Keeping Love Alive in the Darkness

Most holiday greetings include words like “joy,” “merry” and “happy” in their text. Yet, consider that we are called tokeeping love alive in the darkness celebrate cultural and religious traditions with family and friends – during the darkest time of the year. This darkness manifests in our lives in many ways that can not only make it a challenge for us to be happy and joyful, but also cause us to forget the essential teaching of this season--keeping love alive.

“Ancient traditions remind us that we have come to this world for one reason….to love and to find a love even greater than any known by the angels of the heavens.”
–Gregg Braden, The Isaiah Effect: Decoding the Lost Science of Prayer and Prophecy”

Legacy of love

Trees and plants go dormant or die in winter. Their essence is preserved in their seeds and roots for rebirth and rejuvenation in the spring. Whether nature or humans, we all have an essence that lives on after death in the energy of the cosmos, in nature and in the legacy we leave behind and pass onto others. This essence is love. Divine love permeates the Universe. It is the core energy that connects and holds everything together—the stars, galaxies, planets, moons, everything on Earth.

Keeping the charge of love alive
is an essential teaching of the holiday season.

Darkness and Diminished energy 

At this time of year the sun, our natural energy charger, is busy sending its rays to other parts of the planet, leaving us with short, dark dreary days. We in the North are supposed to be hibernating like the rest of nature. Instead we’re typically out and about trying to be merry, stressing our bodies–and often our relationships. It’s not uncommon for heated arguments to ensue at family gatherings. Now with our current political climate and the continuing stress ensued from the Covid-19 pandemic, the charge of love has seemingly diminished.

keeping love alive in the darkness

Perhaps we can learn something from our earliest ancestors. They feared that the life-giving sun would disappear at this time of year. So they performed rituals they believed would prevent this from happening. Eventually, they came to embrace this season as a womb or seedbed of life to come. They saw the Winter Solstice as a time of death, a passing away of the old pattern of the year—the old sun, old habits, beliefs and structures—and birth of a new sun, new patterns and possibilities. It was a time of healing and transformation.

Changing traditions

Our traditions are filled with memories of the past and the love we’ve shared with others. But traditions change when people’s lives change. Children grow up and move away, relationships end and loved ones pass on–and even pandemics emerge. We keep love alive when we adapt to change, like nature, even creating new traditions and bringing new people into the fold. This helps heal losses and create new possibilities.

Keeping love alive: Winter Solstice ceremony at Jacqui'sEach year on the solstice, I host a gathering of special people. We sit in sacred darkness as I lead a special ceremonial ritual drawn from ancient native traditions. A friend plays the Native American flute which is accompanied by the soft beating of a drum resembling the heartbeat. Candles are lit and the flame is passed  to another as we each share a story of how we moved from darkness into the light during the past or recent years, or something that lit us with joy. We end with a hearty laugh and a wish for new possibilities in the coming year!

Keeping love alive

The holiday season typically ends with an appeal to make New Year’s resolutions to help us call in the light and create those transformational possibilities. Perhaps it’s to take better care of body, mind or spirit. But resolutions can be empty words unless we imbibe them with energy, passion – and love. As the sun shifts into a new pattern it invites us to do the same. I invite you to take a moment to light a candle before the New Year. Feel Divine love energy alive within helping you to create resolutions that you can implement with joy and ease in the coming year–even in dark times. You might ask yourself:

  1. What am I willing to release–habits, patterns, beliefs, or something else?
  2. How do I want to show up in the coming year? 
  3. How will I keep love alive this year? 

    Keeping love alive imbibes you with the courage to stretch to new possibilities.

Check out my classes of Hanna Somatic Movement and iRest Meditation.

 

Embrace through the heart

Embracing Possibilities

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” –Carl Gustav Jung

The first stage of the spiritual practice of Visioning for embracing new possibilities is to create space in our consciousness. This is also true for our lives, dwellings, etc.—letting go of whatever no longer serves us. The second stage is to embrace and cultivate the ground for eventually planting seeds of possibilities. This is best accomplished through the embrace of the heart.

I view the heart as a portal to our soul and the essential nature of our being—where lies the deepest truth or longing of our being.  The heart of love and compassion points us in that direction. Dreams and fantasies take us outside ourselves. They serve as necessary psychic processes that help reduce the rigidity of our thinking minds, and can be channeled to create sparks of inspiration. However, it can also serve as a distraction, especially when they form ruminating stories that keep us stuck or blocked in living fully. The possibilities that lie waiting on our horizon have a hard time getting through the barricades.

Tuning into the heart

I suggest taking quiet pauses in the day and tuning into the heart and ask: “What most wants to be heard, felt and lived as me.” What unfolds becomes the home ground of the highest visioning for possibilities for our life, including our life purpose. This is less about doing things in the world, but rather about a way of being. With practice the vision emerges and eventually becomes clearer. This heartfelt inquiry is a type of spiritual practice whereas we don’t manifest the vision; the vision is fulfilled through us. Yes, that’s right—the vision is fulfilled through us.

In my own quiet pauses and meditations, I regularly visit this stage, for it helps me stay attuned and in sync with my true essence. I allow it to be captured as affirmative words that I embrace as true in the moment. My current rendition is a variation of words like ‘holding space, empowering and being of service.’ As I move about my activities I ask if what I am doing or about to do in attuned and in harmony with my heartfelt intention. It’s like tuning into my favorite radio station that’s already there. Like an inner compass it reminds me when I go off course.

What must I embrace?

Once we have prepared the soil of our consciousness, it’s time to determine what kinds of seeds we want to plant. So, we ask, “What must I embrace?” This is where we explore the ideas, possibilities and growth opportunities we are receptive to welcoming. Perhaps asking: “What is it that wants to emerge through me into reality?” Then we allow the new possibility to unfold—as it is ready.

Next we’ll explore how to embody possibilities.

Renewal & Possibilities

Renewal: New Possibilities- Part 1

Spring is just beginning here in the northern hemisphere—the season of renewal and new possibilities. A small plot of land across from the complex where I live is blanketed with a floral violet-colored ground cover. It does so spot-on every year at this time, and it always takes my breath away. Daffodils and crocuses are beginning to blossom.

I know—the Covid-19 pandemic continues to linger and keep our lives in check. But we’ve come a long way through a very dark period of our lives—for many of us with great suffering and loss. Yet, there is hope for returning to some level of normalcy in the air, and the season of spring helps to fuel this.

“We grin and bear it ’cause the nights are long.
I hope that somethin’ better comes along.”

— The Muppets

What’s Next?

What will the coming months and year ahead really be like? When will we feel confident that we can see and hug our loved ones and friends freely again? When will life feel normal again—or will it ever? Most importantly – however things do unfold – what new possibilities are ahead for each of us?

There is a spiritual practice of Visioning developed by Rev. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith of the Agape International Spiritual Center that might just help with this. It’s designed to help us create a more expansive idea of our lives than what we currently have—going beyond our limited perspectives and experiences by opening us to a higher vision. This is not about catching a vision and setting out to make it happen with goals, actions, etc. Rather, this Visioning is a meditative practice to clear some space for deep listening to Divine Wisdom within. In this space we can pose a series of inquiring questions: What must I release? What must I embrace or embody? What must I become?

Release and let go

This first inquiry invites us to clear out what is not needed, has completed its’ purpose, or is limiting us in some way. Is it time to let go of a relationship? Perhaps there are old habits, attitudes or beliefs that are no longer life affirming. Anything that does not serve the fulfillment of the possibilities and a new vision deserves consideration. It can even be old stuff we have hanging around, or old clothes we no longer wear and may never wear again. Releasing creates a vacuum, or perhaps we could refer to it as a womb of potentiality.

The spring season of renewal is a natural time for doing spring cleaning, or organizing, such as the garage or basement. It’s also the time to clean up the garden to prepare it for new growth. Whether you sit in quite meditation, go for long walks in nature and or tend to your home and garden, allow this to be time of reflection, of sorting and clearing the soil of your consciousness. These are all mindful actions that can serve this process.

Watch for furthering this Visioning practice in future posts.

Room in your heart

Room in Your Heart

“In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.” —Antonio Porchia, Argentine poet

Have you asked yourself recently if there are things you’d like to welcome into your life? Do you want to improve your career, finances, or relationships? Perhaps better health or deepening your spirituality is on your list. Or, maybe you seek a greater sense of meaning or purpose in your life, or more peace, joy, or love.

Just as you need to create space in your home, at work, and on your computer’s hard drive to function well, you also need a clear mind to be open to possibilities. These all have a finite amount of space. But the space in your heart is unlimited. This heart space, however, must be uncluttered and cultivated in order to experience the things you desire.

 Cluttered heart

Cluttered heartThe physical organ the heart holds our deepest truths. The simple placement of your hand on your heart can be a powerful way to tune in to these truths—unless your heart is closed or cluttered inside. Dark feelings such as fear, shame, guilt, and inadequacy can take up a lot of space. Avoidance or even acceptance of these feelings keeps them alive. Thus your deepest desires may become obscured, resulting in a stifled life force.

The poet Rumi encourages us to: “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” “Your task, writes Rumi, “is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” The love that fuels our lives already resides at the heart of our being. But it can become buried beneath the rubble of dark feelings and emotions. Unconsciously, that rubble is a barrier expressed in our outer experience: we think and behave in ways that support what seems to be lacking in our lives. We then become stuck, which may be reflected in our inability to attract or maintain loving, supportive relationships; to find satisfying work; or to live a generally happy life.

Wanting versus allowing

Attempting to get rid of, deny, or just live with the barriers only lodges them in further, intensifying our suffering. A better way is to allow them to surface and then to fully feel them. We must bring them into the light and allow them to speak their truth. Rather than seeing them as enemies, allow yourself to befriend them. Ask what they want or need, or what actions you might take in the world to help them—and you. This befriending helps release the ego from being the gatekeeper of your heart, allowing the heart to know its truth.

Given this freedom, the heart is able to embrace our deepest longings. In the process, we learn that whatever the barrier, there is a desire for its complement or opposite. When we experience pain or frustration, we deeply desire relief or satisfaction. Food is more pleasurable when we are hungry. A tender touch or compassionate ear is most welcomed when we feel depleted or alone. Becoming conscious of what we don’t want in life paradoxically provides clarity about what we truly desire.

harmonious pathFor many years I struggled to find a fulfilling life path. I engaged in a number of successful business ventures along the way, yet never felt satisfied. Things started to shift as I lovingly inquired into what was blocking me and listened to my heart’s deepest longings. Allowing this acknowledgement helped me learn from what wasn’t serving me at the time. I now understand that each endeavor helped me acquire skills that are serving me well today. I feel blessed with the ability to manage a not-for-profit business. I also help people heal from trauma, discover wholeness, and uncover purpose and fulfillment in their lives. Living harmoniously and in sync with life—and helping others do so—has become my true mission.

What we desire desires us

magnetAt our very core, don’t we all desire love, peace, and happiness? How can we long for something unless we know what it feels like? Love is like a magnet that attracts positive things. Love is infinite and timeless and already present within our hearts. As we open our hearts and clear out the debris, space becomes available to welcome in profound peace and gratification.

To explore your own heart, ask questions like: What is my heart feeling at this moment? Is there a song that it wants to sing? Something it longs to express? What will bring my heart into harmony? When do I feel fully alive? Listen for an answer. Notice when thoughts like undeserving and other negative feelings surface. Make friends with each feeling. Learn what it wants to share. Shift from asking your ego’s point of view to allowing your heart to express its deepest longing.

Room for everything

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” —Mary Oliver

Over time you will find yourself living more and more from your heart. You’ll discover there is more space there than you ever could have imagined. There’s abundant room for forgiveness—especially self-forgiveness. There’s also room for making mistakes and experiencing grief, which help us build resilience. And we must allow room for feelings of empathy for people with differing values as well as for ourselves. Remember, your heart’s capacity is limitless.

Make a vow

Lotus flowerAs you become more at home in your heart, it’s helpful to harness its capacity to engage your imagination. Ask: How do you want your life to be? A helpful concept that can be borrowed from yogic philosophy to keep you on target is sankalpa. This is a sacred vow that you make in support of your deepest desires. A sankalpa requires your mind and body to be in harmony. It is not focused on something outside of you, such as your desire for a new home, better health, a romantic relationship, or a job promotion. Your sankalpa should be a brief affirmative statement that helps you realize your best self. Examples are:

  • I appreciate and accept myself.
  • I am whole, healed, and healthy.
  • I am deeply connected to myself, to others, and to life.
  • I am a compassionate and kind person.
  • My thoughts, words, and actions are aligned with one another.

The practice of tuning in to your sankalpa helps keep it alive, strengthens it, and brings more clarity to it. With this heartfelt intention as your foundation, your everyday and long-term goals will be more easily realized.

May you explore the intimacy of your heart tenderly and lovingly in the coming year and live from its limitless potential.

 

 

curious cat

Curiosity-Driven Life

“Curiosity killed the cat,” as the proverb goes. We certainly can get into mischief when we get too nosy. However, there is a rejoinder to this proverb that states “but satisfaction brought it back.” Dr. Linus Pauling said, “Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.”
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Seeds for planting

Second Chances

“The should road…the could road…the one day road… the someday road…
should only ever be taken in moderation, and on your way to the MUST road.”

Elle Luna, from The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion

 Life circumstances rarely happen by chance, and in some of our endeavors the first go-around may be riddled with misfortune, making a second chance seem impossible. Yet all first acts contain seeds of second, third, and even a multitude of chances to try again—to grow, change, and transform throughout one’s life journey. However, like in any garden, in order to blossom or bear fruit, these seeds need to be cultivated with proper soil, water, and nutrients, or they lie dormant. Continue reading

Core

Discover Your Core Motivation

If you were a frog thrown into a pot of boiling water, you’d leap right out, wouldn’t you? But if you were a frog placed in a pot of cool water that was very slowly heated, you would be more likely to become lethargic, unaware that you were gradually and languidly moving towards your demise. This metaphor can serve to remind us that we’re not always motivated to make changes even though our lives are finite. Continue reading

blowball-dandelion

What is Your Life Trying to Do With You?

There are special times in our lives when we can truly benefit from reflection and introspection. This may be at the beginning of a new year, following a loss of a relationship or job, or simply when we are feeling stuck or blocked from moving forward in our lives. During these times it’s easy to beat ourselves up for what we could have or should have done differently. We certainly can learn from the past, but putting ourselves down serves no purpose, except to hold us back from moving forward. Continue reading

greek-hero

Your Life: a Hero’s Journey

Though you may not think of yourself as a hero, you do play the starring role in the story of your life journey. It’s a story you’ve been composing since you took your first breath – maybe even before. Many supporters have acted as guides, teachers, and mentors to help and inspire you along the way. Some may also have provided their idea of how you should live your life and the path you should follow. But ultimately, it’s your story, your life, your journey that required you to make difficult choices and carry out heroic actions to bring you to the chapter you inhabit presently. Continue reading

foggy-path

Desire Points the Way

Imagine you are walking in the dark along a foggy path using a flashlight. The path ahead is lit up, so you don’t stray off course. The fog represents your past and future and the challenges of your everyday world. They have no importance in this moment. The flashlight is your conscious presence. The lit path represents being in the present moment. When you learn how to step into the timeless world of Being, you are better able to navigate the storms of your outer world.

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