Update – Retreat

photo of white and brown owl perched on a tree branch

Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

A month ago I would have been at Kripalu for a senior yoga teacher training program… but as we all now know, along with so many other plans, it was cancelled. The latest news is that Kripalu will be closed for the rest of 2020.

I have felt sad, with a deep sense of loss. This was a place for community, learning, and more than anything, a retreat where mind, body and soul can be nourished, cared for and restored.

And then I realized … I am on retreat right now.

The pace has slowed down and I have had lots of alone time in the garden and spending time in the woods. There is also a routine of teaching classes via Zoom, and finding connection with my yoga students and community – not to mention taking other yoga classes and dancing along with Kripalu yogis from all over. My WordPress friends are still here, as well as my Words with Friends gamers!

I have attended online conventions and community calls with SAND (Science and Non Duality) and a weekend of celebration and learning with the global Non Violent Communication Community.

There has been a sense of embracing this cocoon and nurturing myself and the relationships with those I care for.

My next venture is taking a writing workshop in July with Roger Housden. I have never thought of myself as a writer or been attracted to write a book, but I am being drawn to flex my wings  and to see where my next flight might take me.

I feel hopeful for a changed world still. Turbulence, pain and chaos are needed before transformation can happen. It was brought home to me this past week, as we faced two powerful flash thunder storms that devastated our neighborhood. We had some damage, but not much compared with some others. The power was off for five days and even the mailman couldn’t navigate through the fallen tress and downed lines. 

The power is now back on and I am grateful to have clean hair and the luxury of hot water and air conditioning. With the internet happily available, I may spend more time back here. 

I have decided to venture out more with some private yoga in people’s gardens and porches. 

Perhaps this butterfly is ready to emerge from her cocoon very soon.

animal insect macro butterfly

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

The Lost Sheep and the Shepherd

“Loneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence. The lost sheep is lonely; the shepherd is not lonely.” ~ William Deresiewicz

white sheep on farm

Photo by kailash kumar on Pexels.com

When we feel lonely, we grieve the absence of company, yet overlook our own. Perhaps we haven’t learned to like or appreciate our own company…
Many of us have relied on others to meet our needs, validate and stimulate us. The desire for the external however, prevents us from seeing and learning to appreciate what is already here within us.

Being content with our own company is a lesson that many of us only learn as we get older. As we learn more about ourselves,  we let go of conditioning and become more authentic and express ourselves in our own way. We like ourselves for who we are and how far we have come.

If we don’t like ourselves, or are afraid of what we might discover when we are alone with our thoughts, then we won’t want to spend time alone. When we do find ourselves alone, we create distraction with the TV or media, reach out for others or numb ourselves with substances.

Take a few moments to reflect on this and how it sits with you.

The second half of the quote shines a different light on loneliness. The lost sheep is missing others, while the shepherd is not lonely. The sheep is a follower of others and is dependent on their company. The shepherd is taking care of his sheep and this is his purpose. There is meaning in his life.

Take a few moments to reflect on what meaning and sense of purpose there is in your life.

Journalling is a great way to uncover our inner thoughts and desires.  Why not make this a time for reflection and self exploration.

Namaste

 

The Mystery of Your Presence

silhouette of man standing near body of water

Photo by brenoanp on Pexels.com

“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.

Lets Be Genuine, Not Nice!

pleasing motherThis is a re-post to support those of you on the path to being more authentic and true to your self. Enjoy!

oooOOOooo

I am enjoying reviewing some of the Non Violent Communication work that I have done in the past. Today, I wanted to share this helpful insight from “Being Genuine” by Thomas D’Ansembourg.

As children so many of us take on the role of pleasers with our parents and teachers and other people. This is a strategy that worked somewhat well: We got attention, received praise and felt good about ourselves when the other person appreciated what we did for them. It was one way to get our needs met and to feel good.

Each time mother said “You are a sweetheart for doing that” or a teacher said “You are one of my best students” when you did well in tests,  this behavior was reinforced.

And so the belief came about that, in order to get what we want in life, we have to please others. They will give us what we need… and we will feel more in control and secure.

We focused on the external rather than building our own inner resources to get our needs met. You can find out more about what I am referring to, by reading this earlier post about our needs

However, when we are pleasers, we are never really sure if we are “doing the right thing” for the other person. We begin to distrust others reactions and doubt our own qualities or skills.

The other person becomes a judge and critic about to pass judgment on if we are doing it right. And of course, if we aren’t doing it right, then we must be wrong.

Can you see how this undermines our self esteem, confidence and sense of being…

We lose touch with our authentic selves because we are relying on the approval, validation and love from others.

Lets be genuine, not nice!

faces masks

To be genuine we must put aside our mask of accommodation and pleasing. Instead of thinking of ways to be nice we  must come from our authentic heart and soul.

This entails and change in our attention. Before we can reveal our authentic selves to others, we must pay attention to what is going on inside of us. When we shift this attention away from other people we can  discover who we are outside of the roles that we play, such  as sister, spouse, colleague, friend etc.

To be authentic we must also become open to feeling.

This can be a tough step on this journey to authenticity. When we believe our survival is dependent on pleasing others, we put other people’s wants in front of 0ur own. We start to tune into other people, and dismiss our own feeling and desires. Our own feelings get lost, and many of us end up not feeling very much at all.

Yet, to be authentic we must also open up to what we are feeling and take responsibility for it.

When we rely on others to feel good, we not only lose touch with our genuine feelings, but we also tend to blame others for “making us feel bad”. By taking responsibility for all of our emotions, we find freedom to be our genuine selves.

Take a moment to ask yourself these questions.

  • Am I expressing the truth of who I am and what I want … or am I accommodating others?
  • Am I smothering the truth in a mask of niceness?

If the answer is, “but I have no other choice!” Or “I don’t want to upset the other person!” Then you are reinforcing this deep seated belief and fear within you.

We always have a choice to take into account our own needs and the needs of others. As adults we  must acknowledge that being authentic and real, doesn’t mean we will be abandoned and unloved as we might have believed at a tender young age.

girl on her journey

It takes real courage to face the truth that we are not being truthful to ourselves or the others. The ego mind does not want to be confronted with this!

Yet, it is one of the most empowering steps we can take on the journey towards truth.

* Living our Values

woman reflecting

This post is inspired by a wonderful post from Sangeeta over at Serene Reflection.

She writes:

“Values are not what we talk about. They are how we live. They determine why we make and live the choices we eventually do. Quite often, we don’t live what we advocate. … and this causes stress.”

I would encourage you to read the whole post here.

What I came away with, is a shift in perspective about my own values. As a coach, I have done several exercises on values over the years and they tend to come back to the same themes. I know them and now take them for granted, but Sangeeta’s post made me pause and ask myself, am I truly living them?

Here are some questions to reflect on:

  • How do I spend my time and energy?
  • How do I spend my money?
  • What do I think about most?
  • What do I envision or visualize most?
  • What do I talk about most to myself?
  • What do I talk about most to others?
  • Where am I most organized or disciplined?

Now compare this to who you thought you were or would like to be, and how you would like to live. Some areas will already converge while the contrasts in other places may surprise you.

This is a good time to recognize what your real priorities are and where you are putting your energy.

Update your list of values so that it has meaning in how you are living your life right now.

Be aware that you may be judging yourself against values that you are not living up to.  If so, be kind and take time to reflect on what the next step is. It may not be time to implement changes, or it may be time to start taking actions to come into alignment.

There is no right or wrong here.  Its about becoming true to yourself.

* Stop Trying to Let it go

In a conversation with my friend Rikki the other day we talked about lessons from dogs. I hope you are listening Paul and Pharaoh over at Learning from Dogs

“Letting go” came up  and Rikki noticed how there is a difference between a dog giving over a toy or ball, compared with a dog who is told to “let it go”.

let it go

What comes to mind when you think about what you would like to let go of? Its likely to be about letting go of trying to control things that are not within your control right?!?

… Like changing the personality of a colleague or partner… or letting go of trying to do everything perfectly … or letting go of taking on so much… or letting go of resentment because things didn’t go your way.

Take a note of whatever comes to mind right now.

Now notice your mindset or attitude. Do you sense resistance to letting this go? Perhaps there are judging thoughts about how its not possible, stupid…. This is your ego thinking rebelling to the idea of not being in control. This thinking comes from fear.

Remember your thinking is not the truth.

Now imagine the dog who comes over and gives you their precious toy. In giving it over, the inner mindset shifts from one of resistance to one of openness and giving. This comes from love.

The next time you want to let it go, come from your heart and give it over.

And say thank you ❤️

* Have Faith, Trust and Confidence

I came across this experiment from Rick Hansen and wanted to share with you. It certainly opened my mind to “faith” and what it means to me.
Read on and let me know what you think.

sun rise grand canyon

“Try a little experiment: in your mind or out loud, complete this sentence a few times: “I have faith in _________.” Then complete another sentence a few times: “I have no faith in ________.”

What do faith – and no faith – feel like?

In your experience of faith, there’s probably a sense of trusting in something – which makes sense since the word comes from the Latin root, “to trust.” (“Faith” can also mean a religion, but my meaning here is more general.) Faith feels good. To have confidence is to have faith; “con+fide” means “with+faith.”

Faith comes from direct experience, reason, trusted sources, and sometimes from something that just feels deeply right and that’s all you can say about it. Sometimes faith seems obvious, like expecting water to yield each time you prepare to dive in; other times, faith is more of a conscious choice – an act of faith – such as choosing to believe that your child will be all right as he or she leaves home for college.

What do you have faith in – out there in the world or inside yourself?”

For me, I have faith in the sun coming up tomorrow and that Spring will come. I have faith in the dogs greeting me with enthusiasm and love, my hubby taking care of our home. I have faith that my true friends and family with be there for me, that most people want peace of mind and peace in the world. I have faith that I am connected in spirit to others and to something much bigger than myself. I have faith that I will continue to teach yoga and make a difference in other people’s lives, that I will continue to learn and grow.

“Without faith in the world and in yourself, life feels shaky and scary. Faith grounds you in what’s reliable and supportive; it’s the antidote to doubt and fear. It strengthens you and supports you in weathering hard times. It helps you stay on your chosen paths, with confidence they will lead to good places. Faith fuels the hope and optimism that encourage the actions that lead to the results that confirm your faith, in a lovely positive cycle. Faith lifts your eyes to the far horizons, toward what’s sacred, even Divine.”

Exercise:

  • Make a list of what you do have faith in – both in the world and in yourself. You can do this in your mind, on paper, or by talking with someone.
  • Next, ask yourself where your faith might be misplaced – in dry wells or in dogs that won’t hunt. Be sure to consider too much faith in certain aspects of your own mind, such as in beliefs that you are weak or not good enough, that others don’t care about you, or that somehow you’re going to get different results by doing pretty much the same old things.
  • Then pick one instance of misguided faith, and consciously step away from it: reflect on how you came to develop it and what it has cost you; imagine the benefits of a life without it; and develop a different resource to replace it.
  • Repeat these steps for other cases of misplaced faith.
  • Second, make another list, this one of what you could reasonably have faith in – in the world and in yourself. These are missed opportunities for confidence – such as in people who could be trusted more (including children), in the basic safety of most days for most people, and in your own strengths and virtues.
  • Then pick one and see if you can have more faith in it. Remember the good reasons for relying upon it. Imagine how more trust in it will help you and others. Consciously choose to believe in it.
  • Third, consider some of the good qualities and aspirations in your innermost heart. Give yourself over to them for a moment – or longer. What’s that like?
Try to have more faith in the best parts of yourself. They’ve always been faithful to you.

* Reflections

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”
Anais Nin

reflections

Everything we see is a reflection of ourselves.

We can only see in others that which we have knowledge of, based on our own experience.

What we admire and love most in others is a reflection of the parts of ourselves we may not have fully acknowledged or expressed.

… We are beautiful and magnificent ❤

What we dislike most in others is a reflection of the parts of ourselves we may not have fully acknowledged or integrated.

… We are works in progress learning and growing through each encounter ❤

Are you ready to embrace all that you see as a reflection of  you?

* Sell the Goat

 

cheeky goatThis story about a man, his family, a rabbi and a goat caught my attention in Judith Lasater’s  foundational and transformational book “Living Your Yoga”.

“A villager lived in a tiny house with his wife, 6 children, mother-in-law, a cow, and some chickens. It was making him crazy. So he went to the village rabbi and asked for help. The rabbi said he could solve the problem: he told the man to buy a goat. Thrilled, the man immediately went out and bought a goat. Now he had a wife, 6 children, a mother-in-law, a cow, some chickens, and a goat.

The house was even more chaotic than before. The villager went back to the rabbi and told of the even crazier chaos. Again, the rabbi said he could solve the problem. “Sell the goat.” The man went immediately and sold the goat. Suddenly, all he had was a wife, 6 children, a mother-in-law, a cow, and some chickens.Things were positively peaceful without that goat.”

When we can step back and see things from a different perspective, it brings new clarity and understanding.

“Your life is as it is. How you feel about your life is up to you”

So much of what we call wisdom is really about getting clear and seeing things from a different perspective. We all tend to get hooked into our thinking and believe it to be the truth. But our thoughts are not the truth, they are just thoughts… and we have the ability to change them.

Take a moment and reflect on the following questions:

How ready and willing am I to see an other person’s perspective or to take a bigger view of a situation, rather than just my own?

How aware am I of the ways that I am stuck in a rut or am living on auto pilot?

It takes time to reflect on this and bring new awareness of our outer and inner worlds.
We can also start to bring new awareness by considering what might be causing frustration or struggle right now.

Am I attached to seeing this in only one way, or are there other perspectives to be explored?

What am I grateful for here?

What do I need to let go of?

Perhaps there is a goat to sell.

* Haiku – dog love

sitting pretty dog

~

Dog sitting pretty

waiting for that special treat

Love is food is love

~

Contented puppy

every need is being met

apart from nature’s

~

The call of freedom

Comes alive in vibrant dreams

Nature is true love

~

dog running in nature

Today I’m sitting with the question… What can we learn from dogs about our true nature?

* Ego 101

People around me are starting to ask questions about ego, what it means and how it has an impact on our spiritual journey. I was inspired to go ahead and publish my own insights , following  Trini’s post this morning asking What is Ego?. Lets get the conversation going on this big and edgy topic.

EGO

Here goes:
The term “ego” can be confusing as it has come to have different meanings. In every day conversations it is often associated with people who have grandiose ideas. When we see someone “getting too big for his boots” we tend to think that this is what ego is about. Our ego is far more than this and is very complex.
Its no wonder it can be hard to “get” it.

First of all, we all have one. The ego is our thinking mind and beliefs, as well as our image of ourselves. Ego can sometimes be referred to as “self hood” or “persona”. If you find you have a negative reaction to the word “ego” itself, then choose an other one.

These musings are from an non expert perspective, and come from my personal experience and readings from psychology, yoga and spirituality.

I call it Ego 101 and not Ego Ph.D so please take in the spirit it is intended – to enlighten and uphold the journey that we are all on to awaken to and connect to something more than our individual self.

newborn baby

When we are born, we don’t have any knowledge or consciousness of our own self as an individual human being.  We are innocent and completely vulnerable in this world.

As babies we become aware of  ourselves as a reflection of our interactions with our mother and then others. Our ego identity is born. But this identity is a reflected one. It is not our real being. We do not yet know who we truly are; we know what others think about us.

baby in mirror

As we interact more in the world, we form our beliefs and thinking about ourselves, others and the world around us. We must have this to survive. At its core is an intelligence that responds to external circumstances. We learn what hurts and what feels good, and we adapt our behavior to fit in to the world around us.

As we grow up, the more interactions and reflections we experience, the more complex our ego becomes…. and the more we believe it to be the truth about who we are.

Our ego is an accumulated phenomenon, a by-product of living with others. As human beings we have to have an ego to survive in the world. Our ego is not our enemy, its keeps us alive.

Awakening

“Awakening” or “self realization” is when we wake up to a  sense that there is something more than our individual self. That we are all somehow connected and that we are part of an expanding consciousness, spirit or universal presence.

This is when many of us find ourselves drawn to spirituality and become seekers of the truth beyond our ego and separate self. We want to connect to the essence of who we are and embrace a new way of being in the world. This way is one of interconnectivity, compassion and loving kindness. 

I believe that we have to have a strong ego in order to get to know  the truth. We cannot know the higher Self without embracing this functional part of our mind or smaller self.

First we have to know that which is not true. We have to see the untrue nature of our ego. Some refer to it as our false self vs. our true self. At this stage we are likely to reject this ego part of ourselves and judge it as “bad”. However, it is our own thinking that is creating judgments. Our ego isn’t good or bad, it just IS.

woman looking sat self

When we are ready we begin to explore this ego part of ourselves. What do I believe is “me”?  What is “mine”? What are my needs? What image of myself do I cling to? What aspects of my self do I reject? “Who am I really”?

We can only grow beyond our ego when we accept it and love it for what it is, rather than reject it and try to overcome it and push it away. As Trini says, imagine your soul is the parent and the ego, its child.

The more we judge our ego and reject it, the more it is threatened … the more we persist in not recognizing it, the more it resists. And we create an inner battle of our own making. When we try to deny it, it will raise itself to be seen in a new way…. And it may take us a while to realize that what we thought was the Truth is actually an other image of ourselves and set of beliefs that our brilliant ego has created for our survival.

The journey is from one of “being separate” to one of “interconnectivity”.

From one of  “me” to one of “we”.

From one of “small self” to one of ” higher Self”.

From one of “judgment” to one of “acceptance”.

From one of “thinking” to one of “knowing”.

From one of “fear” to one of “love”.

I have more to share about ego and its part in our spiritual journey. Looking forward to having conversations here and over the blogosphere. 🙂

Namaste

 

* I’m Not Needy – I Just Have Needs

Every human being has needs. It is part of the human condition. We were born with them and will go through most of our lives trying to get them met.

Over the years as a life coach, I have taken several courses in Non Violent Communication. In NVC, needs are acknowledged and embraced. There is a vulnerable beauty behind our needs. The essence of who we are as human beings.

When our needs are met we can fully access our humanity. Bringing compassion and kindness to ourselves and others.

There is a beauty of being human and honoring our core needs of  well being, expressing ourselves and connection with others.

Needs get a bad wrap…. and they shouldn’t.

We often aren’t aware of our own needs, and it can be a powerful self-discovery to identify the ones that are most important to each of us. The needs below are grouped into categories of three core needs. Take a moment and identify what needs resonate with you personally.

WELL BEING
Health and Sustenanceman deep relaxed breathing
Thriving
Vitality
Safety and Security
Stability
Rest
Peace
Acceptance
Gratitude
Balance
Celebration of life

SELF EXPRESSION
Autonomy/Freedomjoyful girlChoice
Authenticity
Inspiration
Passion
Meaning
Contribution
Learning
Growth
Skill/Mastery
Self actualization

CONNECTION
Love/caringLoving Connection
Compassion
Empathy/Understanding
Communication
Respect
Acceptance
Recognition
Community
Belonging
Relationship
Trust

Here is an exercise to explore your needs more. Take a moment and ask yourself:

What am I grateful for?

Then …

What needs are being met when I feel grateful?

Now think of a time when you were upset, possibly at work.

Then …

What needs were not being met?

In all likelihood it would be about recognition, respect and a sense of belonging.

Needs drive us and are essential for our well being. When our needs are being met it opens the door to be in connection with ourselves and with others.

We come to see there is no need to judge ourselves or others any more.

We are more able to center ourselves in our Middle Ground and handle the the highs and lows of life.

Its allows us to be our authentic loving selves, instead of being guarded and defensive.

We become free to evolve into all we can be.