Haiku – clearing our garden

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Find your Middle Ground

Tend to your inner garden

Clearing takes some time

~

Every day I seem to wait for it to a little cooler and drier so I can spend time clearing away the weeds that seem to have sprouted overnight in my garden.

The forecast calls for cooler temperatures and lower humidity over the next few days. I will celebrate by setting aside plenty of time to clear in a purposeful mindful way.

Tending to our outer garden and inner one are very similar. Are you putting off time to find the right moment for meditating, reading inspiring words or attending a yoga class?Are you being sidetracked with the weeds of drama and social media?
The busyness of life and the weather can get in the way.

Remember we have control over one of them.

Tend to your inner garden and set aside time to Find Your Middle Ground.

Can you Recognize When Life Gets Out of Balance?

centering

This is a reblog of an earlier post about finding balance. My week has also been off balance. I have a Yoga Teacher Mentor workshop tomorrow on Low Back Issues, and I found myself researching so much I lost the overall intention of what I wanted to share with others, and I became overwhelmed. The analytical brain hijacked my heart… and I became disconnected from others around me.

Despite yoga I lost my middle ground this week.

So what was missing?

I stopped and took a breath, and then launched right back into exactly what I had been doing before. There was not enough time to pause fully and observe or to reflect on what was happening.

It was more like a break in a never ending marathon of getting things done. This is not enough to nourish mind, body and spirit or find real balance.

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When you have found your middle ground, life is in balance. There is no overwhelm or anxiety, no fear or regrets.  You are in the present moment and content. 

Knowing that this place is available to us is reassuring … but our minds have “minds of their own” and still prefer to go into their own tailspin of thoughts about the past or worry about the future. Worried man

How do we recognize when our emotions start to sabotage us or our overactive thinking takes over from reality?

By regularly checking in with ourselves.

We may do it formally in yoga or in meditation, but a really helpful informal daily practice is to to do mindful check-ins with yourself.

These are referred to, using the STOP acronym.

S = Stop for a moment

T = Take  a breath

… And then a few more until you feel the mind start to settle and you land in your body once more. Perhaps bring hand to your belly and tune in to the sensation of breath, and the feeling of connection.

O = Observe…

… Ask “What am I aware of right now? In my body, my mind, my heart? … Can I be with it – without judgment? This practice is STOP not STJP!

Take time to reflect and perhaps journal about what brought you to this place. Be an observer of yourself from a caring place. Perhaps imagine what a loving friend or grandmother would see in the situation, and what she might say to you.

P = Proceed…

… After acknowledging thought, sensations and emotions, accept them for what there are right now. Allow them to move wherever they need to go.

As a practice it helps us understand that whatever arises, it does indeed pass. We don’t need to react to it. We don’t need to overcome it or run away from it. By recognizing it, it will lose its power. No matter how difficult or intense the experience can be, we are able to find our way to living it  with more balance and peace.

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Ask yourself now. “Am I really stopping and finding balance or I am just taking a break in a marathon of getting things done?”

Namaste

Life in Balance

This is a reblog and gentle reminder to stop the juggling today 🙏

oo0O0oo

It often seems so hard to keep life in balance.

If we see life as a balancing act between opposing sides, then we feel ourselves dipping from one side to other. Balance becomes a juggling act of opposing sides. An other thing to work at and get just right!

blancing act

If we see balance like this its no wonder that we feel off balance most of the time.  In life, everything is changing and nothing stays static. If we see life as a balancing act, then we constantly find ourselves trying to find balance again and again.

Isn’t it exhausting to always try to realign ourselves like this?…

I see balance in a different way…. Balance is finding wholeness that comes from our center of being.

presetn moment

Our center keeps us grounded in the present moment. As life goes on and everything in the outer world shifts and changes, our inner being is a constant presence.

Without connecting to our center we will continue to swing back and forth in the pendulum of life.

This center is what I call our Middle Ground. That place where we pause and let go of the external world of striving, strategizing and planning…. and instead, allow ourselves to let go and simply be.

pendulum resting in center

To let go of thinking, and tuning into our inner being and the Presence within.

Here we nourish and refresh ourselves … and find our natural state of balance.

When we come from this center we will never lose our way in the highs and lows of life.

Instead of looking outwards to see what you can juggle, look inwards and find your center  of being.

Let this be a gentle reminder for all of us to make time to pause and find peace within.

It is so precious.

Find Your Sparkle

 

inner child

My heart was aching

For something lost

that never came into being.

I cried and cried

and felt better

But I forgot about my inner child.

She was afraid and sad

Keeping quiet.

She’s good at that.

And so I reached out to her

And asked her “How can I help”

She replied

“Just hug me …

Then let’s go play.”

And so we did

I found my inner sparkle

Thank you sweet girl.

 

For those of you who want to really embrace your inner child along with me, check out these Ted Talks for your inner child

 

 

* Inspiration – For One Who is Exhausted

yellow rose in rain

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

~ John O’Donohue, from “Blessings”

There are some beautiful images and poignant phrases here to guide us to our Middle Ground.

May today be a day for slowing down and finding the joy within.

Let nature and our senses restore mind, body and spirit.

* Resistance Wake Up Call

resistance

In Carl Jung’s wise words “What we resist persists.” Noticing where we have resistance is a powerful practice.

I keep thinking about how I want things to be a certain way, yet it’s out of my control. And rather than letting it go and letting it be, I find my thoughts still hanging on to how things were and how I don’t want this to be happening right now.

I ask myself … Why is this happening? … How can I escape the unfairness of it?… How can I make things right?

This kind of thinking only takes me away from being present and makes me feel off balance and fearful. There’s a tightness around my heart.

And then I read this quote:

“If you are resisting something, you are feeding it. Any energy you fight, you are feeding. If you are pushing something away, you are inviting it to stay.” ~ Michael Singer.

Whenever we push something away, we bring energy to it and it resists. The more we push, the more energy is created, and so it resists even more in order to stay.

When we push something away, we are inviting it to stay.

Well I certainly don’t want that!

fish slap wake up call

I love messages that hit me like a cold wet fish being slapped across the face.

Others might think of it as a kind of wake up call.

Hello river, here I come again.

Consider what you have been resisting that is still firmly there…. Feel the fish slap, let it go and join me in the flow once more.

* STOP and Find Balance

When you live from your middle ground, life is in balance. There is no fear, no anxiety or depression. You are in the present moment and content.

Knowing that this place is available to us is reassuring … but our minds have “minds of their own” and still prefer to go into their own tailspin of thoughts about the past or worry about the future.

How do we recognize when our emotions start to sabotage us or our overactive thinking takes over?

By regularly checking in with ourselves.

meditating woman

We may do it as a formal practice such as yoga or meditation, but a really helpful informal daily practice is to do mindful check-ins with yourself.

I use an app called Chakra Chime on my iPhone. It goes off at 8am every morning and 6pm at night. Its a signal for me to STOP and check in with myself.

STOP stands for:

S = Stop for a moment…

T = Take a full deep breath…

O = Observe… What am I aware of right now? … What is alive in me? Can I be with it whatever is coming up right now.

P = Proceed… What do I choose to do now that I have stepped back and been an observer of myself. The options are many…

Stay with what I am feeling deeply right now? Use my mood kit app to explore what’s behind my thinking? Take a break? Reach out to someone who cares? Pack up? Re- schedule? Breath some more? Stretch? Let go of whatever I’m holding on to?

A STOP mindful check-in brings us into the present moment and opens up new possibilities.

In this moment let life unfold.

Slow down to the speed of life.

Listen to your inner wisdom.

… And consider making this a daily practice

 

* 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

 

 

* 5 Tips for Finding Your Middle Ground in the Holidays

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for feeling gratitude and sharing with loved ones … and it can also bring a lot of stress and unresolved family issues. Here are 5 tips that may help you find balance over the Holidays.
Val x

Find Your Middle Ground

One of the biggest stress makers during the Holidays is when you spend an extended length of time with your family. Here are 5 tips for finding your Middle Ground … and feeling more balanced this year.

Let’s face it, spending 24-7 with anyone can be stressful, so here is some wisdom to help you make it through this year with less drama, tears and opening of old wounds.

perfect thanksgiving family

1. Lower your expectations. This isn’t the movies, this is real life. And life has its ups and downs! We may put a lot of work into the decorations, food and the family setting to make it look perfect, but it can it really be like in the movies? Accept that there will be emotional baggage being brought into the house and through the Holidays. When we recognize that, we can think about how we want to handle it –…

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* Insights from my Kripalu YTT 500 Teacher Training – Mod 4

When I was at Kripalu last week I met amazing teachers from the world of physical therapy, structural therapy and nursing, as well as wonderful yogis who teach and inspire a diverse range of people.

You don’t have to be fit, flexible and under 40 to do yoga or enjoy all its benefits! But it is important to find a teacher with experience and skill to avoid injury or making your condition worse… That is why I attended this module.

I have acquired more knowledge and skills for safely teaching people of all sizes; those recovering from illness; moms-to-be; kids; seniors and people with disabilities; people impacted by trauma, depression or anxiety and a large population of shoulder and back pain sufferers. For the yogis out there I also learned about how to support people in rebalancing their doshas and bringing mind body and spirit into harmony.

Val's yoga class

This module was called Teaching Special Population Groups, but it seems to me that most people I come across fall into the one or more of the above categories.  The norm is in fact special. I like that 🙂

The main theme was to support whoever comes into a yoga class with compassion and skill.

The supporting theme that became evident early on is that sitting is bad for your health and well being. We are a chair culture and it isn’t doing our bodies any good.

Lee Albert said that sitting is the new smoking! Its bad for everyone’s health. If you want to find out more about his perspective as an Integrated Positional Therapist, then there are lots of tips on his website.

Our bodies were built for walking, squatting and lying down. Sitting on a chair or in the drivers seat for extended periods of time creates misalignments that lead to chronic back pain and shoulder issues, as well as other health problems.  Specific yoga poses can counteract this … and lead to better alignment and healthy backs and shoulders.

Yoga has its roots in spirituality and the journey to oneness, but it has evolved into an amazing tool box full of tools that can support every body in bringing peace of mind and physical well being.

I feel grounded in this knowing, yet am excited to share these new perspectives with my yoga peeps.

* Inspiration – Your Middle Ground

I am deeply moved by these words of Wu Hsin which I came across at Superaalifragilistic.

pendulum of life

 

“Dismount the pendulum of fear and desire.

The ground beneath you is the Source and Support”

Wu Hsin

For me this captures the essence of Find Your Middle Ground in a way that I have not been able to fully express with my own words.

My gratitude to you Aalif and the lost writings of Wu Hsin.

Namaste

* Dealing with Stress and my Inner Teenager

waves of lifeOn Tuesday I had a stressful day. A dip in the highs and lows of life day. It wasn’t surprising. I had some concerning news that took the wind out of my sails, and I developed a pressure cooker of a sinus headache. I was in a trough. I know how my mind and body are connected. My body tells me quite clearly when I have to pay attention to what is happening around me and what I am feeling. The message is clear –  take care of my well being. Pause. Connect to my Self.

In hindsight it is easy to catch, but at the time it may take a bit longer to realize that we are under stress. In this particular occasion it became very clear as I went through emails and started to read updates from fellow bloggers. As I painfully squinted at the screen. I was no longer present, but my inner judge was! “What do they want? … Why bother me with this?… How stupid! How superficial!… They are so self centered!… Don’t they get it?… This is trivial! Who has time for frivolity? Pl-ease get to the point.”

My thinking revealed that Val was not present or in balance. My defensive inner teenager had been Teenage bratunleashed.

Everyone was dumb. They didn’t get it. They didn’t see how much pain I was in. They took advantage of me. They tried to control me. All the unmet needs from the past were right there demanding attention.

Our inner teenager  is challenging and requires some kindness and understanding. Its in pain – emotionally and often physically. It has so many unmet needs and is trying to figure out how to get them met as they move from childhood into independence.  It is our ego at the height of all of its immature defensive glory.

One part of me was determined to be miserable and show the world (?) that I had every right to be. Thankfully the part of me who has learned to be a compassionate observer knew that it was time to unplug. NOW!

You are stressed. Take care of yourself  and find your middle ground. Be gentle and kind. Let things be as they are.

Stones surrounded by rushing waterIt was easier after I had taken half a Sinutab and put on my favorite restorative yoga music. I embraced everything that was coming up. I noticed resistance. I breathed and didn’t push. I found my middle ground and was able to stay there. Healing tears fell softly. I meditated and lost track of time. My husband came and went and let me be. He knows better than me sometimes ❤

I began to feel better and went to watch tv to distract myself … and found I had no appetite for it at all. ZERO. I wanted to stay in solitude. I journaled instead.

The old habits of distractions, shopping, cleaning, entertainment, drinking and eating had lost their pull in that moment. By being fully present and knowing how to ride the wave and find my middle ground helped me center myself.

So I honored the request to be alone and put my teenager to bed early. I woke up as a headache free and stress free adult once more. Ready to approach the day with a sense of curiosity.

Thank you to the makers of Sinutab, yoga and meditation, journaling, my husband and friends who support and nourish me, and to those of you who read this today!

May we all find our middle ground in the waves of life.

❤ Namaste ❤