The Seasons of Our Heart

 

As I sit with the sadness and the grief of losing both of our girl Welsh Terriers – Dilys and now Meg,  I allow myself to feel the pain and loss. This has been a summer season of worry, stress and heartbreak. Now there is space for peace.

The words of Kahlil Gibran come to mind.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Just as the stone of the fruit must break, so that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And if you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.

If you accept the seasons of your heart, as you have always accepted the four seasons, you would watch with serenity the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

Therefore, trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen.”

 

 

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

Become the Singing Bowl

adult adventure after the rain countryside

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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

More Than Ever – Find Your Middle Ground

nature forest waves trees

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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

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!

woman-holding-white-balloon-3064615

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

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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

Wishing for Things to be Different

backlit beach clouds dark

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Acceptance of ‘what is’ can be the hardest part of the journey.

Doubts, flaws, mistakes and self absorption are part and parcel of life. Yet, how easy to forget, especially in those times when they overwhelm us and highjack our thinking.

Wishing for things to be different, creates anxiety about whether we have made the right choice, and sets the mind into a spinning spiral of ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’. It can keep us there for hours, days or a whole lifetime.

We become acutely aware of what is missing and what is wrong. Like a dark cloud across the sun. In our mind we hold that cloud there and push it back towards the sun. We create our own darkness and confusion.

Only when we realize that clouds pass, that the sun is always there, no matter how cloudy the day or how dark the night. Only when we see the bigger picture, can we break free and open once again to acceptance and love.

Namaste

 

 

 

Silent Celebration

Free photo 83025747 © creative commons stock photos – Dreamstime.com

A catbird tries to fly
against the wind only
to be blown backward.
I know that feeling –
setting out with certainty
and arriving somewhere
entirely different. When
I respond with acceptance
to my unexpected
destination, the sun
clangs its cymbals of
light in silent celebration.

~ Danna Faulds

Stop trying to fly against the wind and fully embrace where you are in the highs of lows of life. Celebrate the unexpected… and the sunshine today!

 

Inspiration – Dandelions

dandelion wisdom

© creative commons stock photos  ID 82961274 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Sometimes traditional stories hit the right spot. This one often does for me.

Nadia spent the whole autumn sowing and preparing his garden. In the spring, the flowers opened, and Nadia noticed a few dandelions that he had not planted. Nadia pulled them up. But the seeds had already spread, and others grew. He tried to find a poison that would kill only dandelions. An expert told him that any poison would end up killing all the other flowers too.

In despair, Nadia sought help from a gardener.‘It’s just like life,’ said the gardener. ‘Along with the good things, there are always a few inconveniences.’‘What should I do, then?‘Nothing. They may not be the flowers you intended to have, but they are still part of the garden.’

 

May we embrace all aspects of our garden and the unexpected that life brings our way.

The Natural Life

“The natural life is not
A life without warts.”

~ Wu Hsin Translated by Roy Melvyn from “The Lost Writing of Wu Hsin”

These words brought a smile today.

Ah yes, we may want life to be flowing and “natural”, yet we tend not to accept the very nature of it.

Warts happen.

Embrace the highs and lows of life my friends.

Be Gentle with Yourself

For today and every day.

“Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. You may not be perfect, but you are all you’ve got to work with. The process of becoming who you will be, begins first with the total acceptance of who you are.”

~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Legs up the wall

It only takes ten minutes to feel nurtured and connected to your self. Try lying with legs up the wall, placing one hand on your belly, and the other on your heart center.

Stay here for a while. Let the breath be slow and nourishing. Allow the body, breath and gravity to bring the mind towards peace and acceptance.

Namaste

Inspiration – Dandelions

dandelion wisdom

© creative commons stock photos  ID 82961274 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Sometimes traditional stories hit the right spot. This one often does for me.

Nadia spent the whole autumn sowing and preparing his garden. In the spring, the flowers opened, and Nadia noticed a few dandelions that he had not planted.

Nadia pulled them up. But the seeds had already spread, and others grew. He tried to find a poison that would kill only dandelions. An expert told him that any poison would end up killing all the other flowers too. In despair, Nadia sought help from a gardener.

‘It’s just like marriage,’ said the gardener. ‘Along with the good things, there are always a few inconveniences.’

‘What should I do, then?

‘Nothing. They may not be the flowers you intended to have, but they are still part of the garden.’

 

May we embrace all aspects of our garden and the unexpected that life brings our way.