Awakening to What?

Those of us who see ourselves on a journey of self realization or spirituality, have a sense of awakening. But an awakening to what? I wonder if we all awaken to the same thing, or if we awaken to whatever we are ready to awaken to…

Whatever it is, when we find it we think “This is it!” But it is really so? Is it the final piece of the puzzle or just an other piece along the way that finds its rightful place?

woman in blue and white floral long sleeve shirt holding a round shaped puzzle

Photo by Wesley Carvalho on Pexels.com

As I reflect on my life there have been moments of awakening, when it seemed like my inner world and outer world launched into a new way of being. Yet, on reflection it is now clear that these have just been pieces of the puzzle.

These pieces connected to each other, yet they revealed only a part of a great unknown picture. Here are my reflections on my journey towards the unknown and the awakenings along the way.

Life Awakenings

I can only imagine what it must have felt like when I first discovered I was no longer in a dark and nourishing space merged with my mother. This experience is beyond my thinking,  but I can imagine how traumatic and profound it must have been becoming separate and in all that bright light!

The next awakening was when I learned who I was in relation to other things and people. My ego developed as I grew into a separate human being with preferences and beliefs. I learned how to get what I wanted, how to be in relationship with others. I created beliefs about who I was as a girl child, daughter, sister etc…

Not long after this revelation came, the waking up to feeling hurt when I didn’t get what I wanted, or when I was not seen in a way that I wanted to be seen, or when I felt abandoned and unloved. I believed that there was something wrong, and it was me. I wasn’t good enough. So I would try to be good and perfect.

This part lasted for quite some time. I continued to learn who I was in this world from those around me, and in the roles I played. I was looking outward for validation and love.

Then as an adult I awakened to the part of me that wanted to express herself fully. To slough off the conditioning and expectations of others. I started to look inward so I could find the real “me”, not through anyone else’s eyes, but through my own… Awakening to myself as a strong individual who mattered… Stepping into my own shoes and expressing myself to the world.
From not being good enough, I realized I was precious, unique and strong. I could make things happen! I took on challenges and overcame my fears. It was a period of tremendous personal growth.

Around then I began training to became a life coach. For the past 20 years I have worked with people to discover who they are as unique human beings who can overcome challenges and be their authentic best in the world.

Yet, this was not the end. From this place of self growth, confidence and expansion, an other kind of awakening started to unfold. One where I started to question who “I” was.

self inquiry

At a time when I was disillusioned with the competitive, self absorbed human beings around me, I fully embraced yoga and took my first yoga teacher training. Unlike a lot of yoga trainings nowadays, our practice was more than postures, sequencing and breath work. We had time for self reflection, we read yoga philosophy, and committed to following the eightfold path of Patanjali.

Through yoga I became aware that my personal “self” was made up of my thoughts and beliefs. The world around me mirrored my own perception of it.  I had been creating stories about who “I” (this “small self”) was. I had grown as a person, but had replaced stories of not being good enough, with new stories about all I could achieve and show the world.

A part of me still got caught in patterns of self-doubt, fear and worry. I also had moments of glory and immense satisfaction and had glimpses of the timeless beauty and mystery of being alive.

In yoga I felt drawn to the belief that we are all connected and share the same Source or Conscious Presence. When one says “namaste” in greeting and farewell, it means that one recognizes the light shining within each of us.  This inner light is our true spiritual Self.  We connect to something more that our human body and thinking mind. Whether we call it God, the Divine, Brahman, Source, Presence or the Universe. There is a part inside of all of us that is connected to an infinite beingness, that words can’t fully describe.

Then something happened. It was like the outer shell cracked and the gloriousness of what was within was revealed. From understanding in my mind, I experienced a overwhelming feeling of love and connection with my fellow human beings, animals and nature.  There is a deep sense of oneness that is profound, no matter what is happening in life. It is hard to put into words, because it feels beyond words.

If I were to try to use words, it was be something like a veil had been lifted to reveal what had always been there. It is something that once felt, can always be accessed.

The aum symbol of yoga symbolizes this seeing beyond the veil and embracing an unchanging reality of oneness with spirit or pure consciousness.

aum symbol with meaning

Finding Your Middle Ground

Finding your middle ground is the gateway to this awakening.  The starting point is when we take time to pause and become self aware. We begin, by simply learning to slow down and noticing what is going on inside: our thoughts, judgments, emotions, body sensations … and al the stories we make up about ourselves and the world around us.

I like to think of it as the phase of personal expansion and growth. Its a place of new perspectives, letting go of the past, and understanding and truly accepting ourselves as imperfect human beings.

We start to explore new aspects of ourselves, our passions and what gives us meaning in life. Taking time to pause and ask ourself the deep questions that we want to know the answers to, allows us to go beyond what we know in our mind and tap init the wisdom in our heart.

From this place of mindful awareness, we can come new insights into who we are beyond our beliefs and conditioning. Beyond our own small separate self.

With more compassionate self awareness, meditation and mindful living, a new way of seeing ourselves and the world unfolds.
We realize that we are not separate, but are connected to something so much bigger, and to each other.
We come to know that we are not the master of the universe, but are simply a part of it all.
There is no right or wrong, because we know that it’s our thoughts that make it so. Everything becomes as it is.
We stop resisting life, and begin to let go into its own flow.
We let go of ego and surrender to being small as we connect to the Source of being. From wanting to be somebody, we embrace being nobody.

Wherever we are on life’s path, we can open ourselves to new insights and awaken to a new way of expanded being.

As human beings perhaps our purpose is to awaken to what we are ready for, and to be open to surrendering to the next unknown.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to freedom.

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

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.

Inner Alignment

Photo by Garon Piceli on Pexels.com

 

We live in a self absorbed society where everything seems to be directed to feeding the insatiable and bored little “me”.

When we start finding our Middle Ground, we get in touch with our inner being and experience what is happening in the moment. This inner world includes our thoughts, beliefs, needs, feelings and knowing what really matters to us – our values.

We become observers of ourselves.

We come nurturers of our inner being instead of critics.

Life becomes more satisfying just as it is. There is less need for stimulation, excitement and acquiring of things to prove to ourselves, entertain us, show others, or to keep boredom at bay.

This shift can happen in a moment or over a space of time … and is available to all of us.

Through yoga, I learned that this feeling of centered contentment was when my mind, body and spirit are aligned and in harmony.

I call this place of inner alignment the Middle Ground.

Thank you for joining me here 💛

Inspiration – Letting Go of the Past

 

“Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being present now.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

Such a powerful statement.

The mind often gets caught up in the past so much that we are filled with feelings such as regret, anger or shame about what has happened. We may feel stuck, or unable to get over the event.

When this happens it starts to color how we see the world. We start filtering how we interpret the world around us based on those feelings about the past. We identify so much with what has happened to us, that we cannot separate ourselves from the event.

We tell ourselves that its the event that keeps us from being happy. Yet unhappiness comes from our inability to come fully into the present.

Holding on to those thoughts about the past, prevents us from fully appreciating the present moment.

The first step to letting go, is awareness that something needs to be let go of and released. Sometimes we may not even realize exactly what it is, but we sense that we are holding on to something.

The second step is to bring our attention gently into the present moment by focusing on our breath and becoming an observer. To help you become present, please follow this link.

When we find a state of presence and inner balance, we can let go.

* Inspiration – logic wisdom

 

logical mind

“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore

bandaged hand

 

Conscious awareness prevents the need for bandages and brings life into balance.

~ Val Boyko

Listen to your heart and intuition. Be safe out there.

* Elf Awareness

I hope you enjoy this re-blog. It still makes me smile 😀🎄💝

Find Your Middle Ground

A good friend of mine is embracing her inner “elf” this holiday season. It does make me smile 🙂

What would your Inner Elf look like?elf shoes

We think of elves as those pixie like creatures that help out Santa. They work hard and play.  They make mistakes and laugh.  They are sometimes impulsive yet kind. They find the joy and mischief in everyday things. 

Our Inner Elf is innocent, fun and vulnerable.

Why not encourage him or her to come out to play and make this a time to lighten up and embrace your Inner Elf.

….. We also have a Higher Elf.

Lord of the RingsOur Higher Elf is more like the Elves in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. He or she has a quiet serenity about them, yet are strong and courageous. They are wise, mature, noble, and contemplative. They are attuned to nature and are clear about what…

View original post 43 more words

* Be a Bold Writer

courageous writer

“If a writer is so cautious he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never write anything that can be read. If  you want to help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn.”

~ Thomas Merton

This is an alternative version of this morning’s post.

* 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

You are Not the Problem

thinking about me

“The central problem is not that

You think too highly

Of yourself.

Nor is it that

You think too lowly

Of yourself.

Instead, it is that

You think constantly

Of yourself.”

Wu Hsin from The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin

(This was long before John 3:30 and C.S. Lewis with their definition of humility.)

Is this really true? I took a moment to consider what most of my thoughts are about … and yes they are usually about me. What I need… what I want… how I feel…  how I see things… decisions I make… things I have to do…

So, today I learned (again) that one of the best ways to lighten up and find balance, is to stop thinking constantly about myself.

Self reflection and introspection are valuable for us to learn about our inner world… but lets all be mindful about crossing the line from seeking understanding to self absorption… and ego bashing or stroking.

Why not join me today and give your self a break, by shifting perspective away from what’s going on with you.

Free yourself from your small ego centric self.

Wake up and embrace the amazing world that we are all a part of.

beautiful world

Learning Something New – Be Like a Toddler

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

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

What Needs to Change for Change to Happen

I was talking with a coaching client the other day about change and how it can be difficult for most of us. Our conversation led me to write about it. I thought I’d share this with you as a practical resource for transforming your life.Transformation - egg

Why is Change Hard?

Three things come to my mind that are supported by scientific research:

    • We are hard wired to be in our comfort zone. It’s for human survival … and reinforced by how we deal with difficult emotions growing up. We react to the stressors with a fight, flight, or freeze response, then act out learned behaviors that we think will take away the discomfort and fear. Those behaviors often keep us stuck and in a cycle of disappointment and failure.
    • In some circumstances we may fail to see change happening already around us. Our own conditioning and filters prevent us from seeing what’s real.
    • Even when we really want it, its hard to break old habits and beliefs and step out of our comfort zone. In “Immunity to Change” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Laley they state that desire and logic aren’t enough. 

For example: In a recent study. Doctors told heart patients that they will die unless they change their habits – taking meds consistently, changing eating habits and getting regular exercise. The result? only 1 in 7 people followed through. Even when it’s a matter of life and death, the ability to change can be madly elusive.

We have a built in immunity to change.

For real change to happen there has to be an inner transformation. 

plant emerging

In my experience from coaching people from all walks of life, this is what is needed:

      • A compelling gut level reason. The one big thing! A vision of how you see yourself being. Craft an inspirational story with you in the lead – Become your own hero.
      • Engage your head AND your heart.  Connecting to your hopes will give you energy to propel you forward. Use your logical brain to see the benefits of change outweigh the cost of not changing.
      • Change takes time. It isn’t about flicking a switch.  Don’t try to change until your mind and emotions are ready.  Give the universe time to align itself around your new way of being.
      • Open up your mindset and options before experimenting and taking action. Be curious and explore. Use your imagination without editing or judging. (That’s your ego trying to keep you safe!)
      • Be purposeful and gather information to overcome assumptions and beliefs that get in the way.
      • Tap into your past success with change. What worked for you that you can bring here? What do you choose not to do this time around?
      • No one is successful by themselves. Build a team to support you, include the people that inspire you.
      • Be patient …. with the outcome you want,  and with yourself. In your inner exploration you will encounter resistance and fear. It takes time to be okay with this and realize it is part of the process of transformation.
      • Trust that the outcome you really want will happen when it is meant to.

So let go of those unrealistic new years resolutions, going cold turkey and taking giant leaps of faith.

Take a more mindful approach to change.

Find your Middle Ground and take the time to get to know your own inspiring self. This is the part of you that will bring about real change and transformation.