questions to ponder for a meaningful life

Questions for Unveiling the Essence of a Meaningful Life

In the labyrinth of life, there are questions that summon us to dive deep into the core of our being, illuminating the profound and transformative aspects that shape our existence. These questions not only prompt introspection but also guide us towards a richer, more purposeful journey. I invite you to take some time as you start the New Year to ponder your own thoughts around these questions to help you begin to unveil the essence of a meaningful life.

What Makes You Come Alive?

Unraveling the mysteries of our passions is an exploration of the self. What activities, endeavors, or pursuits breathe life into your spirit? Recognizing and nurturing these sources of vitality connects us with our authentic selves, unveiling the vibrant threads that weave the tapestry of our true essence. For me it’s the harmony and interconnectedness of being of service to others and in sync with nature. And also unexpected experiences that turn out to be magical!

Pivotal Turning Point in Your Life?

Life is a series of junctures that redefine our path. Reflecting on the pivotal moments that steered you in a new direction provides insight into your resilience and adaptability. This might be a career shift, a relationship milestone, personal revelation, or a dark period of your life. These turning points contribute to the intricate mosaic of your life story. Some of my pivotal moments have been marked by a loss or ending that caused me to rethink the path I was on—thus opening me up to new possibilities.

Acts of kindnessAn Act of Kindness You’ll Never Forget?

Kindness, a beacon of light in the human experience, leaves an indelible imprint on our hearts. Contemplate the acts of kindness that have touched your life—moments when compassion transcended barriers. These memories serve as a testament to the profound impact small gestures can have, fostering empathy and a sense of interconnectedness. There have been so very many in my life. One that comes to mind was when we had a celebration of my mother’s life after she had passed—and seeing all the people sharing memories of her as we sat in a circle.

One Thing On Your Bucket List?

A bucket list is a manifestation of our dreams and aspirations. What is that one thing you long to experience or achieve? Whether it’s an adventurous escapade, a skill to master, or a connection to forge, contemplating your bucket list instigates a sense of purpose, pushing you to embrace life’s possibilities. I consider myself a lifelong learner. At present I continue to learn and grow in my somatic and meditation teaching skills

One-line Message for the World?

If you had the chance to distill your wisdom into a single line for the world, what would it be? Crafting a concise message requires introspection into your values and beliefs. This exercise prompts a commitment to leaving a positive mark on the world, fostering a collective consciousness of empathy, understanding, and unity. My message is best captured in words I live by–Peace and Harmony.

Essence of a Meaningful Life

As we grapple with these questions, we embark on a journey of self-discovery, weaving together the threads of our passions, resilience, and kindness. In contemplating the essence of a meaningful life, we uncover the profound beauty that lies in the thoughtful exploration of our own existence.

Enjoy the journey!

Following is a recent guided meditation I recorded that may help you get started.

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Keeping Love alive in the darkness

Questions to Consider in a New Year

Beginning a new year, it’s customary to reflect on our desires and create intentions and resolutions we wish to fulfill in the coming year. For some of us a new chapter of our life is eager to unfold and goals are being called for to charter the course. I rather believe this process can be likened to waking up out of a deep sleep as we do each morning. For each day offers us new possibilities, hew horizons and opportunities to restart anew.

Whatever deep desires we may hold for our lives, we are not alone in this world. Everything we do affects the world around us, as it does us. We are not separate from one another, but interdependent. This interdependent nature calls for cooperation with one another. As you form your intentions, I invite you to consider your impact on the world around you. The following poem may offer some guidance in the process.

At the top of this post, you are welcome to be guided into a live recorded meditation to help you with this process.
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Winter--A time for dreaming a more conscious life

Dreaming a More Conscious Life in Winter

Now that holiday celebrations are over, it’s time to put those New Year’s resolutions to work. Start the new diet, exercise regime, marketing tactics, job search, new business or work strategies, find a mate. There is no time like the present! Well—maybe not. And, maybe the Omicron virus is telling us to take a break, stay safe and take time for dreaming a more conscious life.


Turning Inward

What does nature do during winter? With the sparseness of the nurturing sun’s energy, nature turns inward and retreats. It becomes cold and dark. Creatures hibernate, plants submerge their energy into their roots and ponds harden into ice. Nature doesn’t go to the Bahamas for fun in the sun! Nature doesn’t push its high-energy button, because there is little energy to spare. If nature closes down its work during winter, why don’t human beings do the same? For most of us, work and economics runs our lives, and a hot sunny island may seem like the only way to retreat.

turning inward for Self-reflectionWith the increasing disharmonies we now face in the world, isn’t it time to rethink what governs our lives? Isn’t it time to learn how to live our lives with less effort and more ease, rather than with great effort and dis-ease? Isn’t it time to reflect on what is really important in our lives, contemplate our spiritual nature and how we fit into the bigger scheme of things? The work of winter is to store away and shut itself inside. It conserves until spring when the energy rises again. When nature retreats, an ideal time for self-reflection emerges.

 

Connection with our journey

Chinese medicine associates this time of year with the element of water. Water is essential to life. We are born in water and it comprises 78% of our bodies. Water can be forceful or serene, refreshing or murky, fluid or stagnant. Water connects us with our journey—our past, our ancestry and our destiny. It seeks truth, virtue and honesty, and reveals the hidden mysteries of our unconscious. Our thoughts and feelings are filled with secrets about our life, often deeply negative and self-destructive.

The emotion associated with water is fear. We fear change, failure, hurt, the unknown, loss, and abandonment. At the deepest level, we fear our very own death. In many ways, winter is a time of death, as parts of nature wither away. Water imbalance in the body may cause us to identify more deeply with our fears, outwardly expressed in un-ease, worry, tension, and phobias.

 

Surrendering to life

Surrender and releaseThe kidney is associated with the water element. Its function is to extract from fluid waste what is pure for recycling and send the impure to the bladder, its mate, for elimination. The bladder receives, holds and releases. Its true nature is adaptability, going with the flow. When we urinate, we surrender and release, yielding to the flow of life.

The kidney is considered the storehouse for the vital life essence—the very root of life. It regulates the amount of water in our body and all the organs depend on it. It does the work of warming, moistening and regenerating—lest we become cold, rigid, degenerate, or fearful.

 

Acceptance

Fear is governed by our ego, which holds onto patterns from earlier life. When we resist letting go of the toxic waste of our past, those dark secrets rule our lives. But these patterns are not part of our authentic self. When we learn to accept the past, release its power, dis-identify with the ego and live more fully in the present, we surrender to the freedom of being in the flow of life. When our life path is flowing well, it is like the flow of a river that adapts to the changing course. When it is not, it may feel like a quagmire in which we feel overwhelmed or in despair.

“When you surrender to what is
and become fully present,
the past ceases to have any power.”

 –Eckhart Tolle

Authentic conscious self

The surface of a lake may appear still as though nothing is happening. Yet, submerged is an incredible depth of conscious aliveness. This conscious aliveness takes place when we are dreaming during sleep.  When our true source or identity is never truly grasped, we experience doubt and insecurity, which stimulates fear. But truth is the absence of fear. When we go beneath the surface to the depths of our being where truth resides, we connect with our authentic conscious self, our gateway to the Divine.

Dreaming a more conscious life

dreaming of rebirthDeath is not the opposite of life, but of birth. The true work of winter is to go within, to gestate, germinate, and conserve essence. It is preparing for rebirth in the spring. Surprisingly, when we conserve our energy resources in winter, shed toxic patterns that no longer serve us, we are refreshed, renewed and ready to implement a better life plan when the elevated spring energies return to support us.

So, allow yourself to slow down and examine your life path. Use water for purification with baths or long showers. Contemplate your essence, life’s meaning and purpose. Dream, meditate, journal, brainstorm, visualize, create affirmations and goals. Engage your body minimally, such as with walks or gentle movement. Economize your energy essence. Preserve and regenerate your resources. Retire early and rise later, when you can. Spend more time in the warmth of friends and snuggle with loved ones. Live in sync with nature and surrender to the flow of the precious aliveness of life in the midst of dreaming a more conscious life.

Check my free classes of iRest Meditation and Hanna Somatic Movement, a gentle movement practice.

Keeping Love alive in the darkness

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

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.

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 Continue reading

keywords

What Are Your Keywords?

Have you ever noticed the highlighted words in an Internet article or blog? These are known as keywords, terms that are used to classify or organize digital content or to facilitate an online search for information. Prior to digital technology, on which we all depend these days, keyword referred to a significant or memorable term in the title, abstract, or text of a print document used as the index entry. Keyword is also widely used to mean a word or concept of great significance.

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curiosity-driven

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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dirty windows

Clearing the Way

Life is constantly presenting us with opportunities to learn, grow, love, and live more fully. Yet, we sometimes are stuck or bogged down in situations or relationships that cloud our view and prevent us from moving forward. It’s as if we no longer see the blue sky because we’re looking through dirty windows. In order to see blue sky again we must understand what is obstructing our path. Continue reading