Haiku – Heart Awareness

architecture door entrance exit

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

~
Open heart expands
Closed heart contracts and defends
Awareness brings flow
~

When something is bothering me, one of the most useful questions I ask myself is “Is my heart open or closed?”

And in that moment of recognition, it hears and something is released.

It begins to open with love and understanding.

Everything comes and goes.

We get stuck when we get attached to our thinking.

Awareness opens the heart and brings flow.

Haiku – rainy days

© creativecommonsstockphotos ID 82979524 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

~
Rainy summer days
Can’t dampen the joy within 
Find Your Middle Ground
~

Find your Middle Ground is about finding balance in life and coming home to our selves.  When we take time to pause and be mindful we open a door to our natural state of being  – accepting, loving, peaceful, kind and happy. It is there for every one of us.

No matter what the external circumstances we find ourselves in … or the challenges we face… or the weather(!), we can slow down and find the joy within.

Namaste

 

 

In Time of Anger or Despair

angry sea

Angry Sea – Source: Dreamstime © Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

“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.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Come back to the love that is there, and let go of the anger eating at your heart.

Step away, breathe deeply and find your center, and its deeper knowing.

Distressing emotions are a part of life.

They pass when we stop holding on to them in our thoughts.

Learning how to handle them takes patience, insight and compassion.

Understand that beyond fear and suffering is always love.

Namaste

Listen to the Message of Emotions

Wisdom from Tara Brach for these difficult times. May we listen to our hearts and to our children. 🙏

“I’ve had many waves of anger, fear, and aversion in reaction to the harm being perpetrated in our society. In my own practice, it helps to keep starting right where I am, not judging my own reactions, thinking “I shouldn’t feel this.” Rather than trying to let go of these feelings, I often reflect that “this belongs,” it’s the inner weather of the moment. Then I can feel the fear or aversion with acceptance and kindness.

This also allows me to listen to the message of the emotions. Reactions of horror and outrage can be healthy and intelligent. They alert us to the very real suffering around us and they help move us toward action. When we accept and mindfully open to these emotions, they unfold to reveal the deep caring that is underneath. But this doesn’t happen if our minds fixate on stories of bad other. If we are lost in our stories, we are lost in our own egoic reactivity. To listen to the emotions and respond from our most awake heart, we need to make the U-Turn, coming out of stories and back to our vulnerability and our tender heart….

It’s essential to respond actively whenever possible and to stay in good touch with others who care. Our shared caring is what keeps hope alive in difficult times—it’s the strongest medicine. Here’s a quote from contemporary Bodhisattva, Fred Rogers:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.

We are not alone. People all over the globe share the same longing for a more loving, just, and peaceful world. People everywhere are opening to the sense of our true belonging with each other and all of life.

May the suffering of our times awaken our deepest understanding and compassion;
and may we respond in a way that serves healing and freedom…​”

~ Tara Brach

Depth of Feeling

Image from Google

“We are so unused to emotion

that we mistake any depth of feeling for sadness,

any sense of the unknown for fear,

and any sense of peace, for boredom.

We are so schooled away from the life below, that anything beneath scares us.”

~ Mark Nepo from “The Book of Awakening”

It’s a scary place to start to look at ourselves beneath the surface. To face who we are when no one is looking.

We are afraid of what we might find and the depth of our feeling. Yet this is the place where the heart can truly open to all the experiences and feelings that have been denied.

I like how Mark Nepo reflects,  “When we bring up what we keep inside, it is sacred and scary, and the rest of us don’t know if we want to touch it or not, like reaching from a ladder into a nest of baby birds….But I invite you to anyway… For each of us is a fledgling that eventually, if fed, will fly.”

May we find the courage to reach for the sacred place with kindness and a gentle touch.

Nurture your precious baby birds. Let them grow strong and fly.

 

* Inspiration – Like a Giant Tree

giant tree

Photo from teratrees.com

“Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow

come and go like the wind.

To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.”

~ The Buddha

Let the winds of change move through your branches.

After all, that is what this season is about.

Namaste

* First Step to Forgiveness

So many of life’s experiences challenge us and give us the opportunity to learn and grow – especially in relationship to others and getting to know our authentic selves. As we grow in awareness, we take responsibility for all our experiences and our feelings. With patience and practice we stop blaming others and learn to look inside ourselves instead, with curiosity and compassion.

power struggle

This is the first step in being able to forgive. In order to truly forgive an other we must  take responsibility for our own feelings. We have to own how we feel and acknowledge all that is going on inside of us.

Although someone else has said or done something that distresses us, these are our feelings.

The action of the other has triggered a tender vulnerable part of us. When we become reactive and defensive, we lose touch with the real issue (what we are feeling) and it becomes all about them.

This triggered reaction is part of our survival mechanism. Yet it is our ego and smaller self that defends and holds on to resentment. Our heart and higher Self only wants to love.

We can’t make anyone else change, but we can change ourselves. We do that by acknowledging what is happening, shifting our thinking… and letting go of the need to be right.

Owning our feelings is one of the most important steps in growing from an adult into a loving mature human being.

The next time you feel resentment towards someone else, bring your attention inwards instead. Ask yourself:

“Do I really want to feel this way?”

“What is really happening here?”

“How have I contributed to this?”

“What is my heart telling me?”

“What do I need to let go of?”

… “Am I ready to forgive?”

Namaste

* Making Friends with our Emotions

I am grateful to work with clients who want to find their middle ground. A big part of this is becoming aware of what gets in the way and making friends with our emotions.  This poem by Chade Meng Tan is taken from his book Search Inside Yourself. It is inspired by Rumi’s The Guest House and the work of Mingyur Rinpoche, as well as the Tale of the Two Wolves.

Real monsteres

My monsters come in different shapes and sizes.
Over the years I have learned to deal with them.
I do that by letting go.

First, I let go of my wish to suppress them.
When they arrive, I acknowledge them
I let them be

Next, I let go of my instinct to vilify them.
I seek to understand them.
I see them for who they are.

They are merely creations of my body and mind.
I humor them a little.
I joke with them.
I joke about them.
I let them play.

Then I let go of my desire to feed them.
They may play here all they want.
but they get no food from me.

They are free to stay here hungry if they want.
I continue to let them be.
Then they get really hungry.
And sometimes they leave.

Finally, I let go of my desire to hold on to them.
They are free to leave as they wish.
I let them go.
I am free.
For now.

I do not overcome them.
They do not overcome me.
And we live together
In harmony

 

Mindful awareness… letting go… accepting emotions for what they are … and finding life in balance.

Aahhh … now that feels better.

* Paradox

bird on branch

by Snoron.com

Fear and love seldom
stand, shoulder to shoulder;
Its rare to laugh and
lie in the same breath.

But strength and weakness,
failure and success,
faith and desolation –
they are different ends
of a single stick.

To pick one up
is to receive both poles –
stark contrasts contribute
to a knowledge of the whole.

What is life but growing
wide and deep, so
open from weeping
that opposites, ambiguity,
and a thousand shade
of gray can co-exist
without despair?

Danna Faulds from Go In and In

As we learn to accept it all without despair. ❤️

* Learning to Forgive

forgiveness

Revenge is the desire to get even when someone does you wrong. It’s natural to feel angry, however, holding on to the grievance and “punishing” the other person closes your heart and contracts your body and spirit. In this state of contraction you lose touch with the goodness within you. Research also shows that revenge increases stress and impairs health and immunity.
When we are unable to forgive we create dis-ease and illness. 

Forgiveness is giving up the desire to punish someone or yourself for an offense. We let go of judging the person who caused the hurt. Instead of revenge and resentment we choose understanding and kindness. In forgiveness, we don’t forget that the offense occurred nor do we excuse it. Forgiveness is a choice and act of will to free ourselves.

 “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Louis B. Smedes

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” – Paul Boese

“Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” – Roberto Assagioli

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – The Buddha
letting go of the pastHere are 4 steps that have worked for me in working through forgiving myself or an other:

1. Acknowledge what happened and let yourself feel the anger and the hurt. We must feel anger before we can begin to forgive. You can’t rush forgiveness.  If something has happened some time ago, your distress is coming from the thoughts within you now, not from what offended or hurt you in the past.
It is your current thinking that is causing more and more struggle. You have the power to change your thoughts.

2. Make a decision to forgive or not. Do I want to hold on to resentment or let it go? Do I really want to feel like this? We are under no obligation or pressure to forgive. However, holding a grudge becomes a debilitating drain on our health and can poison our outlook on life. We become a prisoner to it.
When we truly forgive, we are doing it for our own sake, not the other person’s. It is the most important step in healing ourselves from the hurt of the past.
Forgiving brings us the gift of peace.

3. Seek to understand. Can I see the other person’s perspective or point of view? You don’t need to accept or agree with them at all. Remember that we all want to be happy. To be loved and accepted. How we go about it is based on our own life experiences and upbringing. A bully has almost always been bullied themselves.
People who are causing us pain are usually in pain. This is the human condition.

4. Shift your own perspective. What do I want this pain to turn into? Instead of going over in your mind why something happened, or how horrible the actions were, visualize what your life will be like after the pain is gone.
Start seeking ways to get what you want. Look for love, beauty and kindness around you. Its there!

let it goForgiving and letting go is an act of will and an act of courage.

By letting go of the anger and resentment within you and replacing it with kindness, you become free. Free to be you – and no longer a victim defined by an other’s actions.

Namaste

* You are a Human Magnet

We have an amazing ability to change our thinking and ourselves … but it can be tantalizingly difficult to do so!

Why? Because our own thinking and beliefs get in the way.

One way of looking at this is to turn to science and then think of yourself as a human magnet.you are a magnet

You attract what you think about. You become your thoughts.

Take a moment to consider: “Are my dominant thoughts serving me, holding me back or making me miserable?”…

Neuroscience research shows that we can create new neural pathways in our brain that change our thinking to support our well being and happiness.

⊕  The more we think negative thoughts, the more these neural pathways will be reinforced, and the more we will struggle with them. 

⊕  The more we think positive thoughts the more these neural pathways will be reinforced and the better we will feel.

what you think you become Let go of judgments about how things should be.
Let go of conditioning that tells us the best way to see the world.
Be open to how you want to feel.

Ask yourself: “Do I want to feel like this?” “What thinking do I really want to reinforce”?

In a world where reality is created by our thoughts, when we change our thinking we can watch and experience a new reality unfold.

We can reinforce these neural pathways with practice…. and feel so much better for it 🙂

Choose to take positive actions: Listen to inspiring music … Sing along … Pharrel Willimas - HappyGet your body and senses involved so the cell memory can also reinforce the positive element … Walk in nature … Cuddle … Listen to a TED talk or inspirational meditation CD … Read a book that inspires you and creates positive thoughts and feelings … Be around inspiring and happy people … Actively choose how you want to feel and what to attract more of.

I’m not advocating trying to escape challenging feelings and discomfort. They are a natural part of the highs and lows of life. Its your choice. When you notice your thinking is caught in a negative spiral, come into the present moment, pause and reframe.

This is life in balance.

Let it be a mindful choice what you want to attract and how you want to be in life.

Namaste

 

 

* Your Breath is How you Live your Life

Do you know how are you breathing right now?

Take a moment and simply notice your breath. Perhaps place your hand on your navel and the other above your heart.  Notice the movement as you inhale and exhale.

breath awareness

We breathe in and we breathe out. And for the most part we take it completely for granted.
Until something happens such as asthma, a cold, allergies or worse. When we notice it is difficult to breathe we appreciate it so much more.

How we breathe is not only a reflection of the health of our lungs, but also a reflection on how we live our life.

Did you know that our breath is connected to our emotional state?

When we feel:

Panic – It is short, fast, shallow breaths. Trying to get more air in by speeding up.

Anxious – It is shallow breaths seeking more reassuring air.

Tense – We hold onto the inhaled air, pausing at the top of the inhale before we let it be released, sometimes with a sigh.

Anger – It is long forced inhales and exhales. Fueling the flames like a bellows.

Calm – It is slow and steady breaths becoming shallower with relaxation.

Happy – It is long inhalations and long exhalations. Slowing it all down.

Did you also know we can change our emotional state by changing our breath? We can bring mindful awareness to our breath and create the emotional state that we seek.

Practitioners of Meditation and Yoga have done this for millennia – using awareness of the breath to come into the present moment, and bring about a more relaxed and centered state of being.

Science shows that when we slow the breath it signals to the brain and the parasympathetic nervous system that everything is well. No need to be on guard … its okay to relax and restore your natural balance.

So if we want to alleviate stress and become calm, slowing the breath works!

Try counting between 4 to 6 in your mind for each inhale and exhale. It can really make a difference. Why not set aside a few minutes and try it for yourself. It may feel awkward and take some practice but your body, mind and emotions will thank you for it.

Bringing awareness to our breathing is such a valuable guide to how we live our lives in that moment. With awareness of this comes choice. Please click here to explore more about your breath.

If you want to live your life fully then practice breathing fully.

Namaste