brings new perspectives, inspiration and joy.

Thank you for being here and making it all possible. You are the inspiration.

 

 

 

The Mystery of Your Presence

silhouette of man standing near body of water

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“The mystery of your presence can never be reduced to your role, actions, ego, or image.

You are an eternal essence; this is the ancient reason why you are here.

To begin to get a glimpse of this essence is to come into harmony with your destiny and with the providence that always minds your days and ways.

This process of self-discovery is not easy; it may involve suffering, doubt, dismay.

But we must not shrink from the fullness of our being in attempting to reduce the pain”. *

 

Let us not shrink from the fullness of our being as we delve into the mystery and embrace our destiny.

This journey takes courage and a lightness of soul.

Namaste

 

 

 

*O’Donohue, John. Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (pp. 107-108). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

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

 

 

Learning Something New – Be Like a Toddler

This re-post is dedicated to the people I have the privilege of teaching and mentoring.

ooOoo

As adults we are so used to being competent and knowledgable…. at least in some areas of our lives!
So when we take on a new challenge or want to learn something new it can be difficult.

I teach new yoga students and yoga teachers, and see how tough it can be for some to get their heads around being a beginner again.

Learning something new as adults makes us feel vulnerable. It’s a time where old fears about our worthiness surface, self doubt seeps in and egos rush to defend ingrained thinking and old beliefs.

beginner's mind

One way of countering this all too human reaction is to apply the Zen wisdom of Beginner’s Mind. This concept refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level.

Here are some steps to practice:

1. Be open and curious. Beginner’s Mind is about using the spirit of enquiry.  There’s a Zen story about this:
A student visited a Japanese master to inquire about Zen. The master served tea. When the visitor’s cup was full, the master kept pouring. Tea spilled out of the cup and over the table.
“The cup is full!” said the visitor. “No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” said the master, “You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

2.Take one step at a time and let go of the outcome. Focus on what needs to be studied at each step.

toddler running and falling

3. Be like a toddler. Fall down seven times, get up eight times. Celebrate falling down as well as getting up.

4. Let go of knowing. Embrace “I don’t know” thinking rather than conditioned “I know or I should know” thinking. We only know things up until now. How can we expect to know something beyond our experience?

5. Shake off shoulds. Shoulds are imposed on us. Instead, be the best you can be in that moment and take responsibility for your actions. Own your own life rather than ‘shoulding’ all over it.

6. Use your experience. Keep an open mind on how to apply your experience to each new circumstance. Get creative with what you know and what you are learning.

7. Experience the moment fully. Slow down and pause. Be fully present to what is going on around you and within you.

When you do this your mind quietens and you make space for the new. You find your Middle Ground.

Namaste

At Every Fork in the Road

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The Path to Freedom

“What is the path to freedom here?

The answer is clear the moment

I ask. At every fork in the road,

there is a conditioned response

and one that is unpatterned, bold

and free. The old, known way is

more comfortable, but the other

path holds mystery and wonder.”

~ Danna Faulds, from her collection of writings and poems “Limitless”

 

I love this question. What is the path to freedom here?

So often we will ask “What’s the right way here?” or “What should I be doing now?” This alerts the mind to start to analyze what is “right”  – which is usually based on our old conditioning or brings up feelings of guilt and “shoulds” from the past. So often the answer is fear based, especially the fear of making a mistake.

Can you see that we have already created a cage around our response and limited our choice based on the old known way.

It isn’t about avoiding doing something wrong or pleasing someone else. It isn’t about being a good or a righteous person either. Or being safe and comfortable.

In my experience, the answer isn’t in the analytical mind at all, but is in the passion and inspiration that fills your heart and uplifts your soul.

Its about being aware, bold and free to approach the mystery of the unknown, and trust the inner voice that’s calling you.

One step at a time is all it takes.

This question will take you there.

 

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

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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.

 

The 4 A’s for Fulfillment

I hope you enjoy this inspiring re-post today.

ooOoo

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The 4 A’s for fulfillment are some basic needs that we all have as human beings. I like to think of them as essential elements for the wellspring of life.

They are:

~ Attention ~

~ Appreciation ~

~ Affection ~

~ Acceptance ~

Take a moment to reflect on how you feel when someone offers you these things:

When someone pays attention to you, listens and is truly present with you…

When you feel appreciated for who you are, and someone thanks you…

When you are given affection and feel loved…

When you are accepted for just the way you are, despite not being perfect…

I know of a parent who intentionally punished their child by withdrawing her attention and ignoring her. She stone walled and turned her back in order to show her displeasure if the child didn’t do as she was told.
Can you imagine how this child felt, being rejected like this? Its no surprise that as an adult, her life became totally absorbed with filling the void within her. She craved attention and desperately needed to be appreciated. She was hungry for signs of affection, and yearned to be accepted by others.

Knowing the 4 A’s for fulfillment can help us understand our own motivations and support our healing from times in the past when these essential needs were not met. When we were small, we didn’t have the ability or insight to know what was happening, but we deeply felt the consequences.
Now it can be a gift to ourselves, to become more kind and compassionate to the small wounded child within us.

It can also be a powerful gift for us to give to others. It builds relationships and connection. It makes people feel good about themselves.

Notice if you find this difficult, neutral or easy.
If it’s difficult for you to give to others, then it might reflect your own need to give more to yourself. Fill your own wellspring so you can share with others.

Self Questioning

free image from Dreamstime

“To have the courage to

Question one’s certainties, is

True courage.”

~ The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin translated by Roy Melvyn

Sit with this a while and see what comes up for you…

Bringing our awareness to the beliefs that we hold, and usually take for granted, is the first step in our personal growth and spiritual self inquiry. When we look inwards and question our thinking and assumptions, it opens up new perspectives and gives us the opportunity to learn about what has been unknown…. or what may never be discoverable in this life.

This venture into the unknown is a courageous path because the ego-mind will be alert for any conflicting views or threats to its long held position. The ego holds on to those beliefs that have become our certainties about life. It can keep us rigid, stubborn, critical and damning, or simply safe and stuck.

The choice is ours. To embrace the new or hold on to our certainties.

To those on the path of Yoga teacher training, take courage as you embrace what is beyond belief.

Namaste

 

Ego in Yoga

This is a re-post  especially for those on the spiritual path of yoga.


hydra

“Ego can take many different forms and shapes. It is like the hydra. You cut off one head and another head replaces it. You cut off that head and see a third head and a fourth head ad infinitum.

This is because in the manifest dimension, ego identity is the root of life, and if the ego identity is lost, then life as we know it no longer exists.

It exists as light; life becomes light.”

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

I enjoy reading the different metaphors explaining the complexity of our ego, and can relate to the idea of a hydra. Our ego will do everything in its power to survive – especially adapting and changing shape.

The ego is very clever. It will allow one version of our body-mind to die and create a better version that fits in with either (1) how it wants to be seen in the world or (2) what is perceives is needed to stay alive in its physical body.

In my experience with others on a spiritual path, the newer version of ego is likely to be a more evolved version of the previous one. It may show up as being kinder person, a more patient parent, a wiser leader, a humble follower, a beacon of sanity in a world judged as mad…

These are still roles that the ego plays. Less damaging perhaps, yet still ego driven.

Recognizing the hydra heads of the ego is the gateway to le

The answer however is not to keep cutting its heads off. After all this would be an ego motivated act!

Instead embrace ego for what it is. A part of our very human nature that clings to life. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is.

Then we can wake up and realize we really are the divine light beyond ego and our human form.

Namaste

Release the Need to Save People from their Problems

Release the Need to Save People by Sanaya Roman*

”You can dissolve obstacles to love by releasing the need to save people from their problems. You can love others as your soul does by allowing them to be responsible for their own lives.

Taking care of others, worrying about their lives, and solving their problems can occupy so much of your attention and emotions that you have no energy left to put into your own life and spiritual path.
When you stop saving others, you can release any resentment you might feel for all the time and energy you spent on them.

When you save others, you can become a victim when they do not use your help in the way you would like, when they continue to create similar problems, or when they expect and demand that you continue to save them.

Learn to recognize when you are helping others because you feel that they do not have the strength or ability to solve their own problems.
When you feel an urge to help people in a way that will “save” them or take away their lessons, stop!
You may find that your desire to help others really comes from your own need to feel better and to have less concern and worry about their problems.

Assume that people have the ability to solve their own problems, even if you can’t see how they will. While your soul is interested in assisting people, it does not interfere with their lives. It allows people to have their own ideas, to live in whatever way they choose, to learn from their mistakes and to achieve their own successes.”

“Sometimes pain and suffering are necessary. No one can grow for us.” ~ Author unknown

This has been a profound lesson for me on my spiritual journey. When we recognize that we have a need to rescue others, or need other people to need us, we don’t allow them to have their own experience and to grow as human beings. It also diminishes our ability to connect at an authentic soul to soul level with others.

The aim of Yoga is to bring the mind to a state where we can see clearly without distortion of the truth

In Yoga, aparigraha or non attachment is one if the most difficult observances on our path to enlightenment. As a practice, it is usually focused on letting go of material objects and not being greedy or grasping. However, it can also apply to our thinking and in relationship to others. With self inquiry we can start to explore the motivations and thinking behind our actions and interactions in the world. Some questions to ponder are:

Am I grasping for attention … recognition … appreciation… to make me feel better about myself?
Am I interfering or trying to fix other people in an effort to fix myself?
In preventing them from feeling pain or being challenged, am I keeping them from growing?

While we are compassionate towards others and support them on their journey, it’s important to honor them and their experience, and allow them to grow through their own self inquiry.
The need to save others can keep us attached and prevents us, and them, from becoming truly free.

*Soul to Soul (p. 114). Monkfish Book Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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…

Inspiration – Resisting

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

~ Eckhart Tolle

Have you ever had a reaction of “What do you mean I’m resisting? … They are the problem!”

We are all human beings with egos that are ready to duck and weave… push back and dismiss… defend or withdraw, in order to avoid feeling the pain of being wrong, not being accepted or not being good enough.

This is one of those seemingly simple statements from Eckhart Tolle that has a greater depth of meaning.

When we get frustrated and unhappy, instead of resenting what is happening to us, wishing things to be different and attacking the nearest bystander or ourselves for being stupid, we can step back with awareness.

We can ask ourselves questions such as “What is it that I am not accepting?” “What am I resisting?” Then “What can I do to change the situation?” (Bear in mind that you cannot change an other person, only yourself.) “What can I do differently here?” “Can I bring about change or accept the way things are”.

An other way to look at this is to recognize that the resistance is already within us. It’s usually in the beliefs that we hold about ourselves and life in general. When we come across something which threatens how we see the world, our ego will react to protect itself. We get triggered.

Every time we are triggered, it’s an opportunity to learn and to educate ourselves on what we hold dear to ourselves and our values. It’s also an opportunity to explore those beliefs and see if they are meaningful, or are based on early conditioning. Perhaps the other perspective is actually worth considering!

It really is all about us and our inner world.

When our ego defends and attacks the outer world; when we blame the other and create enemies in our mind; when we become judge and jury for everything that doesn’t comply with our thinking, then it is time to stop, take a few deep breaths and begin to search inside ourselves.

Self inquiry is the work of our lives.